Summary: The Second of A Three Part Series ‘Growing As We Go.’
Slide 1 From my college days I recall that sometimes at Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays, college students often took home a young man or young woman for the first time, to ‘meet the family.’ And sometimes it was the precursor to what often took place during Spring Break and which, at least at my college, was announced in chapel after we returned from Spring Break, namely, ‘Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So’ announce the engagement of their daughter, “So-and-So’ to ‘So-and-So,’ the son of ‘Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So.’ And there were times when the announcement was made between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The story is told that Jonathan Edwards, the third president of Princeton University and a great preacher of another generation, had a daughter who had a nasty temper, which was not well known to many people outside the family. Well it happened that a young man met and fell in love with this young woman and went to Edwards to ask for her hand (and the rest of her as well) in marriage.
‘You can’t have her,’ was his abrupt answer. ‘But I love her,’ the young man replied.
‘You can’t have her.’ ‘But she loves me.’
‘You can’t have her.’ ‘Why?’ the young man finally asked. ‘Because she is not worthy of you,’ Edwards replied.
‘But, she is a Christian, isn’t she?’ ‘Yes, she is a Christian. But the grace of God can live with some people with whom no one else could ever live with.’
I don’t know if this is true or not, it was stated as a legend, but the point it makes is very true. Our character and the actions which arise from that character have an impact on others and a very wise father knew what this young man would be facing and thought it best to not encourage the marriage.
Someone has said, ‘The collapse of character falls back down the steps of compromise.’ Character, our character, is a very, very important aspect to our lives and the Bible, directly and indirectly, speaks to the reality of our character and today we are going to look at the story of a man, a king, who followed and then turned away from God, not intentionally at first but little by little, and then in a moment of crossing a very important boundary, lost his power and throne and was literally set aside for the rest of his life from that power and throne.
His name was King Uzziah and from our main text we learn that he was 16 years old when he became king and that he did what was right in the sight of God as king and that (verse 5), ‘Uzziah sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. And as long as the king sought the Lord, God gave him success.’
Then we go on to read that Uzziah’s leadership helped Israel to defeat their enemies and be well organized for defense against them. He also did some crucial building to improve the quality of life for the people of Israel. He was known also as a farmer as we read in verse 10. And as a result of this work, we note in verse 15, ‘His fame spread far and wide, for the Lord helped him wonderfully until he became very powerful.’
But then we come to verse 16 and a dramatic turn of events and circumstances, ‘But when he had become powerful, he also became proud, which led to his downfall. He sinned against the Lord his God by entering the sanctuary of the Lord’s Temple and personally burning incense on the altar.’
This is the second sermon in a series entitled, ‘Growing As We Go.’ Two weeks ago, we took time to review and re-examine Moses and his encounter with God at the Burning Bush and were told that it was ‘God and Moses’ not ‘Moses and God.’ In other words, to grow in our faith and relationship with Christ as we go along in life, we need to remember and accept our place as ‘second fiddle’ because the story, the musical score, is God’s and not ours.
Today, we take a look at King Uzziah and the lesson for growing and going is, as Eric Simpson noted in a talk that I heard about this story and passage, about the gap between giftedness and character.
And we notice this gap when we read the pivotal beginning word of verse 16, ‘but.’ When we read and hear the word, ‘but’ it says to us, ‘okay so far this is true about this situation or this person, however, there is something else to the story as well.’
We dread hearing this word, don’t we? ‘Mr. Jones, this is the Noble County Sheriff’s department, your son, Sam, has been in an accident, he is fine, Mr. Jones, but, your car is being towed away!’