Who Are You?
by Roy Chang
￼ We live in a ‘LinkedIn’ world. We live in a world that defines us by which schools we attend and what occupations we hold. Our world tells us which condominiums to live in order to get into choice schools, which brand of chicken essences to drink in order to attain the best grades. The world then assures us that this will give us that best jobs. We then put up our job titles on our LinkedIn profiles and that is how the people of the world connect and relate to one another. We are what we do.
In the year that King Uzziah died, the prophet Isaiah was shown a glorious vision of the Lord (Isaiah 6:1). What is the significance of dating Isaiah’s vision to the death of Uzziah? Who was he? He has got quite the LinkedIn profile. From 2 Chronicles 26 we learn that Uzziah became king at the age of 16 and reigned for 52 years. He had a good start, with a good godly family and did what was right in the eyes of the LORD. He was victorious in wars for God helped him. He became famous because he became very strong. He had large herds, farmers and vinedressers. He built cities and fortified towers. He had a powerful army armed with the best military weapons of the day. King Uzziah was the commander of most powerful fighting force in the world and the world knew it. Uzziah has got the most ‘likes’. Uzziah’s name means ‘Yahweh is my strength’. It was the Lord who had marvellously helped Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:15).
But instead of acknowledging the LORD for his strength, Uzziah grew proud. Destruction followed (Proverbs 16:18). Uzziah wanted to offer incense in the temple, a duty that was reserved only for the priests. Instead of stopping when warned of his error, he got angry. At that moment, leprosy broke out of his forehead. Uzziah’s pride led to his punishment. His pride caused him to be unfaithful to the LORD his God through an act that was supposed to be of worship to God. He behaviour did not agree to the truth that God is holy. Uzziah failed to accord the worship that was due to the LORD.
Oh how the mighty King Uzziah has fallen! He was a leper to the day of his death. Being a leper he lived in a separate house because a leper had to be separated from the house of the LORD. Even in his death, Uzziah was buried in a field and not in the royal tombs for they said, “He is a leper” (2 Chronicles 26:23).
Now Isaiah sees this glorious vision of the Lord sitting upon the throne, high and lifted up, and the train of his robe filled the temple. He hears the seraphim calling out, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” The earth shakes and the house was filled with smoke. Isaiah has only one response, “Woe is me!”
We do not have Isaiah’s curriculum vitae in this chapter but it really does not matter before the thrice holy God. Isaiah rightly understands his desperate situation for he confesses three things. First, he is a man of unclean lips. Second, he lives in the midst of a people of unclean lips. Nothing unclean can be found in the presence of the holy Lord and that is why his third confession is so damning, “For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Isaiah’s confession of himself is the difference between him and Uzziah.
One of the seraphim flies to Isaiah, touches his mouth with the coal from the altar and declares, “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” Just like that. Upon Isaiah’s confession of who he is and who the LORD is, an act of grace takes away his guilt and atones for his sin.
King Uzziah died a leper for he proudly thought he made himself without any help from God. Jesus in Luke 6:24–26 pronounces woe to similar self-sufficient people,
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”
Prophet Isaiah thought he was finished when he met the all-holy God. But God is also the God of grace who takes away the guilt and atones for the sins of his people. Jesus says this to his disciples in Luke 6:20–23,
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.”
Charles Spurgeon expresses our greatest need well when he says, “I have a great need for Christ. I have a great Christ for my need.” We have a great need for Christ for our true identity is that we are sinners. John Newton is right when he says, “I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Saviour.” When my son Yi Kai saw the title of this Praiselines, he answered, “I’m Yi Kai.” Pausing a little, he said, “I’m a friend of Jesus. I’m a child of God.” It brought me great joy knowing his answer to who he is.
So, who are you? You are a child of God for Jesus Christ is your Saviour and friend.