What are the high places in the Bible?

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The High Places

The high places are references to the heathen sanctuaries and altars built on elevated hills. It was at these high places that Satan lured humanity away from the safety of God and led them to their the worship of false gods and thus to eternal destruction. For this reason, the Lord commanded the Israelites to destroy all the heathen idolatrous high places, “you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their engraved stones, destroy all their molded images, and demolish all their high places” (Numbers 33:52).

For those that built these heathen alters to lure Israel away from God, the Lord pledged, “I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars, and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols; and My soul shall abhor you” (Leviticus 26:30).

The prophet Isaiah warned that the worship of idols on the high places is useless for idols are merely the creation of man (Isaiah 16:12). The incantations and prayers to these pagan gods will never be answered (1 Kings 18:26–29). At these centers, the most wicked forms of immorality often accompanied idolatrous worship (Deuteronomy 12:2, 3; Isaiah 57:5–7; Jeremiah 2:20; 3:2). The native fertility cults of the regions involved the worshipers in the most evil practices.

Child Sacrifice

One of these wicked practices was the abominable pagan rite of child sacrifice, which was common among the nations of Palestine (Deuteronomy 12:31; 2 Kings 3:27). Children were, “pass(ed) through the fire to Molech” (Leviticus 18:7–21; 2 Chronicles 28:3). Rabbinical tradition depicted Moloch as a bronze statue heated with fire into which the victims were thrown to suffer and die.

Child sacrifice took place on the high places: “And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin” (Jeremiah 32:35). Humans possessed by demons slaughtered and burned the innocent children on the alters of Baal and other pagan gods (2 Kings 17:9–11; 2 Chronicles 31:1).

These detestable ceremonies were forbidden by God under the penalty of death: “You shall not give any of your children to devote them by fire to Moloch, and so profane the name of your God” (Leviticus 18:21; 20:2).

God’s prohibition was not fully obeyed by the Israelites (2 Kings 16:2, 3; 23:10; Jeremiah 7:31; 32:35; Ezekiel 23:37; Leviticus 20:2–5; 2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 32:35. etc.). Even, some of the kings of Israel, like Ahaz (2 Kings 16:3) and Manasseh (2 Kings 21:6), were affected by the pagan beliefs and committed this crime at Topheth, near Jerusalem.

God abhors the “hands that shed innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:17), and we can be certain that He will judge those that practice this horrific sin. The kings of Israel that erected high places were punished by God (1 Kings 11:11). But the ones that destroyed the high places were blessed (2 Kings 22—23).

The only high place that was sanctioned for sacrifice was the temple in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 3:1). It was this place that was identified as the mountain in the land of Moriah where Abraham proved his willingness to offer Isaac to God (Genesis 22:2, 9). The Lord didn’t want Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, He was only testing his obedience. Following the test, God provided a ram for Abraham to offer (verse 13). This animal pointed to the lamb of God, who would die to redeem humanity (John 3:16).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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