Our High Places

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For they also built for themselves high places, sacred pillars, and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. (1Kgs. 14:23)

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If you want a reminder of the geographic diversity of America, take a road trip through the American West. Majestic snow-capped mountain ranges, forests of towering Douglas firs, vast wind-swept plains, ocean waves crashing on the rocks of the Pacific coast--it's an humbling experience that makes you appreciate the beauty of God's creation.

On this latest trip, however, we noticed an additional feature that has only recently been added to the landscape: cell towers. Cruising along interstate highways, we saw these towers every few miles, always on a high hill or ridge. We can imagine the engineers who designed the placement of these towers driving along the same route, looking for elevated locations to build their towers, obviously to maximize cell coverage for passing travelers. 

The consistent pattern of the placement of these towers calls to mind the Old Testament phenomenon of God's people building altars on the high places of their land. There is something about hills and mountains jutting up into the sky that captures the human imagination. We feel closer to the divine when standing on a high place, above the routine toils of life that take place far below. 

Of course, the problem with those high places of old was that they became centers of idolatry, replacing the worship of the spiritual God with the worship of carnal idols. The high places turned people away from God, and set them up for spiritual collapse. 

I am not equating cell towers with idolatry. But perhaps there is a useful metaphor here. Is it possible that we Americans have made technology our false god? In a very real sense, our electronic devices have replaced God as the primary source of guidance in our lives. We trust in our technical wizardry to save us, and will spare no expense to weave this technology into every corner of our lives. 

Someday the inadequacy of our digital high places to save us will be exposed, and we will be forced to face life--and the afterlife--without them. What then? 

Wisdom demands that we treat technology, not as a god, but as a tool in service to the true God, who alone can satisfy all the desires of our heart.