The high places, however, were not removed, and the people still had not set their hearts on the God of their ancestors. – 2 Chronicles 20:33
The nation of Judah experienced a spiritual awakening and renewal under King Jehoshaphat’s reign, but the revival only went as far as the king’s extended influence. In those places where he had personal control over structures, idols, and leaders, a general cleansing occurred; however, his influence ended just short of the hearts of his people.
The “high places” were private shrines that existed in obscure locations throughout the land. The only way they would ever be removed was if the people themselves pulled them down, and the only way that could ever happen was if the people themselves, not just a single leader, determined in their hearts to worship and honor God. Corporate renewal required individual repentance.
While reformation of a nation may begin in the heart of a leader, thorough transformation will not occur until the people themselves awaken and submit themselves to the Lord. Since it is impossible for a person who has no relationship with God to be “renewed,” then such an event and action must begin with the people of God, Christ’s church. Which brings us to the inevitable question, “Do we desire God to the extent that we are willing to seek Him first in our own hearts at such an all-encompassing depth that our churches are transformed and therein possess the power to influence a nation?” There can be no renewal until there is individual revival.
It is time to tear down the “high places.”
It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seemed as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk through the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street. – Benjamin Franklin (on the effects of George Whitefield’s preaching in 1730 Philadelphia)