Success in life is an excellent goal to have. Nothing can be better in the midst of prospering than having the assurance that God is the one partnering with us to bring about success. It helps remind us we are still human with human limitations that can trip us up at any moment and also that ultimately our times are in God’s hands to move obstacles that are beyond our own strength to move.
Judah’s King Uzziah was one of several kings who experienced an abundance of God’s blessings. His administration saw prosperity both spiritually and materially. Uzziah had the counsel of prophets with genuine visions from God (2 Chronicles 26:5). He had a considerable number of military experts to help him keep enemies at bay (2 Chronicles 26:6-7, 11-15).
Architecture, agriculture, and engineering also prospered in his administration (2 Chronicles 26:9, 10, 15). Engineers even helped him design advanced weaponry (2 Chronicles 26:14-15). As if that weren’t enough, Uzziah became a man of international renown (2 Chronicles 26:8, 15). Yet at the peak of his prosperity, Uzziah forgot one thing–his limitations.
His success went to his head and he became prideful (2 Chronicles 26:16). In that pride, he made the sinful presumption that he could walk into God’s temple and usurp the office of the priesthood by burning incense on his own terms. It was an affront to the very Lord who had caused him to prosper. That’s when 81 priests were prompted by righteous indignation to confront Uzziah, warning him about his sin with the hope of stopping him. Those priests in their bold stand showed that people who know they are backing God’s clear commands should not even fear a powerful king if he violates God’s laws.
Even after the priests quoted God’s word and gave Uzziah stern warning, he made an attempt to burn the incense anyway, but was stopped dead in his tracks when God immediately struck him with leprosy. The prosperous, promising king ended his reign in shame as a leprous outcast.
Uzziah’s situation is an example to us as believers. Even when the Lord blesses us abundantly, it’s only because of Christ. Even when he blesses us abundantly, there are still boundaries we should not cross–realms of operation reserved for other saints besides us where we should not trespass (Romans 15:20; 2 Corinthians 10:13-16). Acting presumptively like Uzziah is a clear sign we have allowed sin to creep in somewhere.
As President Eisenhower said once when reflecting on his successful military career, “When you put on a uniform, there are certain inhibitions that you accept.” That holds true for those of us who serve in the Lord’s army.
Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.
Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Psalm 19:12-13