A sermon by Ed Smith
(inspired by the teachings of Chuck Swindoll)
2 Chronicles 26: 1, 5
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.
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.
As the reign of Solomon, King of Israel ended, his extremely greedy son, Rehoboam came on the scene in his place. This son was wicked and cruel to his people, so the ten northern tribes (under Jeroboam’s leadership) seceded from the nation, and formed a new nation. The tenth king down the line from Rehoboam was Uzziah (also called Azariah). Uzziah ruled from 792 BC until 739 BC. He took the throne as a teenager, and for many years he sustained an impressive reign. However, while in the zenith of his career, things changed. The results were tragic, both nationally and personally.
Uzziah’s first years were filled with unbelievable success…the last years though, were full of horrible failure….because of sin. The main thing is that “as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper…” But, Uzziah was a narcissist.
I. Uzziah as a youth (2 Chronicles 26:1-5)
A. His beginning (vs. 1a). By unanimous vote of the citizens of the nation of Judah, he was made king at the age of sixteen.
B. (the latter part of verse 1) Amaziah, the father of Uzziah was murdered by his people. The writer of the Chronicles tells his life’s story in a single sentence: “He did right in the sight of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart” Amaziah was a “fence rider” given to compromise and vacillation. He never put his whole heart into his work as king; the same with his relationship with God.
C. Uzziah’s spiritual condition is discussed in versus 4-5. Words reminiscent of his father are recorded: “he did right in the sight of the Lord according to all that his father Amaziah had done” – Like his father, Amaziah, Uzziah’s goodness and service to God was only half-hearted.
II. Uzziah’s accomplishments as King 2 Chronicles 26:6-15 tells us that Uzziah was quite a Statesman. His growing success that began in his youth continued throughout this part of his life. These were good years for the young king. Nationally, he was a prosperous official. Some of his National Accomplishments are listed in versus 6-7 and 9-10) These can be viewed from two perspectives; away from home and at home in Jerusalem.
A. Accomplishments away from Home. (vs. 6-7)
1. he won a decisive victory over Israel’s longtime enemy….Philistia. He broke down the walls of such cities as Gath, Jabneth, and Ashdod.
2. He helped rebuild cities in the region, once those victories had been achieved. He was hailed as a mighty conqueror.
3. With God’s help he successfully fought against the Arabians from Gur-baal (we don’t know the location of this place), and the Meunites (perhaps people of the Edomite Desert, from due south of the Dead Sea.)
B. Accomplishments at Home (vs. 9-10)
1. He fortified Jerusalem against invasion from enemies.
2. He built cisterns and towers in the surrounding regions in conjunction with his livestock operations,
3. He engaged in various farming projects that provided an abundance of food for his people.
C. Accomplishments from a Military perspective. (vs. 11-15)
1. He organized a fine-tuned military machine composed of 2600 officers and 307,500 soldiers.
2. He made provision for their clothing and weapons: shields, spears, helmets, body armor, bows, and slings (no small task in that day and age).
3. He utilized the inventions of his people and manufactured “engines of war” (catapults). These were placed on the walls of Jerusalem to shoot arrows and large stones at advancing armies attempting to overtake the city.
D. Personal Accomplishments:
1. Uzziah gained personal fame and was well known in his kingdom and beyond. (vs. 8 and 15b).
a. The Ammonites to the East gave tribute to Uzziah. People as far away as Egypt did the same.
b. His power base spread substantially beyond his own borders.
c. The source of his might must be remembered during these years, however….”God prospered Him (v. 5). God helped him (v. 7).
2. Looking at the surface of his kingdom, Uzziah had it all. His neighbors, the Ammonites praised him. Just the same, Uzziah apparently began feeding upon such accolades….forgetting from whence his strength came. The writer of Chronicles says it this way: “He was marvelously helped until he was strong. (vs. 15b).
Unfortunately for Uzziah, he did not remain humble. He became arrogant and his half-heartedness began to mark his daily actions. This change in character marked a turning point in the life of Uzziah. He had become strong in his own eyes and in his own strength…until pride (the beginnings of narcissism) took over his life.
III. Uzziah rebelled against God. (2 Chronicles 26:16-18) His life began to demonstrate things that resulted from his rebellion both inwardly and outwardly.
A. Inwardly, he became PRIDEFUL. The Chronicles report “but when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the Lord his God….” This was Uzziah’s big step away from his God. This step took place within the privacy of his heart, and it came after a slow erosion of the bedrock that had once been his to enjoy. This is the sign that the prideful king had begun to fall helplessly in love with himself. In short, Uzziah became a narcissist.
B. Outwardly, CORRUPTION became a way of life. (vs. 16b – 18)
1. He crossed boundaries which even a king had no privilege to violate.
2. He went into the temple to perform the service reserved only for a priest — he went in to burn incense at the altar of incense.
3. He was confronted by Azariah the priest, and 80 of his associates who told the king to get out….(vs. 18).
4. Uzziah had his eyes on himself, and arrogantly ignored his limitations.
IV. Uzziah paid the ultimate price for his rebellion an disobedience to God. (2 Chronicles 26:19 – 23)
A. When confronted, Uzziah responded with rage. He was clearly out of order, but refused to acknowledge that fact.
B. While as yet the censer for burning incense was still in his hand, leprosy broke out across his forehead……
God had smitten the once powerful and popular king in reproof for his evil deeds. This man, once mammoth in the eyes of all those who loved and respected him, became a shivering, obscure, forgotten leper. He went too far….
Uzziah fell because of inward pride that led to sin and ultimately defeat. God commands us over and over in Scripture to “humble ourselves.” The famous inventor Samuel Morse was once asked if he ever encountered situations where he didn’t know what to do. Morse responded, “More than once, and whenever I could not see my way clearly, I knelt down and prayed to God for light and understanding.” Morse received many honors from his invention of the telegraph but felt undeserving of them: “I have made a valuable application of electricity not because I was superior to other men but solely because God, who meant it for mankind, must reveal it to someone and He was pleased to reveal it to me.”
Lessons for those of those of us who are now, or will become successful in your lifetime….
1. There is absolutely no Genuine Success is possible apart from God.
2. There are few tests like the one success, power or wealth brings.
3. The Lord who blesses us with success is also able to bring down the proud, arrogant person who disregards His teachings and plan for their life.
Narcissus was the handsome youth in classical mythology that beheld his own reflection in a pond and fell helplessly in love with himself. Because he was so self-absorbed, he became unable to tear himself away from the image of his beautiful reflection, and he wasted away and died at that very spot. His own self-absorption led to his destruction, and the coining of the word we know as narcissism.
Narcissism permeates our society today. Many people are wasting away spiritually, emotionally and physically because of the self-absorbed lifestyle of a narcissist. Our ability to maintain a healthy attitude of ourselves is tied up with the reckoning of who we really and truly are…and are not in Christ. “Without Him, I could do nothing,” the old song says. We are nothing apart from Christ. We accomplish nothing without His blessing. We wouldn’t even be here, except that God created us and gave to us life and life more abundantly through Jesus Christ. Jesus died to pay our legal penalty for sin in order to secure our forgiveness but He also died so that we could be delivered from the power of selfishness and narcissism. He rose from the dead representing the proto-type of a new human race, fixating on glorifying God, and serving others and maintaining a healthy knowledge of who we are in Christ. He endows those who put the full weight of their trust on Him with a new nature – a new life in the Spirit.
True success is more than a satisfactory completion of goals. Our freedom in Christ along with our divinely purposed destiny as human beings and Christians is found in the escape from that which keeps us enslaved by self-interest, self-aggrandizement and self absorption. The absence of narcissism plus the presence of Christ as our Savior is the definition of a healthy and joyful heart.