Today’s reading can be found in an audio file at this location: files.me.com/parklinscomb/0iv2t6.mp3
I hope your Sunday was uplifting. Most of us will be staying home Monday, since it’s Memorial Day. I think it’s important that we do take the time to remember the men and women who defend our country and its freedoms, especially those who gave the last full measure of devotion. Be sure to set aside a moment to think about it.
But on to our reading…
Seeking the LORD — Uzziah was among the better kings of Judah and the Scripture describes the reason why: “He continued to seek God”. Seeking after God is an active thing, rather than a passive one. Seeking God includes seeking His word, seeking His will, doing His will, applying His will, rooting out the attitudes and deeds that don’t belong in a Christian’s life, and active changing. Sadly, the default setting for practicing faith is often passive, but that’s not the way to real discipleship, really pleasing the Lord. God has actively sought us; shouldn’t we actively seek Him?
Pride went before Uzziah’s fall — Uzziah was militarily, spiritually, financially, and politically strong. And all his successes and strength went to his head. He became proud and his pride led him to a foolish move. It wasn’t unusual for kings to burn incense among the nations of Mesopotamia and the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea; in fact, many kings were king/priests who were expected to function like a priest on high holy days among the pagans. God’s pattern, however, had given the privilege of incense burning only to the Levitical priests (Lev. 2:16). Before the whole incident is over, Uzziah is a leper for life.
It’s a serious mistake to allow our talents, skills, or accomplishments to tempt us think more of ourselves than is warranted. Uzziah was great, because God had blessed him. We may be talents, educated, skilled, and accomplished, too; but it will still be because God has blessed us. When we forget, we find ourselves on a slippery slope toward a prideful fall.
It wasn’t completely the leaders’ fault — I’ve often wondered at how it was that good kings of Judah continued to tear down pagan altars, Asherim, and high places; yet it never seemed to completely eradicate them. King Jotham was a good guy without making the mistake that his father Uzziah made, and he did stuff like that. The problem was that so many individuals and families of Judah were practicing these things persistently. The physical structures of paganism were being destroyed, but few of the practitioners were being punished. The Scripture says, “…But the people continued acting corruptly” (27:2). Long term changes don’t come from superficial adjustments; they come from getting to the root of the problems and changing things from the roots up.
Pouring gasoline on the fire — Ahaz was not a good king. He had already become displeasing to God. But instead of repenting, he opted to dodge the consequences of his sinful actions by doing more sinful things. It’s sort of like tell a lie to cover up a lie that was supposed to cover up another lie. When God weakened Ahaz, because of his sinfulness, he sought the Assyrians’ help — which backfired. And when that made matters worse, he took up the worship of gods of the Arameans — yeah, that’ll make it better. And when that didn’t work he began trying to sell of the tools connected with the worship of God and close down the Temple. Sometimes counseling clients have stories that are not far removed from Ahaz’s evil trajectory of action, just on a smaller scale. Their lives are complicated webs of mistakes piled on top of mistakes to cover up more mistakes. The solution — seldom taken — is just to start telling the truth, doing what’s right to correct the mistakes one at a time, and facing up to the consequences. But to do otherwise is worse. Don’t pour gasoline on the fire.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.