[T]he high places were not taken away; nevertheless the heart of Asa was wholly devoted to the Lord all his days (1 Kings 15:15).
We hear of a handful of righteous kings in Judah, namely Asa (1 Kin 15:10-14), Jehoshaphat (1 Kings 22:43), Joash (2 Kings 12:2-3), Amaziah (2 Kings 14:3-4), Azariah (2 Kings 15:3-4), and Jotham (2 Kings 15:34-35). All of the preceding kings were righteous, but they failed to remove the high places.
Why didn’t they? Did they lack the zeal of Hezekiah who did remove them (2 Kings 18:4)? Then, why didn’t Hezekiah follow the Passover properly unlike Josiah?
The only thing we know for sure is that all of these men, until Josiah’s time, lacked the Scriptures. Until Hilkiah found them in the Temple, there was not a clear understanding of what God’s will was for the Jewish people. Hence, the Jews fell short not always because of a lack of devotion, but because of ignorance.
Today, this is not an issue because we easily have the Scripture at our disposal. We have the benefit of knowing what God’s will is because of it, so no longer can we plead ignorance.
So, if the Scripture was a rule for life even when it was essentially forgotten for centuries in ancient Judah, it must still be a rule for us today. The Church, much like Judah, can be at its high points very devoted to the Lord, but even then may fall critically short when not conforming herself to God’s expectations as communicated in the Scriptures. Scripture thereby takes a central role in reforming and redirecting what proper religious practice should be.
Anyone who ignores this does so at his or her own peril.