Escaping From the World by Creating High Places
James Clark is an elder at Reformed Baptist Church of Elizabethtown, KY
“Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God, for he removed the altars of the foreign gods and the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the wooden images” (2 Chron. 2:14).
Many of the “high places'' in the Old Testament were places of idol worship where people would come to worship false gods (Num. 33:52). Israel, the chosen people of God, created them primarily to worship Molech and Baal. These were forieign gods worshiped in ancient Canaan and Phoenicia (Jeremiah 32:35). The people of God had forsaken the LORD to worship false gods and even sacrifice their children in hopes of a better life or protection from the world.
Even Christians today can be guilty of creating “high places” where we worship idols, instead of the one true God.
To say that the world today is stressful and at times fearful is an understatement. To be sure, Christians battle depression, loneliness, self-worth, and acceptance. We want protection from the craziness of riots, pandemics, and the political constructs of liberalism. The pressure of day-to-day life and the hazards in this world can cause the people of God to yearn for escape from the world. If we are not careful, we may create an idol to give us assurance and rest that can only be found in Christ. We build our “high place” by finding something in the world that allows us to escape the pressure of life. Over time this escape can shackle us to the world.
In King Asa’s day Judah knew who God is, claiming to be his people. However, they took their eyes off of the promises of God and denied Him by looking to the world around them.
Whenever we are caught up in the world we look to the world to find our purpose, security, and identity. This is what happened to Judah; they forsook the one true God and sought out the false gods of the people around them, the gods of Canaan and Phoenicia. They were so enamored with the world around them that they found solace in the pleasures of the world and in doing so they bent the knee to Baal denying their creator.
“Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things” (Rom. 1:22-23).
Today these pagan gods look like video games, television, music, family, sports, and whatever it is that we find the most joy, peace, and comfort in. In themselves these things can be avenues to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. But when these things are our escape and what gives us the most joy, they become sinful idols that replace the God we say we love. They become the object of our desire and reason for our happiness.
“You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11).
King Asa knew the only way for a people to focus on God was to remove the things that caused them to stumble. As the passage teaches in 2 Chron. 14:2-3, he did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD his God and removed the altars and tore down the “high places.” In like fashion, we need to seek Christ. Only Christ will give us the joy and love we desire. Only in Christ can we, like King Asa, tear down our high places. Our greatest treasure must be Christ.
What idol do you worship? What has been set upon the “high place” in your life? What or who is it that you cannot live without? Is there anything that you desire more than God?
The point of Psalm 16:11 is simply that Christ is life and in Him we have the greatest joy and pleasure. Christ Jesus is the one whom the believer should long for the most. Destroy any “high place” of idolatry in your life by seeking and being enraptured with Jesus.