In reading the storyline of the kings of Israel and Judah, there seems to be a love-hate relationship with the Lord. For a particular period, there’d be “he did what was right in the sight of the Lord”, then there’d be a total shift to “he did evil in the sight of the Lord”. Details that would characterize the former and latter would be “did not remove the high places”, “sacrificed in the high places”, “built for themselves high places”, “removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars”…the narratives of obedience and disobedience seem to ebb and flow as the evidence of following God’s command to follow Him only appear and disappear through the course of time.
What are high places?
High places seem to be places that are literally elevated. In ancient times, as is visually obvious, high places bear a certain reverence. Shrines, pagodas, altar, pillars–these are high places where worship is drawn. While Abram, Jacob, and Joshua put up high places in honor of the only one true God, others create high places to call on to their gods.
In the time of King Josiah, an old Book of Law was found that radically changed the course of worship. No other high places was to be put up because these shift the peoples’ devotion to the real God. He “broke down and pulverized” these altars and such blatant act stressed that God detests anything that we put before Him, even the seemingly glorious ones.
God, what are my high places? What are my pseudo-worship altars? What are the pillars of my pride and joy in building a pagoda of my work? Break them down, Lord, lest they take away the true worship of the heart that no high place can contain.