Our Foes In The “High Places”
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 as used for centuries during the Dark Ages in the church of Rome during our own age of “the dispensation of the grace of God.”
This pollution of worship was still going strong when our King James Authorized Version was translated, and it might be why the translators rendered the Greek ‘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 … but with idols in Israel.
In Daniel's day, a wicked spirit wrestled with the angel Gabriel sent from God to try to keep a message from God from getting through to a man of God, Daniel for 21 days (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. Ultimately 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 intended to us from God's people, the message of Paul's distinctive apostleship that brings us the truth for today.