King Uzziah Strengthened and Strong

A word on admonition.

2 Chronicles 26.

Uzziah, we learn from this chapter, "sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding of the visions of God: and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper." He went forth and warred, and "the Lord helped him." "He strengthened himself exceedingly." He built towers in Jerusalem and fortified them, and towers in the desert, and digged many wells. He had husbandmen also, and vine-dressers in the mountains, and in Carmel. Moreover he had an host of fighting men that went out to war by bands. "The whole number of the chief of the fathers of the mighty men of valour were two thousand and six hundred. And under their hand was an army, three hundred thousand and seven thousand and five hundred, that made war with mighty power, to help the king against the enemy. And Uzziah prepared for them throughout all the host shields, and spears, and helmets, and habergeons, and bows, and slings to cast stones. And he made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal." We need not dwell upon the description of the numerous army of king Uzziah. We will turn to God's instruction for ourselves about it. "And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong. But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction." Of all the words we find put together, there are few more remarkable than these.

One would have thought that the very object to be gained by Uzziah was to be strong. Alas! the strength we naturally covet is independence of God. Saints are found mourning over their weakness, and what do they mean Is it not that they have no resources in themselves? We forget that all real strength is derived from the fulness that is in Jesus, otherwise we should ever be able to say with Paul, "When I am weak, then am I strong." We need to be deprived of every resource in ourselves, that we may know our strength to be in Him. When Uzziah felt himself to be strong, God left him.

There is great danger of our putting multiplied means in the place of the Lord Himself; we may go the whole round of means, and forget that they are not the supply.

What has been the history of the Church? Marvellously helped till she was strong, when she was strong her heart became lifted up. The saints at Corinth, who had multiplied resources, men, and wisdom, and the like, and whose temptation it was to think that by the exercise of this wisdom they could refute the heathen, were told by the apostle, No; it is only by the bringing in of the "wisdom of God," that which is "foolishness with man," and of the "strength of God," that which is "'weakness with man." The Spirit of God shows us in the Acts, the Church, few in number, marvellously helped. But how soon did the Church begin to look to itself, to its own resources and greatness, instead of to the Lord. And has this no voice for ourselves? Our blessing is in taking the place of weakness, so that God may for His own name's sake help.

There is danger in our saying or supposing that we have attained to something. It is a mark of failure when a Christian looks to his own honour and credit, instead of the honour of the Lord. The great thing is to be regardful of His name. A single eye will be occupied with Christ.

It is a very strong word in reference to a saint that we have here, "His heart was lifted up to his destruction." But there is as strong a word in the New Testament, "He that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption." If any, even a saint of God, "sow to the flesh," he will reap but a sorrowful harvest of corruption, all his time having been misspent. We need to give heed to the searching words of Scripture, not turning away the point of them from ourselves under the supposition that they cannot apply to us. This thought has been the source of much mischief in the Church. That soul will prosper which trembles at God's word, and is willing to face the most searching parts of it. The saint of God can "sow to the flesh," can "walk according to the flesh," can "war after the flesh;" but the miserable end will be, that he will "of the flesh reap corruption." When Uzziah was strong (his strength being in his own resources), his heart became "lifted up," and more like Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon's heart (Dan. 4:30) than that of God's anointed king of Judah. - A heart that is "lifted up" is in a dangerous state, and almost always on the eve of a fall.

Though Uzziah was God's anointed king, he was not God's anointed priest, yet would he have nothing restrained from him, and we find him "transgressing against the Lord his God," and going into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense, which it appertained not unto him, but unto the priests only, the sons of Aaron, who were consecrated to burn incense, to do. Let us too beware of dealing with the Lord in unholy familiarity; a humble spirit is always a confident spirit, but a humble spirit can trust only in the blood of Jesus; it does not rush into God's presence as the man who is "lifted up in heart" does. We can only come there through the incense of the Lord Jesus, not on the credit of our own graces, or devotedness, or in fleshly fervour.

"It shall not be to thine honour from the Lord God," said Azariah the priest, as with fourscore priests, valiant men, he withstood the king. "Then Uzziah was wroth: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the Lord."

Beloved, this history of king Uzziah is written for our admonition. "Lifting up" of heart is always self-seeking, not God-seeking. We have (blessed be God!) liberty to enter into the holiest, for we are priests unto God, by the blood of Jesus, but it is ever through the incense of our great High Priest.

In 2 Chronicles 27:6, we have no mention of Jotham's great army; he "became mighty, because he prepared his heart before the Lord his God." This is the way for the saint to grow in practical strength. Thus was it with the Thessalonians; their "work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope was in the sight of God and our Father." Jotham set the Lord always before him, and went on in an even tenor of conduct. In the eyes of man, he might not be as mighty as Uzziah, but the Holy Ghost records his name as that of one "mighty" in the eyes of God.