Lesson 96:

2 Kings 14:1 In the second year of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel, Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah began to reign.

Amaziah ruled the southern kingdom of Judah from around 796 to 767 BC. He had some good qualities, but his reign was marred by an act of idolatry. When Amaziah returned from slaughtering the Edomites, he brought back the gods of the people of Seir. He set them up as his own gods, bowed down to them and burned sacrifices to them. The anger of the Lord burned against Amaziah, and he sent a prophet to him, who said, Why do you consult this people’s gods, which could not save their own people from your hand? (2 Chronicles 25:14-15).

The prophet’s logic was clear. If the local gods could not save their own people, why would a conquering king bow down to them? Amaziah may have thought he was victorious because the local gods changed sides, and he likely bowed down to give thanks. Nevertheless, The anger of the Lord burned against Amaziah, and he was later put to death (2 Kings 14:19).

God is a real person, with real emotions, one of which is jealousy. Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God (Exodus 34:1), wrote Moses. The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath (Nahum 1:2), wrote Nahum. Amaziah thought he received additional help from other gods, but he only aroused the jealous wrath of God Almighty.

This may seem like ancient superstition, but whole segments of Christianity do something very similar. Instead of praying to God alone, they encourage believers to bow down to various statues or images. Many think they are receiving additional help, but all they are really doing is inciting God’s wrath. It is a dangerous thing to be loved by a God whose name is Jealous. We must pray to him alone.

*****
2 Kings 15:1 In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah began to reign

Azariah is more famously known as King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:1). Azariah was likely his personal name, and Uzziah was likely his throne name. Uzziah ruled the southern kingdom of Judah for fifty-two years, from around 791 to 739 BC. He ruled alongside his father at first, and alongside his son near the end.

2 Kings 15:3 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord

And, As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success (2 Chronicles 26:5). Uzziah had financial success, military success, and many successful building projects. [H]is fame spread as far as the border of Egypt, because he had become very powerful (2 Chronicles 26:8).

The Bible makes a connection between righteousness and success. He holds success in store for the upright (Proverbs 2:7), says Proverbs. This is a good incentive to be righteous, but we should not press the idea too far. Success can be a sign of God’s favor, but it’s not a sure sign of God’s favor. The wicked may also prosper (Psalm 73:3), and many false religions have prospered.

The best indication of success is not the size of our house, or the extent of our reputation, but what God says to us on Judgment Day. If we live to hear him say, Well done, good and faithful servant! (Matthew 25:21), we are on the road to success. If we live for anything else, we are on the road to misery. Only Judgment Day will reveal whether we were truly successful. 

(2 Chronicles 26:16) But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall

The problem with too much earthly success is that it can lead to pride, which often leads to a downfall. Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18), says Proverbs. You save the humble, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low (2 Samuel 22:28), said David.

Uzziah was not content with political power; he wanted religious power too. He went into God’s temple to burn incense, which was something only priests were allowed to do (Numbers 3:10). Putting their lives at risk, some of the priests followed the king into the temple, and opposed him to his face. When he refused to back down, God struck with him with leprosy. Uzziah lived in isolation the rest of his life, and was banned from the temple of God (2 Chronicles 26:21).

From Uzziah we learn that starting well is no guarantee of finishing well. When he lived righteously, God gave him success. When he was filled with pride, he had a tragic fall. It is better to struggle throughout our lives than succeed at the cost of our souls. Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil (Proverbs 15:16), says Proverbs.

Reflection and Review
Why is it wrong to bow down to statues or images?
What is success?
Why is pride so dangerous?