Hello my friends! It is so good to be back in my own neck of the woods. While vacation time is valued, it is always nice to be return to your own bed and enjoy your own kitchen (and coffee). I have to be honest, I also enjoyed the break from blogging. I really enjoy researching and sharing thoughts, but I decided when we left that I was going to take a break and enjoy the time away.
That does not mean that I stopped my reading, and I hope that you are keeping up as well. I really want to encourage you to keep with it over the summer months. I know that our summer schedules can be even more full than during the rest of the year, and if not fuller than more unpredictable. But our time in God’s presence is even more important when our schedules are full and our time is a bit more unsettled. We need that spot in the day to anchor us, to relax in the scriptures and to petition God to be present in our day and directing our activities.
I have, unfortunately, witnessed many good Christians who seem to take the summer “off”. They go away on vacation and don’t spend time in prayer, don’t keep their regular devotional schedule, don’t even go to church. Vacation time is a wonderful time to reconnect with God as we are away from our regular stresses and strains (unless your children are vacationing with you…I’m kidding…mostly). In all seriousness, don’t take the summer off, God has just as much to show you and teach you during the summer as he does the rest of the year; and, from a theological standpoint, God’s sovereignty in your life doesn’t end June 31st and start again September 1st.
Back to our reading. We are moving right along through the stories of the Kings of Israel and Judah and each day brings new stories of new kings. Admittedly, the timeline during this period of reading can get a bit challenging to follow, especially when some of the Kings had two names. Trust me, I know how challenging this is because I’m trying to figure out how to properly show all of this on the timeline in the sanctuary of the church!
It can be helpful to go online and look at a timeline, or even print one off and have it in your Bible to use during your reading time. I will admit, however, that even the timetables and graphs can be confusing to follow. The blessing is that there are LOTS of them out there, so look until you find one that makes sense to you.
Today our reading focuses on Azariah/Uzziah (same guy), a man who started out ruling in a manner that was pleasing to God, but who ended up being ruined in the end. This is a great example of why it is so important to read Kings and Chronicles together. If you had read only the account from 2 Kings 15 (I hope you haven’t been doing that by the way, because you’re missing stuff if you do!), you might be left wondering about the skin disease that God struck him with (2 Kings 15:5). There is no explanation given by the author of Kings as to the cause. But the Chronicler give us a much clearer understanding of the situation.
Uzziah starts off hearing God clearly and obeying fully and because of his obedience, God blesses him with much success. But verse 16 gives a telling detail: “But when he became strong, he grew arrogant and it led to his destruction…” He got too big for his britches as the old adage goes. He even went so far as to burn incense in the temple, something that two of Aaron’s sons died doing way back in Exodus. I think it is interesting that it was not his act in burning incense that caused his skin disease, it was his rage when the priests tried to correct and stop him. Had he listened and corrected his behaviour, he probably would have not be afflicted the way he was.
But that is one of the primary problems with arrogance; it makes you completely deaf to correction or rebuke. It assures you of your “rightness”, even if you have not basis to be right in the first place.
There is one glimmer in this story that I must point out. Uzziah had a son named Jotham who ran the kingdom after his father’s disease forced him into hiding. We’re not told if Uzziah repented of his pride and sin or not, but it is obvious that Uzziah had a definite positive influence on his son, becaut Jotham “did what was right in the Lord’s sight as his father Uzziah had done, except that he didn’t enter the Lord’er sanctuary.”
Jotham picks up the positive attributes of his father’s reign, and even shows wisdom in learning from his father’s mistakes enough to not copy them. That is the real crux in all of these stories of the kings. The patterns established by fathers are passed down to their sons, both positive and negative. The Judean kings that are listed as reformers (there are no Israelite reformers) are the ones who learn from their father’s mistakes and choose to walk a different path.
Lots to think about and mediate on from this story… and there’s much more to come.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Isaiah 1-4