TODAY’S SPECIAL:2 Chronicles 26:16-22

TO CHEW ON: "But after Uzziah became powerful his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense." 2 Chronicles 26:16

Back in Judah, years had gone by since King Joash’s reign had ended. Now sixteen-year-old Uzziah, Joash’s grandson, was king. Like his grandfather Joash, Uzziah was trained by a priest. Just like Joash he started out well. He strengthened the army, defeated his Philistine enemies, built cities, and gave lots of people good jobs on his farms and in his fields. Soon he was famous in the nations all around. Best of all, during this whole time he was careful to do what pleased God.

That is, until one day when his success went to his head. That day he decided there was nothing he couldn’t do. So he went into the temple, lit the incense in the portable burner called a censer, and was about to make a sacrifice on the altar when Azariah and a crowd of priests stopped him.

“What are you doing?” Azariah asked. “This isn’t right. Only priests are allowed to go into the temple and make sacrifices. You’re showing disrespect to God. Leave!”

Azariah’s words made Uzziah furious. He shouted and raged at the priests. But even as he was yelling his curses and insults, they drew back in horror. For there was leprosy on his forehead.

“There’s leprosy on you!” Azariah said.

"Punishment in the Temple" © 1992 by Darlene Slavujac

Then Uzziah quieted and quickly left the temple. As a leper, he was contagious and unclean. He had to live alone from then on.

Uzziah started out so well. He was very successful. But his success made him proud. Pride led him to think he could do whatever he liked. Finally it brought him to a bad end.

Have you started well? Ask God to alert you to pride, or selfishness, or greed, or the desire to be popular, or any other thing that would keep you from finishing well.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to live well from beginning to end. Amen.

MORE: Finish Well

Think about the people in your life, or people you have read about.

- Name someone who started well but finished poorly: ____________

- Name someone who started well and finished well: _____________

- What would you say it means to finish well? _______________