Monday, June 13, 2011

High Mountains and Green Trees

The other night, I was praying about what to read before bed, and the number three kept popping up.  I asked the Lord, "Chapter 3 of what?" and He said Jeremiah.  Now, the Lord doesn't always speak to me like this, so I knew this was where I needed to be.  I didn't get everything that night, but more has been revealed to me in the meantime.

 1They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.
 2Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and see where thou hast not been lien with. In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness; and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness.
 3Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore's forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.
 4Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth?
 5Will he reserve his anger for ever? will he keep it to the end? Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldest.
 6The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. 

Verse 6 really caught my attention.  "Upon every high mountain and under every green tree."  You may recall that Josiah brought holiness back to Judah by destroying the places of idol worship, II Kings 23.  So what was the Lord saying about the places of idolatry?
  • Upon every high mountain...
Idols and false gods were worshiped on high mountains.  You can see the logical progression: gods are in the sky, and mountains reach to the sky, therefore mountains get us closer to the gods.  If my mountain is higher than your mountain, then I must be able to get closer to my god than you can to your god, right?  Unless, of course, you come and take my mountain away from me, thus proving my idol can whoop your idol. 

Mountains represent strength.  For the modern church, you find believers flocking to the places of human strength.  They go where their ears are tickled, where they are placated, where no one makes them feel uncomfortable in their sin.  They attend churches where their specific natural talents are lacking so they can jump in and fill a void without having to go through any processing or waiting period, and if anyone in authority asks them to wait, they'll just go somewhere else.  They find a place where they can do things to feel spiritual or buy their way into the affections of others by good works without actually having to surrender anything.

  • Under every green tree...
Idols were primarily worshiped for what the worshiper could get out of it.  Fertility, fruitfulness, growth, all things that the idolater wanted, and was willing to sacrifice just enough to get.  When the Israelites came into Canaan, they were commanded to slaughter the native people wholesale, but they disobeyed.  Since they had been a nomadic people for more than an entire generation, they had no experience in agriculture, so they depended on the native people instead of the Lord to teach them.  So, they learned every technique: plowing, tilling, sowing, watering, reaping, selling...and going to the prostitutes of the pagan temples to offer your sacrifice.  Being guys, I'm sure most of them didn't reject this opportunity.  "Sorry, honey, gotta go to the temple prostitute if we want a harvest this year!"  There truly is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Green trees represent growth and prosperity.  I don't have to talk about the dangers of the prosperity gospel, because plenty of others have done so before me.  People want not only what they deem to be a strong, safe place, but for the provision, the growth that comes out of it.  People want to hear about what God can do for them without being bothered with what God requires from them.  People want things, plans, programs that will lead to riches, increased business success, prestige, and favor in the eyes of men.

But God has not commanded His people to do so:

2Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree:
 3And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.
 4Ye shall not do so unto the LORD your God.
 5But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come:

-- Deuteronomy 12:2-5

You can see that all of these desires are rooted in things the Lord wants to do in the believer's life; the problem is that the modern church has rejected God's way of doing things and has implemented the world's systems.

He wants to give us strength and to take us into high places.  We just have to lose the strength we claim and take on His strength.

He wants to give us growth and prosperity; He wants us to bear fruit.  We just have to realize that we can't take in nourishment from anything else in this life.

 14Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:
 15And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
 16And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more.
 17At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. 

-- Jeremiah 3:14-17.

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