Deuteronomy - Lesson 19

A Place to Worship

As the people of Israel enter the land, God has instructions for them on how to live in relationship with him and worship him so that it may go well with them and their children. They are to reject the false worship practices of the surrounding nations and accept God’s invitation to come and worship him in the place and in the way he has designed for them.

Daniel Block
Lesson 19
Watching Now
A Place to Worship

A Place to Worship

I. Framework of Chapter 12

II. Issues

A. Ultimate goal

B. Dimensions of righteousness within covenant relationship

III. Invitation to Joy and Satisfaction in the Presence of Yahweh

A. Charge to reject all false worship

B. Double invitation to true worship

1. First invitation

2. Second invitation

IV. Concluding Reflections

  • The book of Deuteronomy contains the gospel message. Even though there are some laws mentioned, the essence of the book is prophetic preaching. Your presuppositions and principles for interpretation that you use will make a difference in how you view the meaning and significance of the book of Deuteronomy.

  • Deuteronomy is primarily a collection of sermons but its structure is covenantal. The structure of the covenant was commonly used in other cultures in the Ancient Near East during this time period. God tells the people of Israel that he is their God and the people say that they are God’s treasured possession. (Note: Mt. Sinai and Mt. Horeb are referring to the same thing. They are used interchangeably)

  • God gave the Decalogue to Moses so they have authority as Scripture. The book of Deuteronomy as whole is also Scripture. It contains the speeches of Moses and narrative passages. It’s the lense through which we view the other books of the Pentateuch.

  • Moses begins by recalling events that happened during their wandering in the wilderness, then recent events as they have gotten closer to entering the promises land from the east. Moses is idealized in the Old and New Testaments and in the writings of historians. You get a different picture when you read his first address. It shows Moses as faithful but flawed.

  • The Law was given to the nation of Israel after they had been freed from Egypt as the way to respond to God’s grace. God gives them the boundaries for right and wrong and a process to restore relationship when it is broken.

  • With the privilege of salvation and covenant relationship comes the call for a righteous response, demonstrated in joyful obedience to the Savior and Lord. A covenant is a formally confirmed agreement between two or more parties that creates, formalizes, governs a relationship that does not exist naturally or a natural relationship that has disintegrated.

  • God’s people are a privileged people; they have been graciously redeemed, and set apart as his special treasure, his holy covenant people. God acts graciously to undeserving people and they respond joyfully with obedience. The is the end of the first speech of Moses, Deuteronomy 4:32-40.

  • The Decalogue is the bill of rights of the people of ancient Israel. It is the ten principles of covenant relationship. It creates a picture of covenant righteousness and provides a foundation for later revelation. The Decalogue contains the features of a typical covenant and conditional and unconditional laws. The addressee is the head of the household because they can be a threat to others.

  • When Moses recites the Decalogue in Deuteronomy 5, there are parts that are similar to the passage in Exodus, and there are some significant differences. He begins with getting the attention of the people of Israel and appealing for covenant fidelity, restates the Decalogue, then ends with a document clause, using covenant language.

  • The Shema is a call for whole-hearted, full-bodied commitment. This passage is a theological exposition and pastoral proclamation to impress on the minds of the people of Israel the special relationship they enjoyed with YHWH. The grace God showed them must be embraced with grateful and unreserved devotion to their redeemer and covenant Lord.

  • God chooses the covenant partner, sets the terms, declares the goal, identifies the sign and determines the consequences of disobedience of the covenant. After Moses explains the purpose of the Law, he explains to the children how the Law was given and that learning it and putting it into practice will bring them life.

  • Moses talks to the people of Israel as they are entering the land, about how they will respond to the external test of confronting and dispossessing the surrounding nations. He reminds them of their special status with God and the covenant that he offers them unconditionally. He challenges them with the theological, ethical and missional significance of the test.

  • How can you worship a God that asks the people of Israel to wipe out the Canaanites? The reason for Israel taking the land is so the people of Israel as a holy people will be preserved so the world will be preserved. God is fundamentally compassionate and gracious, he does what is right and God offers us grace and mercy.

  • When everything goes right, what do you do then? The message of this passage is, “don’t forget.” YHWH provided manna in the wilderness to feed the people of Israel. God was also teaching them in the wilderness that life comes from every word of the mouth of God, not just by eating physical food. Moses challenges the people to respond to prosperity by praising God, not by taking the credit themselves.

  • The enemies in the Promised Land are formidable. God promises to defeat them. Moses warns that people to acknowledge that God is responsible. Even though the Canaanites do not follow God, the reason God chose the people is not because they are morally superior to the Canaanites.

  • Israel’s covenant with YHWH is based entirely on his grace and they don’t deserve it. Moses interceded on behalf the of people of Israel to ask God to not judge them and God is described as, “changing his mind” and renewing his covenant with them.

  • “What does YHWH ask of you?” Moses answers this question, then gives a doxology to confirm it and an application to illustrate it. God wants you to have a soft heart toward him, to live in an attitude of trusting awe and to act in a way that honors the covenant that God has established with you.

  • Moses has given a profound theology of land. He gives the people of Israel instructions for what God wants them to do when they enter the land to confirm their covenant with God. This included using uncut stones and plastering them and writing the Torah on them and then praising God. The land is an integral part of the covenant. The people shout blessings on Mount Gerizim and curses on Mount Ebal.

  • As the people of Israel enter the land, God has instructions for them on how to live in relationship with him and worship him so that it may go well with them and their children. They are to reject the false worship practices of the surrounding nations and accept God’s invitation to come and worship him in the place and in the way he has designed for them.

  • The Levites represent a barometer on where the people of Israel are in their ethical religion. They are not given land as an inheritance so it is the responsibility of people in the other tribes to support them. Moses presents a theology of worship but doesn’t go into detail.

  • This is a warning to the people of Israel to not imitate the materialistic preoccupation and the brutal rituals associated with the worship practices of the surrounding nations when they worship YHWH. There are warnings against following false prophets, someone in your family or people in your community if they are promoting seditious religious practices. The apostle Paul uses similar language in the New Testament when warning people about following people who teach heresies.

  • In contrast to worship with the purpose of satisfying the gods, YHWH delights in fellowship with his people and for them to celebrate in his presence. YHWH encourages his people to eat in his presence and with other people. His guidelines about which foods are acceptable to eat set the people of Israel apart from other nations.

  • A main purpose of the national festivals was to keep alive the memory of God’s grace and maintain their faith in god and their covenant with him.

  • Moses describes the key offices and roles that keep the society going by providing political and spiritual structure. The primary concern is righteousness. The king is to be the embodiment of Torah righteousness. Moses outlines specific steps to achieve this and describes what it will look like.

  • Moses, in his role as prophet, is the commissioned envoy of righteousness to the people of Israel. Moses was a mediator between God and the people of Israel. He warned the people of Israel about false prophets and the danger of adopting the worship practices of the surrounding nations.

  • Moses provides a picture of covenant life and godliness in a way that you can apply it to every situation in life. It’s important to care for the poor and the resident alien and to show justice to them. The resident aliens were invited to participate in the feasts and covenant life.

  • The ideal for the people of Israel was a patricentric society but in often the reality was a patriarchal society. In a patricentric society, the male head of the clan will provide resources and security in a way that gives his family and the community opportunities to flourish. The vision for women in Deuteronomy is different than the world that is described in Israelite narratives.

  • Celebrating God’s goodness and grace in the Land. Bringing an offering from the firsfruits of the harvest is a time to remember how God has provided for the people of Israel in the past, both as individuals and as a community. There are lessons we can learn about worhship and living faithfully. This is the Deuteronomic creed.

  • Some people view the curses in Deuteronomy 28 as a stumbling block to accepting the Old Testament as Christian Scripture because they say it represents God as vengeful. However, this was a common way of writing covenants in the Ancient Near East, they follow a list of extraordinary blessings, they serve a pastoral function and there are similar curses articulated in the New Testament.

  • Deuteronomy 29 begins with Moses recounting how YHWH brought the people out of Egypt and gave them victory in the land east of the Jordan River. Then he describes the curses they will experience when they turn away from the Lord. Chapter 30 describes the eschatological restoration. Deuteronomy 29:29 refers to the mystery of divine grace. (The movie and book series that Dr. Block is referring to is Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien. The prequel to this series is The Hobbit.)

  • This is the final altar call of Moses to the people of Israel to appeal to them to choose life by living in covenant relationship with YHWH. The revelation of YHWH given through Moses is to be memorized, recited and used as a guide for conduct. It is understandable and doable.

  • The Torah that Moses has been preaching was written down. This is the introduction to the song of Moses and contains the commissioning of Joshua, who will take over after Moses dies. Part of the book of Deuteronomy is the death narrative of Moses.

  • This passage is a poetic witness to the people of Israel of the faithfulness of YHWH and the faithlessness of Israel. Moses was told to teach it to the people of Israel so they could pass it on to their descendants. People could sing it throughout the day and it could be presented as a musical drama at national celebrations.

  • At the end of the sermons of Moses, he pronounces a benediction by saying something specific for each tribe. Deuteronomy 33 and Genesis 49 have some similarities and differences in the way the sons of Jacob and their descendants are blessed. The exordium and the coda frame the blessings by describing YHWH’s care and provision for the people of Israel as their king.

  • This is the last narrative story about Moses in the Old Testament. God tells him to go up on Mt. Nebo where he is able to see the land. Joshua takes over as the leader of the people. There is a eulogy for Moses at the end.  

The Gospel according to Moses. This is a collection of sermons of Moses as the people of Israel are poised to enter the promised land after being in the wilderness for 40 years. Deuteronomy is a special book, calling God’s people to celebrate his grace and demonstrate covenant love for him with action that glorifies his name. Until we recognize the gospel in this book, we will not read this book. (Note: Mt. Sinai and Mt. Horeb are referring to the same mountain. They are used interchangeably)

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Dr. Daniel Block



A Place to Worship

Lesson Transcript


[00:00:00] In this session, we are beginning Mozart's third address that starts in Deuteronomy chapter 12, verse one. We don't have a narrative preamble to this section, but after our discussion of the ending of Chapter 11, it's clear in my mind that that is the ending of an address. And the author of the book, The narrator, the the person who put all these pieces together and in the end and has narrative comments introducing and concluding each of these addresses didn't produce a narrative comment to introduce the third address. My sense is he is letting the end of Chapter 11 that little narrative text function as that introduction or as the transition here. So here he gets right into the narrative, doesn't say these are the words of Moses. No, Moses is the one who announces what he is about to do. These are the statutes and the ordinances that you must keep. So we are right into the third address, which most people will well will argue is part of the second, and it just carries on here. But I think it's simply that somebody forgot to add that narrative introduction. In any case, this is where we're starting the framework of our text is represented by chapter 12, verse one. These are the ordinances and the stipulations that you shall keep by doing them in the land that Yahweh, the God of your ancestors, has given you to possess all the days that you live on the land. That's verse one. Then the conclusion is beyond God and listen to all these words that I command you so that it may go well with you and your children after you forever, so that you may do what is good, the good and the right in the sight of Yahweh, your God.


[00:02:26] So that's the framework for Chapter 12. Now, what are the issues here in this? Moses has declared his and or and God's ultimate goal that it may go well with you in the land. We are concerned here about the well-being of Israel in the land. But in order for that to happen, you have to have compliance by the Israelites in that agenda. What follows after this heading? These are the statutes on the order. It's obviously a heading of a new start. You expect then a whole bunch of statutes and ordinances, but we don't actually get that. It is not a list of laws, do's and don'ts after this. Instead, the kind of humble, ethical style that we had in chapter seven, eight, nine, ten and 11, Moses, the preacher, he's still preaching. He is not legislating. So we expect a reiteration of all that we heard at Sinai. HOREB But it doesn't happen. Instead, what follows is an exposition of the dimensions of righteousness within the covenant relationship. And now I have to remind us of the slogan of chap of the third address. Probably the key statement in the third address comes at 1620 Sadek, Sadek Third of righteousness, righteousness. You shall pursue that. It may go well with you in the land. Chapter 16, verse 20 This is the goal of all whole third address giving the people a picture of righteousness that sets an ideal for the conduct of the Israelites. And that is the key to the future of this piece of of this nation, so that when God declares Abraham Righteous, Abraham has the Deuteronomy or the author of Genesis has the righteousness as defined in Deuteronomy in view, Abraham is the model. What follows then is an exposition on the dimensions of righteousness within covenant relationship.


[00:05:22] This is the big idea. It has to do with our relationship with God. Our relationship with the family. Our relationship with the community. And our relationship with the environment. All of these dimensions will be dealt with in this third address. Now let's come back to chapter. Chapter 12 Between the Frames verses one and two. We actually have two panels. You have in verse one or and first of all, verses 2 to 14, you have an invitation to joy and satisfaction in the presence of the Lord. I know now my interpretation is really twisted because if you look in the headings of your Bibles, you will hear and see something like the altar law. Or laws on worship and whatever else. And we kill people's spirits with the headings we put in the text. And when I read this text, I see exactly the opposite. This is not an oral kind of statement. Do this or else it is an invitation to the presence of God over and over and over again, because God doesn't get enough of His people in his presence. He delights in fellowship with them. And that's what we will see in verses 2 to 14. Then the second half of this chapter, we're not going to spend time on this verses 15 to 27, an invitation to joy and Satisfaction at home. And it's all about eating. It's eating in the presence of God in verses two through 14, and it's eating at home. What if you're at home? You'd say, I'd like to eat meat. We eat meat in the presence of God. But I like to eat meat at home. Well, what does Moses say? Go ahead. Eat meat, whatever your heart's desire. You know, we always have this notion that Mosa says no to everything.


[00:07:45] I mean, I've already commented. You can find a moses image with. With a smile on his face. And I see it everywhere. I see it. Here he is, smiling because of the joy of life in the presence of God and the joy of life. He's not a killjoy. It's an invitation. So let's see how this works. In the beginning, in the big. Yeah. And in the first part, again, we have two panels. I've got some images here of writing boards in ancient in the ancient Near East. They use writing boards like this to write messages or texts of whatever sort. You'd fill that whole board with beeswax, and then you with it with a stylus, you would scratch your message in there. And of course, it's really handy. It's. It's like you having a pressed delete on your button, delete it, and then you can start you can do it over and over again. And they found several of these. This one is from ancient cow who Nimrud. Here's one that they found in the waters of the Mediterranean, just south of Turkey, on the south west corner of Turkey in the water. It's a 14th century B.C. ship that had gone down and and the ports and all the things that it was carrying were all still on there, lined up in rolls at the bottom of the water. The composition of the water was such that would like this didn't rot. These are wooden raging boards. You'd have to or you could have an accordion style and have four or five or six all tied together. This is a wooden writing writing board from the 14th century. That's 1300 B.C. That's about the time of Moses just, you know, somewhere in there. So what we have in our text is something like this.


[00:09:58] You have the first panel is 1 to 14 celebration in the presence of God around food. And the second panel celebration at home, still in the presence of God. But he's in your house now. He's the guest of your house. Go ahead. Eat to your heart's content. And we've got two of these panels. Our primary concern will be the first rising board. The one I have on the left, which, of course, they would have written the other way. Right to left. I should have turned it around just to confuse you. But let's see how this works. It begins with a charge to reject all false worship verses 2 to 4. Then we have a double invitation to true and transforming worship verses 5 to 14. This consists of two parts. The first invitation to true and transforming worship. And then the second invitation to true and transforming worship. And of course, I've twisted your minds on this one right off the bat. By calling this invitation, you would say the first command to go to worship at the place that the Lord choose. That's where you have to go. But that's not the tone of this text at all. It's quite different. And then, of course, it ends with a concluding exhortation. So that's the outline of what we are going to look at here. Let's look then at Moser's charge to reject all false worship. Of course, this is an exposition of the first command of the Decalogue. You shall have no other gods besides me. Here we go. You shall surely destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You find these expressions all over the place.


[00:12:08] The proliferation of places of worship by the Canaanites. Any time you see any one of these, you shall wipe it out. Obliterated. You shall tear down their altars, dash and pieces, their pillars and burn their ash or rim. That's the Ashraf figures. We had that image of the guy chopping down the Ashura. But this is this is a cartoon here. Asher Ream, when you ever you see I am ending to a name in Hebrew. It's a masculine plural. But Ashira is always feminine. This is Ailes, Ailes wife. She's the mother of all the other gods. But here for some reason, is that a deliberate polemic against the gods. He talks about Asher Ream in the old authorized version. These are always called the groves. The girls. You shall burn their chop down or burn their groves. And these are the sacred trees that you plant and honor. Well, we now know that Ash or Ra was the name of a Bible of a Canaanite God. She she shows up everywhere in the mythological texts that they've discovered, but burned them with fire, always in the form of a wooden figure. You shall chop down the carved images of the gods, destroy their name, obliterate their name out of that place. You shall not worship Yahweh your God that way. Well, this is interesting. We've seen this before. Remember in chapter seven, where he starts out by saying, you shall you you shall wipe out apply to the Emirates, the Hittites, the parasites, the sites of whatever, wipe them out. And then he says, Wipe out all their sacred appurtenances and worship centers. That's what's going on here. Tell them the interesting thing is destroy their name out of that place. You see, we have all kinds of names in Scripture, places in Scripture that are have the name of a God in front of Belper.


[00:14:25] Bale of fear. That's the God of Faith or Beth Shemesh. The House of the God Shemesh. That was a sacred site to the Sun God. Their names are to be bled to raise it out of that place, because so long as their name is there, they claim the place. This is your land. This is not the Canaanites Land anymore. So the Canaanites gods have no jurisdiction over this place. Yahweh alone has jurisdiction here. So wipe out the names of all competitors or any symbols of their worship. You shall not worship Yahweh the way the other the Canaanites worship their gods. You will come back to this issue in versus 28 to the end of the chapter where he talks about if you see how Canaanites are our worship, don't get curious and go and ask them, How do you worship your gods? I'd like to worship my God the way you do. And you saying here, no, you do not get your cues on worship from the world. They come only from the parkway. So do not worship Yahweh, your God, the way pagans worship theirs. Of course, that would involve images. You don't make images of God. You don't. And you don't make places to worship him apart from what he says. Well, he uses these expressions of on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You know, the pagans are so desperate to contact God that every conceivable place they can. They declare something sacred. Here I can connect with God. They're so insecure, especially on the high hills. The higher the hill, the closer you are to God. Or especially significant trees. So. And the expression in the Bible is these guys are putting up their places of worship on every high hill at the top, you'll find an altar and a shrine.


[00:16:41] Of course, you know this from. From Elijah on Mount Carmel. At the top of the mountain where he has his contest with the province of Baile in the heart of Baile Country. He takes them on and he beats these guys at their own game. All the places where they have worshiped all their gods. You are to wipe out level and we're down to we're back to zero budget. And you don't budget. You don't establish life as the standards of life or patterns of life with any reference to your predecessors. It's a new day. It's a new population. It's a new God in charge in this land. So it's on all the high hills, all the high mountains under every green tree. I mean, you were an Amazon and you said they worship the trees, the wood and the stone, wherever. This is their connection with deity. So there's a general charge to destroy all the Canaanite cult centers. A specific charge to destroy all the cultic paraphernalia. You shall tear down their altars, dash and pieces, their pillars. Remember that pillar from the heart? Sort of the the phallic pillar that the Ashura images represent? The female principle. And these pillars represent the male principle in the fertility religion. Get rid of all the carved images. And when you see this and you put it alongside chapter seven verses two and five, you recognize he's repeating himself. Now, we've talked about this before and he's assuming that now when you hear this charge again in the back of your mind will ring the grounds of this absolute destruction of everything else for you are all holy people, the Lord's chosen people, His treasured people is and said, Go LA. You don't do that. He doesn't use those expressions here.


[00:18:56] But undoubtedly he's expecting people to fill in that blanks. This is the reason and we showed you some of these images earlier, like the altar at Megiddo. Well, this this altar dates from quite a bit before the Israelites. I think it's about it's about 16, 1700 B.C. But they just it was covered under layers of dirt. You can see the how far they've had to dig down to get to the altar. But they they unearthed the thing. And there is this massive altar and it represents the passion of a people desperate to connect with God. And it's a big one. This is the alter ego. Here's a smaller one. These were all over the place, too. And sometimes they are simply incense altars where you burn your smelling aroma for the gods. It's the incense works like a narcotic. When you have an image of a deity. You wave the incense in front of the deities nose so that it's smiles, marijuana, whatever else this is. Or you want that God to smile over you. And that's why you do that. Well, these are a frown that tell a rod there. Or we have Canaanite pillars like this. We have seen all of this before. Here's the Ash era tree representing the female principal in the fertility religion. This is an interesting little inscription here on this inscription from Kunti. It was rude. This is an insult. It's in the Negev and Southern Judah. They discovered this one there. The interesting thing about it, there's a blessing on here. I bless you by your highway. And his asher. What's wrong with that? Yeah, we got there. There are two things wrong with it. A there is another God. Who's involved in the blessing be his Ashira.


[00:21:15] He is to the is this guy what Asher was to the Canaanites. Eyal and Asher are the two high gods. Yahweh has simply replaced Alan, but Asher is still in the picture. This is the syncretism. This. This is dated from the 700 BCE. This is into Israel's history. This is an Israelite text. It's a Hebrew text. I bless you, by the way. This is syncretism. On the one hand, they're hanging on to the orthodox truth. We are the people of Yahweh, but we're keeping Yahweh happy. He can have a consort. He can have his wife. Well, here are other sculptured images of the Canaanite gods. Ale is usually he. Well, he is the high God, usually portrayed as seated on a throne in the middle. In the myth, he is actually portrayed in the literature as a senile old man who can't keep his family under control and his kids, especially Bale and Mode Bale is the God of life mode as the God of death. They are in constant tussle, and in the spring it's obvious that Bale is ascendant. But at the end of the growing season, it turns brown and dry and everything. And obviously Bale has gone into the netherworld and we wait for spring when he will be resurrected again. So you have these sorts of cyclical myths. So that's the specific charge to destroy all Canaanite cult paraphernalia. Then there is a comprehensive charge to demolish all claims of Canaanite gods to the land. This is three e you shall destroy, blot out, obliterate their name out of that place. It's like taking an eraser and erasing ink from or erasing pencil from a piece of paper. The assumption is that wherever a temple is built, the God has claimed this place as a sacred place.


[00:23:24] Here's where you can connect with me. And what this says is we're starting over. There will be only one place where the Lord will come. Here is an example of this. This is found. This one was found at way up north at Dan and in the foothills of Mount Hermon. And they discovered this inscription. It's in Greek. So it's a lot lazier. But look at this to the God who is in Dan Zoe loss made of our. Well, you know, on judges, Chapter 18, The Dan Night tribe moved up north. They couldn't take their own territory. They moved up north, and they. They stole the priest. Michael's priest in chapter 17 and transplanted him there. And this was the Gershom, the grandson of Moses. We talked about him the other day. Well, here you've got the this is, you know, in New Testament times or shortly before they remember, this is then this is that place. They didn't know what they they thought this was dead. But when they discover an inscription like this, then archeologists jump for joy. Because now we have written confirmation our guess was right. So to the God. Who is that, Dan? He has a stake on this place. And of course, this is also where Jeroboam put up one of his altars, one at Bethel and one at Dan. This was here are other places claimed by Gods House of Shamash. That's the Temple of Sir. Bale of PR. Bale of my own. That Beth and that best Dan gone. Abbas Horan Beth. Sean, Beth. You're. These are all names of gods. The house of the God of the temple of the God. You shall wipe them all out. Well, obviously the the Israelites didn't do very well on that.


[00:25:33] If they had done what they were supposed to do, these names would never show up in the Bible. But they're instructed script in inscribed in our biblical text as an illustration of how badly the Israelites did in fulfilling these commands. They left them alone. So that's the comprehensive charge that the gods have staked their claims by writing their names on these places. Then you have the concluding charge verse four. Do not do too well. Do not do your way. Your God this way. Do not treat him the way the gods do. Well, in verses 29 to 31, we have another expansion of this. When you are where your God cuts off before you, the nations whom you go to dispossess and you dispossess them and dwell on the Cape. Take care that you are not ensnared. Here's that word again. It's a trap and a religious straight to the pit that you're not ensnared. To follow them. Seduced after they have been destroyed before you. And take care that you do not inquire about their God, say, hey, how do you how do these nations serve their God? Let's let's start a royal commission to figure out how the nations, our predecessors worship their gods here. Maybe that can help us. Don't even go there. And then he adds that I may do the same. We want to now treat your way the way the predecessors treated their gods. They were obviously very successful because you've got these big fortified cities and you got olive trees and vineyards. Obviously, the gods are really working well here. That's the key to the worship of Yahweh. You shall not treat your way, your God that way. For every abominable thing that Yahweh hates, they've done for their gods.


[00:27:44] They even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. Child sacrifice. And of course, to the pagans. This is not an abomination to the pagans. This is the highest expression of piety, devotion to the gods. Remember, Micah? What? It's what, Charlie. Come before the Lord with rams and rivers of oil and the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul. Really? Child sacrifice. You shall not treat your gods that way. Well, that's the first command we after this charge to wipe the slate clean. You then have Moses positive charge. What to do in the place of all of these pagan installations. You have two invitations to joy and satisfaction in the presence of God. So let's look at the first, and I'm going to simply read to you the traditional reading. Though I have changed the Lord into Yahweh. I shouldn't have done that because that messes it up. See if I can remember to say the Lord instead. But you shall seek the place that Yahweh, your God, will choose out of all your tribes to put His name and make his habitation. There. There you shall go. And there you shall bring your offerings and your sacrifices, your ties, and the contribution that you present. Your vow offerings, your freewill offerings on the off firstborn of your herd, on your flock. And there you shall, before you offer your God and you shall rejoice you and your household in all that you undertake in which you are where your God has blessed you. I mean, what's the toll of that? You are commanded to celebrate. It's like we used to do with the kids. Are you having fun yet? You will have fun. You're coming with us.


[00:29:45] You will have fun. I command you. You know what? I think the tone is all wrong. You. How about a new translation? But to the place that your way, your God, will choose out of all your tribes to put his name and to establish it. There you may come. You see what I did? There. You may come and there you may bring notice. It doesn't say there you must go and there you must take your offerings. You see what's happening? Come. Who's talking. Who's inviting. Bring, not take. Spring. It changes everything there. You may bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your ties and your tribute offerings, your vote of offerings, your free will offerings, your first run of your herb to Nigeria flock. And there you may feast. Before Yahweh, your God, and you may celebrate you and your households in all the effort you expend in which Yahweh, your God, has blessed you. It's it changes everything. This is an invitation to the House of God. To celebrate in his presence will see this reiterated in the second invitation. It's so important to him. He makes the invitation. He writes out two forms of the invitation. Y'all come. Y'all come. What can we say about this place? First, it is the place that we will choose. The Israelites don't get to choose where to put the sanctuary. You don't put it where? Anywhere you please. It's not up to you. The person who owns the land chooses where his capital is. Who's the owner of this place? The Lord Yahweh, the place that I will choose this. We call this the land placement formula, the place that I will choose. This occurs 22 times in the book, the place that the Lord, your God will choose.


[00:32:21] Well, it will be chosen from among all your tribes. I mean, there are all these candidates. So it's somewhere in there. But it is singular, isn't it? It will be stamped with the place name. Now, the translation often obscures this fact in the place to which the Lord, your God will choose from all His tribes to establish His name there for his dwelling. Well, actually, it's not quite for his dwelling. It's for his imprint. The brand Yahoo! His name is stamped on. It's not that the name dwells. Yahweh lives here. And this is where his name is stamped because he's claiming it. It will be stamped with your name. It will be the destination for pilgrimages. There you may come. And what will we do there? If you look at all of these expressions of this place, name the formula. You see, it's a place to see the face of Yahweh. Chapter 3111. It's a place for the public reading of the Torah. 3111. It's a place through. Learn to Fear York. 14. 2331 9 to 13. It's a place to celebrate before Yahweh. 12. 12. 18. 14. 26. All sorts of other places. It's a place to eat before your way. Look at all these references to eating in his presence. It's a place to present sacrifice to celebrate the three great annual pilgrimage festivals, Passover weeks and booths. It's a place to settle legal disputes If you can't figure out how to solve a case. We'll talk about this in the next session and bring it to the place that I choose for my name. There you can solve the problems. It's a place for Levites to serve in the name of the Lord. A place for the individual to present the offering of individuals offering and recall His saving the Lord saving actions.


[00:34:44] 26 1 to 11. It's a place to demonstrate one's covenant commitment to Yahweh by gifts of charity to the marginalized. This is amazing. When you come to the place, bring the widow and the alien and the orphan and the Levites who live in your town. Bring them with you. Don't push them aside. Now, it is true, as we will see in chapter 16, that all males are charge to come three times. But the texts in Deuteronomy say, bring all men, women, children, everybody, You all come this. There is no segregation in the worship. It is a patriot centric world. So the focus is on men are, in a sense, obligated to come. Males are obligated to come. But that does not exclude anybody. Bring everybody, all the members of your household. Y'all come and celebrate and share with the poor. What God has given to you. It's a place to demonstrate communal solidarity by celebrating with children, servants, Levites and the aliens. Well. This is a this is a multicolored picture of worship. Deuteronomy In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses doesn't offer much instruction on how to do what at the central sanctuary. He doesn't offer a manual on worship, but he offers a theology of worship. It's a profoundly theological perspective. You come to the central sanctuary three times a year. The whole nation comes to celebrate God's grave collective saving actions, covenantal actions, redemptive actions three times a year. The whole nation is there to keep alive the memory of their common experience of grace. As often as you do this, do it in remembrance of me. The whole nation three times. But it's not limited to those three festivals. Yeah. I mean, you offer the firstborn of your herd to the Lord as soon as you've got a young heifer, she has her first calf.


[00:37:14] You bring that one here or the first sheep has her. A sheep has her first lamb. You bring that lamb here and devoted to the Lord. Well, I used to feel sorry for the Israelites. And you know how often they're going down to the central sanctuary, these people. And of course, this happens on different farms at different times. That's not all at once. So these are individual household moments of fellowship in the presence of God. This is not a great burden, if you remember that the Lord is inviting them into his presence. He can't get enough of his people, and that's why he he creates all these excuses for them to come. He's the host. He doesn't eat with them in that world. When you've got such class distinctions, the host never eats with the guests. Remember Joseph in Egypt when his brothers come and he puts on the big banquet for them? He puts on the banquet, but he doesn't eat with them. He tells them where to sit and eat. He seats them in their birth order and they're amazed. How does he know this? Of course we know how he knows this. But he he's playing like a cat plays with a mouse that he's captured. And inside he is wondering what they will going to do. But of course, in the end, he breaks down emotionally as he can't hold it in anymore. I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold, but he thought eating with him. They think he's an Egyptian who's dressed like an Egyptian. He behaves like an he puts on a banquet like the Egyptians. I mean, he's an Egyptian. Though. He's their brother. It doesn't. Well, here the Lord doesn't eat with his people. But he invites them to eat in his presence.


[00:39:14] He says, Bring your offerings to me. And then when they bring their offerings, he says, okay, now sit down. And he prepares the spread for them. Most offerings were. Meal offerings. When God's people eat together to celebrate His grace, they eat together. It's a beautiful picture. They present their gifts to your whole brand offerings. Their whole brand offerings. These would be the ones that are completely burned up. Sacrifices. This is a general term for tithes. 1/10 of all that your crops produce tribute offerings. These are gifts to a superior of gratitude and Thanksgiving for the privilege I have of living for you. Votive offerings. These are vows that you make and you come and you present them to the Lord. Freewill Offerings. You haven't had enough of giving offerings yet. Hey, you can come any time. Unregulated offerings. The Lord welcomes anybody in his presence at any time. The first spawn of your offerings, that's what they're doing there. The more the better. And the Lord says, the more the merrier. My mother was like this. We could never understand it when we had little kids. Because you come home to a family gathering and the more people there are, the louder it is and the less really significant conversation you have. But my mother loved nothing better than just to see this chaos all around. Because everybody here. Everybody's here. It's not that we're having a fantastic conversation. It's not about that. It's just being together. And that's what this is about. The joy of worship. It is an amazing picture. It's so different. We feel so sorry for the Israelites they got. They got to waste all this food on God. And if you live way up here in Naftali. By Mount Hermon.


[00:41:33] That's a long way. Moses will have an answer to that, he said. If it's too far for you to go and carry your calf or your whatever. Never mind, we can do an exchange. You bring your money and then people who live nearby, they'll sell you their calf and you can do that. And that's okay with me. You know, this is anything but a legalistic world. It is a world that is free to enjoy relationship with God. It is such a different picture than I used to have in mind. Celebrate Yahweh is blessing in your work. That's what happens here and there. You may face before Yahweh, your God. You may celebrate you in your households. In all the effort you expend in which Yahweh, your God, has blessed you. God gives you the gifts to present to him. Doesn't cost anything. Don't cost. You say there isn't any case. But come bring it. And I would love to see you. And that's what he keeps saying. Well, that's versus 5 to 7. Now, look at verse 8 to 12. There's a general charge, verse eight, then the context of future worship and then the nature of future worship. The general charge you shall now do according to all that we are doing here to do today, every one doing what's right in his own eyes. Oh, really? This catches me by surprise. I didn't expect this. I mean, earlier, at the beginning of chapter five, you says you are standing in front of me today because I bailed. Poor you. You were true to the Lord. And he created the impression there that this generation of Israelites is all A-OK. But now we discover. Well, on the one hand, on the surface, it looks like everybody's okay.


[00:43:28] Today you have become the people of Yahweh, your God. But there's still some hankie panky going on. You're all worshiping just how you want to do. You shall not do. According to all that we're doing, everyone doing what's right in his own eyes. Of course, this is so fundamentally principle. Is there such a word? The principle is true worship. Acceptable worship is defined by the object of worship. That is the person who is the object of I worship the Lord. You. You don't make this up. Because if you make it up, you'll get it all wrong. True worship is not about us figuring out what what God should be happy with. We are so upside down. No. True worship is about listening to the voice of God and hearing him say, I love to have you in my presence and I made every provision for you to come. Come, y'all come. And so it's a wonderful picture, but it does not allow you to follow the the world how they worship. Don't ask them. Nor does it allow you simply to be as creative as you want. God is the creator of acceptable worship. The context verses 9 to 10 for you haven't yet come to the rest and to the state that Yahweh, your God, is giving you. That's the land. Remember, this is a feudal sort of relationship. The Lord owns this place and he's giving it to Israel as his princes to manage for him. You're not there yet, but when you cross the Jordan and live in the land that your for your God is giving you as your granted as state. This is my translation for natural law, usually translated inheritance. But we had that conversation yesterday. Inheritance doesn't work here.


[00:45:40] This is feudal language. Your estate. When he is granted. And when he gives you rest from all your enemies all around so that you live safely and securely. Notice the context. The people have entered the land. They occupy the land. They begun to enjoy. Rest in the land as a gift from Yahweh. And they have security. Shalom has been created. But then notice then to the place that you are where your God will choose to establish his name. There, there you may bring. This is really interesting. You know, we had them going over to Mount Garrison and Evil for a worship event. Well, that wasn't regular worship. That was a one off deal, a governmental deal like we had at Mt. Sinai. But they don't pick the place. God picks the place here. This pit place will be picked when the land has wrest from all your enemies. Which is why, when you read the Book of Joshua, we don't have a central sanctuary yet. When you read the book of Judges, we don't have a central. Well, yeah, there's Shiloh. Sheila. That was the place where the tabernacle was for 300 years. Eli was the high priest at Shiloh. That's where it was until the Philistines destroyed it. But remember, second Samuel seven and second Samuel six. David finally brings the the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. For the first time in history, God's chosen king, the symbol of God's presence, His throne, the Ark of the Covenant. And the place of the palace are all the same. They're all together for the first time in history. This is a. Formative, transformative move. Now look at chapter seven, verse one. They've brought the ark now. It happened. Knowing God, New American style. It came about when.


[00:48:18] The king lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest on every side from all his enemies. The king said to Nathan, There's something wrong with this picture. I live in this house of Cedar, but the Ark of God lives in a pup tent. Something wrong here? And Nathan says, Go ahead, build the Lord a temple. And God backs off or God has him back. I'm. Yeah. You. The Prophet spoke too quickly that night God and come in encounters Nathan and said. Not so fast, buddy. Go to David and tell him No, it's not for you to build me a house, but let me build you one. And that's when you have the very covenant. The second Samuel seven where God promises David an eternal house uses the same word. David wants to build a house for the Lord because it is in his head. This is the place we don't now know how it is, except that David bought this threshing floor from around a Jeb news site. And there David built it. All three offered sacrifices. And that turns out to be Mount Zion, where the temple is right now. And when the temple was built, the holy of holies was right on top of around us threshing floor. That was the place. The point here is the land had rests. David had rests from all his enemies. This is the signal. It's time for the Lord to choose the place for the neck. And, David, we don't know how David figured this out, but the chronicler tells us that this is the place God had chosen. And it is an amazing thing. Moses anticipates that it won't happen immediately. It won't happen until you all have rest from land. But there the Lord will choose a place.


[00:50:25] When you have rest there, you may bring all your ties and your offerings. You may celebrate before Yahweh, your God. Look at this. You, your sons, your daughters, your male servants, your female servants, the Levites who's within your town since he has no personal inheritance. Y'all come the participants. The First Testament knows nothing about segregated worship. So that one Paul says to the Galatians in Christ, there's neither male or female John or Greek, whatever. He's not fixing an Old Testament problem. He's probably fixing a Second Temple Judaism problem because by then our orthodox Jewish pious Jewish men are getting up, lots of them, and saying every morning, I thank my God that he didn't create me a dog or a woman. I mean, that's the kind of misogyny that you have by now. And in Herod's temple, you've got the court of the women. There isn't a hint of that in the First Testament. Not a hint of it. Women have equal access to worship. They don't have equal access to the priesthood. You know, so the officials in worship are all male. But the worshipers, you all come. You all come. And when Ezra gathers the people in the post six year period, they were all there at the Festival of Books every seven years. Read the Torah so that all men here, men, women, slaves, all everybody. This is inclusive worship. God loves to have the whole family there. It's not for men only. And of course, Herod's temple is a is a political statement. It's built by a pagan for selfish reasons, to gain the support of the Jewish people for for him as ruler. And, of course, there's nothing about this temple. That's right. Other than the location and it turns out to be a sham.


[00:52:37] I have a theory that when Christ dies on the cross and the veil is torn in two and exposes, I think it exposes the sham. This has never been the true place of worship. That doesn't mean God hasn't met with his people there. In fact, this is the place where people can meet God, whether or not there is a temple. It's where his name is. Remember Daniel? In exile? Three times a day. He'd open the west window and he'd pray to Jerusalem three times a day because Solomon, in his prayer, had said, When your people are in exile and they turn to this place, not this house, this place, they face this place here, though, and heaven forgive their sin and heal their land. So this is this is the link between heaven and earth. Whether the house is there or not. David had a hunch. This is the moment. Well, the place that Yahoo! Chooses. This is not a substitute for the real presence of God, but it is the authorized place of worship. And so when we interpret the expression something like to place his name there or whatever it should be to stamp his name there, because this becomes the key to future blessing in Israel, because they'll look, they will build a palace for the Lord, and out of the palace, the reign of God will spread throughout the land. Blessing will be there for all the people. Well, two place. The name comes from the custom of a royal builder inscribing his name in the foundation stone of a palace or a monument as a mark of his claim to that place as his official residence and his authorization of the building project. This is God's house. Therefore, he chooses the place and he stamps it for his name in Jeremiah Chapter seven.


[00:54:45] The people are. Jeremiah sees the people walking by the front of the temple and they are saying three times, Hey, call your wife. He call your wife. He call Yahweh, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord. I mean, this is their security blanket. The President, the Lord is here. Therefore, Nebuchadnezzar can never touch us. We are safe and secure. But of course, the name is The place is branded with his name. Therefore God is here. But of course, unless. Unless you are true to the Lord, you have no guarantee his to his protection. And that's what they don't get there. You may celebrate before Yahweh, your God. Sons, daughters. Male servants. Female servants of Levi. This is an amazing place. Jerusalem. We land. We find out later it will become Jerusalem. David. David conquers this city from the abuse sites. And this is where his second capital is. Once he becomes king of all Israel, he moves his capital from Hebron to Jerusalem and this becomes this ancient city, becomes the capital of the new kingdom, and the the tabernacle will be replaced by a permanent place. And ultimately, Ezekiel's plan, temple is in this very same place on the high mountain. There it is. And the ground plan of Herod's temple. This is the beginning of that tradition. It starts way back in Deuteronomy. The place for my name to dwell and where my name is stamped. That's the link between the resources of heaven. And the needs of Earth. It's a grand thing. Well, a few concluding reflections. What's the relationship between this worship and that which happened at Sinai? I've changed my mind. I used to think that what the temple does, it makes accessible to everybody.


[00:56:52] What we did happened. That's what happened at Sinai. So that we can do this repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly. But I've changed my mind. I don't think it is that. I think this is quite different from Sinai. Sinai was a one off deal. Happened once and the Lord never says, Come here. And worship me in this place. Never says he never brands it with his name Now for 1516 months. It is God's temporary palace. He invites the people to himself and to an audience with him, and he speaks to them and they become his people for four, 15, 16 months. But when that's over, it's done. And so we don't even know where this place was in Mount Sinai. Where is that place? We've lots of guesses. But, you know, Jabal Moussa or whatever else, this is an amazing place. This is not to repeat what Sinai did once. This is to make the presence of God accessible to everybody all the time. Anybody? Any time you want. That's the point. What great nation is there that has a God so near to it as our Lord, our God whenever we call upon him, he says in Solomon's dedication. When your people turn to this place, which you have branded with your name here in heaven, and answer their prayer. This is such a gracious moment. Don't feel sorry for the Israelites. One additional comment. What is the significance of this call for centralized worship? Well, we have a tendency to think that there's only one legitimate place of worship of the Lord in Israel. And this seems to be that well, because this was to be the location of three annual festivals commemorating Israel's origins. This was the place of the temple, the shrine, the sanctuary, the national religion.


[00:59:08] The worship was intended here to keep the people united as the people of Yahweh. You see, when you get to your home communities, it will be very easy to forget that you're part of a bigger picture. And this is not just your personal story. This is a nation's story. And the point of the central sanctuary is to be sure. Three times a year, the whole nation is here to recall, to recollect, remember, remember Passover? The Covenant at Sinai, the Festival of Booze, how the Lord cared for you while you were making your way to the Promised Land. This is the location where those memories are kept alive at the central sanctuary. Second, from the central sanctuary, the blessing and the rule of God would extend to the ends of the land from here. I mean, in the book of Ezekiel, it is portrayed as a river flowing from the sanctuary. And everything the river touches, turns, turns, comes alive. Even the Dead Sea has fish in it. This is what happens. Third, larger linkage of the chosen place with the election of the chosen King would highlight the King's role as patron of the national religion. The king becomes the patron. The king is not a priest, but you will notice it is David who has the idea of building a palace for the Lord. It is David who gathers the materials. It's David who wants to do it. It's David who then passes it on to Solomon, his son, and says, Do it exactly the way the Lord has revealed it is true. David First Chronicles 28. The Lord reveals to David in writing The Blueprint for the Temple. This is not Solomon's temple. It's David's temple. I always refer to this as David's temple because, well, it's actually Yahoo's temple.


[01:01:15] But the idea is David's. He wants to build a wall, and he's the one who plans the music. He writes the music, He organizes the singers and the musicians. David is all about the nation worshiping Yahweh together to keep the nation together. The the the King. In the ancient world, Kings had three primary functions one to protect the people from outside threats. They led the Army. Two, to ensure that justice is served in the courts. So they saw to it that judicial officers were in charge. And three, to keep the gods happy, the National Guards. And that's David's task. He is the link. He is God's agent, God's vice regent. Chronicles will actually call the. The throne on which Solomon sits as the throne of Yahweh. Remarkable. He rules in your place on your behalf, the covenant community. And he is the one who who is to keep this machine running. Did this call for centralized worship signify the banning of all cultic activity away from the central sanctuary? I used to think, yes, that means any worship anywhere else is wrong. But of course, that can't be right, because what does Elijah do in Mount Carmel? He builds this altar with 12 stones representing the 12 tribes. That's not at the central sanctuary. What does Samuel do? He has altered Bethel and Rama. And what I forgot, in the third place, they're building altars. People are Solomon. When he becomes king, he builds an altar idibia thousands of offerings he brings. Nobody scolds him for that. So what is happening here? We'll talk about this a little bit more in the next section when we talk about the Levites. But what's happening is that the Lord appoints Levites and assigns them a little bit of gold towns in order to be sure that the people out there in the countryside have access to God and spiritual.


[01:03:48] So I'll take pastoral leadership because stuff happens in town. Stuff happens at homes. Life happens. What do you need when somebody in your family dies? You need a pastoral help. What do you need? When there's a local festival, you need somebody to lead the way. And so I think God is making provision for people to worship him appropriately. Elsewhere. But you've got to have the Levites who are the key to seeing to it that it stays pure and true. But there is no place that becomes a competitor to the central sanctuary when Jeroboam sets up an altar at Bethel. And why not? Dan This is absolutely taboo. These are national altars. No, there's no such thing. Well, we'll talk about this some more. I think that's enough to say about the joy of worship in ancient Israel. And of course, once you've discovered, Oh my God, whom I know or to know the sin that I've committed and I don't know and what it takes to relate to the deity, I don't know. It doesn't work. And you have this. This is worth celebrating. This is not a command to go to the central sanctuary. It's an invitation to come because I am here. God is here. Don't go to the central sanctuary. Come. The invitation comes from the person who lives there. Bring your all offerings. Don't take them to that place out there. Bring. Because I delight in your presence. It's a fabulous text. The Joy of Worship.