The High Places, however, were not removed.
“As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD His God, as the heart of David his father had been.” (I Kings 11:4) “On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites.” He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods.” (I Kings 11:7-8) The seeds of destruction in the form of idol worship were planted throughout Judah, leading to its final destruction and removal to Babylon . Although Hezekiah removed them more than 210 years later, they were rebuilt by his son Manasseh and only finally destroyed by Josiah nearly three hundred years after Solomon had built them. Even those considered as “good” kings did not remove them. Asa did not fully remove them. (I Kings 15:14) During Jehoshaphat’s reign it was said that “The high places, however, were not removed, and the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.” (I Kings 22:43) Although Joash was considered a “good” king, the same was written about him in II Kings 12:3, “The high places, however, were not removed.” The same was also written about other “good” kings, about Amaziah (II Kings 14:4), Azariah (II Kings 15:4), and Jotham. (II Kings 15:35)
The knowledge of God that the people of Israel were given was to result in the love of God (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) and be manifested in the fear of God (Deuteronomy 6:13), and in trust in Him. Instead the nation, progressively over three hundred years, trusted false gods. They depended upon these idols to provide for them, to protect and to guide them. Instead of fearing and serving the One true God (Deuteronomy 6:13), they feared and served other gods. They went to these high places first rather than make the trip to Jerusalem to worship the One true God.
In Galatians 6:7 it is written. “Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” The same is true for nations. For nearly three hundred years the nation had sown itself to idolatry. The reaping is described in II Chronicles 34:24-25. “This is what the LORD says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people-all the curses written in the book that has been read in the presence of the King of Judah. Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and provoked me to anger by all that their hands have made, my anger will be poured out on this place and will not be quenched.”
Our nation is now 246 years old. It was founded to provide us the freedom to worship God. Our coins still say “In God We Trust.” High places, however, have been progressively built and have not been removed. Increasingly, more and more of the population seeks to burn incense at those idols that have been established in our country. What are these idols, these high places? They represent those things in which we put our trust, those things that provide for us, that give us protection and guidance. The list is legion. It includes our retirement accounts, jobs, reputations, education, degrees which we may possess, skills, natural abilities, as well as our race and our cultural background. Pastor Tony Evans regards all these as a “resource.” He states that there is only one Source for our lives who is the LORD. He is the One we should fear, worship and trust. He is the One in charge of all the resources. He is free to take care of us by using any of none of the resources we can number. He is our only Source. When we take any resource we have and regard it as the Source, we have created an idol, a high place at which we worship.
G. Campbell Morgan makes these comments about worship. “It is unthinkable and impossible that human nature should exist without a god in some form. The most blatant infidel, denying the existence of a Supreme Being, yet worships; and where there is no other object, then man enshrines his own intellect, bows down before that, declaring that he will receive and yield to the things he can comprehend, thus making his understanding the very deity that receives his worship.” The Crisis of the Christ, Hardpress Publishing, Fifth Edition, page 22. With man’s understanding as his deity, then, truth is relative, each person having their own truth. Sexual immorality, then, becomes sexual choice, sexual preference, and sexual freedom. Our country is only twenty four years short of the time God allowed His chosen people before it was time for them to reap what they had sown. Has the Lord already started His judgment? The gods and idols of many have been exposed and threatened by the twenty percent drop in the market and the highest rate of inflation in forty years.
What is true of nations is also true of us as individuals. We need to examine our own lives as well. Deuteronomy 6:13 says that we should “serve Him only.” We can tell what we are serving by looking at our resources. Where do we use financial resources that we do not need at the moment? When we are not on our jobs, how do we use our time? What occupies our thinking in moments when we are not busy? Where do we use the talents that Lord has given us? What are we most concerned about losing? How do we raise our children? Do we focus on the development of their Christian character, preparing them to make a difference in the world, or do we train them to merely make a living? By focusing merely on their education, their degrees, their employment opportunities and careers we have unknowingly led them to worship and burn incense at the idol called the American dream.
How do we, then, remove the high places in our lives? We must realize that we cannot serve God and high places at the same time. “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24) We also need to realize that these high places are not trust worthy. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” (Mathew 6:19) We need to return with our whole heart to the One Source who is our Life and allow Him to be in charge of all resources. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) It is by trusting in Him only that we can experience His removal of the high places in our lives.
When we are freed from our high places we are then able to know God more fully. To know God is to love Him. To love hIm is to trust Him. He, as our One Source, has given us the following promises. “The Lord Himself will go before you. He will be with you. He will not leave you or forget you. Don’ t be afraid and don’t worry.” (Deuteronomy 31:8) “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
In Christ, Richard Spann