THE KING WHO BECAME A LEPER

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    [2 Chronicles:26:1-23]

    Lesson No.: 
    86
    Class: 
    Elementary
    Memory Verse: 

    “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord” (James 4:10).

    Notes: 

    A Good Start
    When a king dies, usually his son becomes king. In this lesson we shall study about a young man named Uzziah, who became king at the age of sixteen, when his father died. In some ways he reminds us of the first king that the Children of Israel ever had to rule over them. Do we remember King Saul? He started out to do the right things; he pleased God for a while. But later on he became proud; perhaps he thought he had done great things, so he disobeyed the Lord. God did not let him be the king any longer.

    King Uzziah was another man who made a good start; no doubt he was saved for a time. He prayed to God and did what God told him to do. His great armies went out to battle, and God was with them. He had much cattle and land; he built high towers and strong walls. God was with him and helped him, and he was known by the people in faraway lands. But when he was very great and powerful, he, too, became proud. He thought he had made himself great. It was God who had helped him, but he did not admit that. God tells us in His Book: “Without me ye can do nothing”. We should always remember that and ask God to help us do what we have to do.

    Pride in the Heart
    Do we understand what pride is? When people or even little children are so well pleased with themselves, or with something they are able to do, that they want to “show off” – that is pride. Some children are able to sing better than others; some have better clothes than others; some live in very fine homes. But God does not want anyone to become proud over these things. After all, He has given us everything we have, and we should be thankful to Him for the good things we have, and that God lets us have them. God looks on the heart and not on the outside. He loves a little child who comes to Sunday School poorly-dressed just as much as the one who is well-dressed. He loves those who live in a humble cottage just as much as He loves those who live in a beautiful and big house.

    God is not pleased with people who even have a proud look; and, no doubt, He is more displeased when they show the pride of their heart by their actions. God’s Word reads, “An high look, and a proud heart... is sin” [Proverbs:21:4]). God hates pride.

    The Punishment
    God’s Word teaches that a “haughty spirit,” or pride, goes before a fall; and when King Uzziah became proud and lifted up, he was sure to fall – be punished. He did something that displeased the Lord greatly. He wents into the Temple to burn incense upon the altar, and he had no right to do this. The incense that was burned in the Temple was made of several kinds of sweet spices, just as God said it should be made. When it burned it made a sweet perfume in the temple and even outside for a distance. It was burned morning and evening, and seemed to mean prayer, praise, and thanksgiving to God. It was a very wrong thing for anyone but the right ones to burn the incense. Only certain ones – the priests, the sons of Aaron – were permitted to do this. Azariah, the chief priest, and 80 other priests also went into the Temple that day. They told King Uzziah that he had no right to burn incense unto the Lord; it was not his place to do so. They told him to go out, that he had done a wrong thing.

    This made the king very angry. He perhaps thought that because he was the king he could do anything he pleased. While he stood there, the dreadful disease of leprosy rose up in his forehead. All the priests looked at him and saw that he was a leper. They sent him out at once, and he hurried to go out of the Temple. He knew that he had done wrong and was being punished for it. He was a leper the rest of his life and had to live by himself, away from other people. His last days must have been very sad.

    We have learned in other lessons that the disease of leprosy on the body, is like sin in the heart. It grows bigger and more terrible all the time. Perhaps it begins with just a very small spot, but gradually it spreads and goes deeper into the flesh. That is the way with sin. It may begin with what seems to be a very little thing – with what is called a “little lie,” a little thing stolen, or a little bit of disobedience. But it soon grows bigger and bigger; and unless the Blood of jesus takes it out of the heart it will kill the body and send the soul away from God forever.

    One time a man was to be put to death for a big robbery and a murder he had committed. Before he was put to death he was asked if there was anything he wanted to say. He said he did want to warn other boys from doing as he had done and coming to such a bad end. He said that the first thing he ever stole was a lead pencil from the desk of a schoolmate. From that time on he began to steal more and more things until he became a terrible robber.

    Another robber said almost the same thing, but added that if his parents had punished him hard the first time he stole something he might not have become a robber.

    Learning the Hard Way
    When we study our lessons from the Word of God, let us pray that God will help us to learn them well and remember what we learn. Sometimes God tries to teach people lessons but they will not listen to His voice. Then they have to learn their lesson the “hard way” – through punishment.

    There was another king in Bible times who became very proud of himself and what he had done. But God knew how to humble him, too. He was not stricken with leprosy like King Uzziah was, but he was driven out into the fields, and he ate grass as the animals. His body was wet with dew; his hair became like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. Worse than all that, his mind was gone! But at the end of seven years his mind was restored to him, and he received his kingdom again. God saw that he had been humbled, and had learned his lesson. This is what he said when he came back to his kingdom: “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase” [Daniel:4:37]). We shall read more about this king in a future lesson.

    “Close to Thee”
    God wants us to remember that every good thing we have comes from Him. He has given us these lessons from His Book so that we shall know what to do and what not to do. From this lesson we learn, first: although we are saved and make a good start, unless we pray much and keep very close to Jesus, we shall lose the love of God out of our heart. We call that backsliding.

    Secondly, we must be humble before God. That is just the opposite of being proud. God says that he resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Let us remember that we are no better than the one next to us, and all that we have God has given us, and we must be thankful to Him. If we “watch and pray,” we shall be able to keep saved, and then pride will not creep into our heart, and God will not have to punish us to make us as good as He wants us to be.

    Questions: 

    1. Why was King Uzziah so prosperous? [2 Chronicles:26:5].
    2. What happened to cause him to fall? [2 Chronicles:26:16].
    3. Whose duty was it to burn incense? [2 Chronicles:26:18].
    4. Did the king ever recover from his leprosy? [2 Chronicles:26:21].
    5. What two lessons may we learn from this story?