Friday, September 11, 2009

“Do Not Open!”

“King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house — leprous, and excluded from the temple of the LORD.” (2 Chronicles 26:21).

King Uzziah was one of the great and beloved leaders of history. He was an inventive genius, blessed by God was great success in everything he set his hand to do. But somewhere along the way he crossed the line. His heart grew proud and he became an impatient and presumptuous man. The results were tragic.

His story now stands as a warning to leaders everywhere -- there are some doors that are not to be opened; some powers that are not to be assumed; and some lines that must never be crossed.

On that fateful day when Uzziah angrily pushed past the priests and entered the Temple in violation of God’s decree, wrongfully assuming that his kingly rank entitled him to do so, he was struck instantly with leprosy -- and never recovered. In that impetuous moment he lost everything.

He himself was rushed by the priest out of the Temple, never to enter again. He was also removed from the palace, never to enter again. And he was placed in a separated house, never to leave.

Furthermore, Uzziah’s mysterious leprosy was serious enough that even after he died, was placed in a specific grave apart from the royal tombs.

In 1931 Professor E. I. Sukenik of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem discovered an artifact in a Russian Convent collection. The Aramaic inscription read, “Hither we brought the bones of Uzziah, do not open.” The stone now can be seen in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. But the grave of Uzziah itself cannot be found.

Thus, even the final resting place of his infectious bones is sealed off forever.

And that is best, for surely somebody today would presumptuously open that tomb in the name of science, or in a vain quest for fame, and unleash into our world whatever it was that killed the king. Something so bad that the stone reads, “Do Not Open!”

See in all this the sobering finality of Uzziah’s daring behavior. The suddenness and severity with which he passed from royalty to ruin leaves a lasting legacy for all who follow after him. What door has the Lord closed to you? What warnings are posted by the Holy Spirit as you approach the point of no return? Do you nevertheless proceed, or does wisdom and humility prevail as you back away and leave well enough alone?

Isaiah said, “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.” (Isa.6:1). Sometimes it takes the falling of an earthly king to lift our sights higher to the King of Heaven.


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