Moses, having in his first address cast a glance at the events which had transpired

between Sinai and the plains of Moab, and in his second recapitulated what had

happened at Sinai, repeated the Decalogue, and urgently counseled the people to be

obedient to the Divine commandment, and steadfast in their adherence to Jehovah as

their God and King; in chapters 12-26, proceeds now to set forth certain laws

 which it specially behooved them to observe. These are for the most part the same

as those already recorded in the previous books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, but

a few are new, and are to be found only here. No special order or plan of exposition is

here observed; the speaker uses that freedom of discourse which was fitting in a popular

address. One or two historical narratives are interpolated; but the address as a whole is

hortatory (advice, exhortation), and is designed to direct to the proper regulation of the

ecclesiastical, social, and domestic life of the Israelites when they should be settled in

Canaan.

 

 

Deuteronomy 12

 

PLACES AND MONUMENTS OF IDOLATRY TO BE DESTROYED;

JEHOVAH TO BE WORSHIPPED IN THE ONE PLACE WHICH HE

SHALL CHOOSE; INSTRUCTIONS AS TO THE USE OF FLESH FOR

FOOD; AND CAUTIONS AGAINST BEING ENSNARED INTO

FOLLOWING THE HEATHEN IN THEIR MANNER OF SERVICE.

(vs. 1-32)

 

With this twelfth chapter an entirely new set of instructions begins. Up to this point the

exhortations have been for the most part moral: now they are positive. Hitherto the

precepts have been, speaking generally, concerning duties which God commanded

because they were right; but from this point they concern duties which became

right because God had commanded them. Of all specific directions which Moses

gave to Israel, none could possibly be more important than those which had to do

with the Divine worship. A true, wise, spiritual worship, established and maintained,

would do very much to ensure Israel’s weal in every other respect; while if

 corruption was admitted and tolerated here, its ill effects would soon be

seen through the length and breadth of their land.   

 

The observance of God’s worship among the Hebrews was based on everlasting

principles both as to its matter and its manner; and that while there was much ritual in

external forms, yet Judaism was not ritualistic in any sense which would imply the

efficacy of ritual by itself to bring about spiritual results. Let us enumerate the principles

which here are embodied in the directions for the worship of God. (This will be done

in chapters 12-26 – CY – 2012).  The forms in which  the principles are expressed may

change; the principles themselves, never!  (Matthew 5:17-18; 24:35)

 

 

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.”  (Compare ch.4:1; 6:1). Moses, as the servant of God,

had taught Israel statutes and rights, as God had commanded him (ch. 4:5); and now he

recapitulates the principal of these for their guidance in the way of obedience. These

they were to observe all the days of their life upon the land that was to be given them;

the land was the Lord’s, and there, as long as they possessed it, the Law of the Lord

was to be paramount.

 

In order to this, Israel was, as soon as the land was possessed, to destroy all the objects

and means of idolatrous worship in the land.

 

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:”  (compare Isaiah 57:7; Jeremiah 2:20; 3:6; 17:2; Hosea

4:13; II Kings 16:4; 17:10). The heathen had their places of worship on lofty elevations,

probably because they imagined they were thus nearer to the object of their worship;

and they sought also the shade of woods or thick-foliaged trees (Ezekiel 6:13), under

which to perform their rites, as tending to inspire awe, and as in keeping with the

mysterious character of their rites. These places of heathen worship in Canaan the

Israelites were utterly to destroy, along with the images of their deities and other

objects of idolatrous worship.  3  And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break

their pillars, and burn their groves” - their asherahs, idol-pillars of wood (ch.7:5) -

 with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy

the names of them out of that place.”

 

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,” - The

heathen placed their altars and offered their worship wherever they thought fit, according

to their notions of the deity and his service; but Israel was not to do so unto Jehovah their

God:  He Himself would choose the places where he was to be worshipped, and there

alone might they come with offering and service. As the revealed God — the God whose

being and perfections had been made known, not by a vague revelation of Him in nature

merely, but expressly by His putting or recording His Name historically and locally

among men (Exodus 20:24) — so should there be a definite place chosen and

appointed by  Him where He would come to receive the worship of His people,

where He would record His Name, and where He would be known for a Refuge

and a Helper to all who put their trust in Him (Psalm 48:3; 76:1; Daniel 9:18).

The Name of God is God Himself as revealed; and He puts His Name on any place

where He specially manifests Himself as present (I Kings 8:29), and which is

consequently to be regarded as His habitation or dwelling place.  Hence the temple at

Jerusalem was in later times known as the place of the Name of Jehovah (Isaiah 18:7),

the dwelling-place of His glory (Psalm 26:8). But He is the God of the whole earth, and

therefore, wherever He is pleased to reveal Himself, in whatever place He makes His

Name to be known, there He is to be worshipped. There is no reference in this passage

to the temple at Jerusalem specially, as some have supposed; what is here enjoined is

only a practical application of the Divine promise, that in all places where God

would record His Name, there He would come to bless His people (Exodus 20:24).

The reference here, therefore, is quite general, and applies to any place where, by the

Divine appointment, the tabernacle might be set up and the worship of Jehovah

instituted. To seek to any place means, primarily, to resort to it, to frequent it

(II Chronicles 1:5), but with the implied purpose of inquiring there for something,

as for responses or oracles, when the place resorted to was that in which God had

put His Name.

 

 

Destruction of Monuments of Idolatry (vs. 1-5)

 

Israel’s entrance into Canaan was the entrance of true knowledge, of pure forms of

religion, of cleansed morals. The worship of Jehovah was the very antithesis of that of

which these altars, pillars, and graven images, polluted memorials, of the Canaanties

were. What did the grove conceal? Lust — blood — imposture. What sounds shook

the fane? Alternate screams of anguish and the laughter of mad votaries. What was the

priest? The teacher of every vice of which his god was the patron and example. What

were the worshippers? The victims of every woe which superstition and sensuality

can gender, and which cruelty can cherish. Why should the last trace of these hateful

worships not be removed from the land of God’s abode? (see ch. 7:1-6).

 

These commands were to remove from Israel’s midst what would obviously have

proved a snare. Prone of their own motion to idolatry, how certainly would the people

have been drawn into it had idol sanctuaries, idol altars, idol groves stood to tempt

them at every corner, met their gaze on every summit of a hill. A wise legislation will

aim at the removal of temptations. The business of legislation, as has been well said,

is TO MAKE IT AS EASY AS POSSIBLE FOR THE PEOPLE TO CHOOSE

VIRTUE and AS DIFFICULT AS POSSIBLE TO CHOOSE VICE!

(This seems to be the opposite of the last fifty years considering the rulings of

the High Court and lower courts in the Judicial Branch of the government of the

United States.  Our society, not only is in decline, but in great danger of

JUDGMENT from God because of our policies! – CY – 2012)

 

The design of Moses, to gather the life and religion of the people round a central

sanctuary, would plainly have been frustrated had innumerable sacred places of

ill repute, associated with the old idolatry, been allowed to remain unshorn of their

honors. On the same principle, missionaries, in order to prevent relapses into idolatry,

have often found it needful to get their converts to collect their idols, and unitedly to

destroy them — burning them, it may be, or flinging them into some river.  (But

book burning and other similar activities in the USA is frowned upon just to

nurture the status quo of “paganism!” – CY – 2012)

 

To the appointed place all their sacrificial gifts and offerings were to be

brought, and there they were to keep their holy feasts.

 

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:”

The gifts are classified in groups:

 

  • Burnt offerings and sacrifices, the two principal kinds of altar

offerings, with which meal offerings and drink offerings were united

(Numbers 15:4).

 

  • Tithes and heave offerings (compare Leviticus 27:30-33; Numbers

18:21-24). The heave offerings are described as of your hand, either

because offered by the offerer’s own hand, or to indicate such gifts as were

made off-hand (so to speak), voluntary offerings made in addition to the

legal offerings from an immediate impulse of grateful emotion.

 

  • Vows and freewill offerings, sacrifices which were offered in

consequence of vows or of spontaneous impulse (Leviticus 7:16;

22:21; 23:38; Numbers 15:3; 29:39).

 

  • Firstlings of their herds and of their flocks (Exodus 13:2,12,

Numbers 18:15).

 

7  And there ye shall eat before the LORD your God,” - The injunction here

and in v. 17, respecting the eating by the offerer of the firstlings of his flocks and herds,

appears to be inconsistent with the injunction in Numbers 18:18. There it seems as if the

whole of the flesh was to be given to the priest. “And the flesh of them shall be thine

[the priest’s], as the wave breast and as the right shoulder are thine.” This may be

taken to mean that just as the wave breast and the right shoulder are the perquisites

of the priests in the case of other offerings, as e.g. the peace offering, so in the case of

the firstling offering the whole flesh shall be the priest’s; and thus taken, the passage

 presents an unquestionable discrepancy to that in Deuteronomy. But probably the

passage is not to be so taken. The particle translated “as” (K].) not infrequently

occurs in the sense of “according to, after the manner of,” implying conformity

to some rule or model and is often used in the Old Testament. The passage, therefore,

may be rendered thus: And the flesh of them shalt thou take after the manner (or

 according to the rule), of the wave breast, etc., i.e. not the whole of it, but only

these parts. Of some of the offerings the whole was received by the priest, as in the

case of the sin offering and trespass offering (Leviticus 6:25-30; 7:1); while of others

only certain portions, viz. the wave breast and the heave shoulder, were given to him,

as in the case of the peace offering (Ibid. ch.7:28-34). The purport of the law in

Numbers 18:18 is that, in respect of the firstling offering, the allotment to the priest shall

Be after the same manner as in the peace offering. There is thus no discrepancy between

the two passages. The animal belonged originally to the offerer; when he brought it

before the Lord part of it was consumed on the altar, part of it was assigned to the

priest, and the rest, as a matter of course, remained with himself. The law in Numbers,

addressed to the priest, intimates what he might claim as his portion; the law in

Deuteronomy, where the people are addressed, directs them how to use the

portion that remained with them. It may be added that, even supposing that all the flesh

was given to the priest, yet, as it had to be consumed on the day in which the sacrifice

was offered, and as every clean person in the house might partake of it, it is almost

certain that the offerer would, as a matter of course, share in the meal, as was usual in

the case of sacrificial meals -“and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto,”

-  enjoy whatever your hand may gain, whatever you may earn, all the good which the

Lord may give you (v. 18; ch.15:10; 23:20; 28:8,20). The phrase is peculiar to

Deuteronomy -“ye and your households, wherein the LORD thy God hath

blessed thee.”

 

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;” - rather, dwell securely,

not only safe from assault, but without fear or anxiety (compare Judges 8:11;18:7).

In the wilderness, while leading a nomadic life, no certain place could be appointed

to them for the observance of sacred rites; each man did in that matter as suited his

own convenience. But after they were settled in Canaan it should no longer be so;

a certain order and fixed locality should be determined for their worship and service;

when they had passed over  Jordan the Lord would give them rest from all their enemies,

and then all irregularity and arbitrariness in the matter of worship must cease,

and all their gifts arid offerings must be brought to the place which Jehovah

their God should choose.

 

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” -  i.e. all the vows of your choice, all that

ye choose to make; the vow was purely voluntary; it became obligatory only after it

was made - “which ye vow unto the LORD:”

 

Of their offerings they should make a festive meal for themselves and their household;

and of this the Levite who might happen at the time to be resident among them was to

partake.

 

12 “And ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God,” – It was to be a joyful

worship!  This phrase occurs frequently in this book (ch.14:26; 16:11,14; 26:11; 27:7);

elsewhere it appears only once — Leviticus 23:40, where it is used with reference to

the Feast of Tabernacles, Moses now enjoins this festivity to be observed in connection

with all the sacrificial Meals -“ye, and your sons, and your daughters, and your

menservants, and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your gates;” - 

The Levites had no share in the land as the property of their tribe; but they had towns

allotted to them among the different tribes (Numbers 35.), so that in this way they were

dispersed through the nation. Hence, perhaps, they are described as “within

the gates” of the rest of the people. Or, as the Levites seem to have itinerated in the

discharge of various offices among the people, the phrase may designate them as on

this account occasionally resident among others in their community; just as “the

 stranger that is within thy gates” means the person of some other nation who for

the time being was resident in any of the towns of Israel - “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.”

 

They were to beware of offering sacrifice in any place that might seem to them best;

their offerings were to be presented only in that place which God should choose.

But this did not imply that they were not to kill and eat in their own abodes whatever

they desired for food, according to the blessing of Jehovah their God. Only they were

to abstain from eating of blood (compare Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 7:26); that they

were to pour on the earth as if it were water. Burnt offering; this is named

instar omnium, as the principal offering. Whatsoever thy soul lusteth after.

To “lust,” in old English, means simply to will, choose, desire; it is the same word

as “list,” or, as it is sometimes spelt, “lest,” and does not, as now, imply anything

evil. As of the roebuck, and as of the hart; probably the gazelle and fallow deer.

As these were animals that could not be offered in sacrifice, the distinction between

clean and unclean, on the part of the eaters, did not come into consideration.

 

 17 “Thou mayest not eat” – literally, thou art not able to eat; i.e. there is a

legal inability to this. So the verb to be able (lkOy;) is frequently used (compare

Numbers 9:6; ch.16:5; 17:15) - “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.” (Compare

vs. 6-7, 12.)

 

 

     Private Worship Not the Substitute for Public Worship (vs. 15-19)

 

While the central altar was ordained for the reception of the sacrifices and the place

for the love-feasts of God’s people, they were also allowed to slay and eat flesh meat

at home. It must, of course, consist of the flesh of clean animals, and the blood must be

carefully poured out unto the Lord; but, after these precautions, it was perfectly

possible for the Jew to live luxuriously at home. In these circumstances he might say

that the flesh killed carefully at home tasted as sweet as any peace offering enjoyed at

the tabernacle, and that he would not trouble himself about the journey to the central

altar. Such a conclusion the Lord expressly forbids. How, in such circumstances, will

the Levites be sustained? Such private luxury must not be substituted for the public

peace offering and the Levitical support connected with the ritual.

 

  • THERE IS A GREAT TEMPTATION WITH LUKEWARM PEOPLE

TO MAKE PRIVATE WORSHIP DO DUTY FOR PUBLIC.  It is

insinuated that the Bible can be as well studied, and prayer as faithfully

observed, and praise as joyfully rendered, amid the sanctities of home as in

any congregation. But the fact is that the private worship is a sorry

substitute for the public. Not to speak of the promise,” The Lord loveth the

gates of Zion better than all the dwellings of Jacob” (Psalm 87:2), there

is in the public congregation a power of sympathy, solemnity, and attention

which is missed elsewhere. The private services, when separated from the

public, fail to reach the professed ideal, and religious feebleness is the

 usual result.

 

  • PRIVATE CELEBRATIONS OF PUBLIC SOLEMNITIES ARE

MOST PROPERLY FORBIDDEN. The Jew might have excused himself

from journeying to the central altar by resolving on the solemnities at

home. “I can share the tithes, and firstlings, and vows, and freewill

offerings, and heave offerings with my neighbors, and not bother taking

them to the tabernacle.” And so men can still abstain from membership in

Church organizations under the plea of private baptisms and private

tables;” but all this presumption is an abomination unto the Lord.

 

  • IT DENIES TO THE PUBLIC MINISTERS OF GOD THEIR DUE

RIGHTS.   (v. 19) - For Levitical support, so carefully guarded in the

Commandment here, is surely equivalent to “ministerial support” still. The

ministry of the Word means an order of men set apart from the secularities

of life to give themselves unto prayer and to the ministry of the Word

(Acts 6:4). If it is highly expedient, as well as divinely ordained, that such an

order should exist, then it is a serious responsibility on the part of any

private person to refuse to acknowledge this Divine ordinance and its

attendant rights. The pitifulness of the excuse, moreover, in refusing

ministerial support because of private scruples, must strike the most

superficial judge.

 

  • THE LORD LEAVES THE LEVITE AS A CHARGE UPON THE

GENEROSITY OF THE PEOPLE. The Levite was to be as a guest

Within the gates of the Jew (v. 18). All the rights of hospitality, so to speak,

were to be his. Moreover, it was to be an unending charge. “Take heed to

thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the

earth(v.19).  Thus an order of men are left upon the generosity of the

people, to have their share as long as the world lasts. So is it with the

Christian ministry. Public services, the public organizations of the Church,

are all to be continued till the end of time, and hence the ministry will continue.

Nor will its support severely tax the loyal Christian people. We see how

intimately the interests of God’s servants are bound, up with proper views

about private and public worship. If these are judiciously disseminated,

there is no fear of the Lord’s servants being neglected. God’s rights in the

ordering of His worship must be first vindicated and recognized, and then

His servants’ rights will follow.

 

20 “When the LORD thy God shall enlarge thy border,” -  These laws

were to continue in force even when God should, according to His promise

(Genesis 15:18; Exodus 23:27-31), extend the boundaries of their land -

 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,” -  this supplies the reason for the alteration of the

law in Leviticus 17:3 -“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” -  Only be sure; literally, only be

strong; i.e. be firm and resolute, steadfastly resisting the temptation to eat it –

that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life;” -  (as above

compare Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 7:26; 17:11). The word used is nephesh (vp,n,).

By this word the Hebrews designated the animal life-principle in men and in beasts;

and as without this the body was a mere inert mass, the word came to be used

for “life” generally. Of this life the blood was believed to be the seat, and was

regarded as the symbol, so that to shed blood was tantamount to the taking away

of life. As the blood, moreover, was the life, in it was supposed to lie the

propitiatory powerthe power, when shed, of atoning for sin, as the giving

 of life for life. The prohibition of eating it doubtless had respect to this. It was

not merely to prevent ferocity in men towards the lower animals that the eating of

blood was interdicted, but specially because there was in this a sort of

profanation, a putting to a common use of what appertained to a sacred rite –

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.”

 

 

 

The Sanctity of Blood (vs. 23-25)

 

The central altar was for the reception of the blood. And while the Jews remained in

pilgrimage, every time they killed an animal out of their flocks or herds for family use

they carried the blood to the tabernacle, that it might be duly disposed of by the priest.

In case of the roebucks and harts, their blood was not sacrificial; it was therefore

ordained that it should be poured out on the earth, and carefully and solemnly covered

up. When they were settled in the land of Canaan, they were too far from the central

altar to carry the blood of every animal out of the herd or flock which was slain

to the appointed place. Hence they were allowed to deal with the domestic animals

as with the products of the chase (v. 22). It is to this fact of the sanctity of blood

that we would now direct attention.

 

  • THE HEATHEN NATIONS WERE ACCUSTOMED TO MAKE

DRINK OFFERINGS OF BLOOD. David refers to the fact when he says,

“Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their

drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my

lips(Psalms 16:4). These drink offerings of blood arose, doubtless, out of the

bloodthirstiness of the heathen themselves. Men of blood thought their god

delighted in blood shedding as they did; it was human passion projected

into the religious domain.

 

  • GOD SO DIRECTED HIS WORSHIPPERS ABOUT THE DISPOSAL

OF THE BLOOD THAT THEY COULD NOT REGARD IT IN ANY

OTHER LIGHT THAN AS A MOST SACRED THING. It was

to be carefully carried to His altar and disposed of by the officiating priests,

or, if this was not possible, it was solemnly poured into the earth, and

covered carefully from all profane uses. On no account was it to be eaten:

this would have profaned it.

 

  • THE REASON ASSIGNED WAS THAT THE LIFE WAS IN THE

BLOOD.  (Leviticus 17:11) - “Life” is the gift of God, the mysterious

something which escapes our observation in analysis, which baffles our

productive powers, and which works such wonders in the world of nature.

As God’s gift, IT IS TO BE HOLY IN OUR EYES and disposed of

as He sees best.

 

  • THE VICARIOUSNESS OF SUFFERING GAVE IT ADDITIONAL

SANCTITY. For shed blood meant life sacrificed to sustain other life. Our

bodies depend upon vicarious suffering for their sustenance. Sacrifice

underlies the constitution of the world. It was meet, then, that this

principle should be recognized and sanctified in the sight of men.

 

  • BLOOD HAD ITS RELIGIOUS FUNCTION, NOT A PHYSICAL

FUNCTION, TO DISCHARGE IN THE MOSAIC ECONOMY. The

God of Israel did not delight in blood, as the gods of the heathen were

supposed to do. He singled it out for a religious use. It was to be the

material of a holy act, wherever shed. This was undoubtedly to keep it so

out of the sphere of physical elements that it could symbolize fully

THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST  by which the world is to be saved!

 

26 “Only thy holy things” -  i.e. the offerings prescribed by the Law; “hallowed

things (Numbers 18:8; Leviticus 21:22) - “which thou hast,” - literally, which

are to thee; i.e. which are binding on thee - “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,” - i.e. the flesh and the blood of

the burnt offerings which were to be laid upon the altar (Leviticus 1:5-9) -

upon the altar of the LORD thy God: and the blood of thy sacrifices

(zebachim) shall be poured out upon the altar of the LORD thy God,” -

This refers to the ritual of the shelamim, or peace offering (Leviticus 3:2, 8,13).

The word zebach (hb"z,) is never used in the Pentateuch of an atoning sacrifice;

it is used only of such offerings as furnished a sacrificial meal; hence it is added

here -“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.  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.”

Here Moses reverts to the admonition with which he began this part of his address

(v. 2); and warns the people against having any intercourse with the

Canaanites in  their idolatrous practices. That thou enquire not after their

gods.  It was a general belief among the heathen that to ignore or neglect the deities

of a country was sure to bring calamity (compare II Kings 17:26); hence the need of

cautioning the Israelites against inquiring after the gods of the Canaanites when they

should be settled in their land.

 

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.” Elsewhere the phrase

used is “make to pass through the fire” (ch.18:10), or simply “make to pass through to

Molech(Leviticus 18:21; Jeremiah 32:35). This has led some to maintain that the

ceremony described was merely a februation, a lustration by fire, and not an actual

burning alive of these victims; but there can be no doubt that both among the

Ammonites and the Phoenicians, and indeed wherever the worship of Baal or

 Molech was followed, the offering of children in sacrifice by burning

prevailed (Now how is this worse than the 50 million babies in the United States

alone that have been chopped up by the scalpel after being drowned in a saline

solution???????????????????????????????????????? – CY – 2012)

 

32 “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not

add thereto, nor diminish from it.” The admonition in this verse is best

regarded as forming an intermediate link between this chapter and the following,

closing what goes before and introductory to what follows.

 

 

The Subtle Ensnarements of Idolatry (vs. 29-32)

 

A spirit of vain curiosity is to be repressed at its beginning. So weak is human nature,

and so subtle is the working of sin, that prying curiosity into evil customs works

practical  mischief.  (“And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them

that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter:

should not a people seek unto their God?  For the living to the dead?

Isaiah 8:19; see ch. 13:6-11)  Human life, to be a success, must be a perpetual

battle with moral evil. We cannot afford to parley with the enemy nor give

him a single advantage. Incessant watchfulness is our safety.

 

  • IDOLATRY HAS GREAT FASCINATIONS FOR MAN’S

SENSUOUS NATURE. There is in all men a yearning for visible signs

of God. “Show us some sign!” is the natural demand of the human mind.

Even Moses had passionately asked, “I beseech thee, show me thy glory”

(Exodus 33:18).  Satan employs a thousand wily artifices to corrupt the

spiritual impulses of the heart. Speciously, idolatry asks to be tolerated as

a symbol, and then detains our faith as if it were the substantial object.

(Satan asks for a ride and ends up wanting to drive! – seen on a church

marquee – CY – 2012)

 

  • IDOLATRY IS THE FRUITFUL PARENT OF VICE AND

CRUELTY. We can never deal with forms of idolatry as if they were mere

intellectual vagaries. The worship of material images has always been

associated with sensuality, obscenity, and vice. It deteriorates human

nature, hardens sensibility, and clips the wing of aspiration. When the seed

has grown to the mature tree, human victims are demanded as oblations.

“The children were compelled to pass through the fire.” Atrocious cruelty

is the last effect.

 

  • IDOLATRY IS HATEFUL IN GOD’S ESTEEM. It is impossible for

us to err if we make the supreme God our model. To the extent that we

know God, we must endeavor to assimilate our tastes to His, to love what

He loves and to hate what He hates. Idolatry, in any form (whether of

graven image, or material wealth, or human friend) is overt treason against

God (ch. 13:6-9).  If we cannot see the inherent wickedness of idolatry,

it should be enough for us to know that it is an abomination before God,

a smoke in His eyes; a stench in His nostrils.” (Isaiah 65:5)

 

  • IDOLATRY IS A SOURCE OF NATIONAL AND INDIVIDUAL

RUIN. In that early period of human history, the spirit of idolatry must

have been rampant. It was the curse of the age. Although the Hebrews had

seen the practical effects of idolatry in Egypt; although they had themselves

been the executors of God’s vengeance against idolatry in Canaan;

nevertheless the tendencies to idolatry were, humanly speaking, irresistible.

It had been the source of Pharaoh’s overthrow. It had been the occasion of

a great slaughter among the Hebrews under the peaks of Sinai. It was the

parent of the vices and crimes that prevailed among the Amorites. Idolatry

is doomed by an eternal decree, and IF MEN PERSIST IN IDENTIFYING

THEMSELVES WITH IT, THEY ARE DOOMED ALSO!   Let us be

well guarded against so insidious an evil!

 

 

 

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