With shipwrecked faith, idols rise. We do what's right, in our own eyes. (Casting Crowns – We Need You Now)
I am reminded this morning of the kings in the old testament who were godly but left the high places standing. You can read stories of famous kings of the old testament, that did what was pleasing in the sight of the Lord, but the next statement will say that they did not tear down the high places. (1Kings 15:14, 2Kings 12:3 & 14:4) This is an indication of compromise. Josiah was a king who was famous for actually doing this important priority on the Lord's heart. (prophecy of his life – 1Kings 13:2; fulfillment – 2Kings23:19)
I think this describes accurately most believers in our times – Our worship of God is mingled with idolatry. Worship, in reality, is not a service that we attend, or a meeting that we go to. Worship, in reality, is seen in what we show our affections to, what we take confidence in, what we take comfort in, what we identify with and what we draw our identity from. In every way, the Lord has held Himself forth toward us as the source of all these things. And yet, we often relate to and identify with other things in these areas more than we do with Him. And this…. is idolatry. One of the ways we see this in scripture is in what are called high places. Places of worship in animistic cultures were actually physically elevated places. In my trips to Latin America I see these all the time. Even though times have changed much, the spirit world remains, with it's influence.
Many times high places were used for the worship of the Lord (2Chronicles 33:17), to prevent the need to go to Jerusalem. But the Lord had mandated that three times a year, all the males were to make an appearance before God, in Jerusalem. We want worship to be convenient and not too taxing, and maybe after a style to our liking. That trip to Jerusalem got to be a drag, especially as people migrated farther and farther away. Over time, they became mingled, as they would, because their origin was in convenience and against the Lord's command.
In other places the scriptures say that they lifted themselves up the hosts of heaven (2Chronicles 3:3-6) on such high places. This is the worship of angelic and/or demonic beings. In our times, with a prevailing worldview of post-modern thought all around us, these realities are often obscured from our view. We have trouble connecting the movement with the source. Don't be deceived, much of what is being done all around you every day is sacrifice and offering to the hosts of heaven, just as much as it ever was on the groves and high places of animistic cultures. Our sophistication doesn't keep us clean, it only detaches our consciences from what is reality.
Today, we are all kings (and priests), and we have, like the kings of old, a responsibility from God to tear down the high places. This is, of course, first in our own lives, but also to join others in their fight. Like the kings of old, in our areas of influence, we can be a force that eradicates idolatry, or one that encourages and makes a way for idolatry. Sadly, many christian leaders in our times, just like the leaders of the OT, lead those under their influence straight into idolatry by elevating things, ideas, and preoccupations that they have above the Lord Himself.
Let's don't put all the responsibility on leaders (other people). Also, high places can be personal areas of compromise in your life, places where you are vulnerable to dark influences. Often these places are longstanding and familiar, so you may not recognize them for what they are. They may seem like a tendency. A triggered response of compromise or dark emotions is likely the indication of influence from the unseen realm in your life; like a gate that such influences know that they have been granted access to go through. You need to be made free from these other influences that have had access to you, that influence you to be an agent of their destructiveness. We can be in the middle of this very process and not realize this is what is going on. Coming into awareness that you have temples of idolatry in your heart can be a unsettling thing, but it is truly a landmark on the road to being free, and one we need to understand, and to pass by.
Make no mistake, the Lord's desire, and His plan, is to free you from all other lords, into the great liberty He died to bring you into. His death on the cross has paid, in full, the price of your complete freedom. Sometimes the process is messy though. That's OK by the Lord. Be free, in Jesus' name. If you feel located or can relate to what is being said here, don't be downcast. We are all on the same road, and we must keep moving toward the complete liberty of Christ. Instead of feeling shame, hold your heart up to the Lord, and ask for His help. Those who come to Him, He will in no way cast aside. Go into what is sometimes the discomfort of the Lord's nearness that highlights our imperfections, our insecurities. He doesn't make this visible to reject us, but to save us from these very things. Take courage, He will not reject you.
Lord, cleanse your people of idols, and help us to co-labor with You in tearing down the high places, I pray!