Many believers who are supposed to be priests and kings unto God claim their allegiance to Him through worship at the high places of the world. They do this by paying a yearly visit to some high places on the earth – consciously or unconsciously.
Just like the Levites of old. They are priests, but instead of worshipping only at the Temple in Jerusalem, they enjoy the yearly pilgrimage to these high places. Are you one of them?
Unfortunately, so many people who love God or claim to do, are worshipping Him in a way He abhors, in fact, it disgusts Him because the Wicked one uses it to make a mockery of Him.
“Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.” [2Samuel 12:14]
The Lord is saying:
“Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.” [Proverbs 19:27]
There is a reproach or defamation attached to Christ, which every follower of Christ must surely carry along. To the world, this is repulsive and weak. If you reject worship at these high places, you will suffer the reproach of Christ. However, inside that reproach is the glory of God. It is like the oyster that has gone through so much, but inside it remains a beautiful pearl.
We often quote God as saying His people are destroyed because of their ignorance and we stop there and overlook the reason He said it.
He continues, “because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me”. When we reject the knowledge of God we are automatically stopped from being His priests.
What were these high places? And why were they so detrimental to Yahweh worship but yet surprisingly acceptable at times?
“Only the people sacrificed in high places, because there was no house built unto the name of the LORD, until those days. And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.” [1 Kings 3:2–3]
“And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.” [1 Kings 12:32]
A high place was a localized or regional worship centre dedicated to a god. Worship at these local shrines often included making sacrifices, burning incense and holding feasts or festivals (1 Kgs 3:2–3; 12:32). Some of these high places contained altars, graven images and shrines.
When you read about the high places in the Bible, did you ever think about who built them? It was the kings. The kings were the ones who had influence over the people of God. The second question is: who are the ones who served at these high places? Priests, people from the house of Levi whom the Lord chose for Himself (Numbers 12).
These high places were usually named after the God of Israel, in the beginning, and then gradually their purposes come to the fore. At these high places, the people forsake Yahweh for foreign gods.
The high place is similar to the Tabernacle of Moses or the Temple of Solomon. And Paul made us understand that YOU have become the temple of God.
In other words, the high place can be you, especially if you so much as engage another god – knowingly or unknowingly in that place of worship.
The worship or offering becomes tainted. He showed this in a very significant way when the children of Israel were in the wilderness.
“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.” [Leviticus 10:1]
God did NOT command them to worship Him in the way they chose. It was the way of the heathen who used to occupy the land. That mode of worship misrepresents and blasphemes the Holy Spirit, offering false worship instead of worship pleasing to God.
I hope the stern words of Zechariah written for the priests and kings of this age will not stand against you in the future. He wrote, “But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the LORD of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the LORD of hosts.” [Zechariah 7:11-12]
One of such high places eulogised by so many believers with good intentions is Christmas. The celebration of Jesus’ birthday.
In the Early Church, there was no mention of birth celebrations from the earliest church fathers. Christian writers like Irenaeus (130-200) and Tertullian (160-225) said nothing about a festival in honour of Christ’s birth, and even Origen (165-264) mocked Roman celebrations of birth anniversaries as pagan practices.
The Romans celebrated their seven-day winter festival, Saturnalia, starting on December 17. It was a thoroughly pagan affair full of debauchery and the worship of the god Saturn. To mark the end of the winter solstice, the Roman emperor established December 25 as a feast to Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun).
In 350AD, Pope Julius I declared that Christ’s birth would be celebrated on December 25. There is little doubt that he was trying to make it as painless as possible for pagan Romans (who remained a majority at that time) to convert to Christianity. The new religion went down a bit easier, knowing that their feasts would not be taken away from them.
God never at any time indicated that He wanted His people to be celebrating His Son’s birthday. He gave us a set of different holy-days (holidays).
“Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year… Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord GOD.” [Exodus 23:14,17]
“Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty” [Deuteronomy 16:16]
Does God want us to celebrate Him? Yes! How? Only in the way He chooses. Anything else is religion, that is, man’s way of choosing to worship God.
Do you know the exact date of the first rain on Earth?
In Genesis 7:11, we have this record: “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.”
God recorded the EXACT date of the first rain! How did He get forgetful to record the most important dates in the Bible – the birthday of Jesus? And even the exact date of resurrection, too?
No, beloved of God, the Holy Spirit omitted these exact dates for a reason – to avoid the brazen serpent being turned into a high place. It was deliberate.
If this was deliberate by God, why are we imposing it on Him? God is saying I am not interested in a birthday party, we respond, “What do you mean? Whether you like it or not we are celebrating it. If you like join us, if you like stay away.”
We used to hear: “He is the reason for the season”. In most places, they have removed that “He”, but some Christians would respond, “We are putting Christ back into Xmas”.
Was He ever involved from the beginning? These whole celebrations started with the Sumerians (Canaanites). No matter how much we try to solemnize these events, it will never be “holiness unto the Lord”.
With a broken heart, Paul penned these words, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” [Romans 10:1-3]
When you are celebrating Christmas or Easter, you are doing some righteousness, but it is YOUR righteousness, not His righteousness!
You have gone to establish your righteousness, your way of worship, just like Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1).
God never instituted either Christmas or Easter. Like the strange fire of Nadab and Abihu, it was brought into our midst by the mixed multitude. The mixed multitude were the proponents of the modern-day high places.
Some would say that Luke made mention of Easter in the Book of Acts. Okay, let us read it if it had anything to do with the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection.
“And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.” [Acts 12:4]
The mention was just a reference as to the time when Peter was thrown into the prison and Herod wanted to kill him just as he had killed Apostle James a little earlier. Nothing to do with Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The fact that Easter was mentioned only once during a period of persecution did not mean that God was expecting believers to join in the celebration of Easter or should I call it its proper name the celebration of Ishtar, the Assyrian goddess of war and sexual love.
Ishtar is the goddess that is equipped with weapons on her back, has a horned helmet, and is trampling a lion held on a leash. Do you think this goddess is for you or against you? Let the Bible answer this question for us.
Another name of this goddess is the Queen of heaven. She is represented by an eight-pointed star was her symbol. Some manifestations explained that she is the daughter of the god of the crescent moon, and the sister of the god of the sun Shamash, and they all together formed the sacred trinity of the sky in Mesopotamian mythology.
This same goddess who is known as Ishtar by the Mesopotamians is the same deity called Asherah by the Sumerians (Canaanites). Another name for her is Ashtoreth.
In fact, the Lord calls her an abomination. “For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.” [1 Kings 11:5].
It gets worse because an Oxford professor suggested that this abomination was God’s wife. Is this what a disciple of Christ wants to be associated with just because the religious system approves it? The same religious system approved the elimination of Jesus Christ, too.
The system has not changed, it has only employed different personnel in a different brand labelled Christianity. Considering the characteristics, it is not the same as the one described in Antioch.
“You shall not plant for yourself a grove (an Asherah) of any kind of tree beside the altar of the Lord your God, which you shall make for yourself.” [Deuteronomy 16:21]
When the people of Judah insisted on continuing in the participation of Easter, this is what God had to tell them:
“Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying; Ye and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand, saying, We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her: ye will surely accomplish your vows, and surely perform your vows. Therefore hear ye the word of the LORD, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt; Behold, I have sworn by my great name, saith the LORD, that my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, The Lord GOD liveth. Behold, I will watch over them for evil, and not for good: and all the men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine, until there be an end of them….” [Jeremiah 44:25-30]
Worse still, God had actually spoken against this in Leviticus 26:30 saying, “And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.”
God gave them a charge, which they soon abandoned when they got to the Promised Land.
“Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan; Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places: And ye shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it.” [Numbers 33:51-53]
Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat, the sixth King of Judah from David, brought in the celebrations of the high places, which seriously provoked God.
“Moreover he made high places in the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication, and compelled Judah thereto.” [2 Chronicles 21:11]
Shortly after Jehoram introduced this celebration to God’s people, he received a letter from heaven, it was a prophecy that had been written before several years before he was born, by Elijah.
“And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of David thy father, Because thou hast not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father, nor in the ways of Asa king of Judah, But hast walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and hast made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to go a whoring, like to the whoredoms of the house of Ahab, and also hast slain thy brethren of thy father’s house, which were better than thyself: Behold, with a great plague will the LORD smite thy people, and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods: And thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day by day. Moreover the LORD stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines, and of the Arabians, that were near the Ethiopians:” [2 Chronicles 21:12-16]
When Jehoram died, this was the epitaph written for him: “Departed Without Being Desired”.
“Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years, and departed without being desired. Howbeit they buried him in the city of David, but not in the sepulchres of the kings.” [2 Chronicles 21:20]
What did he do wrong? He erected the high places of Ashtoreth (Easter), and Baal (Christmas), and others, which God did not command.
Saints of God, are you beginning to see the connections of the high places of old and their modern names? The REAL reason or the true celebrants for those celebrations have not changed. Call them whatever you will and slap the name of Christ on them they would still not be of God.
When Hezekiah started to adhere to the Word of God, he began with the destruction of the high places and then the cleansing of the Temple. Then it was recorded of him: “… he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done.” [2 Chronicles 29:2]
“He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan. He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.” [2 Kings 18:4-5]
Why was it written that there was no king like him among the kings of Judah, including David? He did something all the rest never did. He destroyed religion!
He did something all the rest never did. He destroyed religion!
When Israel sinned against God in the wilderness and He sent serpents among them to bite them, Moses pleaded and God told him to make a brazen serpent and hang it up on a pole and whoever looked upon that serpent would live, he did and Israel was saved.
After that event, they kept the serpent, and all it took was a bad king to bring it out and started using it as a form of worship, erecting it at one of the high places.
All the prophets and priests and kings never saw any problem with the serpent, which has been used to replace God in the hearts of the people. Why? Because it was made by Moses, the “man of God”.
In reality, it had become an abomination in the sight of God. Together with the Asherah groves, it now occupied the high places where it has been erected as God’s substitute. Hezekiah saw it for what it had become and he “brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made”. Heaven rejoiced!
“And the LORD was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not.” [2 Kings 18:7]
“And many brought gifts unto the LORD to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah: so that he was magnified in the sight of all nations from thenceforth.” [2 Chronicles 32:23]
He became magnified in the sight of all the superpowers of his time!
This is what God wants to do for His people for as long as they do the things that please Him.
Jesus revealed His secret when He spoke in John 8:29, “And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.”
Can we see a correlation? God was with Hezekiah and all the superpowers brought gifts to him and to his God in Jerusalem. God was with Jesus and He “went about doing good and healing all those who were oppressed of the devil” (Acts 10:38).
We must painfully destroy the high places of Ishtar and Christmas. God never gave us the celebrations. We must go back to the original feasts God gave us. The three feasts of Pesach (Passover, The Feast of Unleavened Bread), Shavuot (The Feast of Weeks), and Sukkot (The Feast of Booths).
These three feasts represent our Salvation (partaking of the Last Supper), Holy Spirit, and Fulness of God.
These three feasts are supported by the other four feasts and Leviticus 23 describes them in full.
The Sabbath together with seven feasts, namely the Feast of Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Firstfruits, the Feast of the Harvest, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles.
Paul revealed that all those feasts and laws instituted in the Wilderness were a shadow of things to come.
When you accept to partake in these feasts, then you are partaking in the feasts as it was during the period of Shadow (Colossians 2:17 and Hebrews 8:5, 10:1). The feasts in the Wilderness were to present us with a design of things to come. Since Christ’s appearance, we have started living in the time of the real as God intended it.
When Jesus, the real High Priest, of which Aaron was the shadow, He said that the real temple was the body (John 2:19-21) not the building. The building was just a shadow.
The Feast of Passover (when Christ’s blood was shed for a person to the experience of salvation). The Feast of Unleavened Bread (partaking of the Last Supper). The Feast of Firstfruits (experience of fellowshipping with one another). The Feast of the Harvest (maturing into Christ where the carnal life is abandoned for the spiritual). The Feast of Trumpets (times when Prophecies of God’s intentions comes forth), the Day of Atonement (the season where God’s people are called to self-examination and growth) and the Feast of Tabernacles (when the fullness of Christ is made manifest in the believer).
Some may want to argue, but we have been celebrating Christmas and Easter for decades without any trouble, why change it now?
The people of Judah did the same. In 2 Chronicle 33:17, it was written, “Nevertheless the people did sacrifice still in the high places, yet unto the LORD their God only.”
James calls those who do this adulterers and adulteresses. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” [James 4:4]
Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” [Matthew 6:24]
In another place, Jesus calls it being lukewarm, something He says He detests. He prefers you to be steadfast as a follower or completely out of the fold (Revelation 3:16).
Worshipping at the high places of the earth is a mockery of God and a celebration of His enemies. Jude reminds us:
“Dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ said before. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who laugh about God, following their own evil desires which are against God.” These are the people who divide you, people whose thoughts are only of this world, who do not have the Spirit. But dear friends, use your most holy faith to build yourselves up, praying in the Holy Spirit.” [Jude 1:17-20]
The truth is that God wants to display His children like He displayed Jesus Christ on the earth, and He expects us to grow up into mature people. A child can be permitted certain activities such as playing with dirt with no consequence. But when he grows up if he is still playing with dirt, it will become a displeasing sight to his father.
Just like the brazen serpent, which Moses made but Hezekiah destroyed, it did not matter who among the church fathers brought in these celebrations into the Church (Galatians 1:8-9), even if the intention was good, it has to go!
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” [Galatians 1:8]
Are you going to break the “brazen serpent” made by the “men of God” of this generation? Or you are going to continue to provoke God to jealousy in following others in the yearly pilgrimage?
If you reject worship at these high places, you will surfer the reproach of Christ. However, inside that reproach is the glory of God.
Beloved of God, we must abandon the feasts of abomination and embrace the feasts of God, and just like Hezekiah, the blessings of God awaits us as we obey.