The Bible is the book for times such as this! Written in desperate situations and plagues of all types. During a pandemic, it’s easy to think that this is a one-off. But since the beginning – various plagues have afflicted mankind – the plague of Satan’s rebellion, the plague of original sin, the plague of corrupt government, the plague of human mismanagement, the plague of pride and sin, the plague of dysfunctional families, the plague of leprosy and other diseases, the plague of abuse, the plague of disjointed personalities, lunacy, madness,…
Lessons from the Bible on such a time as this:
God is not surprised by the events that transpire on earth. He does the surprising. The prophet, the church, the Christian need a clear vision of the heavenly Kingdom.
1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.”4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.
The context of this passage:
From New International Bible Dictionary:
UZZIAH (ŭ-zī’ȧa, Heb. ‘uzzîyâh, the LORD is strength).
Uzziah the king, also called Azariah, the son of Amaziah. At the age of sixteen, he became Judah’s tenth king (2 Kings 14:21) and ruled fifty-two years. He came to the throne at a difficult time. His father, because of a military failure, had been killed (14:19). Uzziah was the people’s choice as his successor (14:21). He undertook, very early in his career, an expedition against his father’s enemies and won battles against the Edomites, Philistines, Arabians, and the Meunites (2 Kings 14:22; 2 Chron 26:1-7). He strengthened his kingdom (26:2), and the report of his strength spread as far as Egypt (26:8). He made many improvements on his home front (26:9-10), and he possessed real ability at organization (26:11-15).
In spite of these successes, he strayed far from the Lord at the end of his life. Apparently as long as the prophet Zechariah lived, his influence was great on the king, and “as long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success” (2 Chron 26:5). However, when he became strong, pride-filled his heart, and one day he went into the temple, determined to burn incense to the Lord, a duty to be performed only by the priest. The chief priest, Azariah, with eighty priests went into the temple to reason with him, but he would not listen. Because of his self-will, God struck him with leprosy, which stayed with him until his death (26:16-21).
The Passage of Scripture on Uzziah is fascinating. And surprisingly connected to a plague – leprosy.
2 Chronicles 26
1 And all the people of Judah took Uzziah (Democratic king), who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the place of his father Amaziah. (He came to the throne at a difficult time. His father, because of a military failure, had been killed (2 Kings14:19)
2 He built Eloth and restored it to Judah after the king slept with his fathers.
3 Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Jechiliah of Jerusalem.
4 He did right in the sight of the LORD according to all that his father Amaziah had done.
5 He continued to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding through the vision of God; and as long as he sought the LORD, God prospered him. (The secret to his success was one that followed God’s vision! And the right order to life! In this case God – Prophet – King)
Uzziah Succeeds in War
6 Now he went out and warred against the Philistines, and broke down the wall of Gath and the wall of Jabneh and the wall of Ashdod; and he built cities in the area of Ashdod and among the Philistines. 7 God helped him against the Philistines, and against the Arabians who lived in Gur-baal, and the Meunites. 8 The Ammonites also gave tribute to Uzziah, and his fame extended to the border of Egypt, for he became very strong. 9 Moreover, Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate and at the Valley Gate and at the corner buttress and fortified them. 10 He built towers in the wilderness and hewed many cisterns, for he had much livestock, both in the lowland and in the plain. He also had plowmen and vinedressers in the hill country and the fertile fields, for he loved the soil. 11 Moreover, Uzziah had an army ready for battle, which entered combat by divisions according to the number of their muster, prepared by Jeiel the scribe and Maaseiah the official, under the direction of Hananiah, one of the king’s officers. 12 The total number of the heads of the households, of valiant warriors, was 2,600. 13 Under their direction was an elite army of 307,500, who could wage war with great power, to help the king against the enemy. 14 Moreover, Uzziah prepared for all the army shields, spears, helmets, body armor, bows and sling stones. 15 In Jerusalem he made engines of war invented by skillful men to be on the towers and on the corners for the purpose of shooting arrows and great stones. Hence his fame spread afar, for he was marvelously helped until he was strong.
The section above reads like the list of positives, successes, expansions, and technological/ scientific advances of the world before this pandemic struck. Many people (maybe even Isaiah the prophet) would have settled into a false sense of security. We must be careful in trusting in these similar things worldly successes, expansions, technological/ scientific/medicinal advances governments, the general narrative of the media, propaganda, and educational systems of this world. Man is fallible, only God is not.
Pride Is Uzziah’s Undoing
16 But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God, for he entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.
God-given order was broken. I don’t think, I need to list the transgressions of this generation. It would be a shame if we as Christians are not aware of the headlines of heaven – seek first the kingdom of God.
17 Then Azariah the priest entered after him and with him eighty priests of the LORD, valiant men. (Wonder if we – servants of God – would be called valiant men by the Holy Spirit? They stood for the Word of God – didn’t matter who it was. God pleasers, not man pleasers)
18 They opposed Uzziah the king (one who put fear in the nations of the world) and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful and will have no honor from the LORD God.”
19 But Uzziah, with a censer in his hand for burning incense, was enraged; and while he was enraged with the priests, the leprosy (Yes, scripture says “THE leprosy” – meaning it was on everyone’s mind, of global infamy, a volume of information is contained in the word, a plague, an event of despair and hopelessness) broke out on his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, beside the altar of incense.
20 Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous on his forehead; and they hurried him out of there, and he himself also hastened to get out because the LORD had smitten him. (The powers that be are humbled and in a helpless state! Sound familiar?)
21 King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death; and he lived in a separate house, being a leper, for he was cut off from the house of the LORD. And Jotham his son was over the king’s house judging the people of the land. 22 Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, first to last, the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, has written. 23 So Uzziah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the field of the grave which belonged to the kings, for they said, “He is a leper.” And Jotham his son became king in his place.
Some or many of us received this forward, but I wonder if we gave it the kind of attention it deserves. It was shared as a list of prophecies about this time we are going through but that wouldn’t be right about every passage in the list (This generation of sensationalists!)
But that such events are chronicled in the Bible should put some measure of comfort and boldness to the promises and presence of God in our lives.
Biblical passages describing similar conditions to what we are experiencing:
1. The songs in the temple will go away. (Amos 8: 3)
2. The corpses are so numerous that they are thrown away. (Amos 8: 3)
3. The earth will shake (Amos 8: 8)
4. The Festivals and Celebrations become sad. (Amos 8:10)
5. Bitter days ahead. (Amos 8:10)
6. You will not be able to hear the Word. (Amos 8:11, 12)
7. young people fall unconscious when they are young. (Amos 8:13)
8. Marriages will be without celebrations. (Jer 16: 9)
9. People will die of deadly diseases. (Jer 16: 4)
10. They will not be able to mourn for their dead. They will not be able to bury their dead. (Jer 16: 4)
11. They will not go to the house of sorrow. And will not show sympathy. (Jer 16: 5)
12. Big and small, old and young will die. There will be no one to bury them. (Jer 16: 6)
13. It is forbidden to go to a feast/celebration. (Jer 16: 8)
14. Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors: hide thyself for a little while, till the fury pass away. (Isaiah 26:20)
15. The pride of men shall be humbled, and the lofty shall be humbled. (Isaiah 2:11)
16. Wash your hands so that they do not die. (Exodus 30: 18-21)
17. Keep distance if you have symptoms. Cover Mouth and Avoid Contact (Leviticus 13: 4,5,46 Mask)
18. Whoever is sick should stay inside their tent for 7 to 14 days (Leviticus 13: 4-5, Quarantine)
A. Know God is aware, He has prepared us already for a time like this – the Bible in your hands and the Spirit in you. Allow the supremacy of Christ to energize you to be servants of God in this situation.
4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 9 He said, “Go”
B. Pour yourself into the service and awareness of the one Kingdom that cannot be shaken.
i. Read your bible more than ever.
ii. Pray more and pray focused on those God has put into your heart.
iii. Find out what you can do for your neighbor, financial/physical help those in need.
iv. be active now – not a time to be passive – people, more than ever, need the gospel of Jesus and the Love, Peace, and comfort of God. Be a minister of these characters of God to those around you.
v. Like Jesus dealt with the plague of the Roman Empire, the indifferent religious order, the plague of Leprosy – be lead of the Spirit, do what He wants you to do – in some cases, it would be not to lose heart and continue to do what He asked you to, don’t get distracted.
vi. Resist the Devil. He is dealing in despondency, depression, hopelessness, and lies. Don’t allow any of these to take root. Man shall not live by the media, or the charity of man or governments but by the word that proceeds from the mouth of God. This was Jesus’ response to Satan (Matt 4:4). Remember that.
vii. Expect miracles of provision, healing, and wisdom. The God of the Bible, His lovingkindness is everlasting. He pours extraordinary grace for extraordinary times.
28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is a consuming fire.
C. Finally, keep this life in a Biblical perspective. We are here for a short period of seventy years or a hundred at max. This is just the gestation period! To arrive into eternal life! So let’s get on with the kingdom of God and don’t let these physical bodies be our entire focus. That’s for the unregenerate. Oh, how we are trying to preserve this mortal body! Full of fear and doubt… so consumed by it. Rather we should be taking the wings of the immortal laying ahead of us. Keep your eyes on the Lord seated on the throne! He cares for you!
28 Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. 32 “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
So put on the righteousness of God imparted by the burning coal of His word. Be innocent as doves, wise as serpents. Serve the King of kings, Love your neighbor as yourself, Help those of the household of faith. And finally, to borrow and rephrase from William Carey: Expect great things of the Holy Spirit and attempt great things by the Spirit. You were born for such a time as this! (ESTHER)
“ BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”