By Henry Mahan
2 Chronicles 26; Isaiah 6:1-5
Our lesson begins with Isaiah's vision in Isaiah 6:1-5.
v. 1. In the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah saw the Lord (God the Son) sitting upon a throne, in the posture of a judge, to hear causes and execute judgment. His train, or the borders of his judicial robes, spread abroad and filled the temple.
v. 2. The seraphims (ministers and messengers of the Lord, bright and glorious, fervent in zeal for God's service and glory) covered their faces out of profound reverence, covered their feet, owning their own imperfections, and did fly to execute God's commands.
v. 3. Here is the essence of the vision: 'One cried unto another and said, holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts.' God is infinitely, eternally, and immutably holy in all his ways. It is repeated for the greater assurance and establishment of the fact. If there is one attribute used most frequently or one word to emphasize the nature of our God, it is 'God is holy' (1 Tim. 6:15-16), unapproachable by sinful creatures.
v. 5. Isaiah's response to the vision was to declare, 'Woe is me, I am cut off from God. I am an unclean branch of an unclean tree. I am a great sinner, especially by my lips, which reveal my heart. There is no hope for me nor those about me, before God's awful holy presence.'
Was there a connection between the death of King Uzziah and Isaiah's vision? Who was King Uzziah? What relationship did he have with Isaiah? How did he die? Read II Chronicles 26.
v. 22.. Isaiah was the prophet of God during the reign of Uzziah (Isa. 1:1). Isaiah wrote of the acts and rule of Uzziah from first to last.
vv. 1-4. Uzziah was a good king, who did that which was right in the sight of the Lord God. He sought the Lord, and God made him to prosper. God helped him in battle (vv. 7-8). He served the people, building towers in the desert to protect herds, digging many wells, and planting vineyards (v. 10). He had a great army (vv. 12-13), was a brilliant leader (v. 15), and his name was known far and wide.
v. 16. But Uzziah made a serious and fatal mistake which led to his utter destruction and death. 'When he was strong,' he was mighty, he was proud of his accomplishments, he was free from the fear of the enemy; and his heart was so overcome by his importance that he went into the temple, into the holy place, where the altar of incense stood, and into which none but the priest might enter, to offer incense himself upon the altar.
v. 17-18. Azariah, the priest, and eighty priests of the Lord withstood King Uzziah, declaring unto him the seriousness of his act. Only the priests of God, the sons of Aaron, were consecrated by God to burn incense to the Lord. No man, not even a king, was permitted to offer sacrifices for sin (Heb. 5:1- 5). They told him that such an act could not honor him before God. No matter how sincere nor how great a man may be, it is folly to violate the holiness of God.
vv. 19-21. Instead of listening to the priest and leaving the temple, Uzziah became angry and held to the censer to burn incense. God smote the proud king with leprosy, took away his office, and he died in disgrace as a common leper. When they buried him, they said, 'He is a leper.'
Isaiah evidently learned much from the death of King Uzziah.
He said, 'In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord; I saw myself and I saw the condition of the people.'
God is holy! Our God is infinitely, indescribably holy in all his ways, acts, and nature. He will in no wise clear the guilty nor receive any man apart from perfect holiness.
He will not speak to, nor be spoken to by, any sinful creature. He is unapproachable except through the Mediator.
Men are sinners! 'There is none that doeth good, no not one.' There is none righteous. 'Your sins have separated you and your God.' 'Every imagination of the heart of man is evil continually.'
There is a way to God! Our God in mercy and grace has determined to redeem, sanctify, and receive a people out of every tribe, kindred, and tongue, but only in the way consistent with his holiness, righteousness, and truth. He will be both just and justifier; he will be both merciful and righteous; he will be a just God and a Saviour (Isa. 45:20-25).
Christ is the way! Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, came to earth made of woman, made under the law to redeem. He is our surety by divine decree; he is our righteousness by perfect obedience; he is our sacrifice, sin-offering, and atonement by death; he is our risen justifier and our great High Priest who intercedes at God's right hand. No man cometh to God but by, in, and through Christ Jesus (John 14:6).
The Old Testament priests, appointed and consecrated by God, were pictures and types of Christ, our great High Priest.
They entered the holy place as Christ entered heaven; the incense they burned is the prayers of Christ, the atonement they offered is the blood of Christ; and the fact that only the priest with a suitable sacrifice was accepted reveals that only Christ can effectually bring a sinner to God! When King Uzziah proceeded to usurp the authority of the priest and burn incense to God in the holy place, he was ignoring the Lord Jesus Christ and coming to God in his own person and works. For this great sin God destroyed him, as he will all who reject the Redeemer.
Would you approach God for mercy, forgiveness, and acceptance? Then receive, bow to, and confess Christ Jesus.
Do not come any other way (Heb. 10:11-22).