Deuteronomy Chapter 12

At this point, Moses continued his sermons to the Israelites, as they prepare to gain the promised land. I am imagining this sermon as being given at a large conference of the elders of the Israelites. And then, its being recorded and taken to the different tribes to be heard by all the people. I think it helps to imagine this kind of setting because it helps me to think of it, like a general conference for our day. We have a conference, where the prophet and apostles give us the word of the Lord for our day. If I was an Israelite at this time, how would I have responded to the instruction and commandments that were being given to me? Likewise, how do I respond to the counsel given to me at conferences I attend or watch? What can we learn from this example? This chapter begins:

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.
2 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:
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.

The first thing established in this chapter, is that the children of Israel were commanded to destroy all the places of worship that existed in the land. Nothing was to remain of the idols, altars, pillars, or groves where the other nations served the false gods they followed. Anything that remained would have been a temptation for those who may have been quick to return to the old ways of worship, and therefore cause them to lose the promises of their fathers.

4 Ye shall not do so unto the Lord your God.
5 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:
6 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:
7 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.

There was only one location where it was authorized by the Lord, to bring their offerings and make their sacrifices. Just as they only had one tabernacle in that time, they would eventually only have one temple designed and sanctified for the purposes of the Lord. I like the call to be grateful or to rejoice in the things that the Lord had blessed them. Our gratitude to the Lord for the blessings He continues to give, is one of the things that keeps our hearts turned to Him continually. When we forget to be grateful to Him, we begin to forget the Lord and turn to other things for our worship.

8 Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.
9 For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the Lord your God giveth you.
10 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;
11 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:
12 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.
13 Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest:
14 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.
15 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.
16 Only ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water.

The commandment was that their lives would require commitment to the will of the Lord and they were not to follow after their own ideas of righteousness. Eventually, they would all be established in the land of promise, and have peace from their enemies. At that time, the Lord would establish the place for their worship. They were not to make a habit of making offerings along the way, in places that had not been established by God for their sacrifices to God. There would have been many places built up by the other nations, for the purpose of making offering to gods. Even they themselves were not to build up places of sacrifice to the Lord. They had already received very strict laws regarding the proper place and order to the ordinance of sacrifice. They were however, allowed to eat whatever meat they wished, where they wished, which the Lord had blessed them with, so long as it was not to be an offering to the Lord. They were commanded specifically that they were not to eat blood.

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, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand:
18 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.
19 Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth.

They were commanded that they were not to eat the tithes or offerings in their own homes. These things were only to be eaten where the Lord established a place of worship. They were also reminded that they were not to forsake the Levites, who were provided for entirely by the offerings given by the people.

20 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.
21 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.
22 Even as the roebuck and the hart is eaten, so thou shalt eat them: the unclean and the clean shall eat of them alike.
23 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.
24 Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water.
25 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.
26 Only thy holy things which thou hast, and thy vows, thou shalt take, and go unto the place which the Lord shall choose:
27 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.
28 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.

These commandments applied to all those who would live close to the established place of worship, as well as those who lived far from it. They were allowed to eat what they chose, as long as they did not eat of blood. If they obeyed this commandment to refrain from eating blood, the Lord promised that things would go well for them and their families. Even if they were far away, they were to take the tithes and offerings to the place that the Lord designated for them.

Today, there are places of worship dedicated for the purpose of performing sacred ordinances, specifically His temples. The Lord will only recognize the work done, in the places that He has established, in the proper order and by the proper authority of the priesthood. We will be held accountable if we choose to perform any ordinances in a manner that is not according to the will of the Lord.

29 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;
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.
31 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.
32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

The Israelites needed to be careful not to follow after the ways of the people who inhabited the land before them. All that the other nations had done to worship their gods, was seen as an abomination to the Lord. They had even gone so far as to sacrifice their children by fire. The Israelites were not to adapt anything that the Lord had commanded them, to fit their own desires. They needed to follow the Lord’s commandments with strict obedience, in order to receive the blessings of the Lord. These were the standards that the Lord had set for them.

We have a need to follow this counsel today. Too often, people who have heard the commandments and the word of the Lord, as spoken by his modern prophets, decide that something does not apply to them. Too often, we think that we can adapt the will of the Lord to be more convenient or to fit into our lifestyles better. This is a great tool of the adversary, which pulls people away into sin. The commandments do not have gray areas. They are black and white, even if we do not want to see them as such. We are expected to follow with strict obedience, to those things that we are told to do. If we are unsure of how to understand those things that the are expected of us, we have the right to turn to the Lord and ask. In fact, this is what the Lord wants of us. When we ask sincerely, the Lord can give us personal guidance through the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost will not have us do anything that goes against the word of the Lord that has been received by the prophets. The Holy Ghost will teach us how our lives can be changed to follow the commandments, and bring the blessings we seek. In most cases, I think this is not something that is easy or convenient. Choosing to follow the Lord and His commandments will require sacrifices. For some of us, they may be easier to make because of our distance from the Lord. I believe, however, that the further we have to go, to make the required sacrifices that the Lord asks of us, the greater our blessings will be for being obedient. I am grateful for the courage that I have been blessed with in my life, to make some large sacrifices in order to draw closer to the Lord. I am a better person for it and my life has been greatly blessed because of it.

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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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