King Uzziah and women lepers?

King Uzziah and women lepers?

girl_cook on Women in Ministry by Cheryl Schatz

In an interesting blog post on Pyromaniacs the February 10th post, author Dan Phillips tries to link the rebellion of King Uzziah and his punishment of leprosy with the “unfaithful” act of women who apparently are committing treachery against God by becoming pastors.  Is this really true?  Are women pastors committing treachery against God?  First let’s look at Dan Phillip’s article to see how he equates women pastors with illegally burning incense on the altar.   Taking the opposing view for effect he says:

Surely King Uzziah had every bit as much right to burn incense on the altar as… well, as women have to be pastors in our day!

No matter how wonderful it (women pastors) looks, treachery is still treachery.

Clothed in the finest of robes, treachery is still treachery.

The Word itself makes the opposite connection. It is the man (or woman) who wanders off from God’s commandments, after his own fancies and notions, who is arrogant (Psalm 119:21, 85). By contrast, the genuinely humble person is the one who trembles at God’s Word (Isaiah 66:2).

These are very serious charges.  Yet he links a woman believing she has a call from God to be a pastor as going after her own “fancies and notions” and his accusations would make her “arrogant”.  Not to consider these merely as little charges, he goes on to attach the issue of women pastors to Uzziah with “sheer hubris” and “unfaithfulness” that would bring a removal from the ability to participate in worship.

note that the text does not wink at this act, though Yahwistic kings were relatively rare and wonderful in Israel’s history. This is condemned as an act of sheer hubris, and as unfaithfulness. It led to Uzziah’s destruction, his ruin.

“Ruin”? We might think that the text was suggesting that Yahweh struck him dead — but He did not. Instead, Yahweh struck Uzziah with leprosy. Uzziah was ruined as far as participating in temple worship was concerned. So far from leading worship, Uzziah was banned from worship. His rebellious act of pride led to a shameful mark that humiliated and disciplined him.

The connection is clear.  According to the association that Dan Phillips has drawn between Uziah and women pastors, he seems to propose that women pastors should tremble at God’s word that would allow them to be humiliated and disciplined and banned from worship for their arrogant and treacherous action against God.  This is one of the strongest worded attacks against our sisters in Christ that I have ever read.  The question should not be whether this arrogant call to humiliate women who serve as pastors is fair, but whether it is biblical.  I believe that Dan Phillips’ use of scripture does not measure up when we test the proposed connection by the scriptures.  Let’s have a look at the story within the complete context.

It is important to understand the example set by King Uzziah’s father from 2 Chronicles 25.

2 Chronicles 25:1  Amaziah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 25:2  He did right in the sight of the LORD, yet not with a whole heart.

King Amaziah of Judah did not follow the Lord with all of his heart.  After he won a war with the Edomites, he bowed down before false gods and he burned incense to the gods of the sons of Seir.

2 Chronicles 25:14  Now after Amaziah came from slaughtering the Edomites, he brought the gods of the sons of Seir, set them up as his gods, bowed down before them and burned incense to them.

The true condition of his heart was revealed with Amaziah refused to listen to God’s prophet.

2 Chronicles 25:15  Then the anger of the LORD burned against Amaziah, and He sent him a prophet who said to him, “Why have you sought the gods of the people who have not delivered their own people from your hand?”
2 Chronicles 25:16  As he was talking with him, the king said to him, “Have we appointed you a royal counselor? Stop! Why should you be struck down?” Then the prophet stopped and said, “I know that God has planned to destroy you, because you have done this and have not listened to my counsel.”

When King Amaziah of Judah contacted King Joash of Israel, King Joash was quick to point out the arrogance of King Amaziah in his boasting.

2 Chronicles 25:19  “You said, ‘Behold, you have defeated Edom.’ And your heart has become proud in boasting…

It was God’s plan to destroy Amaziah because of his unfaithfulness and he not only lost the battle with Israel, but he experienced the removal of God’s protection.

2 Chronicles 25:21  So Joash king of Israel went up, and he and Amaziah king of Judah faced each other at Beth-shemesh, which belonged to Judah.
2 Chronicles 25:22  Judah was defeated by Israel, and they fled each to his tent.

2 Chronicles 25:27  From the time that Amaziah turned away from following the LORD they conspired against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish; but they sent after him to Lachish and killed him there.

When King Amaziah died, his teenage son Uzziah, who was only 16 years old,  was crowned as King in his father’s place.  He was at a very tender age having his role as king modeled by his father.

2 Chronicles 26:1  And all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the place of his father Amaziah.

Just as his father did, King Uzziah did right in God’s sight in the beginning.

2 Chronicles 26:4  He did right in the sight of the LORD according to all that his father Amaziah had done.
2 Chronicles 26:5  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.

King Uzziah became extremely powerful with “great power” and an elite army.

2 Chronicles 26:11  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.
2 Chronicles 26:12  The total number of the heads of the households, of valiant warriors, was 2,600.
2 Chronicles 26:13  Under their direction was an elite army of 307,500, who could wage war with great power, to help the king against the enemy.

When he experienced “great power” he became proud and his faithfulness to God was corrupted.

2 Chronicles 26:16  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.

With his “great power” that he possessed, it still wasn’t enough.  Uzziah sought for ultimate prideful power by deciding to burn incense to God just as his Father had pridefully burned incense to false gods.  He made his arrogant plan known and 81 priests followed him into the temple to stop his actions.

2 Chronicles 26:17  Then Azariah the priest entered after him and with him eighty priests of the LORD, valiant men.
2 Chronicles 26:18  They opposed Uzziah the king 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.”

Why was Uzziah unfit to offer incense to God?  It was because God had set up special rules and regulations that would ensure that obedience to the holy requirements of the temple rituals and sacrifices would be strictly followed.  The priests were selected from one lineage and it was their full time job to serve God in the way that he had set up.  These men had been consecrated and set apart to keep the temple, its sacrifices and offerings holy.   By daring to think that an ordinary man, even though a powerful king, could present himself worthy to offer the incense before God, Uzziah dishonored God and his pride made him ripe for a fall.  Uzziah refused to listen to the warnings that he was not part of those who had been by chosen by God by their lineage and who were required to strictly follow the rules to keep themselves without stain before God.  As he arrogantly took the censer and prepared to burn the incense as an unconsecrated man coming before God, God judged him.

2 Chronicles 26:19  But Uzziah, with a censer in his hand for burning incense, was enraged; and while he was enraged with the priests, the leprosy broke out on his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, beside the altar of incense.
2 Chronicles 26:20  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.
2 Chronicles 26:21  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.

Uzziah’s judgement started with the finger of God against his forehead.  His shame would be there for all to see.

Uzziah’s crime was not to invade the priest’s office, but to invade God’s holiness.  His offense was not against the priests but against God Himself.  The story of Uzziah shows the temptation that ultimate power brings.  One who wields great earthly power may allow that power go to one’s head.  One who possesses such power may become so prideful that they forget that it is God who is to be feared.

The application of this historical event has nothing to do with women pastors.  In fact it has a greater application to those who wield power in the church and who use such power to assume that they can dictate to God whom he will use.  The distribution of God’s gifts is not in the hands of men.

Ephesians 4:11  And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,
Ephesians 4:12  for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
Ephesians 4:13  until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

God holds the distribution of his gifts in his own hand.  Those who hold back God from distributing his gifts to women may well have taken the censor in their own sinful human hands.  Throughout the years men have held great power, but God has not given them the power to be the distributor of his gifts to the church.  They are not consecrated to offer this incense and wielding a power that God did not give them may well be considered to be an act of powerful men pursuing unfaithfulness and without the fear of God.

36 thoughts on “King Uzziah and women lepers?

  1. The pyro site demonstrates a mishandling of Torah.

    Uzziah was not of Aaron and did an act that only Aaronic priests could do according to Torah.

    Could women do it? No

    Could gentiles do it? No

    The mapping that the pyro site wants to make also applies to them.
    But this they fail to see, instead pointing to “them”. This is a mistake no one should make who respects Torah, first ask how does it apply to myself. For example, in the Mosaic covenant, I am not allowed to burn priestly incense in the Temple as I am not of Aaron.

  2. When I first read this I was amazed by not surprised. I am seeing all kinds of twisting of scripture to support certain pet interpretations of secondary issues. And you are right…this is about powerful humans deciding who has certain gifts in the Body.

    I was also confused as to what this has to do with the New Covenant where we are all priests in the Holy Priesthood. And where all true believers have ‘anointing’. (1 John)

  3. Lin,

    I was also confused as to what this has to do with the New Covenant where we are all priests in the Holy Priesthood. And where all true believers have ‘anointing’. (1 John)

    That is certainly a thorn in their flesh. It doesn’t fit their no-women-pastor’s model. But then the arrogant denouncing of women pastors in the way they did shows they have no intention on being rational or reasonable.

    Am I the only one perceiving this or has the stakes gotten higher? In other words is the rhetoric getting more acidic and the charges more arrogant and unloving? I sit back and watch all of this and wonder how in this world can these men name the name of Christ? Where was even one woman in the scripture dealt with this way for using her God-given gifts for the benefit of men? Amazing!

  4. The comps’ basic problem is that if they are wrong, they need to repent bigtime. So their increasing rhetoric can be seen as a strong resistance to the idea of their possibly needing to repent.

  5. I guess some men and some women as well have issues with humility. President Bush NEVER apologized or admitted to any wrong doing during his years in office. While Obama was quick to admit and (publicly) state that he had beenwrong in some of his choices for cabinet officials. We learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes and you have to be humble enough to admit that you possibly could be wrong………step one.

  6. Dan the author of this post had this to say in comments:

    Any female who calls herself a pastor has not submitted her sexuality to the Lordship of Christ, nor accepted His word as her law — and thus is not a fit guide.

  7. Terri, I do not want to get into a political discussion but I know that your view of George Bush is incorrect and I think your characterization is unfair. For one thing, one of Obama’s selections for Treasury did not pay his taxes 20 years ago UNTIL it came out during the confirmation process. He still made it. I would be a criminal if I had done the same thing but this man can be Treasury secretary.

    I say this to make the point that we need to leave politics out of it. Besides, Obama is known to promote more abortion. Not exactly humility before our Lord. I am egal but I am NO liberal. Besides, you are forgetting how Obama has set himself up as the ‘great hope’ for this country. Many see him as a sort of messiah. Not a humble stance at all. And it is a stance he, himself has promoted.

  8. I almost cringe when I think of what Phillips could manufacture out of the story of Esther with Mordecai as her “covering”.

  9. for people who proport to be biblical, that is some pretty serious eisogesis. i guess you can read your view into anything. Which tells me that it’s not really about the bible, its about their traditions that they have elevated to the level of the bible.

    this sounds to me like a new fear tactic to lay on women if they seek to be a pastor. I cannot believe that anyone still buys into this stuff.
    Once again, i am appalled.

  10. cheryl, in comment three. good point… the curtain has been torn. the priesthood belongs to all of those who are united with Christ who is the high priest. we can boldly enter the temple clothed with Christ and covered by his atoning blood.

    someone else commented about a woman not regarding the law. Christ is the fulfillment of the law and we who are united with him have a new source for living the life God called each of us to live. The bible says we live by the spirit, not by the flesh. considering only sexuality is only of the flesh. The Spirit has been poured out on all flesh. Even WOMEN Flesh.

  11. Arlene,

    Amen! By the way I changed the automatic icons to something other than faces. It looks like some of the men didn’t like the pink smiles that went beside their name 😉 and others couldn’t figure out why they got frowns. The program just automatically generated an icon unless the poster had a gravatar. I have changed it so the faces are gone and if you would like to have a personal gravatar to represent you (like I have the upside down happy girl) you can create your own by going to http://en.gravatar.com/ and here you can attach a picture or a graphic that will always go beside your name. Have fun!

  12. Okay,
    Do I have an avatar now?

    What I’d like to know is if these guys are such stanch Calvinists, why are they wound so tightly? God is sovereign and is working his plan, regardless of what we make happen, right? Each individual in Christ must speak the truth and declare the Gospel, and what God does with it is the job of the Holy Spirit. We must be good and dutiful stewards who do not tread on the Blood of the Lamb. So why are they so concerned about what a bunch of women do or do not do? Why get so vitriolic and acerbic about it. Why do they push so hard? If a bunch of evil egals do this or that, why does that diminish a sovereign God?

  13. I don’t think a calvinist can rightly argue against female pastors and Deborah, without contradicting their calvinistic belief that God willed it.

  14. I could not figure out the cartoon at first, but now I think you are claiming to make a fried egg from their “fire”.

  15. Don,

    That is a good guess, but not quite right. If you click on the Pyromaniacs link at the top of my post and then scroll down to the end of the post itself and before the comments you will see the graphic. When you see the graphic, take another guess 😉

  16. EWW… the whole post is troublesome.

    Didn’t Christ’s death tear the curtain?
    Do we not have free access to the holy of holies through Christ?
    Do you think Christ even redeemed women?
    Are women part of the Priesthood of believers?
    Is the sin of Eve forgiven?
    Do women stop being female when they teach or preach?
    Does a role define what a woman is and how she is gifted by the Spirit?
    Do all women pastors support homosexuality? (the posts imply that)

    It’s not as neat and tidy. No where in scripture do i see women excluded from the preisthood of all believers, the gifts of the Spirit or the full redemption found in Christ. A woman is also clothed with Christ. She also has free access to God through the Spirit.

    I am a mother but that is not all… i am proclaimer of the gospel, follower of JEsus, saved by the blood of the lamb, gifted by the Spirit and deeply loved by God, forgiven. I am clothed with Christ and can enter God’s presence without fear.

    What do they think a woman is? Unbelievable!!!

  17. Don and Lin,

    Good thoughts. I can see that your thinking cap is on regarding my graphic.

    My message is simple. They profess that they have the heat and their heat is cooking the egg. As a woman and as a follower of Christ it is my duty, obligation and right to lift the lid and examine the egg. That is what this post is doing. I am examining the “egg” of their teaching. Folks, let me tell you, the egg is rotten and the closer I get to that egg, the worse it smells!

  18. I am glad, Cheryl. These sorts of eggs need to be analyzed closely. The twisting of scripture to make it fit a pet doctrine is becoming all too common.

    Paula, looking forward to it.

  19. Eee-gads! I went to the pyro-site and browsed around a bit.

    Between their right-wing political barbs and unabashed misogyny, I can’t decide which they’d benefit best from; meta-mucil or just plain old fashioned prune dosage.

  20. thanks, Cheryl… my questions are rhetorical…
    I just don’t think their logic holds up with the teaching of the gospel.

  21. Paula also changed the verses on the “Egomaniacs” spot above to be Matt. 19:30 and Matt. 20:26. Very appropriate verses. Paula, you are a very creative lady, that’s for sure.

  22. Do you think Greg and I should team up? Hmmm…..

    And Greg, I think they’ve already had too many prunes… they’re dumping their, um, output all over the internet and making cyberspace unbreathable. Perhaps a spiritual HAZMAT is called for?

  23. #7

    Thanks Lin for keeping me on track. I am sorry that it sounded like I was implying that Obama was something special in comparison to Bush. I have’nt built him up to be that but other people have……..like you said. I just noticed aside from his liberal leanings that he did make a quick apology in the middle of his conformation mess, (and not many do that.) No more politics 🙂

  24. TERRI,
    RE: #7

    THAT’S GREAT MR. O’ APOLOGIZED ABOUT HIS DECISIONS, BUT I’M WONDERING WHY HE DID NOT APOLOGIZE FOR BEING THE FIRST PRES [THAT I KNOW OF] TO NOT TAKE THE OATH OF OFFICE ON A BIBLE. SURE THE MISTAKEN OATH ON WORLD TV WAS DONE ON ONE BUT THE CORRECTED OATH IN THE OFFICE WAS WITH NO BIBLE…WHY? IF YOU KNOW.
    SHALOM
    LNM

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