Three Blind Kings

2 Chronicles 21:6, 18-20 - Jehoram did evil in the eyes of the Lord. The Lord afflicted Jehoram with an incurable disease of the bowels...and he died in great pain...He passed away, to no one's regret, and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.

2 Chronicles 26:16, 21 - But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the Temple to burn incense...King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house--leprous, and excluded from the Temple of the Lord.

2 Chronicles 33:9 - Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites.

Everyone knows the nursery rhyme about three blind mice, but who are the three blind kings? Three kings who reigned in the ancient kingdom of Judah were blind--not physically blind, but blind to their God-given heritage and responsibilities. All three of these kings were descendants of King David. All three of these kings knew that they were responsible to lead the kingdom of Judah for the glory of God. And it's quite likely that all three of these kings knew that the promised Messiah was to come through their line of descent. And yet, to a greater or lesser extent, all three of these kings failed to seethe importance of their God-given position. Let's look at the spiritual lessons we can learn from the historical account of these three blind kings.

King Jehoram - Blind to Heritage

King Jehoram of Judah is known as the king who "departed with no one's regret" (2 Chronicles 21:20). How would you like to have that epitaph inscribed on your gravestone? How different the story could have been, if Jehoram had only followed in the steps of his predecessors! Jehoram's father was good king Jehoshaphat, and his grandfather was King Asa, who "did what was good and right in the sight of the Lord his God" (2 Chronicles 14:2).

But Jehoram was blind to his godly heritage. When he became king he systematically eliminated all rivals to the throne, even killing his own brothers. Rather than choosing a wife who followed the Lord, he married Athaliah, the notorious daughter of wicked and idolatrous Queen Jezebel and King Ahab. "Like mother, like daughter" certainly applied to Athaliah. After the deaths of her husband and son, she murdered all but one of the royal family of Judah--including her own grandchildren! This atrocity was all part of her plan to usurp the throne of Judah with no potential future rivals. (See 2 Chronicles 22:10-12.)

Rather than continuing the godly legacy of his father and grandfather, Jehoram walked in the ways of the wicked kings of Israel, causing the people of Judah to turn away from the Lord and follow the religious prostitution and other evil practices of the pagan foreign gods. The great prophet Elijah sent Jehoram a letter, warning him about departing from the godly ways of his father and grandfather, but Jehoram ignored it. Even when the prediction of a slow and painful death became a reality, King Jehoram refused to turn from his spiritual blindness. Until the day of his horrible death, this wicked king remained blind to his godly heritage and the God of his forefathers.

Today there are many people like King Jehoram. Although they were raised in solid Christ-centered homes, they have walked away from "the way of their fathers." Materialism, earthly ambition, social success, hedonism and other forms of spiritual idolatry have blinded them to their godly spiritual heritage. Nominal "Christians" may lose sight of the Lord altogether, or pay only lip-service to the "God of their fathers" at family gatherings like Christmas and Easter.

In our consumer-oriented, hedonistic and success-driven society, it's difficult even for true believers to keep their spiritual eyesight clear. If God has blessed you with a wonderful spiritual background, don't lose sight of what you have learned! Continue to build on the solid foundation of biblical knowledge you have received. Follow the example of righteous living provided by godly parents, grandparents and teachers. Don't be blind to your godly heritage. Guard your spiritual eyesight carefully!

King Uzziah - Blind to Role

In 2 Chronicles 26 we read about another spiritually blind king. King Uzziah was not an evil king, and he wasn't blind for his entire reign. In fact, Uzziah was one of the good kings of Judah, and we read that "God gave him success" (vs 4-7). King Uzziah had the vision and administrative ability to use all the resources of Judah and the technical know-how and skill of his people wisely (vs 9-15). Verse 15 says that Uzziah was "greatly helped until he became powerful." But then we read one of the saddest verses of the Bible: "But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall." How sad!

Uzziah's motives for deciding to enter the Temple may have been good, but pride blinded him to fact that God set apart the priestly role. According to God's law, only priests were allowed to enter the Temple and burn incense to the Lord. The king was not allowed to even enter the Temple building. Uzziah, however, was not satisfied with the kingly position God had bestowed on him, and he was arrogantly determined to do as he chose. When the courageous priests confronted him with his wrongful activity, Uzziah did not respond with proper humility to these representatives of the Lord. Instead he became very angry. "While he was raging at the priests before the incense altar of the Lord, leprosy broke out on his forehead" (v19).

God had made Uzziah a king--he had a tremendous position and an awesome opportunity for service to God and his people! Instead of having an attitude of humble gratitude to God for blessing on his life and kingdom, Uzziah became proud and self-willed. He wanted more. He took upon himself a role that God had not given him, and he reaped the results of his spiritual blindness. Because of his pride and presumption, God humbled the arrogant king with leprosy. Thus Uzziah is known as the king who "was a leper to the day of his death."

Being arrogantly blind to his God-given role was costly for Uzziah, and it will be costly for us as well. Humility is a virtue that is increasingly lacking in our society. Our culture tells us to "go for anything we want to do or be," and "do anything we have to do to get what we want." It's amazing, but unfortunately true, that Christians often succumb to the same sins of pride and self-gratification. Most of the time we don't even realize our lack of humility before our sovereign and holy God! We often try to run our lives our way, frequently setting our own goals, making our own plans and decisions--and then requesting God to bless our plans?

Don't we subconsciously tend to think of ourselves as being more important than we really are? Don't we subtly seek to increase our own visibility in the church or in our areas of ministry? Don't we sometimes take the credit ourselves for things God has done in our lives? Aren't we sometimes dissatisfied and desire more, grasping for positions or roles that God has not ordained for us? Or do we have a servant's attitude, humbly allowing God to make His sovereign choices for our lives, and giving Him the glory for what He does in and through us?

Just as Uzziah was given the role of king to fulfill, so we have been given a role to fulfill in this life. In His sovereign wisdom, God Himself has designed this role. This unique role includes our place in our families, in the church and in society. It is a serious mistake to abdicate a role that God has ordained for us, or to grasp at a role He has given to others. If God has given us children, our primary role as parents is to "bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). Parents must be actively involved in their roles of spiritual models and educators for their children, not so busy assuming other roles that the training of their children is neglected or passed off to others.

The role of children is to honor and respect their parents, not to "call the shots" in the family (Ephesians 6:1-2). God has designed differing roles for women and men at home and in the church, and these roles should not be distorted (Colossians 3:12-19). The role of church leaders is to lead by example, to "speak the Word of God" and "keep watch" as a shepherd cares for a flock--not to assume the role of inflexible dictators. The role of church members is to respect their leaders--not to brashly challenge or undermine their leadership (Hebrews 13:7 and 17).

Let's be content with the different roles we play in the body of Christ as determined by the spiritual gifts God has given us and where He has placed us. At the root of spiritual blindness in the area of God-given roles we may find pride, jealousy, improper ambition and bitter dissatisfaction with God's decisions for our lives. Let's examine our hearts to see whether spiritual blindness in this area may be the reason God has had to discipline us--that is, for the purpose of restoring clear spiritual vision! God is looking for Christians who are willing to fulfill His will by functioning well in the roles and places where He has put them! For our supreme example, read Philippians 2:3-11.

King Manasseh - Blind to History

King Manasseh of Judah is remembered as the worst king in Judah's history. 2 Chronicles 33:2 says that "Manasseh led the people of Judah and Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites." These words are especially shocking when we realize that the reign of Manasseh followed one of the greatest revivals in Judah's history and one of God's greatest miracles in the entire history of Israel. But Manasseh was blind to these events in history.

Manasseh certainly knew of the great revival that had taken place during the reign of his father, good King Hezekiah. (Read 2 Chronicles 29-31.) 2 Chronicles 30:26 says of this revival that "since the days of Solomon there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem." The revival in Judah even swept up into the northern kingdom of Israel. All idols and high places were destroyed, and God prospered Hezekiah and the southern kingdom of Judah because of their obedience. (See 2 Chronicles 31:1 & 21.) Manasseh certainly knew all about this historic revival, but in his deliberate spiritual blindness he ignored God's hand of blessing in Judah's history.

The great revival was not the only recent history staring blind King Manasseh in the face. During his father's reign, in 701BC, the massive armies of Assyrian King Sennacherib had overrun the northern kingdom of Israel. They conquered the outlying fortress cities which were designed to defend Jerusalem, and then surrounded Jerusalem itself. All hope appeared to be gone, but the prophet Isaiah came to the beleaguered King Hezekiah and encouraged him to trust in the Lord and resist Sennacherib's threats.

Hezekiah took the situation to the Lord in prayer, and one of the great miracles of all time took place--an angel of the Lord struck down 185,000 Assyrian troops in one night, and Jerusalem was delivered! This significant miracle of deliverance is recorded three times in the Bible: 2 Kings 19:35-37; 2 Chronicles 32:20-22 and Isaiah 36-37. King Manasseh was certainly familiar with this great event, but he deliberately turned a blind eye to the spiritual significance of the miracle.

How much more evidence for the existence and power of God did Manasseh need? And yet he deliberately chose to block God from his sight, and led his people into spiritual blindness as well. He reversed the effects of the great revival by systematically supplanting the worship of God with false pagan "deities" and their evil and immoral practices. He even polluted the Temple of the Lord with idols, and led the people of Israel into witchcraft, gross immorality and child sacrifice. As a result, Manasseh lost both his throne and his freedom. When he was in great distress as a captive in Babylon, he finally turned from his blind rebellion and looked to the gracious God he had forsaken. (See 2 Chronicles 33:12-13.)

Leaders like Manasseh exist in the world today. Some are unbelievers who have deliberately chosen to turn a blind eye to the overwhelming evidence for the existence of God. They have chosen to bow--and led many others to bow--before the false god of humanism. The blinding influence of humanistic philosophy has, in great part, led to the selfishness, the immorality, the lack of respect for life, and the cynicism that we see in our society today. Other modern-day Manassehs (some even professing Christians) have intentionally turned a blind eye to the evidence of God's work of creation and His miraculous intervention for His people throughout history.

Many of these people have succumbed to the worship of the false god of intellectual pride. They attack the Bible, attempting to diminish the historicity and reliability of the Word of God. Their influence has certainly caused fuzzy spiritual vision and blindness. People become confused or skeptical about the possibility of ever knowing truth, and some turn away from God, perhaps to eternal destruction.

It's often been said that those who fail to learn from the mistakes of history are destined to repeat them. It's also true that those who refuse to see God's hand in history are spiritually blind and will remain in spiritual darkness. Have you looked at your own history? Have you seen the hand of God at work in the events that He purposed in your past? Have you learned the lessons of history that God wants to teach you? Open your eyes and take a good look back. It's amazing--and humbling--what you will learn about our gracious God as you look at the historical events in your background!

The inspired accounts of Jehoram, Uzziah and Manasseh were not put in Holy Scripture for our entertainment. Romans 15:4 informs us that, "Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction." God's intent is that we check out our own spiritual eyesight after reading about the three blind kings.
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