A Study of 2nd Chronicles 26:16-18
2 Chronicles 26:16
But when he King Uzziah was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense.
2 Chronicles 26:17
And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men:
2 Chronicles 26:18
And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God.
Under the Old Covenant Law, God gave specific instructions that only the sons of Aaron, as His appointed priests, were to enter into the sanctuary as a mediator for the people to burn incense. As 2 Chronicles 26 continues, we read of the consequence of Uzziah’s actions, how God immediately brought leprosy upon the king, resulting in his being outcast as a leper for the remainder of his days. The seriousness of King Uzziah’s sinful, prideful action can be found in the fact that the priestly office he dared to fulfill was a foreshadowing of that which only the eternal high priest (the promised Messiah, the God-man) was appointed to fulfill.
Accordingly, anyone who would inject themselves into fulfilling the role that Christ alone was appointed to fulfill, the role that Christ alone was able to fulfill, and that Christ alone did fulfill in His finished work as the “one mediator between God and men” (I Timothy 2:5), is in effect thinking and acting in concert with King Uzziah “when his heart was lifted up to his destruction.” As sinners born in darkness, we are unaware of our complicity with Uzziah unless and until God exposes this to us by the light of His Gospel.
Sadly, many persist in imagining that the pivotal issue in their salvation hinges upon that which they do so as to appropriate God’s blessing, not solely upon the work of Christ, the one and only Mediator.
Even many who profess to be of the Christian faith make no pretense in boldly asserting that Christ’s work of mediation (which would more accurately be depicted as a mere attempt at mediation) is ultimately ineffective for most for whom He lived and died.
In fact, it is only deemed to be effective for those who rise to the occasion and do something to appropriate that blessing unto themselves (whether it be by the exercise of their faith or something else done by or through them). And in so thinking, men and women manifest King Uzziah’s same sinful pride as they presume that the essential work whereby they are reconciled unto God is accomplished by their act of faith, a work performed outside that of God’s appointed eternal priest and mediator.
Only the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ as the one mediator appointed by God could and did do the priestly work of mediation, the work of reconciling lost sinners unto a holy God by offering up the sacrifice of His own humanity in satisfaction to God’s law and justice. That is the incense which is a sweet (satisfying) fragrance in the nostrils of God (Ephesians 5:1).
By R. Wages