Have you ever read through the Old Testament?
Perhaps you’ve stayed away from the OT and have simply focused on other places in the Bible that seem more relevant to your life/situation.
Personally, I’m fascinated with the OT. Love some of those incredible stories captured there.
Right now, I’m progressing through 2 Chronicles again. It tends to be a bit of a boring book, but for some reason, this time, I’m finding it a lot more relevant than through my previous reads.
I’m encountering this phrase again, over and over, “he failed to remove the high places”. Now I’ve read the Bible quite a few times from index to maps, and while this phrasing is not new to me, I’m suddenly realizing its relatability to my life and our culture.
Billy Graham defines these places this way, “Mentioned 117 times, high places were centers for Canaanite idol worship that the Jews were commanded to tear down. But instead, these places became idols that subtly seduced God’s people year after year—they couldn’t stay away!”*
I always struggled with why the kings just wouldn’t tear down these dang high places?! What was so difficult about obliterating these towers? I mean, who wouldn’t want to play with a little TNT and see just how high these places could go. But no, they stayed and people continued to flock to them. For centuries, they stayed and they keep the people from surrendering a whole heart to God. So long as they occupied tracks, the heart of the people was not fully in God’s hands.
So I placed myself in king’s shoes, I’ve got experience and know how it goes, for I am the king of my own castle. When my son was born, we were in a hospital (Wicked truth bomb right there), the strange thing was that the doctor never handed me the parenting manual I needed for the next lifetime of parenting. Like shouldn’t that come with the boy? I really expected him to sit up and say “hey dad, here’s my instructions, God wanted me to give them to you.” Nope. They must have been misplaced along with the socks, pillow cases and time we talked about in another post.
As much as I’ve had to learn how to parent on my own, kings had to do the same. No instructions. No explanations about how things had gone before and what should be next. Sure, there were advisors, but, without doubt, so many of that would have had ulterior motives about their own riches they could garner by being so close to someone in such power. It was all about manipulation.
The king would have had to have either been taught what God said, or had the intuition to look for himself and then make the incredibly difficult decision to go against a major population of people and tear down a place that people had learned to love. You see the issue here!?
Today I see this same issue. Culture screams at us to do it this way. To be wildly and radically accepting of everything that is new or different and if we don’t we are suddenly the outcasts of our own society and culture. (High places that people don’t want to be torn down). Pressure continues to mount and decisions demanded to be made where the church is in the crosshairs of a cultural conundrum about what’s right and what’s wrong. People are constantly pounding the nails of structural stability in high places. You see there is nothing new in this world, whether it’s cultural or technological. What they had then, we have now with a bit more chrome and kilobytes.
It didn’t matter if the people knew that God despised these places of worship, the reality was that no fireballs were descending from heaven in radical destruction like Sodom and Gomorrah. We could all tell that S&G was a terrible place because God destroyed it. Nothing like that has happened around here, so we must be just fine, right? I mean that really is the filter by which we pass truth and evil. We haven’t been destroyed like S&G, so we’re cool with God, yeah?
But here’s the reality, S&G was a single event and after nearly every king, it was noted that the High Places stayed up and, therefore, the heart of the people, the heart of the king, remained away from the hands of God.
I found myself in prayer this morning about high places of my own. Places that I keep segregated from God. Not a physical place, but a mental space I wander. A place I resort when I want to “feel” something. “Feel” different. That’s all these high places were, back then, but clearly, they were physical, with real GPS locations, someplace you went. Again, nothing new, just more chrome and kilobytes. Your high place might be an HTTP address and a website you go to.
Don’t question the existence of the place, acknowledge the danger of something that may be keeping your heart from the hands of God.
D.L. Moody made this famous statement, “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him.” He further went on to proclaim that, “by God’s help, I aim to be that man.”
Maybe we all need to start with a pointed question to God, have I allowed these places to remain standing around me? Around my family? And how might I tear them down?