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Scripture reading – Deuteronomy 11-12

Moses’ second challenge to Israel began in Deuteronomy 5 and continued in today’s Scripture reading. Moses repeated the LORD’s covenant demand for Israel to “love the Lord thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway” (11:1). The detailed explanation of God’s covenant with Israel will continue to Deuteronomy 26:19.

Deuteronomy 11 – A Covenant that Promised Blessings and Cursing

The Great Works of the LORD (Deuteronomy 11:2-6)

Why should Israel love and obey the LORD? Because He had demonstrated “His greatness, His mighty hand, and His stretched out arm” (11:2) when He brought the plagues upon Egypt and Pharaoh (11:3). When He parted the Red Sea, He allowed Israel to pass through on dry ground. Then He sent the waters upon the Egyptians, drowning them, their horses, and chariots (11:4).

When “Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab,” rebelled (Numbers 16), the LORD judged them and their followers. “The earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and their tents, and all the substance that was in their possession, in the midst of all Israel” (11:6).

The Conditions of God’s Blessing and Curses (Deuteronomy 11:7-15)

Moses reasoned that they were compelled to keep His commandments because the people had seen “all the great acts of the Lord which he did” (11:7). They were reminded that their strength, prosperity, and longevity as a nation was directly related to their obedience (11:8). Obey the LORD, keep His commandments, and Israel would inherit “a land that floweth with milk and honey” (11:9).

Nevertheless, the promise of God’s blessing was conditional (11:10-17). Should the people turn from the LORD and worship idols (11:16), His wrath would be kindled against them. He would then “shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit” (11:17).

A Solemn Charge (Deuteronomy 11:18-32)

The people were again reminded that their covenant responsibility was to obey the commandments and teach them to their children (11:18-19). The LORD’s covenant with Israel was a conditional promise of both “a blessing and a curse” (11:26). Obey the LORD’S commandments, and He promised to bless them (11:27). Disobey the LORD, and He would curse them (11:28).

Deuteronomy 12 

It might be argued that Deuteronomy 5-11 was the preface to the “statutes and judgments” recorded in Deuteronomy 12. Having presented to the people the choices and consequences for obeying or disobeying the LORD, Moses revealed the prohibitions and required the Tabernacle would be the central place of worship.

Destroy all Idols and Places of Idol Worship (Deuteronomy 12:1-3)

Israel was commanded to destroy all idols and every place of idol worship and sacrifice (12:1-3). There were no exceptions! Whereas the heathen sacrificed and served “their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree” (12:2), Israel was warned not to follow their ways.

The Tabernacle: Israel’s Central Place of Worship (Deuteronomy 12:5-14)

The people were commanded that only in “the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation [the Tabernacle] shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come” (12:5). The Tabernacle was the place God chose.

There was one place of sacrifice, and that was the altar in the Tabernacle court (12:6). There was one place the tithes and offerings (above that which was the portion of the Levites) might be eaten, and that was before the Tabernacle (12:7-14).

The Slaughter of Beasts for Meat (Deuteronomy 12:15-25)

Offerings and sacrifices were to be given only at the Tabernacle. Yet, because of the geographical distance of the tribes from the Tabernacle (12:21), animals slaughtered for their meat would no longer be brought to the Tabernacle (12:10-15; Leviticus 17:3-6). Nevertheless, all sacrifices were to be offered at the Tabernacle, which was “the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen” (12:21).

There was also the prohibition on the matter of blood. Unlike the heathen and their sacrifices, Israel was commanded, “Ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water” (12:17, 23-25; Leviticus 17:10).

Closing thoughts:

Moses warned the people not to adopt the heathen’s ways of worship nor enquire, “How did these nations serve their gods?” (Deuteronomy 12:30b) The forms of worship followed by the wicked were an abomination to God, for in their depravity, they sacrificed “their sons and their daughters…to their gods” (Deuteronomy 12:31). Moses warned that the LORD would accept nothing less than obedience. The people were “not [to] add thereto, nor diminish from” His commandments (Deuteronomy 12:32).

Some today would suggest that the law and commandments of the LORD are unimportant. Yet, the God of the Old Testament is the God of the New, and He continues to command that His people should be holy.

1 Peter 1:15-16 – “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

Questions to consider:

1) What did the LORD promise Israel if the people would love and obey Him? (Deuteronomy 11:13-15)

2) When and where were parents to teach their children the words of the LORD? (Deuteronomy 11:19)

3) What was Israel commanded to do to the idols and worship places of the heathen? (Deuteronomy 12:2-3)

4) What was the only place Israel could offer sacrifices to the LORD? (Deuteronomy 12:5-7, 11)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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