Entry Eighty-Nine: Uzziah's Prideful Downfall

Submitted by johnlo on Fri, 2008-06-20 19:38

 

 

ENTRY EIGHTY-NINE – JUNE 21, 2008

 

89-THE DIVIDED KINGDOM - PART IX (aka "The Prophecies of Amos, the End of Jeroboam II, & Uzziah's Prideful Downfall") II Kings 14-15; II Chronicles 26; Amos

 

  • This entry covering three days of reading is a scorcher (what do you expect when we are reading the minor prophets????) and touches on topics such as MATERIALISM, HYPOCRISY, COMPLACENCY, RAGING PRIDE, and GOD’S JUDGMENT! Whew!

 

  • Please note that since I am following F. LaGard Smith's order, I will be jumping back and forth between the Kings and Chronicles texts frequently, as well as the prophetic books written during the corresponding time, and I normally won't refer to the specific passage unless it affects the meaning.

 

  • Amos was a “lowly shepherd”, a “manual laborer”, appointed by God as one of the “are-nots” who would nullify the “ares”. (See I Corinthians 1:26-29 to figure that one out!) Amos rebuked the different nations around Israel for their sin, but he especially rebuked Israel and Judah for having the outward appearance of religion but for neglecting justice and mercy to the oppressed and needy. Amos may have been an “unschooled and ordinary man”, but he used poetic devices in his writing, hence the repetition of the phrase, “For three sins of (country x), even for four, I will not hold back my wrath.” In chapter one, Amos spoke out against Israel’s neighbours and in chapter two, after finishing off with Moab, he started in on Judah, namely for rejecting the law of the Lord and following false gods. This is the temptation for all of us in the modern world – that we ignore and eventually reject the bible, and follow the things of this world. But it is against Israel that his anger really surfaces – he lambastes them for their hard-heartedness against the poor, for immorality, and lack of integrity in worship No one is spared – spoiled women who order their husbands around, materialistic hypocrites whose worship isn’t acceptable before God, etc. God even blatantly told them, through Amos, that he allowed them to suffer and undergo hardship so that they would repent, but that it didn’t work. In chapter five, there is a well-known passage: “I hate, I DESPISE your religious feasts…Away with the noise of your harps! But let justice roll on like a river…

 

  • Probably the most convicting to 21st Century first world Christians is the slam on complacency. Israel gets rebuked for loving a comfortable life and beautiful things but not caring for spiritual things. This is the temptation for many of us in the first world.
  • The prophet also challenged them for their pride and self-reliance. He used the visual aide of a plumb line, which was a device used by builders to make sure that a wall was level, accurately built, i.e. if it measured up. In other words, God was planning to use a “spiritual plumb line” to see if his people were true followers/worshipers, i.e. if they measured up!  Which begs the question, if God came after us with a plumb line right now, how would we hold up?

 

  • Amos next scolded them for their unethical practices with fellow worshippers – coming to church just to sell something, etc. God promised to send a famine, not of food, but of the word of God, when men would wander around hungry for God but “nowhere to be found, lah.”  The only respite would be that a remnant of Judah would eventually remain for the sake of David.
  • Of course, not everyone approves of such blunt preaching, and the priest chastised Amos publicly for his message. I love Amos’ answer - “I was a farmer and rancher minding my own business and God made me come and preach to you, so don’t shoot the messenger! And, by the way, since you, a so-called priest and servant of God, dared to tell a prophet of God to stop preaching, your wife will become a prostitute, your children will be killed by an invading army, and you will be taken into exile!”

 

  • Following this whack from God, the wicked and godless priest witnessed a crazy turn of events in Israeli politics – Jeroboam II died and was succeeded by his son, who reigned only six months before being assassinated. The new king reigned only one month and then HE was assassinated! And his assassin was the ultra wicked Menahem, who not only killed the king so that he could take over; he also attacked anyone standing in his way and ripped open pregnant women! No wonder he lasted ten years – there was no one brave enough to try to fight him!

 

  • In the nation of Judah, Uzziah has been the king for a while, and has done a relatively good job, as mentioned in the previous entry. However, as with many kings who started out well, he didn’t become more humble as he got older, and his successes went to his head. The story of Uzziah’s pride is truly sad – almost of Nebuchadnezzar proportions.
  • He decided that he didn’t need to follow what the bible said about only the priests burning incense, so he did it himself! When 80 courageous priests and leaders challenged him, the arrogant monarch “raged” at them, and God struck him with leprosy at that very moment! Whoa baby! Not only did he not get to burn the incense, he never went back to the temple again and lived alone, a leper, until he died! God, help me to not get that proud, but to love humility and to ask you for it daily!

 

karenlouis@seachurches.org