II Kings 11-12 describe a revival that took place in Judah under Jehoiada the priest, and Jehoram the young king who was under his influence. But the scriptures relate that the revival was not complete. Verse 3 of Chapter 12 says: “only the high places were not taken away”. This is a common statement regarding the state of religion in Israel. Even in times of revival, the “high places” were not taken away. What were these “high places”?
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia tells us that many of these “high places” were originally pagan shrines, but during times of reform in Israel they were made into places of worship for YHWH. Yet they were still intermixed with unbiblical practices.
The high places were pervasive in Israel, even in the best of days, as we see in this passage. They were ostensibly used to make offerings to YHWH, the true God, but these services were unlawful, as God had commanded for His worship to be performed at the Temple in Jerusalem. And as the ISBE reports, the worship performed at these “high places” was compromised with the practices of the pagan peoples around them.
The “high places” represent an independent spirit in religion, a “pop religion” that cut out God’s anointed men, short-circuited His procedures, and compromised His word in their practices.
With this understanding, one can easily see that the “high places” are alive and well in America today, where people are starting their own churches left and right, in order to worship however they see fit. Multiplying churches is not bad in itself, of course, but just like in Israel’s day, the damaging feature of the “pop religion” that is so pervasive in our country today is that it is not grounded in the word of God. Every man just does “what is right in his own eyes.” The Book of Judges records that the end of such practices was moral and spiritual chaos in the land of Israel. We would be foolish to think that the multiplication of similar “high places” — houses of pop religion which are not anchored in the word of God — will lead to anything different in our country today.