Deuteronomy 12

Deuteronomy 12

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The Lord’s Chosen Place of Worship

12 “These are the statutes and rules that you shall be careful to do in the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth. You shall surely destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You shall tear down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and burn their Asherim with fire. You shall chop down the carved images of their gods and destroy their name out of that place. You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way. But you shall seek the place that the LORD your God will choose out of all your tribes to put his name and make his habitation there. There you shall go, and there you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, your vow offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock. And there you shall eat before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your households, in all that you undertake, in which the LORD your God has blessed you.

“You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes, for you have not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance that the LORD your God is giving you. But when you go over the Jordan and live in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, and when he gives you rest from all your enemies around, so that you live in safety, then to the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name dwell there, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, and all your finest vow offerings that you vow to the LORD. And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your sons and your daughters, your male servants and your female servants, and the Levite that is within your towns, since he has no portion or inheritance with you. Take care that you do not offer your burnt offerings at any place that you see, but at the place that the LORD will choose in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I am commanding you.

“However, you may slaughter and eat meat within any of your towns, as much as you desire, according to the blessing of the LORD your God that he has given you. The unclean and the clean may eat of it, as of the gazelle and as of the deer. Only you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it out on the earth like water. You may not eat within your towns the tithe of your grain or of your wine or of your oil, or the firstborn of your herd or of your flock, or any of your vow offerings that you vow, or your freewill offerings or the contribution that you present, but you shall eat them before the LORD your God in the place that the LORD your God will choose, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your towns. And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all that you undertake. Take care that you do not neglect the Levite as long as you live in your land.

“When the LORD your God enlarges your territory, as he has promised you, and you say, ‘I will eat meat,’ because you crave meat, you may eat meat whenever you desire. If the place that the LORD your God will choose to put his name there is too far from you, then you may kill any of your herd or your flock, which the LORD has given you, as I have commanded you, and you may eat within your towns whenever you desire. Just as the gazelle or the deer is eaten, so you may eat of it. The unclean and the clean alike may eat of it. Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh. You shall not eat it; you shall pour it out on the earth like water. You shall not eat it, that all may go well with you and with your children after you, when you do what is right in the sight of the LORD. But the holy things that are due from you, and your vow offerings, you shall take, and you shall go to the place that the LORD will choose, and offer your burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, on the altar of the LORD your God. The blood of your sacrifices shall be poured out on the altar of the LORD your God, but the flesh you may eat. Be careful to obey all these words that I command you, that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God.

Warning Against Idolatry

“When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.

“Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.


Deuteronomy 12 Commentary

by Hank Workman

Curiosity killed the cat – as the old strange statement goes.

As one commentator reckons, curiosity killed many a spiritual life.  The point of this thought process is often our own curiosity to things can lead us, then ensnare us in thoughts and ways not good; not of God.  Things completely contrary to Jesus and His ways.  For you see, when we in our own mind begin to investigate something we must be cautious.  It may bring more questions, which means we dig deeper into other things surrounding the topic which then leads toward a downward spiral where what we’ve discovered is not even truth yet we find ourselves aligned to it.

I remember a time when I found myself in the middle of spiritual oppression.  Having been naive to this as I had no experience and did not understand much on the topic, I began to research what this meant.  Truly, the goal was that I became educated on matters in the spiritual realm.  There was much truth I discovered through various authors that had firsthand experience with these things.  I looked up Scriptures and dug into commentaries on some of the topics. 

Then it happened.  I ran across an author who had some pretty wild ideas and thoughts on spiritual warfare.  I was drawn into some of these things.  There was truth she wrote of but also stating from her own experience, other things I had a difficult time processing as they were fairly sensational.

It was this pretty clear thought that came suddenly I must proceed with caution.  In fact, I felt as though I was to step back from these books of hers and simply have nothing to do with them.  The draw was there still and I battled with letting it go and halting anymore reading.

You see, whether or not this author was off has never been proven. I have looked her books up for review different times and not seen any ‘debunking’ if you will.  But, there was something there the Lord Himself was saying – don’t go any further with your curiosity.  She was an ex-witch who had come to Christ back in the ’80s and was exposing satanism to the church with signs to look for.  I learned a lot but that moment came of God simply saying to go no further was when some pretty dark aspects where written and exposed. 

I honestly did not look back.  The warning was clear and I knew these curiosities would likely lead me to more things that I simply did not need to have in my mind.

This is what makes God’s command of the Israelites even asking about the pagan religions that were in the land they would take.  Idolatry was in the very fabric of these nations.  God was protecting the people even from their curiosity as He knew it could lead them toward compromise.  As one author states, “Knowledge of evil is harmful if the evil becomes too tempting to resist.”  The boondoggle of thought can often lead us to so many places where we should have never been in the first place.  We all can testify to this on some circumstance in our lives.

The pagan worship found in these nations was hideous to God.  This is why He instructed them to destroy every single temple, altar, and idol when they found them.  They were to be completely obliterated from the landscape not only so His Presence could reign but that any questions could rise.  These questions and yes curiosity could be a snare for the people of God as they would be drawn in.  As we know, in time this indeed happened as they did not follow through with the things asked.  In essence, God was calling them to even get rid of any ability for them to be misled from Him.

As God instructed His people then, He still gives fair warning today.  Much like them we must remove anything not of His standard and will in our lives.  This not just our actions but our attitudes as well.  Honestly, it is everything that must be looked at under His microscope and then followed.  These things tempt us to follow our hearts and desires rather than His.  When God says stop, we must.  His best interest is in us.  He also knows our hearts and mind.  Even a mere curiosity of matters must be brought before Him before we become ensnared.

Deuteronomy 12 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

What separated the people of God from the pagans around them was their total allegiance to the One True God. He gave them commands to follow which centered around every facet of life. They expressed love and obedience to God through their worship, economy, family life, and their personal and corporate morals. Following God meant continually repenting and receiving forgiveness through altar sacrifices.

The altar was a place for consecration. This simply means to set yourself apart or dedicate yourself to the Lord through a symbolic act. Churches today have altars where people are invited to come forward and meet with God. There is nothing mystical or superstitious about coming to the altar, but it does posture you to give more of yourself to the Lord through an obedient act. Many times in my life I have had burdens lifted, priorities refocused, and peace given through an altar experience. There is something to be said about humbling yourself in front of other believers who love you and can surround you in prayer.

However, there is something else to consider about the altars. Just as Satan has always done, he mimicked the Lord’s true place of worship by orchestrated pagan altars through neighboring nations. Often, the Israelites would fall into the temptation of worshiping false gods at these altars. In fact, their false worship reached an all-time low when King Solomon established idolatrous high places for his foreign wives outside of Jerusalem and worshiped alongside them.

Are there still false places of worship today? Yes. In a sense, the human heart is the altar where the flesh and the spirit battle it out each and every day. Jesus was the final atoning sacrifice, giving Himself freely for the destruction of sin and the freedom to choose obedience. When we elevate different pleasures in our life above God, we are worshiping with our whole heart a false “idol.” We, like the Israelites, find temporary pleasure in false and empty finite gods.

Let’s get even more specific. When we look at pornography, we make our heart and mind a pagan altar that worships and idolizes sex. When we constantly overeat, we posture our heart to make an idol of food and worship it for how it makes us feel. When we obsess over money, we give away our heart to a piece of paper that can never truly satisfy us. I could go on and on. The point is, our flesh wants to transform our hearts in a full-blown idol worshiping machine.

The Holy Spirit wants to change our hearts into a temple of holiness by pointing it back to Jesus. Every day we are faced with decisions that will either worship God or worship something else.

What can we do to fight the temptations that bombard our altars?

And he said to them, “Keep watch, and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Mark 14:38 GNB

Keep watch and pray. Paul writes that God will always provide a way out for those who are tempted. When we keep watch, we are looking for that way out. We are also looking to identify temptation before fully hits so that we can be led into prayer. I can’t begin to tell you how powerful this has been in my own life.

When temptation comes for me personally, I am vigilant in reminding myself that I know where that path leads, and I begin praying that God would protect my thoughts and my mind from further temptation. Often, He will remind me of a verse, or a story, or simply an action to take at that moment that allows me to flee temptation.

Keep watch. Pray. Allow the Spirit to build your heart into a temple of worship for Jesus.

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