A friend recently asked me to engage in their problem. They felt that they were hitting a glass ceiling in their journey with God . This is someone that is way further down the line than me so I took time to hang out with God and ask him what he thought about the problem. 2 Kings 12 & 14 I felt I heard clearly. The thing is I have never been a big reader of Kings, so I dived into 12 leapt over 13 and on into 14. It is the story of Joash and Amaziah, father and son kings of Judah. Their stories are reasonably unremarkable, the get involved in wars and squabbles, do some politicking and then get assassinated after either giving away or losing the Temple gold and silver. OK so maybe not such quiet lives but within 2 chapters both have come and gone.
Their ancestor David dominates a huge section of the bible and even in their story he is referred to, and I think it is in these references that we see why.
2 Kings 12:2-3
Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him. 3 The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.
2 Kings 14:1-4
In the second year of Jehoash[a] son of Jehoahaz king of Israel, Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah began to reign. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Jehoaddan; she was from Jerusalem. 3 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, but not as his father David had done. In everything he followed the example of his father Joash. 4 The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.
Niether of these Kings removed the high places, the high places being the traditional worship sites of the Canaanites to Asherah. It is thought that sometimes Israelites would go and worship God there too but the inference is that them being left up was bad. David however pulled down all the high places and destroyed the altars and had his chief priest teach the people the law. He did also have a man killed, commit adultery and eat the sacred bread from the Temple….so not flawless but few of the Bible’s heroes are.
So what does tearing down the high places look like in a modern setting. Some might say we worship the cult of celebrity or sport and whilst in part I guess that is true I am not sure that is what God was saying to me. It played out in my head more like this……
I was a reasaonable rugby player, I got county caps, played at a premiership club, coached a national students side but generally underachieved. My rugby career was a picture of talent squandered on mediocrity. There were things to me that were more important or rather things that had their hooks in me to drag me away…..girlfriends….fear of missing out on what was going on with my buddies…… the search for adventure…..the occasional beer fuelled evening. These were my high places these were the things that kept me from fulfilling my potential.
In a faith journey I don’t think it is so different, there is plenty to drag you back from a relationship with God and you can live a good life and do good things and be pleasing in God’s sight but never tear down those high places and live in mediocrity for the rest of your time. Yet it is the tearing down of those high places that made David a name recognised down the ages and Joash and Amazaiah a couple of chapters in Kings. Our high places are different, perhaps judgement, perhaps immorality perhaps overworking but until we get to grips with them and throw them down we are perhaps likely to remain just below that glass ceiling.
NB some details in this story have been changed to protect the innocent, I do not claim to be right I am just thinking about potentially being right and I may even be wrong about that but if it makes you think, then I am alright with that……right?