Today: [2 Chronicles Twenty-Six] The Leper King. In this chapter we see the fate of the next king in Judah. Uzziah was the successor to Amaziah at the tender age of 16. He was tutored by a seer named Zecheriah and became a formidable king greatly blessed of God. Later in his life however he presumed upon the office of the priesthood and was struck with leprosy. In Judah the kings held great honor but the often failed to acknowledge the leadership of the priests and prophets in their courts. The leaders God gives us are plural in nature. God wants us to identify and establish relationship with all of his office gifts and not just one. In so doing we will find the full blessing of God and avoid the leper king’s fate.
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[2Ch 26:1-23 KJV] 1 Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who [was] sixteen years old, and made him king in the room of his father Amaziah. 2 He built Eloth, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers. 3 Sixteen years old [was] Uzziah when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also [was] Jecoliah of Jerusalem. 4 And he did [that which was] right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah did. 5 And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper.
Amaziah is assassinated and the people take his son Uzziah and make him king in Amaziah’s place. Uzziah from the beginning of his reign is a reformer whose rule is the longest in Judah up to this point. He sat on the throne of Judah for 52 years. It is said by the chronicler that he did what was right in the sight of the Lord – AFTER THE MANNER of his father before him. This is a telling remark because the previous chapter tells us that Amaziah also was obedient to God but not with a right heart. It would be helpful at this point to trace the character issues in the line of these kings to identify the generational values that made them vulnerable to disobedience.
Asa – trusted God in his youth but showed lack of faith in his later years and a particular impatience toward the prophets.
Jehoshaphat – a godly king yet he allowed himself to be influenced by Ahab and Jezebel. Resisted the counsel of the prophets sent to him by God to his own hurt.
Jehoram – followed his father’s example and married a daughter of Jezebel. Because Jehoshaphat dabbled in the idolatries of the north his son was wholly given over to Baal worship.
Ahaziah – continued in the idolatry precipitated by Jehoshaphat and enlarged upon by his own father before him.
Joash – mentored by the high priest but resented the godly influence his peers. Followed in the example of his forefathers in the sin of Jehoshaphat.
Amaziah – adopted his father’s resentment of other godly leaders and chose to burn incense to the gods of the Edomites. The legacy of Jehoshaphat continues.
After Amaziah is assassinated (as his father before him) the kingdom is in disarray. Both Uzziah’s father and grandfather before him rejected the priesthood and the prophets respectively but again God sends a seer into Uzziah’s life by the name of Zecheriah who understood dreams and visions and helped the young king greatly. As Jehoshaphat understood in battle when you believe the prophets you prosper when you go your own way things do not go well. The prophetic is intended to be a permanent installment in your life just as pastors and teachers of the scripture are. The prophet is all about enlarging the blessing of God in your life. If your life reflects restriction, impediment and contradiction to God’s blessing the prophetic is available to lead you to all that God has for you in Christ. You reject the prophetic or neglect the prophetic at your own peril. This is the lesson of the early kings of Judah.
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 God 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. 9 Moreover Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the corner gate, and at the valley gate, and at the turning [of the wall], and fortified them. 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. 11 Moreover Uzziah had an host of fighting men, that went out to war by bands, according to the number of their account by the hand of Jeiel the scribe and Maaseiah the ruler, under the hand of Hananiah, [one] of the king’s captains. 12 The whole number of the chief of the fathers of the mighty men of valour [were] two thousand and six hundred. 13 And under their hand [was] an army, three hundred thousand and seven thousand and five hundred, that made war with mighty power, to help the king against the enemy. 14 And Uzziah prepared for them throughout all the host shields, and spears, and helmets, and habergeons, and bows, and slings [to cast] stones. 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.
Uzziah was a warrior king as David was before him. When he went against the enemies of Judah God helped him. Uzziah conquered the Philistines, the Arabians, and the Mehunims. The Ammonites saw the prowess of Uzziah in battle and became tributaries to him without battle. His renown was great reaching even to the borders of Egypt and the Pharaohs lounging on the banks of the Nile. As many kings before him Uzziah was a builder of walls and cities and wells of water for the people of God. As the pastor is the type of the teaching priests of the Old Testament so the king as a builder is a type of the ministry of the apostles – the wise master builders that Paul spoke so often of.
As the Old Testament people of God needed “prophet, priest and king” so we need Apostles, Prophets, and Teachers as Paul said in 1 Corinthians:
[1Co 12:28 KJV] 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
When we seek out the plurality of the office gifts that Jesus gave at his ascension we are benefited, blessed and promoted. When we reject these gifts or when the people holding these offices become territorial and resentful of one another the purposes of God suffer and the enemies of the kingdom prevail over the people of God. We cannot correct this institutionally but we can correct this in our own lives at an individual level. Who is your pastor? Who is your prophet? Who is your apostle. These are questions that every person who claims to believe in the economy of God revealed in the New Testament MUST answer.
16 But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to [his] destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense. 17 And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, [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 the LORD, 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 the LORD God. 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 the LORD, from beside the incense altar. 20 And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he [was] leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him. 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 the LORD: and Jotham his son [was] over the king’s house, judging the people of the land. 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.
There came a time in Uzziah’s life that he presumed upon the priest’s office. He attempted to burn incense in the inner court before the veil of the Holy of Holies. An veritable army of priests attempted to restrain him but he prevailed and was struck with leprosy for the remainder of his unfortunately long life. The lesson of Uzziah is the lesson of leaders maintaining the boundaries set for them by God. A pastor cannot replace a prophet. A prophet cannot arbitrarily promote himself to be an apostle. One office gift has no right to intrude on the gifting of another or to deny the people they lead access to the other ministries. Unfortunately this is extremely common in Christian culture today and as a result the secular world is plowing under the people of God and marring our testimony because we have no strength in ourselves or unity because we have denied the gifts that a risen Christ has accorded to us in the 5-fold ministry.
The remainder of the acts of Uzziah were chronicled by Isaiah the prophet. Isaiah was the member of an aristocratic family, born to privilege and serving in the priesthood. He would have witnessed the atrocity of Uzziah’s intrusion into the priest’s office. He would have seen the arachnid scar of leprosy breaking out on Uzziah’s face when he broke through to the holy place with an censor of incense in his hand. Realizing this it gives us context for why Isaiah was so afraid when he saw the glory of God:
[Isa 6:1, 5 KJV] 1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. … 5 Then said I, Woe [is] me! for I am undone; because I [am] a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
When Isaiah saw the glory of God he presumed that he was about to experience Uzziah’s fate – to become a man of leprous contamination. But the angel touched him with coals from the very altar that Uzziah presumed upon and his next cry was “here am I, Lord – send me!”
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