The more I read the Bible, the more fascinated with it I become. If you have worked through Behold, my latest devotional, you know that Isaiah 6 is one of my favorite Bible stories. There is so much about that story that causes me to marvel at God. The description of God’s train filling the temple and the booming voices of the angels are so evocative. If I close my eyes, I can picture being there.
I’m amazed that the Almighty God of the entire universe sought out the precious prophet, Isaiah. And, when this man recognizes his own sinfulness, God immediately provides the remedy to it.
This scene begins with a very important verse that is going to take us on a bit of a history lesson today. Fasten your seat belts, folks! I think this is going to be a fun ride!
“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.” Isaiah 6:1 (ESV)
I appreciate Isaiah’s specificity. He wants us to correctly place this particular scene within the entire scope of the Bible narrative. And, when we do, there’s a lot that can be learned.
Uzziah was the King of Judah for 52 years. He started off his rule at 16 full of passion for the Lord and he did a lot of good for the nation. Here’s what’s written about Uzziah:
“And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper.” 2 Chronicles 26:4-5 (ESV)
The history of Israel and Judah is littered with both good kings and bad kings. Uzziah, unlike so many others, started off really strong. He was intentional to seek the Lord and he sought out godly wisdom. He allowed his fear of the Lord to dictate how he reigned. And God blessed him again and again and again.
Enter pride, stage left.
“And his fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped, till he was strong.
But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the Lord his God and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.” 2 Chronicles 26:15b-16 (ESV)
Because of Uzziah’s pride, he entered the temple which was reserved for God and the priests. All that seeking and fearing the Lord that he had done in his youth had gone out the window now that he was affluent and influential. His pride led him to believe that he was indestructible, but that was the very thing that led to his downfall.
The story goes on to tell us that the priests confronted Uzziah, but instead of submitting to their authority and repenting immediately, he doubles down. God then strikes him with leprosy, which he lived with for the rest of his life. A king who started off wanting to seek and serve God ended his life isolated and alone because his pride had led him down a path he was never supposed to walk down.
At this point, you might be wondering why I started off this post with Isaiah 6 when I spent most of the time discussing King Uzziah. And that’s a good question.
When pride died, the Lord appeared.
Read Isaiah 6:1 again. “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.” Isaiah 6:1 (ESV)
While pride was ruling and reigning, the Lord was restricted. He didn’t reveal himself to the prophet. But once that pride that had been so prevalent was removed, then the Lord revealed himself in all of his splendor and glory. Could God have responded in a million different ways to the pride of King Uzziah? Of course! But he chose to wait until this prideful man’s death before showing himself to Isaiah and commissioning him as a prophet to the nations. Before Isaiah could be sent, pride had to die.
I genuinely feel like this is what the Lord is calling the church—his beloved and chosen people—to do. He wants us to examine our hearts and minds and kill pride when we see it. He longs for us to eliminate arrogance from our lives and adopt the supernatural position of humility. Pride sure is tempting, but it will always take us places we were never meant to go. I pray that we are able to learn from the life of King Uzziah and ruthlessly kill pride in our hearts.
What does ‘killing pride’ practically mean to you?
What is the Holy Spirit saying to you?