Uzziah (also known as Azariah) started out as a good king. But his successes merely led him to prideful foolishness. Uzziah usurped the authority of a priest in going into the Temple and offering incense to the Lord. Rather than humbling himself in repentance, he raved at the priests who came into the Temple and reprimanded him. His punishment for such a brash act of self-aggrandizement was that “leprosy suddenly broke out on his forehead” (II Chronicles 26:19b, NLT).
Uzziah knew what he was doing was wrong, but he had decided he was not only above the Law, he was above God. Any time a believer willfully disobeys God’s commands, he’s enthroning himself and dethroning Christ as Lord of his life. As leader of God’s people in Judah, Uzziah had a responsibility to reflect God’s ways through his lifestyle. Failing to do so was no small infraction.
We in America have been blessed beyond what many nations can even imagine and that, my friends, puts every professing believer in the U.S. of A. in a huge position of accountability. As Jesus said, “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required” (Luke 12:48b).
In keeping with the severity of his actions, the king’s punishment wasn’t short-term: “King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in isolation in a separate house, for he was excluded from the Temple of the Lord. His son Jotham was put in charge of the royal palace, and he governed the people of the land” (II Chronicles 26:21). Fitting the punishment to the crime, Uzziah’s affliction prevented him from ever re-entering the Temple.
So even though Uzziah was king of Judah for 52 years, his last ten years or so were spent in isolation while his son Jotham led the nation. Meanwhile back in Israel, leaders came and went during the long stretch of Uzziah’s kingship.
Since we’re about to switch from Judah back to Israel, let’s do a quick refresher: “Jeroboam II, the son of Jehoash, began to rule over Israel in the fifteenth year of King Amaziah’s reign in Judah. Jeroboam reigned in Samaria forty-one years. When Jeroboam II died, he was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel. Then his son Zechariah became the next king” (II Kings 14:23, 29).
Amaziah was Uzziah’s father. He was king of Judah when Jeroboam II came into power in Israel. Jeroboam II was still on the throne when Uzziah came to be king in Judah. Then at Jeroboam II’s death, “his son Zechariah became the next king” in Israel.
Keep in mind that while Israel’s kings were coming from all over – most recently from the lineage of Jehu – Judah’s kings were from the family of David. Jehu’s career was far from spotless, but “Nonetheless the Lord said to Jehu, ‘You have done well in following My instructions to destroy the family of Ahab. Therefore, your descendants will be kings of Israel down to the fourth generation” (II Kings 10:30). And God, as always, kept His promise.
“Zechariah son of Jeroboam II began to rule over Israel in the thirty-eighth year of King Uzziah’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Samaria six months. Zechariah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, as his ancestors had done. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam son of Nebat had led Israel to commit. Then Shallum son of Jabesh conspired against Zechariah, assassinated him in public, and became the next king. So the Lord’s message to Jehu came true: ‘Your descendants will be kings of Israel down to the fourth generation’” (II Kings 15:8-10, 12).
“For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does” (Psalm 33:4, NIV).
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates