The high places
Today most people think of high places as areas of recreation - places to hike, climb, take pictures, enjoy a view, ski, etc. Military strategists understand the value of holding the high ground. For example, during the Civil War, the leadership and strategy of General Robert E. Lee was keeping the south in the war until Gettysburg. Pa. The Union army had arrived first and was already positioned on the high ground. Against advice and sound tactics, General Lee ordered attacks on the Union position. The resulting devastating loss is widely considered to be a key turning point in the war. In the Bible, high places had a very different meaning. They were places of spiritual significance. They were places to pray and sacrifice either to the true God or an idol. They were places where major spiritual events took places. Here are some examples:
1. Abraham offered Isaac (Gen 22)
2. Moses saw the burning bush and later received the commandments (Ex 3, Ex 19-36). He
made 8 trips up Mt. Sinai after the exodus.
3. Shiloh, the place where the tabernacle was kept for many years, was a high place (Josh 18:1,
4. Another important high place where people worshipped God was Gibeon (1Ki 3:4)
5. Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal and prayed down fire from heaven (1Ki 18)
6. Elisha's servant saw the angelic army of God (2Ki 6:17)
7. Satan tempted Christ on a high mountain (Mt 4:8)
8. Jesus delivered the "sermon on the mount" in Matthew 5-7 (Mt 5:1)
9. Jesus was transfigured (Mt 17)
10. Jesus entered Jerusalem from Mt. Olivet, ascended from there, and will return there (Mt 21,
Zech 14:4, Acts 1:9-12).
11. Many people think Jesus died on a hill, but the only information the Bible gives us about the
location is the that it was outside the city walls of Jerusalem, and that it was called "the place
of a skull (Mt 27:33-35, Mk 15:22-25, Lk 23:33, Jn 19:17-18).
The capitals of Jerusalem and Samaria were both on hills (1Ki 16:24, Ps 2:6). High places are mentioned as places of idol worship 56 times. They symbolize places of conquest 18 times (Deut 32:13, Deut 33:29, Jud 5:18, 1Sam 13:6, 2Sam 1:19 & 25, 2Sam 22:34 w. Ps 18:33 & Heb 3:19, Job 25:2, Is 15:2, Is 58:14, Jer 12:12, Jer 17:3, Eze 36:2, Amos 4:13, Mic 1:3, Eph 6:2). They represent plenty (Is 41:18, Is 49:9, Is 58:14). The symbolize emptiness (Jer 4:11, Jer 14:6, Jer 26:18, Eze 6:3-6, Hos 10:8, Amos 7:9, Mic 3:12). They are places of lamenting (Is 15:2, Jer 3:21, Jer 7:29). Wisdom is personified as a woman and contrasted to an immoral woman in Proverbs 1-9. They both call out to men from the high places of the city (Prov 8:2, Prov 9:14). Six good kings of Judah failed to stop the worship of idols in the high places:
1. Asa (1Ki 15:4)
2. Jehoshaphat (1Ki 22:43)
3. Joash (2Ki 12:3)
4. Amaziah (2Ki 14:4)
5. Uzziah (2Ki 15:4)
6. Jotham (2Ki 15:35)
There were only 2 kings who ever dealt with the idol worship in the high places - Hezekiah (2Ki 18:11), and Josiah (2Ki 23:5-20). Demons dwell in high places (Eph 3:10, Eph 6:12). Christians need to understand the spiritual significance of what high places mean to them. They can be strongholds of evil or unbelief in our thoughts (2Cor 10:3-5). They can be demonic strongholds in the spiritual world. They can also be places where the worship and glory of God are supplanted with other things. Covetousness is idolatry (Mk 7:22, Col 3:5). We need to see the high places for what they are and confront them like Hezekiah and Josiah did. They were not satisfied with just a partial cleansing and revival like the other six kings were. They wanted everything submitted to God, and nothing taking from His worship. The enemy of our souls knows the strategic value of high places, and will make every effort to keep us from doing so. Will we ensure that every high place belongs to God? It takes the effort to tear down what does not belong in God's place in our lives, and replace those things with altars to God that must be maintained. When Elijah confronted the idolators on Mt. Carmel, he and they built altars to address the challenge, but there was already an old, neglected altar in that high place that needed to be rebuilt (1Ki 18:30). Before any prophet of Baal could find a stronghold, the altar of God had to be neglected. The fire in the altar must never go out (Lev 6:12). When the enemy sees a neglected, empty altar, he assumes it is his to take control of (Mt 12:43, 45). Building an altar is great. Keeping it up is better.