In 1998, Rachel was posted to Adankwagi Community Grammar School, Kaduna for the mandatory one-year youth service. During her short stay, she was exposed to unethical behaviours, immoral acts and tribal discrimination. Unfortunately, the principal and vice-principals who were Christians did not behave differently as they were the ring leaders of the extortion of money from the students. They also encouraged nepotism and hypocrisy by their actions.
The experience left an impression on the young lady who was starting life after school. She had been an executive in the Scripture Union fellowship on campus, passionate about changing the world for Christ. Seeing the wickedness in the school gave her an idea of how the rest of the world would look like and the scale of the challenge she had ahead of her.
In June 1999, Rachel returned to Lagos and sat for a chat with her friend, Clara. They discussed their experiences at their Places of Primary Assignment (PPAs) and documented the principles they would follow as they began their journey in the academic world. They would not become those they criticized. They would be different.
Dr. Clara was finally able to arrange a meeting with Prof. Rachel, her childhood friend.
C: Madam, how are you doing? It was difficult for me to get across to you. You refused to pick my calls. Even your Personal Assistant did not reply my messages. What is happening, Rachel?
R: I’m sorry, my sister. The truth is I have been very best lately with the admissions for the new session coupled with my other responsibilities.
C: No problem, my sister. I know you are very busy. Let me start from that admission part. There has been news around that you are collecting money from prospective students before you help them secure admissions. Is that true? My sister, is that true?
R: See ehn, you would not understand. There are a lot of things that are going on at the top that you cannot see. There is a lot of power play at work. People are trying to use their influence and connections. The money is to settle those that need to be settled and to compensate for my influence.
C: Rachel. Ore mi. My friend. Ki lo se le? What went wrong? Who gave you the influence that you are now peddling? Who brought you to this place? Who? Have you forgotten the things you experienced at Adankwagi and the decisions we made as a result? Did you not condemn those teachers who collected money from the students? How is this different?
R: I knew you were coming here to insult me. That is why I did not want to see you. What is your problem? You are a junior level staff so you can’t understand how things work. It is envy that is speaking. Sister Clara, when you become a Professor like me, you will know that it is not easy.
C: Ah. It’s not like that, Prof. You remember during our meeting in 1999 that we promised to hold each other accountable. That is why I am here. It can be my turn tomorrow. Don’t misunderstand me.
R: Doctor Mrs. Clara Adejuwon. Please leave my office. I have a meeting to prepare for. If you refuse to, I would have to call the security guards.
C: Ah. Rachel, it is me o. Clara. Your Clara baby. Your best lady.
Have you seen people who started very well but stumbled along the way? Have you seen people who criticized leaders becoming the replicas of those they despised? Activists who have become accomplices. Critics who have become conspirators. Have you seen them? Have you read about them? Have you considered the possibility that one day you might become one of them? Or that you might already be one of such people?
Today, we consider the life of Uzziah. A king who started well, stumbled along the way and ended sorrowfully.
Shall we pray?
Prince of Peace. King of Kings. Everlasting Father. We thank you for the privilege to learn at your feet. We ask that you grant us insight into your word. We ask for unusual revelation knowledge today. We pray that the lessons will transform our lives and help us grow into your likeness. Thank you, Lord, for answered prayers. For we pray in Jesus name. Amen.
THE PERIL OF PRIDE – UZZIAH
Open the window of the temple and you will see the boy Uzziah seating with Pastor Zechariah learning the word of God. You will notice the youngster listening with rapt attention as the man of God teaches him the principles of faith and leadership. After the class, you will see a notebook with the boy inside which he records the action points and assignments for the week.
Open the window of the temple and you will see the king Uzziah holding a censer in his hand to burn incense. When he’s reminded by Azariah that he is not a priest who is consecrated to burn incense, you will see his face turn red with rage. Suddenly, you will see leprosy break out on his forehead. Then, you’ll watch as he hurries to get out of the temple of the Lord
Open the window of the isolation centre and you will see king Uzziah staring at the roof. You will wonder how a king who started with so much promise became a leper separated from people, ejected from the palace and banned from entering the temple of the Lord.
The sight will move you to tears and prayers as you ask the Lord to help you. The scene of the old king crying as they drop his food at the entrance of the isolated house will touch your heart. It will drive you to your knees in prayer to God for grace to run well and finish strong.
Today, we will consider three lessons from the life of King Uzziah, using the cue S.S.S. Triple S. S cube. Sss…😊 Let’s go!
1) He started well: Amidst the doom and gloom that ended his life, it is important for us to remember that Uzziah started well. At the age of 16, he became king of Judah (2 Chronicles 26:1). Driven by a passion to correct the wrongs in the land, he began building and restoring cities. (vs. 2). Scriptures record that he did what was right in the sight of the Lord (vs 4).
Before we are presented with the other great exploits of the king, we are told the secret to his success. “As long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper (vs. 5).” His success was a result of his dependence on God. We see the important role that Zechariah, the man who the Message Bible calls his pastor and teacher (26:5), plays in his life. The man of God helps give this young man a solid foundation of the word of God.
Verses 6 to 15 of the passage presents the outstanding accomplishments of king Uzziah. Military conquests, infrastructural development and agricultural advancement were the notable reference points of his rule. His fame spread very far. As far as Egypt! (vs. 8).
However, as we see, how you start is only part of the journey.
2) He stumbled along the way: In the space of two verses, Uzziah’s life story peaks and then begins a rapid decline into destruction. His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful. (vs. 15) But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall (vs. 16).
Pride is self-sufficiency; it is assuming that one is powerful enough and acting in like manner. It was the sin committed by the devil as he considered himself equal to God. As we represent God in the royal courts of our industries, we will be faced with the subtle temptation to become proud. With increased responsibilities and higher positions, it is easy to get carried away and forget the Source of our strength.
As the Israelites prepared to enter the Promised Land, God speaking through Moses instructed them, “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land…a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing…when you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God. Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 8:7-11)
Uzziah became proud and felt he could sacrifice to the Lord as the priests did (2 Chronicles 26:16). Azariah the priest went in after him with eighty priests of the Lord. 80!! He reminded him of his role as king and the limitation he had in terms of sacrificing to the Lord. The king flared up! His response teaches us an important lesson. We must never get to the point where we are not open to correction from others.
Pride comes subtly not suddenly. It is in those thoughts that say, “Who is he to tell me what to do? How can she talk to me like that? Does he think I am his mate?”. Scriptures encourage us to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5). If we would not one day do despicable things blinded by rage and pride, we must check our hearts and motives regularly.
We must learn to pray as the Psalmist prayed, “Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong – then guide me on the road to eternal life.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
3) He ended sorrowfully: After he was struck with leprosy, Uzziah dwelt in an isolated house. 2 Chronicles 26:21 says that Uzziah had his skin disease for the rest of his life and had to live in quarantine; he was not permitted to set foot in the Temple of God. Ha! The verse continues. His son Jotham, who managed the royal palace, took over the government of the country. Jesu! King Uzziah was replaced while he was alive!
The king who started with great promise. The one God helped against the Philistines, the Arabians and the Meunites (vs.7). The king who built towers in different locations in Jerusalem. He even built towers in the desert. (vs. 9-10). That one who had much livestock, framers and vinedressers (vs. 10). The king who had a great army (vs. 11 -14). That same King Uzziah was replaced while he was alive!
Sadly, the dishonour did not end there. In ancient times, there was a royal cemetery where kings were buried. However, when Uzziah died, they buried him with his ancestors next to the royal cemetery. His skin disease disqualified him from burial in the royal cemetery. (vs. 22-23).
Can you see the men carrying the corpse of this great man? Can you see them carefully handling the body as they seek to avoid the infection? Brethren, can you hear the people in verse 23 saying “He is a leper”? Can you see how poorly attended his funeral ceremony was? Can you see the end of this promising king?
As we conclude today’s episode of From the Royal Courts, we need to pray. If someone had told Uzziah that he would disobey God and disrespect the priests, he would have dismissed the thought. If someone had told Uzziah that he would end his life in such humiliation, he would have shaken his head in disbelief. But sadly, his story ended in tragedy.
As we consider a man who fell to the arrow of pride, kindly talk to God in prayers. Ask for His help to run well and finish strong. Ask Him for the grace never to feel that you are self-sufficient! Ask God to help you to remain H.O.T – Humble, Obedient and Teachable – no matter how far he takes you. Talk to God. He is listening.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the light of your word. We thank you for lessons from the life of Uzziah. Dear Lord, we see that we are vulnerable to shipwreck and the possibility of ending our lives tragically if you don’t help us. So, Heavenly Father, we ask that you search us and work on the seeds of destruction in our hearts. We pray that you will break us. We pray that you will empty us of all that is flesh. We plead that you will fill us to overflow with your spirit. Thank you, Lord, for answering our prayers. For we pray in Jesus name. Amen.