IN THE YEAR THAT KING UZZIAH DIED
King Uzziah went into the Temple of the Lord to burn incense to the Lord. Burning incense by someoneeven a kingwho was not of the descendants of Aaron was a grievous breach of Levitical law punishable by death. King Uzziah represents self-exaltation and self-will in the Christian.
It is impossible to behold the Lords glory when we are filled with self-love and are pursuing our own will and way. When self-exaltation and self-will die, then we shall see the Lord sitting on His thronehigh and lifted up.
IN THE YEAR THAT KING UZZIAH DIED
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. (Isaiah 6:1)
Uzziah was a popular young king.
Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the room of his father Amaziah. (II Chronicles 26:1)
King Uzziah did that which was right in the sight of the Lord. He sought the Lord earnestly. As long as King Uzziah sought after God he prospered wonderfully.
He waged war successfully against the Philistines. The Ammonites gave gifts to him. He constructed strong fortifications and dug many wells. Being a man given to farming he possessed herds of cattle and grew grapes.
The army of King Uzziah was well organized and well equipped, including over a quarter of a million trained troops. The wall of Jerusalem was defended by special machinery that launched arrows and hurled large stones.
. . . And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped till he was strong. But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: . . . . (II Chronicles 26:15,16).
King Uzziah went into the Temple of the Lord to burn incense to the Lord. Burning incense on the golden Altar of Incense was one of the principal responsibilities of the sons of Aaron. This service, which was performed twice during each twenty-four period, belonged to the priests alone.
Burning incense by someoneeven a kingwho was not of the descendants of Aaron was a grievous breach of Levitical law punishable by death.
But those that encamp before the tabernacle toward the east, even before the tabernacle of the congregation eastward, shall be Moses, and Aaron and his sons, keeping the charge of the sanctuary for the charge of the children of Israel; and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death. (Numbers 3:38)
When he was rebuked by the priests, the proud Uzziah became very angry. At this moment leprosy "rose up in his forehead." The Lord had punished him severely for his presumption. Immediately the priests hurried him out of the Temple.
Uzziah remained a leper until the day of his death. He never again was allowed to enter the Temple of God. His son, Jotham, ruled as king in his place.
King Uzziah represents self-exaltation and self-will in the Christian.
"In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord."
When the Lord slays self-exaltation and self-will in us we are able to behold the Glory of the Lord. It is impossible to see the Lords glory when we are filled with self-love and are pursuing our own will and way.
When self-exaltation and self-will die, then we see the Lord sitting on His thronehigh and lifted up. His royal robe fills the heavenly temple.
Before this time we may have thought of the Lord as a set of spiritual principles by which we are to achieve our goals in life. Or we may have pictured Him as a gentle teacher who had the best of intentions for the world, but whom men have disappointed to such an extent that his plan for saving the world has been ruined.
Now that self-will has been removed from the throne of our heart we perceive that Christ is the Lord of Glory. He is the mightiest of kingsan emperor with powers and dominions so vast the universe itself is but one small demonstration of His awesome creative Word. He is LORD. Christ is powerful and majestic far beyond our ability to comprehend.
Christ holds every second, every atom, in total control. Nothing takes Him by surprise.
Christ not only is the Savior of men He also is the Lord of men. He is Lord. He will accept His servants on no other terms.
His train fills the Temple of God. There is no room for anyone else. Christ is All in all, the Alpha and Omega. He is the First and the Last, the Author and the Finisher of everything.
Christ retains all authority and power in Heaven and on the earth and He uses His unlimited power as He will. In Him dwells all the Fullness of the Godhead in bodily form. The Father is pleased with the Lord Jesus Christ and has given all things into His nail-pierced hands.
Christ is the Lord who smote Uzziah with leprosy and also the Lord who was beheld by Isaiah the Prophet.
Above it [the throne of Christ] stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. (Isaiah 6:2)
The seraphim covered their faces. The covering of the faces means that self-exaltation cannot look upon the Lord of Glory.
The seraphim covered their feet. The covering of the feet means that self-will cannot come into the Presence of the Lord of Glory or walk in His way.
They flew on two wings. When the saint learns to wait on the Lord, desiring the exaltation of the Lord rather than of himself, seeking the will of his Lord rather than his own will, then he mounts up with the wings of a great eagle. He is able to renew His strength in the royal Presence of the Lord of Glory.
"In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord." When self-exaltation and self-will die in the believer he beholds Christ. Christ is high! He is lifted up! His royal robe fills the Temple of God.
When we see the awesome Majesty who upholds all things by the Word of His power there is only one appropriate response:
. . . Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. (Isaiah 6:3)
We may never have perceived that fact before. Because we have been "serving God" in our own self-exaltation and self-will the world has not seemed to be full of the Glory of God but of opposition and enemies of all kinds.
But now we behold the Lord, and the heavens and the earth are filled with His praise. filled with His glory. filled with His majesty. All things are working according to His irresistible will. His wisdom is governing the affairs of men and beasts. The oceans and continents are speaking of His power. The stars in their courses are "fighting against Sisera." The heavens are telling the Glory of Christ and the firmament is revealing His handiwork.
Everywhere and on all sides nature and history are teaching us of the Lord and His righteous ways.
As soon as we lift our eyes from our own glory and behold the Glory of the Lord of hosts, the foundations of the entrance to our heart are moved. All of that in which we have been trusting is shaken. Our confidence in our righteous works and religious enterprises is found to be misplaced, established on what is insecure and threadbare.
Our personality is filled with the smoke from the coals of the Altar of Incense. "Uzziah," portraying the self-exaltation and self-will of proud, ambitious, religious flesh, had attempted to offer self-centered, self-willed works and praise in Gods Temple. He did not realize that the coals of that Altar cause "voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake" (Revelation 8:5).
As long as we are praising ourselves our environment remains seemingly secure, tidy, predictable. But when we begin to offer our praise to the Lord God Almighty our security is shaken, our tidiness turns into hopeless turmoil, our ability to predict our "safe" pathway is undermined and removed.
We come face to face with our Creator. Then we perceive God for who He is and ourselves for what we truly are.
We see ourselves and God for the first time.
Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. (Isaiah 6:5)
To realize we are in a woeful, wretched condition, that we are completely undone, that we have unclean lips, that we dwell among people of unclean lips, and that God is a great King and worthy of all worship, is to begin to see matters as they really are. Any other view of the world is a deception.
The Christian who has his heart set on his own glory, and is occupied solely with himself and his little group of friends, is coming short of the Glory of God. Each of us must look up and behold the awful majesty of ChristHe who holds the angels of the churches in the right hand of His thundering, stupendous might.
Then we shall cry, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts." We shall discover that we and our friends are in a deplorable condition and have unclean lips. We are not the favored children we thought we were.
But God loves us.
The moment we make our confession of unworthiness, as did Job in a similar situation, the seraph touches our lips with a glowing coal from Gods Altar. God is far more than our Teacher. He brings us into relationship to Himself by blood, by fire, by circumcision. The Lord is much more than a theologian or religious philosopher. He is the consuming Fire. We are the little fires that find no rest until our flame becomes one with the larger Flame.
Our God is the holy Fire. Sin and self-will also are fires. "And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell, James informs us (James 3:6). With our mouth we confess Christ unto salvation or else we lie, blaspheme God, and curse men. Our words will stand in the Day of Judgment to justify or condemn us.
Uzziah "worshiped" God in his self-exaltation and self-will, hoping to enhance his own glory. Isaiah made the proper confession: "I am humbled because I have seen the King"! No self-glory here. This is the red clay of the earth adoring the Living Eternal Fire from which it received the breath of life in its nostrils.
The glowing coal from the holy fire of the Altar of Incense touches our lips and all our uncleannesses are taken away. The fiery Word purifies us, burning away the proud flesh.
Then Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord:
. . . Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? . . . (Isaiah 6:8).
As soon as the Lord puts to death our self-exaltation and self-will we can hear His voice. He always had been speaking but we were not in a position to hear. We did not have "ears" because we were filled with our own ways.
Now we are becoming aware that God has a plan of His own. He is not interested in blessing our plans to set up our own kingdom in His name. He desires to send us to do His will. But Gods will and plan are so high above any scheme we can imagine that the most we can do is to agree to worship and serve Him.
Isaiah responded instantly:
. . . Here am I; send me (Isaiah 6:8).
Our self-made ambitions and plans fade into obscurity and we are willing to serve the Lord. Then our enthusiasm revives. "He will use me after all. There may be some glory for me."
But Gods ways can be flesh-crucifying, self-crucifying.
Who among us would go and perform the Lords will if he received Isaiahs commission?
. . . Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not (Isaiah 6:9).
What kind of assignment to preach is this? This is the Good News?
Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. (Isaiah 6:10)
Isaiah cried out in distress, "Lord, how long?"
. . . Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, (Isaiah 6:11)
What a miserable commission! Total darkness except for the glimmer of hope for the remnant of the holy seed who would return (verse 13).
If ever there was an assignment calculated to destroy the last trace of self-exaltation and self-will in a man of God, Isaiah had just received it. Isaiahs nation, the only audience with which he was familiar, was suffering because of its rebellion against the Lord.
But the Lord Jesus had in mind an exceedingly magnificent mission for our disappointed prophetan unnumbered congregation of saints from every age of history, from every city and village on the earth.
For to the "prince of the prophets" was given the Gospel of the King of kings and Lord of lordsa light that has shined and yet will shine in the hearts of men and women, boys and girls. And they shall hear and be saved.
It was Isaiah who proclaimed:
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:3)
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; (Isaiah 61:1)
Isaiah was given a true understanding of his own sinfulness and of those about him. His assignment from the Lord was a difficult one. There is tradition to the effect that he was martyred.
But to few men has been granted the opportunity to reveal in such fullness the atoning death and the glorious eternal life and Kingdom of the Lord Jesus.
Can we see the King high and lifted up today? Can we hear His voice?His concern for the peoples of the earth? Can we accept the wretchedness and uncleanness of our own condition?
When we exalt the Lord He will purge our iniquity with a glowing coal from the Divine Fire of His own Being. Whether our commission is plain and acceptable, or difficult to understand or appreciate, Christ will be exalted in us and through us if we yield ourselves to His Presence and purposes.