Significance then and now
The high places in the Hebrew Scriptures were local sanctuaries for the purpose of worship especially idolatrous worship see an example in Leviticus 26:30.
Numbers 21:28, 33:52
Isaiah 15:2, 16:12
2 Kings 14:4, 12:3, 15:35, 23:9
All these scriptures show that the high places that became polluted by unholy sacrifices and licentious rites. The Lord God condemned all the kings that gave tolerance to these places.
2 Chronicles 33:17; Some high places were devoted to the worship of Jehovah. By the time of Jeroboam, the high places of Dan and Bethel were in constant use. However, Jeroboam persuaded the people not to go to Jerusalem for worship (in frank disobedience to God).
I Kings 12:31 Jeroboam made idolatrous shrines in the high places and appointed priests from among all the people (not the specified Levites).
The Hebrew word bāmâth meaning “high places” get a general meaning of a “shrine” in a city or valley.
Bāmâth not only specifies a high place where the Israelites go for worship but with a strong connotation of idolatrous worship. See also these scriptures
2 Kings 17:9
Ezekiel 16:31, 28
Ezekiel 20:29 God asks idolatrous Israel “what is the high place to which you go?” Divine scorn is poured out on the Israelites. They ought to have known by its purpose that it was off limits to the people of God. God’s punishments for this are found in verse 33-38.
I Kings 15:14 The high places were not removed although Asa had a good heart towards God
2 Chronicles 14:3 King Asa destroyed the pagan altars and high places, smashed their sacred pillars, and cut down their Asherah poles.
2 Chronicles 15:17 King Asa after deposing his pagan grandmother because she had made an obscene image, destroyed the image , yet surprisingly never removed the high places.
2 Kings 18:22; The Rabshakeh missed the point when he told King Hezekiah that he had taken away God`s high places, not realizing God wanted them removed.
Bāmâth can be further defined as an elevation, a height, as well as a high place in the following scriptures.
Deuteronomy 32:13, 29
Isaiah 10:5, 13
2 Samuel 1:19, 25
All sorts of important things happened on high places showing spiritual significances for example:
1. Noah’s ark resting on Mt. Ararat
2. Abraham was tested on Mt. Moriah
3. Moses receives the Law on Mt. Sinai
4. Elijah and the prophets of Baal fought on Mt. Carmel
All this was in the Old Testament but in the New Testament high places are also significant.
1. Jesus went up into the mountain for praying [Matthew 4:23]
2. Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount[Matthew 5:1]
3. Jesus ascended to heaven from the Mt. of Olives and will return one day to Mt. of Olives
4. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was on the hill of Calvary.
Mountains and hills are a place of solitude/ a meeting place with God Almighty.
What does the Law say?
Exodus 20:3-6 Our God is a Jealous God
Deuteronomy 12:1-5 God wanted the high-places of pagan worship to be destroyed. Worship should be at a place appointed by the Lord Himself and included the Tabernacle, the Temples and now in spirit and truth.
Ezekiel 20:28-29; The Lord pours scorn on the Israelites offensive idolatrous offerings on the high-places.
Why did the Lord tell the Israelites to destroy the Canaanite tribes?
These tribes practised all kinds of forms of idolatry including the ritual sacrifice of their children.
So important was this commandment to destroy these high places of pagan worship that was commented upon in the records of each King of Israel/Judah in the Books of Kings and Chronicles.
Commandment to destroy High places was sufficiently implemented so that the Kings of Jews/Israel had their policy recorded/ report card in Kings/Chronicles. Examples;
1 Kings 12:31; Jeroboam built up high places and appointed non-Levities as priests.
1 Kings 13:33-34; Jeroboam’s fate
1 Kings 14:22-24; Judah`s high places (Rehoboam/Judah)
2 Kings 15:11-14; Asa (Judah) was a good king but neglected high places
2 Kings 14:3-4; Amaziah was also a good king but neglected high places
Message for us today: Jesus is our Lord of lords and King of kings
If we desire to be good kings, then we must surely destroy the ‘high places’ of idolatrous worship in our nation. What and where are they, you must answer for your own country.
In Old Testament days good kings ought to have destroyed the high places with their altars and pillars. The best king’s physical destroyed the high places that were not dedicated to the Lord God Almighty.
So how can we do this if there are no physical structures?
Ephesians 2:2 Tells us that Satan is the prince of the power of the air
Ephesians 6:12 Spiritual wickedness in high places
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 We can pull down enemy strongholds
Could it be that when we go up to a ‘high place’ that in some way we are closer to the enemy and perhaps to the place that these demons receive worship from witchcraft, occultism etc?
The hill known as Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland is often a site of pagan and occult worship.
(Tell story of my experience with my son Kenneth)
By prayer and other forms of spiritual warfare and by using the word of God we can bring down those enemy strongholds over our towns and cities.
Exodus 17:8-11; Moses, Aaron on the hilltop, they did a successful spiritual warfare.
2 Kings 6:13-17; Open our eyes Lord to the spirit realm, there are more with us than against us!
Father, in Jesus name, grant us the prayer of Elisha that your servants may have their spiritual eyes opened. Amen