Thus says the Lord GOD to the mountains and the hills, to the ravines and the valleys: Behold, I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places. Your altars shall become desolate, and your incense altars shall be broken, and I will cast down your slain before your idols. And I will lay the dead bodies of the people of Israel before their idols, and I will scatter your bones around your altars. Wherever you dwell, the cities shall be waste and the high places ruined, so that your altars will be waste and ruined,your idols broken and destroyed, your incense altars cut down, and your works wiped out. And the slain shall fall in your midst, and you shall know that I am the LORD. Ezekiel 6:3-7
The sixth chapter of Ezekiel has three main points:
1) The high places are to be destroyed
2) A remnant is to be saved
3) Israel is the know the Lord by his judgments
The first idea that strikes you in the first few verse of this chapter is that the prophet is speaking, at God’s command, to the mountains. There seems to be two reasons for this. For one, the high places were on hills and mountains, so the mountains were where the worship of idols took place. So the prophet is proclaiming to the mountains because that is where the gross sin of idolatry was being done. Merrill Unger in his commentary explains, “In poetic personification, the mountains of Israel . . . are addressed, being the scene of Jewish idolatries on “high places” (v. 3), and hence under the threat of divine judgment. . . [The mountains] inanimate as they were, were more likely to hear and respond to God’s Word than would His sin-besotted people, who were incurably deaf to divine appeal and hardened in their idolatry.” Several commentators also liken this type of language to the unnamed prophet in I Kings 13, where the prophet rebukes the idolatrous Jeroboam by addressing the altar instead of the king.
By the word of the LORD he cried out against the altar: “Altar, altar! This is what the LORD says: ‘A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you.’” I Kings 13:2
The next part of the text is main message in the first 7 verses. “Behold, I, even I, . . . will destroy your high places.” You will notice there is no mincing words. God is very direct, and explains to what lengths he will go to destroy the high places of Israel. The question is, what are high places? And why would God need to destroy them. The Holman Bible dictionary tell us a high place is, “An elevated site, usually found on the top of a mountain or hill; most high places were Canaanite places of pagan worship.” It is important to realize that these high places were part of Canaanite religion and God instructed Israel to destroy them. Unger’s Bible Dictionary notes, “The high places were features of Canaanite religion, and the conquering Israelites were commanded to destroy them when they entered Canaan. (Num.33:52; Deut. 33:29) Israel came in contact with the high places of the Moabites before they entered the land . . . Being defiled by Canaanite fertility cults and other paganistic pollutions, the high places were often connected with licentiousness (Hos. 4:11-14) and immorality (Jer. 3:2).
We get the picture. These high places were part of religious cult activity where many sexual and immoral acts were part of the process of worship – not to mention, it was the worship of idols! God told them to destroy these places of worship and now many, many years later, they are still around.
High places, where we worship idols, always start in our heart first. This was true in the Old Testament as well. The Israelites did not get rid of the high places because their hearts were not right. In the New Testament, it says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ”. II Corinthians 10:4-5 Strongholds are in fact lofty or high places in our soul. Corinthians tells us that we can destroy theses strongholds. The fact is these high places become “fortified” over time. If we indulge these high places, they become a fortress that is very difficult to destroy. Only God’s truth can pull these lofty places down. But I want to raise another question. What if we do not destroy them? What if we continue to indulge these high places? That is exactly what the Israelites did. While God was patient a long time, he finally executed judgment and proclaimed that he would destroy the high places. We should review the strength of the language in Ezekiel 6. God is very serious about our high places. He says, “Your altars shall become desolate . . . I will cast down your slain before your idols . . . I will lay the dead bodies . . . before their idols . . . I will scatter your bones around your altars.” It goes on to say, “Wherever you dwell”, meaning that if you will not destroy your altars, idols, and high places, it does not matter who you are or where you live, I, even I, will destroy your high places. The fact is, if we do not deal with our high places, God will. If you have never experienced this, let me tell you, God is very thorough. The language of Ezekiel again should paint the picture for us. When God says he will destroy your high places, believe me he will. And you will never ever forget it. And as verse 7 sums it up, when God destroys these lofty strongholds in our soul, “you shall know that I am the LORD”.