2 CHRONICLES 26
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5 And he sought Elohim in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of Elohim: and as long as he sought Yahweh, Elohim made him to prosper.
There is no other record concerning this Zechariah. Clearly, he was a prophet raised up to teach and guide the young Uzziah, as the high priest Jehoiada had done for Joash. Here is illustrated the value and power of good counsel and guidance. Uzziah was very energetic and strong minded, but he was kept in the way of right by his respect and trust of Zechariah.
as long as he sought Yahweh, Elohim made him to prosper
This is always and inescapably true, though it may not always be apparent on the surface. We may forsake God and seek the things of the world and appear to prosper. And, we may faithfully serve God and appear to suffer for it and not to prosper. But the most important thing in the world is for us to have the sense to realize that on the one hand God cannot be mocked with impunity and on the other hand that all things eventually work together for good for them that love and serve God.
We cannot lose, IF we serve God; we cannot win, if we don't. It's that simple. If we have the sense to see this, regardless of appearances, our course is always clear. If we do not have the sense to see it, we are stupid indeed.*
6 And he went forth and warred against the Philistines, and brake down the wall of Gath, and the wall of Jabneh, and the wall of Ashdod, and built cities about Ashdod, and among the Philistines.
7 And Elohim helped him against the Philistines, and against the Arabians that dwelt in Gurbaal, and the Mehunims.
8 And the Ammonites gave gifts to Uzziah: and his name spread abroad even to the entering in of Egypt; for he strengthened himself exceedingly.
Verses 6-8 - Speak of the conquest of Uzziah to the west, east, and south. Verse 2 also mentions that he extended his sway as far as Eloth, the port down on the Red Sea, where Solomon maybe operated from. This port is vitally important to Israel today. It was Nasser's blocking of it that caused the 1967 war. It was similarly important to Israel in Bible days, and for the same reason-trade with the East. Clearly, Uzziah was one of the most powerful and prosperous of all the kings.*
10 Also he built towers in the desert, and digged many wells: for he had much cattle, both in the low country, and in the plains: husbandmen also, and vine dressers in the mountains, and in Carmel: for he loved husbandry.
Verse 10 tells of his extensive holdings and operations in agriculture and cattle raising, "for he loved husbandry." Or, literally, as in the margin, he loved the ground, the earth. It is strange that the scriptures give us this insight into his character. It makes him stand out as a real person so much more than many of the kings that mostly stumble through their meaningless and mostly evil courses.
He loved the earth. He dug many wells, like Elath-another parallel with present vast irrigation projects. All this makes the record very real and alive. The water is there, but it must be searched for with great effort. The whole record portrays him as a very interesting man of great energy and activity.*
15 And he made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal. And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong.
The army was very thoroughly equipped, trained, and armed. Here again, he was an energetic man in whatever he did.
The military machines mentioned in verse 15 - the mechanical catapult for throwing arrows with great force and the ballista for throwing large stones appear here in recorded history for the first time.
The statement "engines, invented by cunning men," strongly implies that these were new inventions at this time by his men. This agrees with the Roman historian Pliny, who says that they originated in Syria, which in Roman times included Palestine. These machines destroyed fortifications and greatly shortened seige operations. This is a similar event to the introduction of cannons by the Turks, whereby they were able to conquer Constantinople.
Immediately following the record of the invention of these machines, it is recorded (verse 15), "his name spread far abroad." If, as it would appear, he was the originator of these later very common weapons of war, his fame certainly would spread far.*
16 But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against Yahweh his Elohim, and went into the temple of Yahweh to burn incense upon the altar of incense.
When he was strong, his heart was lifted up
The sad examples of scripture show that this was a far more common and insidious danger than we realize. Prosperity or success or achievement of any kind almost invariably creates pride, and destroys the essential wisdom of humility.
At very best, man is absolutely nothing-completely dependent upon God for all that he has and for every moment's breath. Any kind of accomplishment seems to unhinge his judgment and create a false sense of importance.
Much of the world's activity is for pride and snobbery and the desire to create an impression upon others. The whole fashion industry is based upon this. The automobile and housing industry cater heavily to pride and snobbery. The pride of life is a fundamental human lust. The children of God MUST see through and rise above this juvenile folly and get their minds on sensible and eternal things.*
17 And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him 80 priests of Yahweh, that were valiant men:
18 And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto Yahweh, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from Yahweh Elohim.
Uzziah went into the temple to burn incense upon the golden altar in the Holy Place. It is a very interesting incident-provocative of much thought.
Why did he do it? Surely he knew better. What was his frame of mind? And what is the lesson for us, translated into our own circumstances?
He had great power, great success, and great fame. God had very greatly and openly favored him, and he knew it. He was a very great man-something special in the purpose. There was only one honour and position in Israel denied to him. Hundreds of ordinary priests, common men, could go where he could not go and could do what he could not do. He, the supreme king, had to approach God humbly through them.
We do not know what led up to this event. It is not likely it was just out of the blue, on the spur of the moment. But clearly, the basic cause was pride and presumption. His heart was lifted up. Somehow-and here is the universal danger-somehow he came to feel he was something very special to God-that in some way he was an exception-that he and God had some special relationship so that he would be accepted without following the rigid rules that were for others.
This is a very easy fallacy to slip into. To some extent we all do-we all well know the many commandments: always abound in the work of the Lord; universal love and goodness to all; no discussion of the faults of others; lay not up treasure; always render good for evil; set the mind entirely on the things above; serve God continually with the whole heart, mind, soul, and strength; and many, many other very simple but very searching commands.
But somehow we subconsciously feel God doesn't really mean all that to that extent. I'm sure I can make it and still have time for many of the things of the world. I'm an exception. He will accept me, because I mean well, even if I do less than He very clearly lays out. At least, we tend very much to act as though that is how we are thinking. If we are thinking at all.
But God is no respecter of persons. He has said exactly what He requires. Attaining to eternal life is not a pleasant part-time hobby, but a serious, full-time, life-long, exclusive dedication. "Many are called, but few are chosen;" the very few who have the wisdom to believe that God means exactly what He says, and that He will stick to it.
Let us repeatedly read over the lives of the faithful in Hebrews 11, and meditate on what they were willing to do and to endure and to give up to gain salvation. How do we compare? Are we in the very select class of those few who truly live by faith exclusively, regardless of consequences? Or do we fear, like the rest of the world?*
Thou hast trespassed
So far, nothing had happened to him. God was very merciful. Here was a chance to escape-to stop and think. A final warning from God through the high priest - the issue was very clear, but Uzziah plunged on. He would not take the warning.*
19 Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of Yahweh, from beside the incense altar.
The much worse mental leprosy of sin was inside his forehead by his own choice. God, in righteous judgment, put the physical leprosy on the outside to match, for all the world to see and loathe.
In a brief, fatal moment, everything in his life changed. The whole course of his life and power and glory and success suddenly collapsed. They thrust him out as unclean, and he himself hasted to go out. All his pride was gone. He was a shunned and untouchable leper and remained so until the day of his death.*
21 And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of Yahweh: and Jotham his son was over the king's house, judging the people of the land.
He who had proudly presumed to officiate in the Holy Place now was barred from even approaching the outer court, but had to be confined in polluted isolation away from society, slowly consumed by a horrible and repulsive disease.
It was a terrible punishment, but still a potentially merciful one. The lawful penalty for entering the Holy Place was immediate death. Leprosy was a living death, and in many ways more dreadful than death itself. But it did give opportunity for reflection and repentance. We can only hope that he used these final years of lingering death in the way of humble wisdom. We are not told.
When he died, he was buried separately from the other kings, because he was a leper. The shame followed him even in death, and he would know that this was to be, and it would add to the humiliation of his punishment. A glorious and honorable burial was of great consequence to the Hebrews.
Natural leprosy is a matter of sympathy and pity. Judicial leprosy from God for wickedness - a matter of mocking and terrible humiliation - lifelong shame. He may have repented, but God never took away the leprosy from him, but allowed it to run its course until his death.*
22 Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, first and last, did Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, write.
23 So Uzziah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the field of the burial which belonged to the kings; for they said, He is a leper: and Jotham his son reigned in his stead.
Jotham is the only king of either kingdom of whom nothing unfavorable is recorded, but we have no personal incidents or insights into his character, except that he was a great builder-a builder of cities and fortresses. And he "became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the LORD."
This was a time of great prophetic activity. Isaiah, Hosea, and Micah all prophesied during Jotham's reign and the reigns of the two kings who followed him, Ahaz and Hezekiah, his son and grandson. There is no reference to any direct contact between Jotham and any of these prophets. But they, especially Isaiah, must have been a guide and a strength to him in his righteous reign.
He reigned only sixteen years and died at the early age of 41. He appears to have been taken away from the evil to come.*
*Bro Growcott - He hasted to go out