“THE RISE AND FALL OF A GIANT” By Pastor YAU
Text: 2 Chronicles 26:1-5, 16-21 March 14, 2010.
1) Giants in a fairy story: In George McDonald’s fairy tale Lilith, giants live among normal size people. These giants must conduct their daily life very carefully. When they sleep, their snoring is thunderous and disruptive. When they turn over, houses may be crushed under their weight. Everything they do will impact others close to them. They have to control their food intake so they won’t grow too big and become more dangerous to people around them. Being a giant comes with responsibility.
2) A giant in Bible history: During the divided kingdom period, there were few good rulers on both sides: Judah and Israel. But Uzziah was one of the giant kings of the southern kingdom. He became king of Judah when he was only 16. With his heart tuned with God and all the helps in his time, he became a giant king of great success. Yet he didn’t control his pride generated by his success, he willfully stepped outside the boundary God set for him and disgraced himself the rest of his life till his death. Being a giant in your respective position is a privilege, but it comes with responsibilities you should not ignore.
THE RISE OF A GIANT KING: (2 Chronicles 26:1-15)
1) He had a godly father: “Uzziah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father, Amaziah had done.” (26:4) Even he was only 16 when he became king, he had the privilege of having a godly father to show him how to be a good king. The influence of a godly father on the lives of his children can never be underestimated in all areas of their development including their spiritual life. As his father did what was right in the eyes of God, so did king Uzziah.
2) He had a godly teacher: “He sought God during the days of Zechariah who instruct him in the fear of God.” (26:5) Besides what he learned from his godly father, Uzziah also had a godly instructor to show him what was right in the eyes of God. King Uzziah had the respect of God and His servant, the priest, and he was humble enough to seek his advice to do his job as a king. Either you are a king or a leader in whatever your position, to be humble to seek advice of God’s servant is never a mistake.
3) He set his heart on God: “As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success.” (26:5b)Besides learning for his father and the priest, King Uzziah set his heart to seek God in executing his duties as a king. He didn’t allow the position and power of a king to distract him from seeking the will of God, but setting his heart close to that of the Lord. His predecessor King Solomon gave him and all of us the secret of success years before Uzziah: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understand; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
4) He had many great helpers: “His fame spread far and wide for he was greatly helped until he became very powerful.” (26:15b) From 26:6-15a, we see many of his great helpers who helped him built his kingdom strong, rich and powerful. These helpers included skillful builder, farmers, military leaders and machine makers. Uzziah didn’t achieve his success all by himself. He was good in recruiting and working with good helpers to build his kingdom. Knowing how to recruit helpers and to work with them to achieve common goals is a necessary human skill to all leaders including those in God’s churches.
THE FALL OF A GIANT KING: (26:16-21)
1) It all starts with pride: “But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall.” (26:16a) There is no need of any interpretation of this sentence. Many years ago, Solomon gave warning on the danger of pride: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) History of kings and kingdoms, leaders in political and business arenas even in God’s churches, has provided ample examples of the truth. When a man is successful, the worst enemy is his pride. Over 600 years later, James also warned the early Christians to be aware of pride and it’s consequence, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
2) He crossed God’s boundaries: “He was unfaithful to the Lord his God and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.” (26:16b)Through the years observing the acts of his father and the years in his building-up, Uzziah certainly learned that there are things a king can and cannot do. His pride led him to believe that he can do whatever he wanted led him to violate the boundary God has set: entering the temple to burn the incense. Many of the giants fall because they falsely believe that because they are so successful, there is nothing to stop them from doing whatever their hearts desire.
3) He ignored godly advice: “Azariah the priest with 80 other courageous priests of the Lord followed him in. They confronted him 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.” (26:17-18) Unlike his early years, Uzziah ignored the instruction of priest Azariah and other priests. Ignoring loving and correct advice is the norm of those who believe they know better and no one else is better or wiser.
4) He suffered the consequence: “Uzziah who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the Lord’s temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead. When Azariah, the chief priest and all the other priests looked at him, they saw that he had leprosy on his forehead, so they hurried him out. Indeed, he himself was eager to leave because the Lord had afflicted him. King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house—leprous, and excluded from the temple of the Lord.” (26:19-21) Again, there is no need to interpret these verses the terrible consequences Uzziah suffered his fall from the grace of God and the respect of his people.
LESSONS WE NEED TO LEARN:
1) The power of influence: In 26:4, “Uzziah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah did. KJV.” For number of years after he became king, Uzziah did what his father did, the Lord blessed him and he became very strong. Never underestimate the power of influence a father has over his children. All fathers should learn from King Amaziah to set good example to their children.
2) The credits of helpers: “For he was greatly helped until he became very powerful.” (26:15b) No one would be sure if the king would be so successful and powerful without all the helps he had in all areas of his nation building. It is good that the Bible indicated the merit of all the helpers Uzziah had. This is not that much to glorify the helpers, rather it is good to give credits to those who help him become powerful. If and when you have achieved something of significance, never forget those who helped to get you there.
3) The courage that risks: “Azariah, the high priest and 80 other courageous priests followed him in. They confronted him and said, “It is not right for you Uzziah to burn incense to the Lord.” (26:17-18)To confront an ancient king and to point out his wrong could mean death to these priests, but they risked their lives to keep things right in the eyes of God. People of God, particularly servants of God, should not be intimidated to point out wrong even it may risk his life. Politically correct has no position in following the law of God.
4) The tragic ending of a giant: “Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house and excluded from the temple.” (26:21)At the height of his power and success, Uzziah wanted to enter the temple, and do what he supposed not to do because he felt there wasn’t anything he could not do. But the end was he became a leper and he wasn’t allowed to be with other people much less to be in the temple. No one knows how much he had regretted his foolishness and prayed for mercy of the Lord. The disgraceful punishment was with him until the day he died. Some of us might be sympathetic with him and may think the punishment exceeds his sin, the fact is he paid so heavily for his failure and we need to remember the lesson.
1) Be careful when successful: Paul encouraged us to give credits to God when he gives us great success, “I planted the seed, Apollo watered it, but God made it grow. So, neither he who plants not he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). The Bible also clearly stated that it was God who gave Uzziah success: “As long as Uzziah sought the Lord, God gave him success.” (26:5b)We should work diligently to get things done and done well, but it is God who gives us the fruits of our labor. Success is a gift of God, never the results of your hands.
2) Be included, not excluded: Uzziah was excluded from the presence and the temple of God because of his pride. But his exclusion was only his body. But you need to be aware of the danger of exclusion from salvation and the Kingdom of God if you reject God and his call of mercy to save your soul. Come to Jesus and ask Him to forget your sins and surrender your life to His leadership so he may lead you to a higher ground. Give up your pride and come to God, bumble before him and He will be your guide to lead you through your journey to heaven.