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Uzziah, part 1

For a few minutes, disregard the fact that my last post was about being intentional to write about Hosea and this post follows it almost exactly one month later. Just suspend your beliefs about time while reading this, for my sake.

I do actually have something to post about in Hosea, which means I kind of did follow through on my last post. Context is the heartbeat of my research, so naturally the first place for me to start in picking up this study again is, well, at the beginning. Here we go:

The word of the LORD came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah…

Hosea 1:1a

I thought it would be beneficial to look at the days that prompted God to speak to Hosea, so I turned to 2 Chronicles 26, which talks about Uzziah. Lo and behold, this is what I found:

And all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah…and he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done.

2 Chronicles 26:1,4

At first glance, this seems like Judah was in a good place when God started speaking the heavy and heartbreaking message to Hosea. But wait, it doesn’t just say that Uzziah did right before God, it says he did right “according to all that his father Amaziah had done.” What does that mean?
Well, it turns out that Amaziah started by following God. He was faithful in the beginning, and God helped him prosper. He even obeyed God in what seemed like a risky war plan, and God made him victorious. His deal was that after his successful victory, “he brought the gods of the men of Seir and set them up as his gods and worshiped them, making offerings to them.” (2 Chron. 25:14) Amaziah started faithful in deed, but his heart was unfaithful and quickly strayed from the Lord. Earlier in the chapter, it says that “Amaziah did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, yet not with a whole heart.” (25:2)

Uzziah, the next chapter says, did like his father. He started out faithful, and he was extremely blessed and successful. He was successful in war, in economics, in agriculture, in architecture, and his fame spread all the way to Egypt. Verse 15 says, “his fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped, till he grew strong.

Here it comes…

But…

There’s always a “but,” isn’t there? I’ve noticed this so much in my own life. No matter what good thing is going on with me, no matter what God is blessing me with, there’s always a “but” that unsettles my heart.

But, I’m not using my talents like I could be….

But, I wish that I had more time to do _____…

But, I need just a little more sleep to be really effective…

But, that person is so much better at this than I am…

But, I don’t want to really get my hands dirty…

But, I’m too ____ to work with that kind of ministry. I’ve never even done those kinds of things!

But, I don’t want to sacrifice that

But when [Uzziah] was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God…” (26:16)

Uzziah followed in the footsteps of his father because he didn’t do what was right before the Lord with a whole heart. He allowed a “but” to creep in and the division in his soul destroyed not only his reign but also his body. The Lord viewed his pride as unfaithfulness, pure and simple. So often I’m tempted to minimize my pride – after all, I’m not hurting anyone by it! This sobering story of Uzziah reminds me that the sin of pride is unfaithfulness at its ugliest – I’m being adulterous to God with my own self! If that idea isn’t perverse, I don’t know what is. Pride isn’t just a small sin that I can deal with when I have some time to myself to pray. It’s an issue of a divided heart. I cannot serve God with a whole heart if the root of pride is growing there, and I cannot expect the blessing of God to continue on my life if I’m trying to live with God and cater to my pride at the same time.

Uzziah tried to burn incense to the Lord in the temple because he thought he was important enough to disregard God’s specific laws about who can do that, and God struck him with leprosy. He lived and died with a disease that ate away at his body until there was nothing left. What a grotesque picture of his sin. His actions say so much about what pride does to us – not only does it elevate us in our own minds above other people, but it elevates us above even God. Pride causes us to disregard so many of the life-giving words that God has spoken, to disregard the way of God that is for our good and protection, and to disregard who we really are in comparison to His holiness.

I find it so interesting that it was in Uzziah’s days that God spoke to Hosea (and Isaiah, for that matter) and not in Amaziah’s. Amaziah played the harlot with other gods. Uzziah (who did not tear down those altars – more on that later), also played the harlot with himself through pride. It was then that God decided to take action.

Oh Lord, You see my struggle with pride. Let me never minimize it or brush it off because it seems like an unimportant sin. Let me daily know the gravity of allowing it to root itself into my heart.

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