Our study turns to Deuteronomy’s 12th chapter, a section of the law that focuses on the way that the people of Israel are to worship their God in all that they did.
Scripture and Summary
Upon taking possession of the land, the Israelites are ordered to destroy all vestiges of the pagan worship that took place there. Altars, fertility idols and images, and the assorted paraphernalia were to be destroyed. Yahweh would then designate a central location where the people were to come and worship.
Moses notes the current habits of the people, reminding them that the terms of the covenant requires their full allegiance to their God. He notes that there will be a period of struggle and difficulty, but once a measure of safety and security is established, then they are to come together in solidarity to worship God in the place that he designates.
Here is introduced a change in the way that Israelites were to handle the meat that they consumed. During the wandering, Leviticus 17:1-7 had prescribed that any animals slaughtered for food were to be treated as sacrifices, here the prescription is lifted with two provisions: first, that the blood would not be consumed and, second, that the Levites that dwelt among them would receive provisions. Whether a game animal or a stock animal, they were to be treated the same. Of note, unlike during the wandering where the animals killed for food were being considered as a sacrifice and so the ritual laws of consumption applied, those who were both ritually “clean or unclean” could partake without preconditions.
Moses warns the people of Israel that they are not to worship Yahweh in the same way that the Canaanites had worshipped their gods. Leviticus 18 provides an indictment of the people of the land due to their corrupt ways of life and worship. Israel was to be careful about how they worshipped as the covenant people of God and not to do as those who were about to be dispossessed had done.
Having been brought near by Christ to God, Christians should be careful and diligent in their worship. Indeed, believers have been freed from bondage to law; however, God has not changed and will not suffer being worshipped in just any way.
Just as those ancient Israelites were brought into a covenant with terms and conditions, Christians live in a similar state. By grace we have been saved, but we demonstrate our salvation by living in accordance with the promises and statutes of God.
And just as the Israelites, while wandering had a strict food requirement that was loosened as the people began to occupy the land, believers now find themselves under a greater law that has loosened those even more by the declaration that all foods are clean. How? Not by ceremony, but by the offering of thanks to the God whose blood has been sprinkled on the earth to cleanse it as a habitation for his holy presence, so that those we enter in faith can worship and serve him truly.