Foes in High Places

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

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While it is nice to have friends in high places, God’s people have foes in high places!

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).

The Greek word for “high” here is epouranios, elsewhere translated “heavenly,” “celestial,” and “in heaven.” Only here is it translated “high places,” a phrase that is elsewhere always found in the Old Testament, where it was associated with the worship of the false god Baal (Num. 22:41; Jer. 19:5; 32:35) and idolatry (II Chron. 14:3). That’s why it angered God when Israel allowed these high places to exist in their midst (Psa. 78:58), and why He was pleased when they were removed (II Kings 18:1-4) and displeased when they were not (II Kings 12:3;14:4; 15:4,35).

But here’s the kicker. As strange as it may sound, Jehovah was often worshipped in these high places in the worship of idols (II Kings 17:32; II Chron. 33:17)! If that sounds familiar, it is because fusing the worship of God with idolatry is a device Satan used for centuries during the Dark Ages in the church of Rome in our own dispensation.

This pollution of worship was still going strong when our Authorized Version was translated, and it might be why the translators rendered epouranios as “high places” in our text. They may have perceived that while the “spiritual wickedness” they wrestled was the host of fallen angels in heavenly places, the sphere of operation of these wicked spirits on earth was in the Roman church whose towering cathedrals reminded them of the “high places” where God was worshipped with idols in Israel.

In Daniel’s day, a wicked spirit wrestled with an angel sent from God to try to keep a message from God from getting through to a man of God (Dan. 10:10-14). Similarly, during the Reformation, the Reformers wrestled with wicked spirits who tried to keep the message of God’s Word from the people of God by using the brute strength of the Roman church that restricted His Word to the Latin language that few could read. The Reformers wrestled and overcame them by translating the Bible into the languages of the people.

Today those same wicked spirits strive to keep the message of God’s Word to us from God’s people, the message of Paul’s distinctive apostleship. This is the battle we fight here at Berean Bible Society, and it is the wrestling in which you too must be engaged if you want to “fight the good fight” (I Tim. 6:12). It is the “good fight” that Paul fought to his dying breath (II Tim. 4:7). Is it your fight too?

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.


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