Art Toombs Ministries 

Online Bible Commentary

Separation of Church and State Came from God
2 Chronicles 26: 16 But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God by entering the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. 17 So Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him were eighty priests of the Lord--valiant men. 18 And they withstood King Uzziah, 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 trespassed! You shall have no honor from the Lord God." 19 Then Uzziah became furious; and he had a censer in his hand to burn incense. And while he was angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead, before the priests in the house of the Lord, beside the incense altar. 20 And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and there, on his forehead, he was leprous; so they thrust him out of that place. Indeed he also hurried to get out, because the Lord had struck him. 21 King Uzziah was a leper until the day of his death. He dwelt in an isolated house, because he was a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the Lord. Then Jotham his son was over the king's house, judging the people of the land. (NKJV)


King Uzziah reigned over Judah from 810 to 758 B.C. He became king at the age of sixteen and did right in the eyes of the Lord. His country prospered because he was faithful to God. Judah’s prosperity was at a height not seen since the days of Solomon, 200 years earlier. 

Uzziah became powerful because he followed the Lord. But then Uzziah’s pride took over. He decided that he could take over the responsibility of the priests in burning incense in the temple (v.16). 

Only the priest who burned the incense was allowed in the temple during the ceremony, but Uzziah thought himself to be above the men chosen by God. The priests followed Uzziah into the temple, confronted him, and ordered him to leave (vv.17-18). 

Uzziah, still thinking he was above the Lord, raged at the priests, and he was immediately afflicted by the Lord with leprosy. Realizing this, Uzziah allowed himself to be ushered out of the temple by the priests. The leprosy afflicted him for the rest of his life (vv.19-21). 

This incident was Uzziah’s only act of disobedience to the Lord in his fifty-two year reign. The fact that this act deserved its own severe punishment is significant. It serves as a warning to all leaders to not interfere with the work of men ordained by God. 

Today in our country, we see leaders interfering with the work of men ordained by God at every turn. This is a sin against God and a violation of the separation of church and state. God’s intent, as seen in this passage, and the intent of our founding fathers was to protect the church from the state. In defiance of God, and our constitution, recent leaders in this country have instead sought to protect the state from the church. 

Military chaplains are prosecuted for fulfilling their call from God. Pastors, chaplains and ministers are penalized for teaching the Bible, and for abiding by those teachings. Our leaders pompously tell men of God how to do their jobs. Who do they think they are? God is watching. 

As if that’s not bad enough, our leaders decide to preach the Bible to the nation, taking on the responsibility of men ordained by God. Perhaps, they are afraid that the men of God will confront them, as the priests did to Uzziah. They are certainly deserving of confrontation for their blatant disrespect of God. 

Our leaders are playing with fire. Just as God punished Uzziah, He will punish these leaders. God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.