I was reading about Jehosaphat, one of the kings of Judah last night. He was one of the good kings, and it seems most good kings tore the sacred poles and high places down. If memory serves, the sacred poles were for the goddess Asherah, which means people were using them in the service of someone other than God. The high places, however, were for God; they just weren't the temple.
What makes the destruction of the high places sensical is that the Shekhinah, the real presence of God, is in the temple. Otherwise, it's just a centralization of power- tyranny. But if God is present in the temple in a very meaningful way, then the high places become a trap to the faithful. The high places actually keep people from a closer experience of God.
The term Real Presence is used in many Christian denominations to describe Christ's exsistence within the Eucharist. The entire process of the Eucharist is the Shekhinah, which once could only be found in the temple, now coming into His new temples- us. Suddenly, many things, like having priests, start to make sense because it starts to look like a continuation of God's plan rather than a complete break.
Obviously, it's a tough thing to translate into our modern existence, but we do let the high places and sacred poles multiply in what passes for Christendom these days, don't we? I've read about things this many times; I don't know why the significance was brought to my attention now.