The Leprosy of Pride

Recently I have had a story from 2 Chronicles 26:15-27:2 stuck in my mind. Chapter 26 has been talking about the success of King Uzziah and this portion begins by saying, “for he was marvelously helped until he was strong” (v. 15). Did you catch that? He was marvelously helped (by God) until he was strong. Then the story continues, “But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the Lord his God” (v. 16). Wow! Here is a good king, who did right in the sight of God (v. 4), who sought the Lord (v. 5), but when he became “successful” he stopped relying on God’s strength and began to rely on his own. Then suddenly you find him doing what he would have never done–He enters the temple to burn incense to the Lord, something that only the priests were allowed to do. The priests resist him, their earthly king, and he burns with anger. Then…boom! A spot of leprosy breaks out on his forehead. The priests “hurried him out of there, and he himself also hastened to get out because the Lord had smitten him. And King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death…” (vv. 20-21).

Uzziah could no longer live in the palace. He could no longer worship at the temple. He was a leper–cut off and when death came, he was buried in the “field” of the grave which belonged to the kings, not in the grave itself, “for they said, ‘He is a leper'”(v. 23).

Two verses later we discover that his son, Jotham, who became king after him, did right in the sight of the Lord, but “he did not enter the temple of the Lord” (v. 27:2). Uzziah’s sin of pride and strength affected him the rest of his life, even to his burial, and affected his son to follow.

What an incredible warning that God has given us. Never lose sight of the fact that He is the vine and we are the branches. Apart from the vine, the branch can do nothing. All we have is His and all that we are or can do is bound up in Him.

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