He was only sixteen years old when he became king after his father passed away. His reign lasted for fifty-two years. He was the one who rebuilt Elath and restored it to Judah. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Amaziah had done. He sought after God and was counseled by the prophet Zechariah. If you don’t know who I am talking about by now, his name is Uzziah king of Judah. His story can be read in 2 Chronicles 26.
As long as he sought after the Lord, God gave him success. This is a very crucial point to remember because we will see that Uzziah became arrogant and began to trust in his own strength after he saw his fame prosper.
These are some of his accomplishments on his resume:
- Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate and fortified them
- He built towers in the wilderness and dug many cisterns, because he had much livestock in the foothills and in the plain.
- He had people working his fields and vineyards in the hills and in the fertile lands, because he loved the soil.
- He went to war with the Philistines and broke down the walls of Gath, Jabneh and Ashdod.
- He then rebuilt towns near Ashdod and elsewhere among the Philistines.
- God helped him against the Philistines and against the Arabs who lived in Gur Baal and against the Meunites.
- The Ammonites brought tribute to Uzziah, and his fame spread as far as the border of Egypt, because he had become very powerful.
- Uzziah had a well trained army, ready to go out by divisions according to their numbers as mustered by Jeiel.
- He had an army of 307,500 men trained for war, a powerful army.
- Uzziah provided shields, spears, helmets, coats of armor, bows and slingstones for the entire army.
- In Jerusalem he made devices invented for use on the towers and on the corner defenses so that soldiers could shoot arrows and hurl large stones from the walls.
- His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful.
Verse sixteen was the turning point for King Uzziah’s success. After Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall (v16). He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. Why is burning incense in the temple of the Lord bad? God required incense to be burned to him, however, it was to be done in an orderly fashion. Not anyone can go and burn incense to the Lord. Only the priests were allowed to enter the temple and offer a burnt offering to the Lord. Uzziah’s pride had led him to believe that it was fine for him, as a king, to offer incense in the temple of the Lord. In God’s order, kings were not allowed to offer incense in the temple of God. That was strictly the priests’ job.
King Uzziah was not above the law even though he was extremely powerful and influential during his era. Thank God for some bold and courageous priests like Azariah and eighty other courageous priests of the Lord who followed Uzziah in the temple and confronted him. They knew that Uzziah the king could have all their heads cut off and placed on a platter in a second, but they went any ways because they knew that was the right thing to do.
They confronted King Uzziah and said, “It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the Lord God” (v. 19).
As any proud person would react in this situation, Uzziah became angry while he had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense. While he was still raging in anger at the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead on the spot. He was afflicted with leprosy and when the priests saw this miraculous event, they hurried to rush him out of the temple lest the Lord kill him. God had mercy on king Uzziah because he did not strike him dead on the spot.
King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. Since he was a leper, he had to live in a separate house and banned from living in the royal palace and ever entering the temple of the Lord. Lepers were one of the biggest outcasts during the ancient times because leprosy was a terminal disease that was awfully contagious.
King Uzziah’s pride led to his downfall! When he became strong and trusted in his own might and successes, that is when he became weak and an outcast. His son Jotham took charge over the palace and governed the people of the land.
When Uzziah finally died and was buried with his ancestors in a cemetery that belonged to the kings, he was not remembered for his might or long list of accomplishments. He was merely remembered as one having leprosy because the people said, “He had leprosy”. That is tough reality. How would you like to be remembered when you pass away?
King Uzziah started off on the right path but did not end well. As long as he was seeking the Lord, God gave him success. Are you seeking the Lord? Are you putting your trust in your long list of accomplishments?
It is very important to finish well! You can start off well and end short of God’s best in your life. As you get older, it is easy to slack off and rely solely on the good things you did when you were younger, but that is simply not the case. You must finish well.
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus – Philippians 1:6