2 Chronicles 26:1-23 – Reputations: Hard to Build, Easy to Tear Down!

Posted: October 10, 2020 in 14-2 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 26:1-23

Uzziah Rules in Judah

Opening Illustration/Comments

The headlines are littered with names of television evangelists and megachurch pastors who have been brought low by hidden sins. They will be forever remembered for their indiscretion than for any of the previous good that they may have done for the Lord. As Carey Nieuwhof once said in an internet article on the subject of the seemingly repetitive cycle of fallen megachurch pastors, “It is way too easy for your platform to outgrow your character!” It only takes one indiscretion to tear down a lifetime of good work for the Lord. Even if you are not a megachurch pastor, and just a local pastor of a small to large local church and your are not known much outside the reach of your local church, it can happen to you too. A lifetime of hard work for the Lord and a lifetime of having real impact for the kingdom can be all thrown away for one moment of indiscretion or thrown away by a continuing secretive sin that gets exposed. And, it’s not just pastors, it can be a Christian layperson who is like the finest man or woman that you can think of. It can all be destroyed by a momentary sin or the revelation of an ongoing pattern of sin that was being kept hidden. None of the good done during a lifetime of obedient following of the Lord by preachers or laypeople alike will be remembered. But our downfall and the reasons for it will be.

Uzziah did great things for God’s people. He steady the ship of Judah. He even expanded its territory. He rebuilt cities. He increased military spending and retooled the military. He refortified cities. He did good things for God’s people. However, pride took over and he began to think he could do what he wanted. That seems to happen to the pastors and other Christian men who fail and fall. Satan begins whispering in our ear that we can do anything we want. We are popular and people love us. Then, those old parameters of morality that we have set in our lives begin to crumble and then ventures into sin become vacations there. Finally, we take up residence in sin. And as always, sin gets exposed. Another soldier in the army of God taken down by sin and it always comes down to the sin of pride. We think we can handle it. A little dab of sin here. A little dab of sin there. Sin is like crack cocaine though. Once you get a taste of it, you keep going back to it. Then a little taste requires a little larger taste and a little larger and a little larger. Until you are full-on addicted and it ravages your life.

That’s why as Christian men and women, we must realize that we are just as susceptible to sin as the non-believer. We get a target on our back when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. Satan is coming after us. That target gets bigger if we become a leader of other Christians or in any public leadership role – whether as a pastor or a layperson in a position of leadership. What takes a lifetime to build can be destroyed in seconds by exposed sin.

It is that idea of being remembered more for our moral failures than for any great things we have done for the Lord that I thought of this morning when reading this passage, 2 Chronicles 26:1. Let us read through it this morning, together, with that idea in mind:

Scripture Passage

26 All the people of Judah had crowned Amaziah’s sixteen-year-old son, Uzziah, as king in place of his father. 2 After his father’s death, Uzziah rebuilt the town of Elath[a] and restored it to Judah.

3 Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother was Jecoliah from Jerusalem. 4 He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his father, Amaziah, had done. 5 Uzziah sought God during the days of Zechariah, who taught him to fear God.[b] And as long as the king sought guidance from the Lord, God gave him success.

6 Uzziah declared war on the Philistines and broke down the walls of Gath, Jabneh, and Ashdod. Then he built new towns in the Ashdod area and in other parts of Philistia. 7 God helped him in his wars against the Philistines, his battles with the Arabs of Gur,[c] and his wars with the Meunites. 8 The Meunites[d] paid annual tribute to him, and his fame spread even to Egypt, for he had become very powerful.

9 Uzziah built fortified towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate, at the Valley Gate, and at the angle in the wall. 10 He also constructed forts in the wilderness and dug many water cisterns, because he kept great herds of livestock in the foothills of Judah[e] and on the plains. He was also a man who loved the soil. He had many workers who cared for his farms and vineyards, both on the hillsides and in the fertile valleys.

11 Uzziah had an army of well-trained warriors, ready to march into battle, unit by unit. This army had been mustered and organized by Jeiel, the secretary of the army, and his assistant, Maaseiah. They were under the direction of Hananiah, one of the king’s officials. 12 These regiments of mighty warriors were commanded by 2,600 clan leaders. 13 The army consisted of 307,500 men, all elite troops. They were prepared to assist the king against any enemy.

14 Uzziah provided the entire army with shields, spears, helmets, coats of mail, bows, and sling stones. 15 And he built structures on the walls of Jerusalem, designed by experts to protect those who shot arrows and hurled large stones[f] from the towers and the corners of the wall. His fame spread far and wide, for the Lord gave him marvelous help, and he became very powerful.

Uzziah’s Sin and Punishment

16 But when he had become powerful, he also became proud, which led to his downfall. He sinned against the Lord his God by entering the sanctuary of the Lord’s Temple and personally burning incense on the incense altar. 17 Azariah the high priest went in after him with eighty other priests of the Lord, all brave men. 18 They confronted King Uzziah and said, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord. That is the work of the priests alone, the descendants of Aaron who are set apart for this work. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have sinned. The Lord God will not honor you for this!”

19 Uzziah, who was holding an incense burner, became furious. But as he was standing there raging at the priests before the incense altar in the Lord’s Temple, leprosy[g] suddenly broke out on his forehead. 20 When Azariah the high priest and all the other priests saw the leprosy, they rushed him out. And the king himself was eager to get out because the Lord had struck him. 21 So King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in isolation in a separate house, for he was excluded from the Temple of the Lord. His son Jotham was put in charge of the royal palace, and he governed the people of the land.

22 The rest of the events of Uzziah’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded by the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. 23 When Uzziah died, he was buried with his ancestors; his grave was in a nearby burial field belonging to the kings, for the people said, “He had leprosy.” And his son Jotham became the next king.

Passage Analysis

In this passage, we see that for much of his life, Uzziah “did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight” (2 Chronicles 26:4). However, Uzziah turned away from God, and he was struck with leprosy and remained leprous until he died. He was remembered more for his arrogant act and subsequent punishment by the Lord than for his great reforms throughout Israel and his great military advances. It reminds us that so often when we become a successful leader that pride can seep into our lives. If we give pride a foothold in our lives, particularly when we have become wildly successful, we can become careless, drift away from God, and fall into unrepentant sin. And as so often is the case, our continuing acts of unrepentant sin will cause problems in our lives and will ultimately be exposed and cause our downfall.

Unchecked pride and other unrepentant sins will cause us to be brought low as the Lord will allow sin to play out its consequences in our lives. It is an immutable law of spiritual physics – sin always has consequences. There has never been a sin committed in all of human history that does not have a corresponding consequence. We often forget this immutable law when we are successful and pride enters our lives. And often, no matter how much we have worked and been successful for the Lord, we will be remember much more for our downfall caused by previously hidden sins being exposed than we will be for the great things for the Lord that we may have done. It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation and only moments to destroy it.

Life Application

I think the thing that we need to takeaway this morning is that as pastors we must remember that God gave us the platform we now occupy. Any success that comes to that platform is God’s not ours. We must remember God does not need us. He can replace us in an instant and He can accomplish greatness all on His own. We must remember that even as pastors we are still men and women who are flawed human beings. We must remember too that each one of us is susceptible to sin and each one of us has a particular sin to which we are extremely weak against more so than others. Satan knows our weakest link and that is where he will hit us hard. Satan wants to destroy us where we are weakest because that’s the easiest route to our ruin.

We must remember that it’s not about us and our ministry whatever form it may take is God’s ministry. We are representing Him. Let us not make our platform into pedestal. We must stele ourselves against people worshiping us instead of God. Help us to keep ourselves in perspective. Help us especially to remember that, as I said before, there is one immutable law of spiritual physics. Sin has its consequences and they are never good. Even if you are not a pastor but a day-to-day passionate Christ follower that other people notice as just that, you too can be brought low by Satan attacking you in your sin weaknesses. You too can sully the name of Christ in one moment even if you have been a fine upstanding Christian all your life.

I know that it sounds like we are walking this tiring and tiresome tightrope and that there is no joy because we might fall in a moment’s notice. That’s the thing. We must know that we have Satan’s target on our back and that we can be knocked off the tightrope at any moment because we are sin-filled creatures. There is no moment in life where we have beaten sin. The joy comes from admitting that we are sin-filled creatures and realize that we cannot do it alone. We need the help of God. We can take the pressure off ourselves to be this super Christian. In knowing that we can slip up, there is humility. There is dependence. There is recognition. Then, there is preparation and actions taken to keep us out of the way of sin. And, Lord, most of all give us friends and even enemies that will keep us alert to our own shortcomings and failures. Give us people in our lives that will tells when we are nearing the slippery slope of sin. Lord, help us to not have failures that turn people away from you.

Amen and Amen.

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