2 Kings 15 is a list of two kings of Judah and three kings of Israel who reigned contemporaneously and in succession of one another. It says very little about each king and makes me wonder how I can apply this to my life. But 2 Timothy 3:16-17 reminds me,
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
So I dig in and cannot wait to see what The Holy Spirit teaches me today. As I read, prayed, and studied, God really used the sword of the Spirit in the first seven verses to reveal the sins of my heart to me and correct me.
Verses 1-7 read,
“In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah the son of Amaziah, king of Judah, began to reign. 2 He was sixteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jecoliah of Jerusalem. 3 And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. 4 Nevertheless, the high places were not taken away. The people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places. 5 And the Lord touched the king, so that he was a leper to the day of his death, and he lived in a separate house. And Jotham the king's son was over the household, governing the people of the land. 6 Now the rest of the acts of Azariah, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 7 And Azariah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David, and Jotham his son reigned in his place.”
Azariah’s reign was long, it began well because this king did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. But something happened and he was struck with leprosy. For the last part of reign he did not actually govern Judah, or live in the palace. He as king in name only. 2 Chronicles 26 fills in the holes for us. In that book Azariah is known as Uzziah and differentiated from the chief priest Azariah. Uzziah intentionally sought The Lord and God really prospered him and all he did. 2 Chronicles 26:6-15 describe his greatness.
“He went out and made war against the Philistines and broke through the wall of Gath and the wall of Jabneh and the wall of Ashdod, and he built cities in the territory of Ashdod and elsewhere among the Philistines. 7 God helped him against the Philistines and against the Arabians who lived in Gurbaal and against the Meunites. 8 The Ammonites paid tribute to Uzziah, and his fame spread even to the border of Egypt, for he became very strong. 9 Moreover, Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate and at the Valley Gate and at the Angle, and fortified them. 10 And he built towers in the wilderness andcut out many cisterns, for he had large herds, both in the Shephelah and in the plain, and he had farmers and vinedressers in the hills and in the fertile lands, for he loved the soil. 11 Moreover, Uzziah had an army of soldiers, fit for war, in divisions according to the numbers in the muster made by Jeiel the secretary and Maaseiah the officer, under the direction of Hananiah, one of the king's commanders. 12 The whole number of the heads of fathers' houses of mighty men of valor was 2,600. 13 Under their command was an army of 307,500, who could make war with mighty power, to help the king against the enemy. 14 And Uzziah prepared for all the army shields, spears, helmets, coats of mail, bows, and stones for slinging. 15 In Jerusalem he made machines, invented by skillful men, to be on the towers and the corners, to shoot arrows and great stones. And his fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped, till he was strong.”
All that success and valor went to his head. He became very proud of his army, might, and skill. He must have thought he could go anywhere and do anything as The Lord’s chosen warrior king. So he did. 2 Chronicles 26:16-21 describe what happened.
“But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the Lord his God and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. 17 But Azariah the priest went in after him, with eighty priests of the Lord who were men of valor, 18 and they withstood King Uzziah and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the Lord God.” 19 Then Uzziah was angry. Now he had a censer in his hand to burn incense, and when he became angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead in the presence of the priests in the house of the Lord, by the altar of incense. 20 And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous in his forehead! And they rushed him out quickly, and he himself hurried to go out, because the Lord had struck him.21 And King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death, and being a leper lived in a separate house, for he was excluded from the house of the Lord. And Jotham his son was over the king's household, governing the people of the land.”
Pride got him and took away all his honor. He lived alone in shame and couldn’t even carry out his duties as King. Pride took away his privilege to worship The Lord at the Temple because, he decided that he didn’t need a mediator between himself and The Lord. The Lord exalted Azariah to be the king of Judah. Azariah exalted himself to the office of priest. The Lord took all that away by making him unclean with leprosy. Is that a sin you have committed? Has pride gotten in the way and said, “You don’t need Jesus. Your good works are really good! You are a good person, not a sinner, certainly not as bad as that guy or that girl.”
Jesus came to save the sinners, if you don’t think you’re a sinner, you can’t ask Him to save you. If you do not think you’re unclean, He won’t cleanse you (Luke 5:31-32). And without His righteousness, without your scarlet robes (sin) cleansed white as snow (forgiven by Jesus’ blood) your good works don’t mean squat. You could feed every hungry person in the world, you could free every wrongfully convicted prisoner, you could take care of every orphan and you would still be unclean, sinful and be banned from entering the City of God, New Jerusalem in eternal life. Ephesians 2:8-10 reads,
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
You can do all the good things in the world, but without Jesus, it is not Love, since God is Love (1 John 4:8). You glorify yourself not Jesus and so it is meaningless. You efforts cannot save you, no matter how ‘good’ you are. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says it like this,
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
It is The Lord who appoints us to our positions, it is He who gives us gifts and blessings. He is sovereign. In Daniel 2:20-23 “Daniel answered and said:
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
21 He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
22 he reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him.
23 To you, O God of my fathers,
I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me wisdom and might,
and have now made known to me what we asked of you,
for you have made known to us the king's matter.”
You are not God, no matter how blessed, forgiven, and strong you are, you are not God. It is not you who has done the good or great things you’ve done. Have you prophesied? Have you taught scores and scores of people? Have you led nations to Christ? Have you fought wars for Him? You only did that because God allowed you to do it. You only did that because The Lord enable you to it. You can do nothing apart from Him (John 15:5). It was not you who saved you. John 15:16-17 reads,
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
Pride is dangerous. Azariah actually thought he was doing a good thing by wanting to burn incense to The Lord, but he was not. He was glorifying himself, he was disregarding The Lord and His priest to burn incense he had no right to burn. He should have offered a proper sacrifice of Thanksgiving per the Law, but his pride made him usurp the Law and do things his way.
Don’t let pride over how good you are make you forget how it is we who need God and not vice-versa. Believer, The Lord smiles when He thinks about you. He loves you. Even that is not a reason to let pride come in. You are a sinner who cannot save yourself. We do not take pride in ourselves but in Him.