Today's devotion from 2 Chronicles 25 and 26.
There is something that happens to a man in power. How many times have we seen a king rise up who was faithful and obedient to God, only to spend his final years in rebellion and sin? Amaziah was no different. After God gave him miraculous victory over the Edomites, he decides to bring the defeated gods to Judah and begin worshipping them. When a prophet asks him how this even makes sense, Amaziah replied, "Have we made you a royal counselor? Stop!" (2 Chronicles 25:16, ESV)
Where is this 'we' business coming from? The king should have known that the call of God trumped the assignment of men. Amaziah was defeated by Israel and assassinated while living in self-imposed exile in Lachish. Another promising monarch falls to his own hubris and idolatry.
Maybe Uzziah can reverse the trend?
He began well. He did the good that his father 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 26:5, ESV) Alas, the more God blessed Uzziah the more inclined to drift he became.
Finally, the monastic curse struck Uzziah. We read, "But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction." (2 Chronicles 26:16, ESV) We must be careful here. If we misread what this is saying, we could come to the conclusion that God is at fault. After all, it was God who blessed and brought prosperity. It was God who strengthened Uzziah. Is it not, then, God's fault that these kings became filled with pride and arrogance?
As I was reading through this chapter today, I found a notation in my margin that I had made during a previous reading. It simply read, "Strength is not the problem. One's belief in where the strength comes from is where the problem lies." I'm convinced this is true. The rest of verse 16 points to the fact that Uzziah was now unfaithful to God. He presumed himself above sacred decree, and entered the temple very much like Saul had made his own sacrifice.
He had bought the lie fed to him by the Enemy. He believed he was the source of his strength just as Amaziah's hubris led him to believe that he had defeated the Edomites and he would defeat Israel.
Today, you feel tempted to believe that you have your act together. Maybe your bank account is ok and you're physically healthy enough to feel a bit invincible? A bit more than others? You know, the people who struggle and grasp at straws and just can't seem to get their lives together. Let us never forget that it is all God's. He can give and He can take. If you are your own source of strength and hope, then you will also be your own source weakness and failure. Only when we lean on God in both dependence and gratitude can we find our lives balanced enough to enjoy blessing without allowing strength to become a curse.