Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The High Places in Judah

After conducting religious reforms as a young man, after he defeated the Cushites and Libyans with God's help, after the encouragement from Azariah the prophet, King Asa went back to his religious reforms. 2nd Chronicles has this to say about this second round of reforms.

When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Azariah...he took courage. He removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had captured in the hills of Ephraim. He repaired the altar of the LORD that was in front of the LORD's temple.
........King Asa also deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive Asherah pole. Asa cut the pole down, broke it up and burned it in the Kidron Valley. Although he did not remove the high places from Israel, Asa's heart was fully committed to the LORD all his life. He brought into the temple of God the silver and gold and the articles that he and his father had dedicated. 2nd Chronicles 15:8, 16-18

Well, quite a bit of reform. Initially, as described in yesterday's post, Asa had: expelled the male shrine prostitutes, got rid of the idols his fathers had made, removed the foreign altars, removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones, cut down the Asherah poles, commanded Judah to seek the LORD. Now he goes about doing even more--except, he does not remove the high places.

This business of the high places is, I believe, a key to understanding Israel at this point. 2 Chronicles 14:5 says Asa removed the high places. 1 Kings 15:14 and 2nd Chronicles 15:17 say he did not. A careful reading of the text leads me to conclude that these are describing two very different events. At first, as a young man and a new king, Asa removed the high places. However, while he was busy with administering a country, building fortified cities, raising and training and equipping an army, and fighting the Cushites and Libyans, the Jews must have rebuilt the high places. So Asa, having been encouraged by Azariah, begins a second round of reforms. Idols--gone. Altar--repaired. Silver and gold--to the temple. Grandmother Maacah--deposed because she is a bad influence. Her Asherah pole--cut down, broken up, and burned. The high places--oh, not again! I just removed them (was it really a decade or two ago?).

This time he did not remove the high places. Why? He did it once. Why not again? What's wrong with these Jews? They keep setting up alternate places of worship. Maybe they worship I AM there some of the time, but they also worship the other gods. I can't keep up with it; I can't keep removing them. And so Asa did not remove the high places this time around.

I don't really find fault with Asa for this. Maybe I should, but I don't. He should have removed them again, and again, and again, as many times at it took for Judah, Benjamin, and remnants of the other tribes to get the message. But he didn't. Perhaps he thought there was enough worship of I AM going on at those places that they did some good. I don't think he grew weary of well-doing. As I'll write about in another post, the assembly he held in Jerusalem showed the extent of his zeal.

The high places exist today, not in Israel, but in America--places where we worship amiss, where we fall short of what I AM wants of us. As this post at The Path of Truth so well explains, the high places do exist. We tear them down and rebuild them, perhaps growing weary in well-doing. We need to keep removing them.


Will and Jennifer Farmer said...

David, I was doing a google search in preparation for our Community Group Bible study tonight and happened upon your blog. Thank you for your insight and thoughts into this incredible passage. I completely agree - the high places still exist today. They're everywhere! From our jobs to our lawns and our celebrities...praise I AM that He is greater and His grace is there to relenquish us from our own evil hearts every time.

David A. Todd said...

Will and Jennifer:

I'm so glad you found the site, and found that post meaningful to you. I hope you took time to look at some of my other posts on King Asa. He's an interesting character, and I'm making a 2 or 3 week study on him the first part of the next Bible study I'm writting.

Best Regards,
Dave Todd