A long-forgotten blog resurfaced in a strange turn of events, and this entry is just as applicable today as it was a decade ago when it was written...
It has been quite some time since I have shared my thoughts about my devotional readings. No, I have not been unfaithful in reading God's Word; however, I will concede that I do not spend enough time in studying His thoughts. It is amazing how that we, as Christians, stand upon His Word for our eternal destiny; yet, we are so quick to read a chapter and declare our relationship fine. Instead, we must get alone, dig, study, and apply everything that we read. Sometimes, we must read quite a bit in order to discover what God has for us in that setting. Anyway, I needed to remind myself of that fact before moving onward; so please excuse that digression.
In working through the Biblical history books, last night found me moving through II Chronicles 26:16-23. Uzziah was considered a good king, but his life provides a specific challenge to us all. This section personally applies to me because I have recently received a promotion at work and am the Director of my Office. So, let's learn about this king and see how we can ensure that we do not repeat his mistakes.
Uzziah, according to verse 16, fell into the trap of pride due to his prosperity and position -"when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction." You see, he developed machines that rested on city walls to launch rocks and arrows - early versions of the catapult or trebuchet. Clearly, the king was resting upon his prosperity and military strength coming from the innovation and work of his people. He, quite incorrectly, assumed that past results were a guarantee of future gain! Future accomplishments emerge through vigilant, hard work.
With that backdrop, Uzziah decided to offer incense, which he, as king, could not do. In modern vernacular, he was dead wrong! The king served as the civil authority of the nation; however, he did so at the pleasure of God. Multiple times, God spoke to His people and told them that He would bless them as long as they followed His commands. The king was about to usurp one of those directives by assuming the role of priest as well - something that would never work (i.e. look at the example of the judge Gideon who lived like a king and created a priestly ephod that led Israel back into idolatry).
Thankfully, the priests, in verse 18, "withstood King Uzziah." They warned him! The Hebraic term references taking a stand and defending. In other words, they surrounded him, stopped him, and stood to stop him. Verse 17 reveals that 80 priests stood together against the king - quite possibly for their own peril - but God wanted us to remember them as valiant or strong men. Typically, in the Old Testament, valiant is a word utilized for soldiers. Its usage in this context reveals that standing for what is right against wayward leaders is just as vital. Simply, they warned their king about the error of his ways and attempted to prevent Uzziah's death. Whereas the king listened to his advisers regarding military machines on the walls, he failed to heed the warnings of these priests.
While in the wrong and warned by loyal servants, Uzziah opted to respond with wrath. These priests sought to protect him, but the king could only see them as lowly priests that were insubordinate to his authority. He had already entered a part of the Temple that was forbidden to him, and when rebuked, he became "furious" and "angry." The NKJV uses two different words, but they are both the same Hebrew term. To get an understanding of the king's response, the Hebrew term does denote anger but in two expressive ways: (1) foaming at the mouth and (2) intense burning. The king was not merely disappointed, he was about to explode in rage.
This explosive wrath led to the final element of this story - his power waned. God punished this king by immediately causing leprosy to break out upon him. The presence of leprosy was symbolic of uncleanness. This king, earlier described as strong, now faced awful consequences as he was: thrown out of the Temple, denied access to corporate worship, removed from his palace, forced to live in an "isolated house," lost his ability to rule the nation, and watched as his son had to lead instead. The once powerful man had been reduced to the ceremonial holder of a position. His influence was gone because he refused to listen to proper advice.
The implications are clear for leaders and for those aspiring to become leaders.
(1) We know what is right and must continue to practice rightness even when we have climbed the ladder.
(2) When corrected by others, gauge your response correctly. Too often, we stubbornly refuse to listen and launch into a defense of our position. Listening and reflecting may prevent serious heartbreak down the road.
(3) Anger can be a dangerous thing; so beware of its hold upon your life.
(4) If you will not do right, will not listen to advisers, and will not respond correctly, then expect a hard fall.
What a challenge this was to me, and maybe it will help you as well.