The High Places Remain

Day 153

Prayer for the day

Restore us, O God of hosts; show me the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

Scripture for the day

2 Chronicles 19-20, John 13:21-38

It doesn’t seem to matter how great a king Judah finds, there is always something that hinders him from being the perfect king, the one who followed YHWH fully. Each of the “good” kings does some pretty incredible things, but a recurring phrase keeps coming up: “he did not remove the high places.” The high places remain, even though the Asherah poles are torn down and other areas of cultic ritual are removed. These high places are nothing in and of themselves. These high places represent for the people of Judah and Israel the refusal to truly submit to YHWH.

The high places represent the cultic practices of the surrounding nations, places where YHWH is not worshipped, places of compromise and disobedience. The high places are the evil that they refuse to overcome.

Peter was to experience a “high place” of sorts in his relationship with Jesus, and Judas certainly had his high place. Both believed themselves committed to the cause, following Jesus with everything they had. But each in his own way, though the temple of his own kingdom was torn down, hung on to a high place.

For Judas, the high place was his surety that the kingdom of God coming in Jesus was supposed to look a certain way, and that certain way was not the way Jesus was bringing it.

Peter’s high place was safety and security, the mental desire to follow Jesus even to death but the visceral reaction of fear and flight, of denial for his own safety.

The Israelites were seduced by the power of other gods. Judas was seduced by the power of an earthly kingdom. Peter was seduced by the power of security. All are seduced by something from the past, by something that would lead us away from God. All of us have our high places. May our legacy be that we tore them down.

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