King Uzziah led his army into Jerusalem as the people cheered. Word of their victories over the Philistines obviously reached home before them.
His top secretary was waiting for him as he dismounted his horse. “There’s a contingency from Ammon here to discuss an important matter. They want to talk to you as soon as possible.”
Uzziah smiled. “Prepare a feast for our guests. That will give me time to freshen up after our hard-fought battles. I’ll entertain whatever they have for me after we eat.”
High spirits abounded at the king’s feast. The Ammonite dignitaries even seemed to enjoy themselves.
After the dishes were removed from the table the meeting unfolded.
The spokesman stood. “King Uzziah, your power is great. There is no other god like your God. He has won many victories for you. We would like to offer you a tribute tax in exchange for your promise to not attack our land or our people.”
Uzziah’s eyebrows raised as he leaned back in his throne. “Just how much of a tribute are we talking here?”
The spokesman turned and clapped toward the door. Two men carried a heavy chest in and set it on the table in front of the king. The spokesman opened the lid.
Uzziah stood and ran his fingers into the gold articles inside.
The spokesman smiled. “This is only the beginning, my lord. We offer you a tenth of our crops and herds, also.”
Uzziah’s smile disappeared. “Make it a fifth of your crops and herds and we have a deal.”
The spokesman looked at his counterparts, then, back at Uzziah. “I have been authorized to grant you an eighth of all we have.”
Uzziah stuck his hand out. The spokesman shook it with a smile.
Uzziah slapped the spokesman’s shoulder. “I was wondering how we’d pay for the building of cities among the Philistines. Our God has marvelously provided once again. Now I have one less nation to plan on attacking with our mighty army.”
The nation of Judah continued to strengthen as long as they followed all that God laid out for His people to do. Uzziah fortified Jerusalem with towers at the corners that men could shoot arrows from. They even invented catapults to hurl large stones on approaching enemy forces.
His reputation for strength grew throughout the known world.
One day Uzziah watched with envy as a priest carried a censer into the temple to worship the Lord God. The priest walked behind the massive curtain with a serious expression. He returned later with a sense of relaxation revealed.
Uzziah awoke early the next morning and took a lit censer into the temple himself.
A priest stood in front of him. “You are not authorized to go behind the temple veil. Only the Lord’s consecrated priests are allowed in there.”
Uzziah pressed his face in front of the young priest. “Are you telling your king he can’t do something?”
The priest stood straight. “The Lord is the only One who establishes who can approach Him in His dwelling place.”
Uzziah pushed the young man aside and continued behind the curtain. As he approached the altar of incense Azariah, the chief priest, led a group of priests to stop him.
Azariah stopped a few steps short of the altar. “You are violating the Lord’s commands. Only those from the line of Aaron and are consecrated are allowed in here.”
Uzziah eyebrows lowered. “I am the king of the Lord’s chosen people. No one will tell me what I can’t…”
A sudden sensation on his forehead stopped his sentence. The faces of all the priests turned pale as they stepped back and inhaled in unison.
“What’s happening to me?”
Somebody whispered, “It’s leprosy.”
Azariah came and grabbed Uzziah’s arm. Uzziah pushed past the crowd as he ran for the edge of the curtain.
He lived the rest of his life in isolation.
God laid out a simple equation for His people to have success when they settled in the land He promised to give Abraham’s descendants. All they had to do was carefully follow the laws established by Him through Moses. When they worshiped Him they prospered. When they turned away and worshiped other gods then they were oppressed.
It would seem like a no-brainer how to live. Right? Well, being the sin-filled people they were they never seemed to be able to obey God for very long.
Why do they remind me so much of me? What is there about people that we tend to want what we can’t have? Why isn’t God’s best good enough?
King Uzziah had a lot going for him when he became king at the age of 16. His dad walked with God most of his life. Uzziah should have seen what happened when the previous king turned to worshiping other gods against God’s commands.
I guess Uzziah thought he was honoring god by entering the temple to worship Him. Actually the gesture wasn’t the problem. Uzziah’s heart was.
God was too good to Judah for Uzziah to take. He succumbed to the dreaded sin of pride because of his life of success. All the prosperity went to his head as he began taking credit for what God was doing through him by his obedience.
Uzziah probably saw how other nations’ kings were not only allowed to offer sacrifices to their gods, but, some of them were actually considered to be gods. That’s why he went behind the forbidden curtain and was condemned by God.
Here’s another case of someone living a life pleasing to God until the end of it. Let’s learn from Uzziah’s prideful mistake so we don’t repeat it.
If God uses you do accomplish great things for His glory don’t turn the spotlight back on yourself. Keep God the focus of all you do.
Jesus died to help us overcome our sinful tendencies. Let Him transform you into a committed servant of God.
Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus and His kingdom.
I’ll see you later. Wade