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28. Deuteronomy 12: “Integrating Worship into Your Life”
Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening Service on 2/21/2013
(edited January 2020)
Verse 1: “These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the Lord God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth.”
As they enter the Promised Land, these are God’s final instructions to the Nation of Ancient Israel. The message is still coming through Moses. If they could follow the Word of the Lord from this point on, they would be firmly established as “God’s People on Earth!”
The current religions in Canaan are to be replaced, not imitated, adapted, or reformed:
Verses 2-4: “Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: 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. Ye shall not do so unto the Lord your God.”
From here to end of this chapter they will receive direct instructions about how to live and continue their blessings in the Promised Land.
We see that the Lord gives them many “Yes’s” as well as “No’s” or prohibitions. We have a similar message that we need to get out to the World and the Church today. Our message is to say “Yes!” to Christ. You do that with your whole heart and the “No’s” will take care of themselves. Jesus can meet all the needs that we are now trying to cover up or compensate for with sin. Would you say “Amen” to that? Right now, Christ is offering each of us far more than an empty list of “No’s.”
We need to move on from all those things a Christian can’t or shouldn’t do and start to concentrate on doing what the Lord wants and needs us to do. Ancient Israel had much they were to do for Him, also.
Verses 5-8: “But unto the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come: And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks: And there ye shall eat before the Lord your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the Lord thy God hath blessed thee. Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.”
The key to worship, real corporate and daily worship, is to do it God’s way. And Moses is telling them just how they are to do that in the Land of Canaan:
Unite in Worship
Verses 9-14: “For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the Lord your God giveth you. But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the Lord your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety; Then there shall be a place which the Lord your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the Lord: And ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters, and your menservants, and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your gates; forasmuch as he hath no part nor inheritance with you. Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest: But in the place which the Lord shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee.”
God says, “Everyone, all of you, get together for worship!” All believers and all their families were to come together and worship the Lord together at times.
Have we fallen short today by splintering the Church? A man recently told me, when I was visiting Camden NJ, that there were more than 400 different church buildings open for worship every Sunday morning within a few square miles of the spot we upon. Is that good news? I’m not sure. Well, Moses told the Old Testament believers to have real unity and to gather everybody together at times. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have more of that today?
Make Worship Accessible
Verses 15-20: “Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh in all thy gates, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee: the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck, and as of the hart. Only ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water. 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, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand: But thou must eat them before the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto. Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth. When the Lord thy God shall enlarge thy border, as he hath promised thee, and thou shalt say, I will eat flesh, because thy soul longeth to eat flesh; thou mayest eat flesh, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after.”
Now, I’m not going to pretend to understand all these details, but I see a few principles in here about accessibility. “Worship” does not half to be remote, obscure, or so super mystical that the “average” person can’t participate regularly.
Also, I see in here the inclusion of associates outside of the family units and clear steps taken to support and maintain the clergy. These are good basic principles for the 21st century Church, though the specific details don’t all apply to us.
Make Worship Practical
Verses 21-29: “If the place which the Lord thy God hath chosen to put his name there be too far from thee, then thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy flock, which the Lord hath given thee, as I have commanded thee, and thou shalt eat in thy gates whatsoever thy soul lusteth after. Even as the roebuck and the hart is eaten, so thou shalt eat them: the unclean and the clean shall eat of them alike. 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. Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water. Thou shalt not eat it; that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the Lord. Only thy holy things which thou hast, and thy vows, thou shalt take, and go unto the place which the Lord shall choose: And thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, upon the altar of the Lord thy God: and the blood of thy sacrifices shall be poured out upon the altar of the Lord thy God, and thou shalt eat the flesh. Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the Lord thy God. When the Lord thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land;”
Here we see God, even in the requirements for worship, making room for our physical needs, natural human desires, and for practical issues that were bound to come up. But always with the restriction that His direct commands are not to be violated.
When worship becomes fanatical, inaccessible, or just plain strange in the New Testament era, it is because we have substituted our worship rules or those of some man or woman for the Word of God.
I have noticed some identifying marks of false worship in others and myself: it becomes stale and arduous. Also, I believe, loveless and joyless worship is false worship. And I’ve been there, have you? We must come out from the world and worldly thinking and worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.
Verses 30-31: “Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.”
It’s easy to see the Devil at work in this ancient deviant worship. It is as appalling as it can be! It might be harder to see the harm, today, in atheism or a simple lack of interest in the things of the Lord. But the individuals, children, and families of our time suffer greatly by worshipping the Lord falsely or not at all.
Remember, God’s Word in the New Testament is as able to teach us how to live for and worship the Lord just as surely as these instructions given through Moses were meant to guide Ancient Israel. The details of the covenant have changed, but the principle’s behind those details and the God of Heaven have not changed.
Verse 32: “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.”