“[Uzziah]set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper.”
2 Chronicles 26:5
King Uzziah was a good king and a good man. The Bible gives us glowing accounts of his work, as he sought the Lord with all his heart. God caused Judah to become strong, stable, and peacefully secure under his reign.
But Uzziah became proud of his accomplishments and in his pride he made a terrible mistake. He decided that he should not only be the king, but a priest as well. He went into the Temple to burn incense and offer his prayers there.
But God had said that only the priests were allowed to do that. Eighty priests followed him into the temple, trying to dissuade him from this foolish behavior. Instead of listening, he became angry. Standing there in the presence of the Lord he raged against the priests who wouldn’t let him do what he wanted.
Suddenly a change came over his face. Leprosy, that terrible disfiguring disease, broke out on his forehead. The priests, horrified, hustled him out of the temple. Uzziah himself couldn’t get out quickly enough when he realized what had happened.
Uzziah spent the rest of his fifty-two year reign living in seclusion. He was still the King but couldn’t appear in public. His son, Jotham, represented him and effectively ruled the country for the rest of his father’s life.
The priests, as well as all the people, loved this king who had done so much good. They were grieved to see his prideful behavior. They were terribly saddened by what happened to him. Isaiah begins the story of his own call to be a prophet with the words, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord...”
Even good, godly people sometimes make foolish mistakes and fall into terrible sins. Sometimes these mistakes are just forgiven and forgotten; other times, in God’s mercy, there are consequences. The sin is forgiven, but God knows that we - or maybe someone else who is watching - need to live with the results in order to keep us from falling into even greater sin.
When we pray, “Lead us not into temptation” we are recognizing our own weakness and susceptibility to temptation. We are praying that God would keep us from foolishly doing anything that might cause damage to ourselves or others or to His Kingdom. I can think of many times in my life where the Lord has kept me from taking that one little step that would have tipped me into an act of foolish sin that would have had terrible, irreparable consequences.
No matter what you have done, know that the blood of Jesus cleanses you from every sin. As soon as we turn to God in repentance we are met with complete forgiveness. Even if you find yourself living with the consequences of a foolish, sinful act, know that God’s grace covers and His forgiveness restores your relationship with Him, for Jesus’ sake.
Lord, thank You for Your abundant forgiveness. Thank You for all the times You have kept me from some foolish sin that would have caused unthinkable destruction. Thank You for mercifully disciplining me when I need some stinging reminder of the danger I face, the next time I’m tempted. Lord, keep me close in those times of temptation; keep me from falling when temptations come. Thank You that even when I am living out the consequences of some sin, the blood of Jesus still washes all my sin and guilt away. Amen.
Pastor Dan Giles