Three Kings and a Great Prophet
II Chronicles xxv:
1, to xxviii: 27; Isaiah vi
was the ninth of the kings of Judah, if the years of
Athaliah's rule be counted as a separate reign.
Amaziah worshipped the Lord, but he did not serve
the Lord with a perfect heart. He gathered an army
of three hundred thousand men, to make war on Edom,
and bring its people again under the rule of Judah.
He hired also an army from Israel to help him in
this war; but a prophet said to him, "O king, do not
let the army of Israel go with you against Edom, for
the Lord is not with the people of Israel. But go
with your own men, and be strong and brave; and the
Lord will help you."
"But how will I get back the money that I have paid
to the army of Israel?" said Amaziah to the prophet.
"Fear not," said the prophet; "the Lord is able to
give you much more than you have lost."
Then Amaziah obeyed the Lord, and sent back the men
of Israel to their own land, and went against the
Edomites with the men of Judah. The Lord gave him a
great victory in the land of Edom; Amaziah was cruel
to the people whom he conquered, and killed very
many of them in his anger. And when he came back
from Edom, he brought with him the idol-gods of that
land, and although they could not save their own
people, Amaziah set them up for his own gods, and
burned incense to them and bowed down before them.
And when a prophet of the Lord came to him, and
warned him that God was angry with him, and would
surely punish him for this wickedness, Amaziah said
to the prophet, "Who has asked you to give advice to
the king? Keep still, or you will be put to death!"
And the Prophet answered him, "I know that it is
God's will that you shall be destroyed, because you
will not listen to the word of the Lord."
Amaziah's punishment was not long delayed, for soon
after this, he made war upon Joash, the king of
Israel, whose kingdom was far greater and stronger
than his own. The two armies met at Bethshemesh,
northwest of Jerusalem. Amaziah was beaten in a
great battle, many of his men were slain, and
Amaziah himself was taken prisoner by Joash, the
king of Israel. Joash took the city of Jerusalem,
and broke down the wall, and carried away all the
treasures in the palace and in the Temple of the
Lord. After this Amaziah lived fifteen years, but he
never gained the power that he had lost. His nobles
made a plan to kill him, and Amaziah fled away from
the city to escape them. But they caught him, and
slew him, and brought his body back to Jerusalem to
be buried in the tombs of the kings. His reign began
well, but it ended ill, because he failed to obey
the word of the Lord.
After Amaziah came his son Uzziah, who was also
called Azariah. He was the tenth king of Judah.
Uzziah was only sixteen years old when he began to
reign, and he was king for fifty-two years. He did
that which was right in the sight of the Lord during
most of his reign. Uzziah found the kingdom weak and
he made it strong, for the Lord helped him. He won
back for Judah the land of the Philistines, the land
of the Ammonites on the east of Jordan, and of the
Arabians on the south. He built cities and made
strong walls around them, with towers full of
weapons for defence against enemies. He loved the
fields, and planted trees and vineyards, and raised
crops of wheat and barley.
But when Uzziah was strong and rich his heart became
proud, and he no longer tried to do God's will. He
sought to have the power of the high-priest as well
as that of the king, and he went into the Holy Place
in the Temple to offer incense upon the golden
altar, which was allowed to the priests only. The
high-priest Azariah followed Uzziah into the Holy
Place with the other priests, and said to him:
"It is not for you to offer incense, O King Uzziah,
nor to come into the Holy Place. This belongs to the
priests alone. Go out of the Holy Place, for you
have disobeyed the Lord's command; and it will not
bring you honor, but trouble."
Uzziah was standing before the golden altar with a
censer of incense in his hand. Instantly the white
scales of leprosy rose upon his forehead. The
priests saw in that moment that God had smitten
Uzziah with leprosy; indeed, he felt it himself, and
turned to leave the Holy Place. But they would not
wait for him to go out; they drove him out, for the
leper's presence made the house unholy. And from
that day until he died, Uzziah was a leper. He could
no longer sit as king, but his son Jotham took his
place; nor was he allowed to live in the palace, but
he stayed in a house alone. And when he died they
would not give him a place among the tombs of the
kings; but they buried him in a field outside.
Jotham, the eleventh king, ruled after his father's
death sixteen years. He served the Lord, but he did
not stop his people from worshipping idols. He was
warned by his father's fate, and was content to be a
king, without trying at the same time to be a priest
and to offer incense in the temple. God was with
Jotham, and gave his kingdom some success.
The next king, the twelfth, was Ahaz, who was the
wickedest of all the kings of Judah. He left the
service of God, and worshipped the images of Baal.
Worse than any other king, he even offered some of
his own children as burnt-offerings to the false
gods. In his reign the house of the Lord was shut
up, and its treasures were taken away, and it was
left to fall into ruin. For his sins and the sins of
his people, God brought great suffering upon the
land. The king of Israel, Pekah, came against Ahaz,
and killed more than a hundred thousand of the men
of Judah, among them the king's own son. The
Israelites also took away many more,—men, women, and
children,—as captives. But a prophet of the Lord in
Israel, whose name was Oded, came out to meet the
rulers, and said to them:
"The Lord God was angry with Judah, and gave its
people into your hand. But do you now intend to keep
your brothers of Judah as slaves? Have not you also
sinned against the Lord? Now listen to the word of
the Lord, and set your brothers free and send them
Then the rulers of Israel gave clothing to such of
the captives as were in need, and set food before
them; and they sent them home to their own land,
even giving to those that were weak among them asses
to ride upon. They brought them to Jericho, in the
valley of the Jordan, and gave them to their own
When the Edomites came against Judah, King Ahaz sent
to the Assyrians, a great people far away, to come
and help him. The Assyrians came, but they did not
help him, for they made themselves the rulers of
Judah, and robbed Ahaz of all that he had, and laid
heavy burdens upon the land. At last Ahaz died,
leaving his people worshippers of idols and under
the power of the king of Assyria.
In the days of these three kings, Uzziah, Jotham and
Ahaz, God raised up a great prophet in Judah, whose
name was Isaiah. The prophecies that he spoke in the
name of the Lord are given in the book of Isaiah. In
the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah was a young
man. One day, while he was worshipping in the
temple, a wonderful vision rose suddenly before his
sight. He saw the form of the Lord God upon a
throne, with the angels around him. He saw also
strange creatures called seraphim, standing before
the throne of the Lord. Each of these had six wings.
With two wings he covered his face before the glory
of the Lord, with two wings he covered his feet, and
with two he flew through the air to do God's will.
And these seraphim called out to one another, "Holy,
holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full
of his glory!"
And the young Isaiah felt the walls and the floor of
the Temple shaking at these voices; and he saw a
cloud of smoke covering the house. Isaiah was filled
with fear. He cried out saying:
"Woe has come to me! for I am a man of sinful lips,
and I live among a people of sinful lips: and now my
eyes have seen the king, the Lord of hosts!"
Then one of the seraphim took into his hand the
tongs that were used in the sacrifices. He flew to
the altar, and with the tongs took up a burning
coal. Then he flew to the place where Isaiah was
standing, and pressed the fiery coal to Isaiah's
lips: and he said, "This coal from God's altar has
touched your lips, and now your sin is taken away,
and you are made clean."
Then Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord saying:
"Whom shall I send to this people? Who will bear the
message of the Lord to them?"
And Isaiah said, "Here am I, Lord; send me!"
And the Lord said to Isaiah, "You shall be my
prophet, and shall go to this people, and shall give
to them my words. But they will not listen to you,
nor understand you. Your words will do them no good,
but will seem to make their hearts hard, and their
ears heavy, and their eyes shut. For they will not
hear with their ears, nor see with their eyes, nor
understand with their hearts, nor will they turn to
me and be saved."
And Isaiah said, "How long must this be, O Lord?"
And the Lord said:
"Until the cities are left waste without people, and
the houses without men to live in them; and the land
shall become utterly desolate; and the people shall
be taken far away into another land. But out of all
this there shall be a few people, a tenth part, to
come back, and to rise like a new tree from the
roots where the old tree has been cut down. This
tenth part shall be the seed of a new people in the
times to come."
By this Isaiah knew that, though his words might
seem to do no good, yet he was to go on preaching,
for long afterward a new Judah should arise out of
the ruins of the old kingdom, and should serve the
Isaiah lived for many years, and spoke the word of
the Lord to his people until he was a very old man.
He preached while four kings, perhaps also a fifth,
were ruling. Some of these kings were friendly, and
listened to his words: but others were not willing
to obey the prophet and do the will of God; and the
kingdom of Judah gradually fell away from the
worship of the Lord, and followed the people of the
Ten Tribes in the worship of idols.