Deuteronomy 12

Sunday Evening Bible Study

September 13, 1998

Introduction

The name Deuteronomy means "second law".

It is Mosesí final address to the people. It covers the last 1 Ĺ months of Mosesí life. Heís 120 years old. He can still see and hear very well.

Heís rehearsing the work of God in Israelís past history, and giving them a review of Godís law before they cross into the Promised Land.

One of the major themes weíre going to see through the book is that of Godís love for His people.

Deuteronomy 12

:3 And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.

Much of the ancient, pagan religions had to do with sex. Many of the articles of worship in these religions could be classified as pornographic. This was their purpose, to stir up the lusts.

Every time they were to come across some of the religious stuff of the Canaanites, the Israelites were to destroy it.

They werenít to cry out, "But itís a classic example of pagan art!"

They werenít to put it in a museum. They werenít even supposed to study it.

They were to destroy it.

:4 Ye shall not do so unto the LORD your God.

In other words, donít just become "anti-religious". God is still to be worshipped.

:7 And there ye shall eat before the LORD your God,

We call this the "Law of the Central Sanctuary"

When the people came into the Promised Land, God would pick out a single place for the whole nation to come and worship. All worship was to be done there.

Gilgal, Bethel, and Shiloh would all be temporary central sanctuaries until the temple would be built in Jerusalem.

The whole point is to make sure that the beliefs of the Jews stayed pure.

This was a day when people didnít have their own copies of the Bible.

They relied upon the Levitical priests to teach them about God and how to worship him.

But when the people started getting away from a set standard of worship, the result would always be that the people would go into idolatry.

Lesson:

The Central Sanctuary is Godís Word.

For us, itís not the issue of coming to a central place to worship.

The issue is making sure we keep our worship on track, by making sure we stay in Godís Word.

Jesus told us that the time of the "central sanctuary" has changed:

John 4:20-24 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. {21} Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. {22} Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. {23} But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. {24} God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Now the idea has boiled down to the basics Ė worshipping God spiritually (with the Spirit and not just a mental exercise or religious tradition) and in truth (based in Godís Word).

When churches begin to get away from Godís Word, itís like the people trying to offer sacrifices their own way, and they end up worshipping goat-demons instead of following after God Himself.

Godís Word is the thing that holds us together in worshipping God in truth. As long as we all hold to Godís Word, we all worship with the same, correct standard.

Illustration

The Christian Language!

In the early 60s, Brother Andrew, a man from Holland, smuggled a load of Bibles in his VW across the Romanian border and past communist guards. He checked into a hotel and began praying that God would lead him to the right Christian groups - the ones who could best use his copies of the Scriptures. That weekend Andrew walked up to the hotel clerk and asked where he might find a church. The clerk looked at him a little strangely and answered, "We don't have many of those you know. Besides you couldn't understand the language." "Didn't you know?" Andrew replied, "Christians speak a kind of universal language." "OH, what's that?" "It's called Agape." The clerk had never heard of it, but Andrew assured him. "It's the most beautiful language in the world." Andrew was able to locate several church groups in the area and managed to arrange a meeting with the president and secretary of a certain denomination. Unfortunately, although both Andrew and these men knew several European languages, they found they had none in common. So there they sat staring at each other across the room. Andrew had traveled thousands of dangerous miles with his precious cargo but there seemed no way of telling whether these men were genuine Christian brothers or government informants. Finally he spotted a Romanian Bible on a desk in the office. Andrew reached into his pocket and pulled out a Dutch Bible. He turned to 1Corinthians 16:20 and held the Bible out, pointing to the name of the book, which they could recognize. Instantly their faces lit up. They quickly found the same chapter and verse in their Romanian Bibles and read: "All the brothers here send you greetings. Greet on another with a holy kiss." The men beamed back at Andrew. Then one of them looked throughout his Bible and found Proverbs 25:25. Andrew found the verse and read: "Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land." These men spent half an hour conversing and sharing - just through the words of Scripture. They were so happy in this fellowship that crossed all cultural boundaries that they laughed until tears came to their eyes. Andrew knew he had found his brothers. When he showed them his load of Bibles, the Romanians were overwhelmed and embraced him again and again. That evening at the hotel, the clerk approached Andrew and remarked, "Say, I looked up 'agape' in the dictionary. There's no language by that name. That's just a Greek word for love." Andrew replied, "That's it. I was speaking in it all afternoon." ~ Author Unknown

:8 Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.

Itís dangerous when people start making their own rules about how to worship God.

Itís far better to follow Godís ideas of how Heís to be worshipped, and those are found in His Word.

:13 Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest:

This would become one of the downfalls of the nation, as they kept worshipping at the "high places".

A "high place" was simply a place of worship, usually set on top of a hill (like getting closer to God).

:17 Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock

God would later rebuke the people for their lack of faithfulness in their tithe:

(Mal 3:8-10 KJV) Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. {9} Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. {10} Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

Itís good that we learn to be a "steward" of the things God has given to us. Heís the master landowner, and weíre His "managers", taking care of His property.

:19 Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth.

There would be times when the people stopped showing up with their tithes (as in Nehemiahís time). As a result, the Levites all went home and got other jobs and abandoned the worship of the Lord.

:21 If the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to put his name there be too far from thee Ö thou shalt eat in thy gates

Keep in mind, in those days people didnít eat meat as often as we do. It was something more for special occasions. But even so, itís not like you wouldnít be able to have steak because the tabernacle was too far away to have a priest offer up your cow as a sacrifice. There was a provision for barbecues.

:23-25 Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh.

If people were to have meat, God just wanted them to be sure to kill it in a "kosher" fashion, by draining the blood out first.

Lesson:

Blood was special.

Why was blood not to be eaten?

(Lev 17:11 KJV) For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

God wanted blood to serve a special purpose, to be the thing that represented an animal or personís life.

God wanted to be able to extend the meaning to allow the substitution of one life for another by the shedding of blood.

With animal sacrifices, when you offered a lamb for a sin sacrifice, you would lay your hands on the little lamb, confess your sins over it, and hence there would be a substitution with the little lamb now taking your place. Then the priest would slit the lambís throat, draining the blood from it. The blood would then be poured on the altar as a symbol of your life being offered for your sins.

God didnít want the people to lose the importance of what He was intending to do.

Ultimately God was planning for there to be one Lamb who would offer up His own lifeís blood to pay for our sins.

So God says, "Donít mess with the blood." In fact, the act of pouring out the blood in a special manner would only serve to give understanding that there was something special about blood.

:26 Only thy holy things which thou hast, and thy vows, thou shalt take, and go unto the place which the LORD shall choose.

Killing an animal to eat the meat was allowed any place.

But killing the animal for the purpose of sacrifice was only allowed to happen in one place, the central sanctuary.

Itís not that God wants a monopoly on all meat, He just wants a monopoly on all worship.

:30 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.

Sometimes it isnít all that smart to spend too much time investigating "other" religions. If youíre not grounded in the Lord, you can get caught up in the very lies that keep so many people captive.

:31 for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.

These people committed human sacrifice.