3 You shall tear down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and burn their Asherim with fire. You shall chop down the carved images of their gods and destroy their name out of that place.
4 You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way.
5 But you shall seek the place that the Lord your God will choose out of all your tribes to put his name and make his habitation there. There you shall go,
6 and there you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, your vow offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock.
7 And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your households, in all that you undertake, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.
If the first mention of ‘worship’ involves Abraham sacrificing Isaac, where will it go from there?
Isaac, Jacob, the patriarchs of the 12 tribes, they would all develop their own ways of worship, but it wasn’t until Moses came along that God gave such specific methods and rules for a daily lifestyle of worship.
There are two things that stand out in this section and throughout the Law. Clean out the old ways and do something completely new. Yahweh was not going to have anyone be confused that this was simply the progression or next chapter of Canaanite worship. You can’t pour milk in the glass that just held your orange juice.
This was a completely new identity for all of them as a people. There is no room for the old gods of Egypt or the interesting new gods of Canaan when it comes to worshipping Yahweh. He is THE GOD that brought them out of slavery in Egypt and He isn’t going to share that credit with anyone else.
The next question is gosh, what’s with all of the sacrificing? There are two things going on here.
- Reminder that dealing and interacting with Yahweh is a life and death activity. He is not inactive, absent, or impotent. He is present and is active in our daily lives. If we sin against Him, it’s the obedience that was due to Him that decides our fate, not the degree of sin we commit. It’s like cussing on the playground with your buds vs. cussing at your grandma’s house. It’s the same action, but what doesn’t dishonor Jimmy on the monkeybars will bring wrath from Grandma. Wooden spoons, soap in the mouth, restriction from cartoons. Obedience, honor, and respect is life and death when you’re dealing with the Most High God.
- God wants our devotion and participation. It’s devotion because giving a sacrifice helps me remember who gave me this goat in the first place. I didn’t build that! God made the goat, and often my means of production or acquisition of the goat. Offering it back to Him in worship helps me understand and actually participate in showing that all that I have comes from God. My son is happy to hand me his yo-yo because he knows he is putting it into the hands of a master. If he withheld it from me when I asked, he knows I would laugh and buy my own much better yo-yo.
The cleaning out and new sacrifices process looks a lot different today. Since Jesus has made all of the sacrifice we’ll ever need, everything we do is out of thanksgiving.
Even so, we have our own new forms of cleaning and sacrificing and Yahweh continues to use those ways to draw us all closer together to Him.
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