The preacher began to talk about the great things that happened in the reign of a King of Israel who ascended the throne at age 16! Wow! What technological advancements. Then he mentioned the name of the king! Uzziah?
Was that not the one whose demise marked the beginning of progress in Prophet Isaiah’s walk with God? Was that not the one whose story we read in Isaiah 6 and then passionately demand that every Uzziah in our lives pass away? Was that not the Uzziah (aka Azariah) who became a leper and had to live in a colony for the rest of his life?
In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah[a son of Amaziah king of Judah began to reign. 2 He was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother’s name was Jekoliah; she was from Jerusalem. 3 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Amaziah had done …
5 The Lord afflicted the king with leprosy until the day he died, and he lived in a separate house.[c Jotham the king’s son had charge of the palace and governed the people of the land. (2 Kings 15:1-3, 5 )
Uzziah was a powerful king whose army had weapons that could well be called first generation missiles:
In Jerusalem, he made devices invented for use on the towers and on the corner defences so that soldiers could shoot arrows and hurl large stones from the walls. His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful (2 Chronicles 26:15).
So I began to wonder where and how Uzziah missed the path.
- So many of the leaders and pastors we see today started out as teenagers in secondary school pastoring school fellowships. Afterwards, many moved on to pastor fellowships in Universities. After graduating, they began to find their way to pastoring through short or long routes.
- We can similarly say that in so short a time, a lot of technology has come to aid ministry in our days. I remember when one of the first churches in Nigeria took services online. My friend in the UK could not believe it. Not many churches in the UK had gone online in 2006/7. I remember when CDs came and they needed special equipment to write to them. We still had to stay with cassettes….in 1999. I remember when the only way to follow up first timers in church was through visits and handwritten letters! Now we could even do video calls. I remember when TV stations did only about 8 hours of service a day..and whole cities had only 2 or 3 TV stations. We have certainly seen technological advancement like Uzziah saw!
- What we have not experienced in our generation is leaders (or our generation) leading for 52 years. We are not sure what we would have after 50 years whether the growth will continue, plateau, or even decline.
But what really happened to Uzziah?
Temptations? Familiarity? Boredom and then quest for thrills?
But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God, for he entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense (2 Chronicles 26:16)
Did Uzziah feel “immune?” After all, not many kings have led well for 50 years.
Was it a kind of a midlife crisis? This might have been somewhere around his 50th birthday.
One big lesson is that in success we should always keep our eyes on the path that led to success!