- Righteousness Before Relationships (Deuteronomy 13:6-11)
- Morning Meditation: Listen to Words not Wonders (Deuteronomy 13:1-5)
- Morning Meditation: Inquiring After Their Gods (Deuteronomy 12:28-32)
- Morning Meditation: Obedience is Always an Option (Deuteronomy 12:20-27)
- Morning Meditation: How to Enjoy God’s Blessings (Deuteronomy 12:15-19)
- Morning Meditation: One Pattern, One Name, One Place (Deuteronomy 12:8-14)
- Morning Meditation: Shrine or Sanctuary? (Deuteronomy 12:1-7)
- Morning Meditation: A Blessing and a Curse (Deuteronomy 11:26-32)
- Morning Meditation: A People of the Book (Deuteronomy 11:18-25)
- Morning Meditation: The Primacy of Obedience (Deuteronomy 11:13-17)
- Morning Meditation: Characteristics of the Land (Deuteronomy 11:8-12)
- Morning Meditation: A Heritage of Obedience (Deuteronomy 11:1-7)
Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 12:1-7
Verse 1. In order to function in the land, Israel had to learn the proper pattern for God’s sanctuary though surrounded by idolatry. The Law had to be strict and followed exactly in that God’s purpose was so different from man’s natural tendencies. Where God’s Word addresses something, it always demands a response from the heart. It will not change as long as we live; thus, we must face it and obey it since it brings us to a purpose which delights God’s heart.
Verses 2-3. It would be inconsistent if Israel destroyed the nations yet basked in the sin for which God destroyed them. That would be bare nationalism, not an act of obedience to God. If the nations were dispossessed, it was to dispossess their sin and specifically their idolatry. Nothing less than total destruction was due: every aspect of pagan worship–every shrine, every image, every altar–was to be destroyed. Idolatry cannot coexist with true worship.
How often we wave our banner for Christ and yet forget that being crucified to the world means crucifixion to its ways. The implications of this passage are clear. Idolatry has no place in worship. Paganism cannot be repurposed for praise; only total destruction is due. Whether it be lofty idolatry on the high mountain or personal idolatry under every green tree, there is tearing, smashing, and burning that is in order. What we often do instead is choose which idols are the easiest to destroy and keep the ones we really cherish. Thus, we have a measure of spirituality to tout, while keeping full control of the pleasure we enjoy. And so we expose the biggest god that destroys our pure worship: the god of self. It does not matter if we destroy some idols, for God cares not for light expressions of sentimental spirituality. Rather, He cares about a will that has been broken and subdued. Let us be everything God desires us to be and nothing like the world.
Verses 4-7. Turning from idols is nothing if a man is not turning to God. So, God directs Israel to His sanctuary, which He marks by at least seven distinctives.
- It was a distinct place. In verse 4, He says, “You shall not act like this toward the Lord your God.” In other words, the vehemence Israel showed toward idols should have reflected their passion toward God. What they destroyed of idols they were to build up for God. They were to use idolatry as an object lesson for how not to worship Yahweh. Let us consecrate our hostile thoughts toward paganism into thoughts of appreciation for our God.
- It was a specific place, for God chose it–one place–out of all of Israel’s tribes (v. 5a). He will expand on this in verses 13-14. He describes what this place is later in the verse.
- It was a place of His name. This is what marked out the divine place of worship. A name conveys authority and therefore sphere of dominion and therefore presence. Where God’s name receives honour, there God Himself is, for He loves to dwell among a people whose hearts He can fill. This carries over into the New Testament assembly (Matthew 18:20; 1 Corinthians 1:2).
- It was a place of worship. By offering their best, Israel was declaring God to be full of worth. A high view of God is intrinsic to the true sanctuary, whether personal or collective. If God is not worshiped as the all-supreme and all-deserving One, those who approach Him must not know Him well.
- It was a place of sacrifice. It cost Israel something to declare God worthy, and so the sanctuary will drive us to commitment that costs us, all because we have been drawn by something higher than ourselves and desire to seek the Lord.
- It was a place of sustenance. Though it cost the Israelite, he received of the very food which he offered, and so the sanctuary was a place of holy eating. Let us not doubt that our consecration will be rewarded. God is no man’s debtor, and He is full of kindness to sustain and prosper the worshiper.
- It was a place of joy. There was reflection involved as the Israelite offered his grain and his cattle, for he was giving back to God what God graciously gave him. As they gave, they could remember the goodness of God that enabled them to give. So, the greatest giver will be the most joyful, for all he gives will be of God’s own bounty. Therefore, the more he gives the more he appreciates God’s treasure-filled storehouses.
When we dwell with God, though He demands our all, He becomes our all. This is the mystery of God’s presence. It seems to cost us as we burn the idols that once were so tempting, yet we find greater reward the more we commit to Him. This God reveals to the heart of faith. May we all be so daring as to be total in our destruction of idolatry yet complete in our pursuit of the Lord. This all starts with a vision of His glorious presence.