-Careful observation of God’s statutes, judgments, and commands are again reiterated in this didactic chapter. These measures of God’s holiness were to be perpetual for His people in the land they were going to inhabit for their prosperity and continuance. They were to utterly destroy all the foreign gods on every high mountain, hill, and under every green tree tearing down altars, smashing their sacred pillars, burning their Asherim (wooden symbols of a female deity) with fire, cutting down their graven images of fake gods, and obliterating their name from that place. “You shall NOT (emphasis mine) act like this toward the LORD your God (Deuteronomy 12:1-4).” Idolatry would not be tolerated. On the other hand, they were to seek the LORD their God at the dwelling place of His own choosing that He would assign them in the land where all the tribes would come to worship Him alone. This could be none other than the forecast of the Temple, which would eventually be built in Jerusalem. This was the place of God’s greatest revelation of His glory in the land, and prophetically the place where His Son would atone for the sins of the entire world. It was the place to bring sacrifice unto Him by His people, their burnt offerings, tithes, contributions, votive offerings, freewill offerings, and the firstborn of their herd and flock. There also they and their households would eat before the LORD in celebration and rejoicing in all their undertakings with which the LORD would bless them. God then says, “You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes; for you have not as yet come to the resting place and the inheritance which the LORD your God is giving you (Deuteronomy 12:5-9).” There would come a time when they crossed the Jordan and defeated all their enemies. A time when they would achieve this promised rest so that they could build and worship their King Jehovah in His designed place “for His Name to dwell.” This historically came during the reign of Solomon in the Davidic Kingdom hundreds of years after this prophetic proclamation (2 Samuel 7, 1 Kings 5, 1 Chronicles 22:9-10). All were invited to worship in this grand place, from the tribes of Israel, their servants, and all the nations of the world (Deuteronomy 12:10-12, Isaiah 56:7, Jeremiah 33:9-11).
-Moses then sums up again their responsibility to “be careful” in not offering burnt offerings and sacrifices to “cultic” gods in “cultic” places that they will certainly see in the land they were to possess. They were to only do things God’s way in His place. The exception was for the slaughter and eating of meat within their own community gates. This included remembering the Levites and their ordained priestly service with all its rights and privileges since they had no inheritance. The only prohibition to this was that they “not eat the blood” of the animal “for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh.” The blood was to be poured out like water onto the ground so that it would go well with them, and their sons, in the land. Following God’s prescriptions would be doing right in the sight of the LORD their God. The place of God’s choosing was the proper place to make His blood sacrifice. Following their own way would be a snare to them if they deviated off the good path that the LORD was laying out for them to do. For their unrecognition of the true and living God, these nations were being destroyed before them, and if Israel wandered from their Savior, they would also pay the price for disobedience. “You shall not behave thus toward the LORD your God, for every abominable act which the LORD hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it (Deuteronomy 12:13-32).”
-*Application* God was serious with these people in cautioning them because he knew their heart and could see the future. God always gives us warning if we are willing to pay attention to His hints and clues. God’s warning is always ample, and His desire is for us to walk away from any potential for sin in our lives. Lean on God and His understanding. Don’t capitulate to the wicked culture around us. We can thrive in the land of God’s love, peace, and prosperity if we will simply do the things He asks of us in faith and obedience. Be careful, His Temple right now is within the heart of the believer (Leviticus 26:12, Jeremiah 31:33, John 14:23, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20, 2 Corinthians 6:16).
Verses to Memorize: Deuteronomy 12:8-9