RELATED TO LUST, AMBITION, AND IDOLATRY
According to the record in 1 Kings, two kings—Solomon, a good king, and Jeroboam, an evil king—took the lead to set up the high places. In the case of Solomon, the building of the high places was related to the indulgence of lust. Solomon had hundreds of wives and concubines. In order to satisfy their desire, he built up high places. His wives had "turned away his heart after other gods" (1 Kings 11:4). In the case of Jeroboam, the building of the high places was related to ambition (1 Kings 12:26-32). Jeroboam wanted to maintain his empire. Fearing that the kingdom would return to the house of David if the people went to Jerusalem to worship, Jeroboam "made houses on high places" (v. 31, Heb.). Hence, Jeroboam’s ambition was the cause of his decision to build up high places. Furthermore, Jeroboam made two calves of gold and said to the people, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt" (v. 28). He then "set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan" (v. 29). Furthermore, "Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah" (v. 32). The month of this feast was "devised of his own heart" (v. 33). Jeroboam even made "priests from among all sorts of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi" (v. 31, Heb.). What evil is associated with high places! The high places were related to lust, ambition, and idolatry. Since high places signify divisions, this indicates that the divisions among Christians today are related to these evil things.
Not many Christians realize that division is connected to lust, ambition, and idolatry. Most Christians would not go beyond saying that divisions are wrong and unscriptural and that they cannot agree with them. However, in the eyes of the Lord, division involves such things as lust, ambition, and idolatry. Remember, a high place is an elevation, something lifted above the common level. This indicates that a high place involves the exaltation of something. In principle, every high place, every division, in Christianity today involves the uplifting, the exaltation, of something other than Christ. The things that are exalted may not be evil. On the contrary, they may be very good and may include even Bible study or Bible teaching. Surely it is a good thing to teach the Bible. But Bible study may be related to division. In such a case, even a meeting for the study of the Scriptures becomes a high place; it may lead to the exaltation of something in place of Christ.
Today it is common for Christians to elevate things in place of Christ. For example, some elevate the practice of baptism by immersion. Although it is right and scriptural to immerse people, it is not right to exalt immersion in place of Christ. To do this is to build a high place for the exaltation of a particular mode of baptism. The existence of such a high place always gives an opportunity for the indulgence of lust or for the fulfillment of ambition. However, the unique place of God’s choice kills our lust and restricts our ambition. Even a very good thing such as Bible study can open the way for lust and ambition to come in, if it is exalted above Christ. Lust is inevitably followed by idolatry. Ambition, in fact, is a form of idolatry.
(The Genuine Ground of Oneness, Chapter 8, by Witness Lee)