“Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah began to reign. … He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Amaziah had done. … The Lord afflicted Azariah with leprosy until the day he died, and he lived in a separate house.” (2 Kings 15:1-5 NIV)
What?! This man obeyed God, was a good king and yet the Lord afflicted him with leprosy – the most dreaded disease of that day. Note it specifically says the Lord gave him this affliction. Sorry if that rattles your theological cage. I don’t like the idea either but it plainly says God did this.
So where is the justice in this? How can God do such a thing to a man who is walking in obedience? It would be one thing if it said God “allowed” it but it clearly says God caused it. Can we even trust God to be just when He does stuff like this to a good king who is faithfully serving Him?
I have found when I have questions about Scripture the best commentary on Scripture is the Scripture itself. Often, the answer to hard questions is found within the pages of the Bible if I will just diligently search it out. And that is the case here.
In 2 Chronicles 26 we read the expanded story of Azariah’s life – and we find he was also called Uzziah. We discover that power and success went to his head and he was struck with leprosy for a flagrant violation of God’s law and ignoring the counsel of the priests. 2 Kings covers over Uzziah’s sin. For the one who only knows part of the story it looks like God is terribly unjust. What a message for me.
In this life I can never know all the story, all the details, the attitudes and motives of the heart – even my own heart. It is easy to judge that God is unjust, cruel or capricious. God was even made to look worse because He failed to mention Uzziah’s sin in 2 Kings. Even His expressions of love and mercy can appear unjust because of my limited understanding, shallow perspective and incomplete knowledge. What a lesson on the importance of trusting His goodness and faithfulness even when He does not appear good and faithful.
And what a lesson on not judging others. I have no idea what is going on in their heart, their life, their walk with God.
We cannot judge how a story ends until we have read the entire book. Yet, how many of us will foolishly judge the character of God when we are right in the middle of the story He is composing in our lives and the world around us.
Romans 11:33-34 (NLT)
Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!
For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice?