It may seem strange in that most of the Israelites saw nothing wrong with worshipping the true God as well as the false gods even side by side, but it is no different than someone today who fantasizes over pornography on his computer screen who also decides he is a Christian and goes to church. There is deception that has lead to bondage, a clear lack of identity and God is raising up Gideons to deliver these men from the Midianite oppression.
The high places were usually elevated locations like hills or mountains and were recognized by either trees or wooden poles that had carvings to identify them, much like our modern day totem poles you would find in Alaska or the northwest. I wanted to understand what the high places were mainly because of the command the Angel of the Lord gave Gideon in Judges 6 to tear down the asherah poles and altars to Baal and use it as kindling and offer a sacrifice to the true God in that same location. Little did I realize until after my study that one of those high places is where the Angel of the Lord met Gideon and that Gideon's father Joash happened to own the great tree or in other words was probably one of the biggest proponents of the Baal and Asherah cult.
Here are some principles I gleaned from Gideon's example for personal application:
-God is clearly addressing sexual sin as at least part of the reason that a nation endures oppression (midianites) and does not experience his blessing
-People of God hide in caves afraid of the enemy with no confidence in their identity or destiny when sex is worshipped in a nation.
- The enemy continuously robs the people of God of their food/spiritual food/word of God to the point they are near starvation until the Asherah poles are chopped down.
-The pain had to become great before they cried out to the Lord (instead of Baal or Asherah) and he was gracious to respond even though they were still double minded.
-Angel of the Lord comes to Gideon and meets him where he is at, at the high place/the point of the sin. v. 11
-God works with Gideon even in his false religious understanding, but begins to ask him to dismantle the false structures (altars) and build new ones, by using the destroyed altars to the false gods to burn the sacrifice to him.
-When Gideon takes a stand in regard to the sexual sin, it causes a separation and a revival.
-When taking a stand for the Lord against the oppression we can go back and forth between faith and fear and still be used by God, he is patient.
-Gideon asked for confirmation time and again for what he already knew God wanted him to do because of fear of man.
-God spoke his identity into Gideon until Gideon believed it.
-When he was finally sick of the oppression and devastation is when he heard God speak.