The assassination of Amaziah left sixteen year old Uzziah to take the throne in Jerusalem (2 Chr. 26:1). He proved to be an able leader, equipping his army in great fashion (2 Chr. 26:11-15) with God helping him achieve victories in war so that his reputation for military might reached the boundaries of neighboring countries (2 Chr. 26:2, 6-8). He fortified Jerusalem, built outposts, prepared land for farming (2 Chr. 26:9-10), and led the nation for fifty-two years (2 Chr. 26:3). However, all these successes depended upon his determination to do “what was right in the sight of the LORD” (2 Chr. 26:4), because “as long as he sought the LORD, God made him prosper (2 Chr. 26:5).
Unfortunately, Uzziah ultimately allowed his success to go to his head. For “when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the LORD his God by entering the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense” (2 Chr. 26:16). Eight priests, including Azariah, stood up to him and stood for the LORD (2 Chr. 26:17-18), but Uzziah just became angry (2 Chr. 26:19a). However, at that very moment, he also became leprous, struck by God for his arrogant presumption (2 Chr. 26:19b-20). This act declared him as unclean and “cut off from the house of the LORD—very fitting considering his transgression—for the rest of his life with his son, Jotham, acting as regent (2 Chr. 26:21-23).
Uzziah had everything going his way. He had power; he had wealth; he had success; he had fame. All these blessings God bestowed on him because Uzziah did what was right. However, for Uzziah, this was not enough. Having practically everything else at his disposal, he decided to take something that the LORD had not granted him. So many spiritual problems parallel Uzziah’s attitude in today’s world. God has given to us bountifully in so many ways, yet people still seem to expect Him to bow to their wishes. The Lord asks for a simple remembrance of His death, and people want to turn it into some kind of festivity (1 Cor. 11:23-29). The Lord grants complete sexual fulfillment in marriage, but for some people that simply will not do (Heb. 13:4). The Lord lifts women to a state of honor (Gal. 3:26-27; Eph. 5:25; 1 Pet. 3:7) and yet many today insist on having the one thing He did not grant them (1 Cor. 14:34-35). All this shows how little people have changed. In the end, then, we reveal our character—and our love for God—not just by how we respond to what God has given us, but also by how we respond to what He refuses to grant. On the night of His betrayal, knowing the crucifixion was at hand, Jesus prayed, ““O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Mt. 26:39). He accepted God’s will completely—not just the parts of it He enjoyed. Too often we fall into temptation due to insisting we get to do what God has said “No” to—just like Uzziah. He felt the consequences immediately; we may not feel ours until eternity.