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Allow Me to Explain (37 of 439) – High Places

October 6, 2011

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37. Did Asa remove the high places? 2 Chron 14:3-5 vs. 1 Kings 15:14, 2 Chron 15:17

Only pastors don’t need this one explained.

2 Chronicles 14:3-5
He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. 4 He commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his laws and commands. 5 He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him.

1 Kings 15:14
Although he did not remove the high places, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life.

2 Chronicles 15:17
But the high places were not removed from Israel. Nevertheless the heart of Asa was loyal all his days.

1 Kings 15 is a more abridged version of Asa’s story than 2 Chronicles 14-15. A casual read through the two accounts of Asa’s time as king points out that 2 Chronicles tells a more detailed story. In fact, a casual read through 1 and 2 Kings will repeat the phrase, “And the rest of the works of _____, are they not recorded in the books of the chronicles of the kings?” more times than anyone probably cares to count.

A casual read through 1 and 2 Kings will also repeat the phase, “But the high places were not removed,” more times than anyone reasonably cares to count.

The end of Asa’s story, in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles, is that the high places were still around. 2 Chronicles 14 tells us that Asa removed them, initially, when he became king and instituted his religious reform. Stubbornness and free will being an eternally difficult combination, however, the high places were obviously rebuilt. It wouldn’t have been the first time that the rebellious in Israel and Judah built up the high places, and it wouldn’t be the last.

If it sounds too far-fetched, ask a pastor about it. He’ll probably sigh deeply and throw up in his hands in agreement.

People, including you and I, are easily inspired and moved to action. (I know, not you … but yes, you.) But inspiration fades, enthusiasm wanes, and so revolutions lose steam and revivals end and reformation becomes institutionalized.

God’s people in the Old Testament are a foreshadow of His people in the New, and an honest evaluation of human nature. So if we’re going to mine it, on the one hand, for devastating contradictions in the details, we have to also dig for meaning in the big picture when the former fails.

Asa was a good king. He reigned for a long time. He instituted reformation in Judah and pointed the people back to God. His heart was for the Lord, but he couldn’t control the people all of the time. It’s a lesson to leaders that God judges the heart, and He knows perfectly well that no matter what you do, some people will refuse Him. It’s not your fault. You’re not a bad pastor.

It’s also a lesson to the rest of us. We all have a part in this. The high places were places of idol worship. God knows who built up those high places after Asa tore them down, and it wasn’t Asa who was held accountable for it. What you place on a higher level than God, when your pastor isn’t around – money, sex, entertainment, yourself – doesn’t go unnoticed.

Did Asa tear down the high places? Yes, initially. Were they rebuilt against his wishes? Yes.

The real question: Have you torn down your high places?

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