Jehoshaphat son of Asa became king of Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-five years. His mother’s name was Azubah daughter of Shilhi. In everything he followed the ways of his father Asa and did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. The high places, however, were not removed, and the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there. I Kings 22:41-43
The road of sanctification is paved with repentance. As the Lord reveals our sin to us, we confess it, apologize for it, accept forgiveness at the cross of Christ, and commit to moving on in life without that sin. And then the Lord shows us the next obstacle in our road. Over time, we may even begin to notice some changes. We can look back (with some embarrassment perhaps) at some things we used to do or say or think and praise God that we are no longer there. We may even notice an improvement in our spirit. We may be more patient, more generous, or more deferential to others.
But there may still be that one thing, that one thing we know we do that we know ought not. In some people it is a terrible secret, like drug or pornography addiction. In some of us it may be the pride we try so hard to hide or the greed or jealousy that we have to fight down every day. Many of us, at one time or another, have had a high place.
The “high places” in Old Testament writings were literally high places – mountaintops or mounds – but they had a unique function. If you wanted to worship the Lord, you went to the temple in Jerusalem. If you wanted to worship someone else, you went to a high place. That was where you could make your offering or burn incense to a pagan god.
Our high places are less literal, but just as real. Many of us worship that one thing we are holding back from the work of the Lord in our lives. We may have thought about walking away from it, but our love for it has been proven by our commitment to it. While the Lord lovingly forgave and released us from all our other sins, the high place remains.
Our text for today is 3 simple verses in a long series of chapters recounting the history of the kings of Israel and Judah. Jehoshaphat’s reign of 25 years is summarized in those 3 short verses. He was a devout servant of the Lord, but the high places were not removed. Jehoshaphat was not alone. Many kings failed to remove the high places. But it wasn’t impossible. Kings like Hezekiah tore them down. (See 2 Kings 18.)
Let’s take Jehoshaphat as a cautionary tale, my friends. Let not our story be like his – devout, but blemished with a love for things other than the Lord. Let’s tear down our high places and dedicate ourselves exclusively to Christ and His Kingdom.