I am beyond grateful to be a part of a church family that hungers after God’s word. I am more and more convinced, the older I get, that we must give ourselves to wrestling with this book. There was quite a bit of wrestling in this week’s reading for me and I felt I could go a lot of different directions with this blog post but the thing that was most significant for me was the destruction that pride brings.
2 chron 26:19
16 But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the Lord his God and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. 17 But Azariah the priest went in after him, with eighty priests of the Lord who were men of valor, 18 and they withstood King Uzziah and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the Lord God.” 19 Then Uzziah was angry. Now he had a censer in his hand to burn incense, and when he became angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead in the presence of the priests in the house of the Lord, by the altar of incense. 20 And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous in his forehead! And they rushed him out quickly, and he himself hurried to go out, because the Lord had struck him. 21 And King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death, and being a leper lived in a separate house, for he was excluded from the house of the Lord. And Jotham his son was over the king’s household, governing the people of the land.
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
The line between pride and humility is a thin one in my experience. A large part of the section of this week’s scripture seems to speak to prideful desire. “I have this, but I want more,” or “Because of my station or season in life, I can do what I want.”
What do I notice in this section of scripture?
I notice that when King Uzziah was strong, he grew proud.
I notice that his pride destroyed him.
I notice that King Uzziah felt that he was above the rules.
I notice that he was given a chance to repent but instead of choosing repentance he chose to puff up.
I notice that the vision Isaiah saw was in the year King Uzziah died.
I notice the humility, repentant heart and awe of Isaiah’s vision
The emotion of anger inside me can often be a tip off to a deeper issue of pride. When I don’t get what I want it’s quite possible for me, even subconsciously, to believe I deserve it. It was when King Uzziah was strong that he was deceived by this. Jesus had great strength, authority and power but he wielded it all in a way that was stunningly beautiful.
In fact, Isaiah is given a vision of this great strength, authority and power in the temple of the Lord. There is no discussion or debate as to whether or not this authority and power is genuine. Isaiah is simply and immediately on his face. In the presence of such strength, authority and power, Isaiah could do nothing but declare, “I am unclean and I dwell in the midst of a people who are unclean!” As a side note, it’s interesting to me that Isaiah repents both individually and corporately. He declares that he is sinful, prideful, lacking, but then he goes on to also say, “And my people are this way too.” The difference between a corporate bent towards repentance and humility and a corporate bent towards self-promotion and pride is striking.
As I consider this story of King Uzziah and the prophet Isaiah through the lens of Jesus’ stunning display of embodying the highest power one could have in a human body, the following application questions come to mind:
Where and how is my privilege, strength, season of life or status in danger of producing pride within me? How does this pride manifest itself?
Was I angry this week and if so why? Is that anger an indication of a deeper self-focused desire?
Do I consider repentance a gift? Why or why not?
Father God teach us to number our days and see any status, resource, authority or strength that we have as a gift from you. You are the same yesterday, today and forever. You don’t grow weary, you do not grow faint. We are mortal and the breath we have in our lungs is from You. We confess any spirit of entitlement we have displayed this week. We name it boldly in your presence. We confess any emotions that are a sign of the deeper work of pride at work within us. We confess together our belief that we are right and that our reign on earth is most important. How grateful we are for the gift of repentance. Come make us a humble people eager to be a part of the spirit filled work You are igniting in the world. Our strength is your joyful presence. Our calling is a gift. Our resources are for the benefit of others. There is no one like You, full of strength, authority and power that you give away without hesitation. We bless your name!