TODAY’S READING: 2 Kings 15; 2 Chronicles 26
Things are bad up north. In Azariah’s reign, kings get assassinated in rapid succession in Israel. Inevitably, things in the south head south, too. Jehovah struck the king with leprosy and sent Rezin and Pekah against Judah (2 Kings 15:5, 37). It’s so sad because the start was so promising.
Uzziah came to the throne at 16 and sought the Lord all the days of Zechariah. As long as he sought the Lord, God prospered him (2 Chr. 26:5). In fact, the text says that Uzziah was marvelously helped until he became strong and his fame spread far and wide (v. 15). With an army of over 300,000, he made war with mighty power (26:14). Uzziah had equipment for war. He had farmers, vinedressers, and towers. Uzziah had the world at his feet for one purpose—that Jehovah be glorified by all the nations. Whenever God makes us strong, whenever God makes us known, whenever we are marvelously helped, it is for one purpose—that Jehovah be glorified by all the nations. It is never intended that we adopt what is vile from the nations; rather, we are purposed to live such beautifully holy lives that the nations want to adopt from us.
The kings of Israel were not allowed their own private temples, nor were they allowed to enter the holy of holies in the public temple. “The common Near Eastern belief was that the most significant person in the community should also be the one to represent the people before the god. Egyptian kings were considered embodied gods, and had responsibilities for religious rituals… Mesopotamian and Syro-Palestinian rulers were seen as both vice regents of their patron deities as well as high priests… Uzziah was trying to act like other kings of the ancient world.” And this was where Uzziah went wrong: Rather than leveraging his marvelous help and God-given fame to woo the nations to Jehovah, he was seduced by their ways and arrogantly tried to be both king and priest. Uzziah who started young and teachable became arrogant and presumptuous. Uzziah lost his mentor in Zechariah, found his arrogance, earned his leprosy, and forfeited his authority.
Wonderfully God has called, is calling, and will call many young people into His service. At home or abroad, God will bless those who submit themselves to human authority and seek the Lord. God blesses humble young leaders and exalts them to prominence for only one reason—that they war for His glory among all peoples of earth. It’s heady stuff to be marvelously helped by Jehovah, but it’s also dangerous. Success and notoriety (which can be leveraged powerfully for the gospel among the unreached) can be astonishingly damaging. As soon as we think God’s blessing on one aspect of our ministry means we are qualified to lead in all areas of ministry, we fall into Uzziah’s sin of presumption and we speed toward spiritual leprosy. We all need to follow and learn from the Zechariahs near us—and all the more as we age. By God’s grace let us get humbler and more teachable as we age, for it is our only security against presumption.
Missionary presumption is not restricted to taking God’s place. It also happens when we try to usurp the roles and gifts of brothers and sisters. May God grant His missionary people the unique blend of confident humility in their gifts and a lowly deference to the gifts and callings of brothers and sisters from around the world. To presume too much is to be used too little, for when we overreach it will be the unreached who suffer.
 The Chronological Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008. 609.