The main part of the story of Uzziah is recorded in 2 Chronicles 26
In the eighth century BC, c. 767, a sixteen-year-old boy came to the throne of Judah to reign as the ninth king for fifty-two years. While not the most important king in Jewish history, nor the most popular, he was certainly one of the most important. His name was Uzziah, which means, “my strength is Jehovah.
Uzziah proved to be a wise, pious, and powerful king. He extended the borders of Judah and brought the nation to a period of great prosperity. Along the southern part of his kingdom he maintained control over Edom, and rebuilt the port at Elath on the Gulf of Aqaba. When the Philistines attacked from the West, Uzziah was able to defeat them on the field of battle and seize several cities. The Ammonites were also subdued.
In time, Uzziah was able to turn his attention to the city of Jerusalem, which his father Amaziah, had left in a deplorable condition in his zeal to fight Joash, king of Israel. He reinforced the towers of the city gates by placing huge catapults for defensive purposes. These catapults were capable of shooting arrows and hurling massive stones against any invading force.
Uzziah also rebuilt the military, made sure it was well equipped, and deployed it in strategic places in the desert.
Guiding Uzziah in all that he did as king was a spiritual adviser named Zechariah, for the king was a spiritual man. He sought the Lord. Uzziah desired to bring honor to God, and to obey Him. “As long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper” (2 Chron. 26:4).
Then, the time came when Uzziah’s heart began to be filled with sin. The gracious blessings of God, designed to humble and make him grateful, were turned into lasciviousness through prideful ambition. Uzziah turned his eyes from the LORD and desired to be like the Most High. Some of his contemporaries has ascribed to themselves divine titles, and Uzziah wanted to be like them.
One day, Uzziah entered into the Holy Temple to burn incense. He was confronted by Azariah the high priest and 80 associates. Uzziah did not like to be rebuked, and he responded in anger instead of repenting of his great sin of presumptuousness. Judgment came upon Uzziah in the form of leprosy.
Uzziah was compelled to live the remaining years of his life in a separate place, while his son Jotham acted as a surrogate king. This was a tragic ending to a very remarkable life.
The lessons to be learned are eternal.
God’s people must not violate their own principles and ethics of conduct. There is always great disappointment when spiritual people stumble and fall. It is tragedy of cosmic proportion.
As God is faithful, He would have His people be faithful to Him, to themselves, and to others.
It is not enough for rulers to produce an environment of peace and prosperity for others. There must also be righteousness. Righteousness exalts a nation. Sin destroys individuals, and sin destroys mighty empires.
God will not be mocked. Those whom He loves He chastens and rebukes. The LORD honored and blessed Uzziah. But the LORD did not allow Uzziah to sin with impunity. The ugliness of his soul would be manifested in his body in the form of leprosy. Leprosy is a repulsive disease, and becomes a fitting representation of sin.
The wages of sin is death. There is spiritual death of loss of fellowship with God. Uzziah was barred from going into the Holy Temple once he contracted leprosy. He had to live apart from the people of God, and the Holy Temple. There is physical death. The mouth of the grave yawns and opens wide to receive sinners. There is the second death for all who do not repent and return to God by confessing sin and forsaking the same.
The spiritual decline of the leadership of a nation can send a nation into a decline from which it might never recover. After the death of Uzziah, the nation of Judah continued to spiral downward. In 586 BC the Southern Kingdom fell to the Babylonian Empire.
When God sets one nation aside, He is willing to use another nation for His evangelistic purposes. Israel was to be a light to all nations. Israel was to disseminate the gospel, and be a blessing to all the nations on earth. But sin began to diminish their usefulness. God raised up the Roman Empire to continue His redemptive purposes. According to tradition, on April 21, 753 BC, Romulus and his twin brother, Remus, found Rome on the site where a she-wolf had suckled them as orphaned infants. God was raising up Rome to bring forth Jesus, “in the fullness of time” to be the Savior of the world.