When Pride Rules In Place Of God
 Kent Heaton
Uzziah (Azariah) was sixteen years old when he became king of Judah (2 Kings
14; 2 Chronicles 26). His reign spanned more than half a century and was
characterized by his faithfulness to the Lord. “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 prosper” (2 Chronicles 26:5). The king was
able to subdue the Philistines, Arabs, Meunites, and Ammonites with his fame
reaching even the palaces of Egypt. His army was a super power of his day
lead by 2600 “chief officers of the mighty men of valor” and 307,500
soldiers “that made war with mighty power” (2 Chronicles 26:12-13). It was
an army of well trained and well equipped soldiers who could defeat any foe.
What began as a period of righteousness and favor from God would end with
the defeat of human pride.
Being the king of a powerful army makes one feel invincible. Marching
against the Philistines and defeating them with great power can excite the
blood of man. Realizing that no power can overthrow you, the spirit of man
begins to falsely listen to the siren calls of self-indulgent arrogance.
Uzziah looked upon his well-trained, well-disciplined fighting machine of
death and breathed deeply in his own power. The king of Babylon later in
history would fall to the same lie of Satan: “Is not this great Babylon,
that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor
of my majesty” (Daniel 4:30). Nebuchadnezzar and Uzziah were charmed by
their own power and the honor they were given by the world.
The text says of Uzziah, “But 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
Chronicles 26:16). The reason he was strong was not because of his own might
but the power of God. He failed to listen to the admonition of what Isaiah
declares in Isaiah 31:21 – “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and
rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen
because they are very strong, but who do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
nor seek the Lord!” Ironically people of God need to have strong hearts but
the strength of heart should come from the Lord and not one’s self.
Uzziah was so emboldened he decided that he did not need any man to serve as
intercessory to God and that he could change the law of God to fit his own
power. If he was powerful enough to destroy any man on the face of the earth
then most likely God Himself would bow before him. He enters the temple of
God to burn incense which was forbidden by any but the Levites. Azariah the
priest along with 80 other priest withstood the king for committing such an
abomination (2 Chronicles 26:16-18). What courage these priest had to stand
against such a powerful king but they knew they must serve God and not men
(Acts 5:29). The king became furious. How dare these puny priests defy the
great king Uzziah? Did they not know who he was and how powerful he was? He
now regarded the servants of the Lord as nothing in his own eyes. The
Levites were the descendants of Aaron the High Priest but to Uzziah they
were nothing.
The angels of God are amazed by the pride of men (Psalm 8:5). In the midst
of his fury, Uzziah came face to face with Jehovah. “While he was angry with
the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead, before the priests in the
house of the Lord, beside the incense altar” (2 Chronicles 26:19). He was a
leper until the day he died. The great king of the super-power Judah would
be cut off from everyone because of his pride. Even in death he was buried
in the field of burial which belonged to the kings because he was a leper (2
Chronicles 26:21-23).
How sad when men leave their hearts of trust in the Lord to lean upon their
own understanding. “My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my
commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you.
Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them
on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight
of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your
own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct
your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from
evil. It will be health to your flesh and strength to your bones” (Proverbs
3:1-8). Pride is the center of man’s fall with shame, strife, foolishness,
destruction, evil and dishonor.
All rebellion against the Lord is rooted in selfish pride to do what I want
to do. Satan first tempted Eve to challenge the word of God by asking, “Has
God indeed said” (Genesis 3:1)? In other words Eve, ‘You should rely upon
your own wisdom and reject the counsel of God. Obviously God does not know
what He is doing so you must take charge of your life. Live for the now. Do
what you want to do. Enjoy life on your terms.’ And that has been the lie of
Satan to exalt the pride of man over the favor of the Lord. Uzziah filled
himself with his own pride and lived a leper shunned by man.
Why are there so many different avenues of faith in the world? Why are there
so many churches? What reason can be found for men failing to worship the
one true God? How does man live with himself in his rejection of the Bible
and the truth of Jesus Christ? Why do men fill themselves with the passions
of the flesh? The foundation of sin is pride. As in the final days of the
Judges, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was
right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). But like Uzziah all men will find
that life is not about the pride of man but the final word from the Lord.
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His
commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into
judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes
Death is a reminder that God is in charge. Man cannot control his destiny
because the breath he possesses is held in the hand of God (Daniel 5:23).
What is man that makes him fill himself with such arrogance that he can
escape his Creator? Submitting to the Lord is all we can do for we are all
subject to His power. Try as we might we cannot resist the judgment of God.
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a
city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do
not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a
vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you
ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’ But
now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil” (James 4:13-16).
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