2 Kings 15:1-4 Azariah Reigns in Judah
15 In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah the son of Amaziah, king of Judah, became king. 2 He was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem. 3 And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done, 4 except that the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. 5 Then the Lord struck the king, so that he was a leper until the day of his death; so he dwelt in an isolated house. And Jotham the king’s son was over the royal house, judging the people of the land.
2 Kings 18:4 Hezekiah Reigns in Judah
18 Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi, the daughter of Zechariah. 3 And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done.
4 He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan.
Most of the high places were tucked away in the shadowed recesses of the mountains, and used by the Canaanites as well for worship to false gods and feasting.
The pattern of man’s willfulness regarding G-d’s word is that no matter how longsuffering, merciful, and giving G-d is, staying His hand as it regards our rightful punishment, we manage to find His commands too restricting and create compromises and loopholes to do that which He says we should not. The high places, as they were used by Israel, were such. They essentially were hedging their faith that Yahweh was the only true G-d, despite all He’d done for them.
In this way, to our shame and peril, we crucify Christ repeatedly.(Hebrews 6:4)
Since the 2000’s began, we have been hard at work maintaining unholy strongholds and building new high places of the heart, even as the hand of G-d strikes the earth with the first wave of His signs, and reigns in our indulgences with a plague.
The high places of the heart are as collective in a nation as they are personally private: racism, injustice, greed, holding onto power that’s ultimately transitory, hoarding wealth at the expense of helping others while forgetting the lessons of charity, compassion, and love that Jesus taught us as we neglect repentance as something for ‘others’ to do.
Examine today in your own spirit where the high places are in your life, and rest assured of two things:
1-They were planted there by your enemy, so even as you may use it as a place of worship, he comes behind you to defile it to the corruption of your soul, for if you keep focused on the mountainside where your high place is, you will not look up to Heaven and the Father’s hand for your blessings.
2-The second thing is that on the day of your judgement, the rocks and shadows will provide no hiding place for the unrepentant, the nonbeliever, and the faithless, heartless, and prideful. (Isaiah 2:19, Rev 6:16)
Today, remove the blasphemous clutter of your high places, wherever and whatever they may be, before the Lord comes to tread on them (Micah 1:3) and find fault in you.
Build an altar to Him, and let Him set them on fire to purify you once again for Kingdom service.
Therefore I pray:
Father in Heaven,
We have walked in the shadows of our high places because we were foolish enough to believe they were loopholes to our obeying Your every word. Indeed, they were a source of comfort and ease, recalling pleasant times in the flesh when we did not know Your wrath was upon us, or if we did, we simply didn’t care.
But the covenant Your Son struck with us through You, and through the holy power of His Name and the spilling of His holy blood, we are now bound fast to Heaven, chosen and set apart, far above the high places we have built, rebuilt, and insist on keeping. We keep them because to let them go means we have no more illusion for the excuse of disobeying You.
“You made me this way” is as poor an excuse as when Adam said, ‘The woman You gave me….” You did not, and You offered me a way out that cost You dearly, and hurt You deeply.
Today then, Father, use whatever is to be my coal to seal this vow to my unclean lips, even as Your finger writes it on my heart: I will tear down the high places of my spirit, my house, my family, so that all may be exposed, for there are no secrets from omnipresence, and Your Spirit surrounds me wherever I go.
I confess that my high places are wood, hay, chaff, tares, and stubble, suitable only for burning, and tasteless salt to be thrown out, before I myself am cast into the outer darkness by Your irrevocable Word, and my soul loses its one chance at redemption to live eternally in the light of Your glory.
In righteousness, peace, and joy may we honor You.