Life-Study of Deuteronomyby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message I would like to give a further word on Moses' charge to the children of Israel concerning the way to worship God.
The rehearsal of the law in 5:111:32 is rather general, but in 12:1-32 it is very definite. This chapter emphasizes the requirement that we take God's choice in the matter of a worship center. Again and again we are told to come to "the place which Jehovah your God will choose" (vv. 5, 11, 14, 18, 21, 26). We should not have any preferences but take God's choice, which is the unique ground, the proper place for the worship of God.
Why was Moses so definite in chapter twelve about the requirement to come to the place of God's choice? Moses was definite in this matter because it was related to the keeping of the oneness of God's people. If there had not been such a definite ground for the worship of God, the children of Israel would have been divided. Suppose each of the twelve tribes had had the freedom to choose a place of worship. Surely each tribe would have chosen a place within its own territory, and spontaneously there would have been twelve divisions. This was the reason that the children of Israel were strictly forbidden from making their own choice concerning the place for the worship of God. Moses told them repeatedly that they had to come to the place which God had chosen and worship Him there. "Unto the place which Jehovah your God will choose out of all your tribes to put His name, unto His habitation, shall you seek, and there shall you go. And there you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices and your tithes and the heave offering of your hand and your vows and your freewill offerings and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock" (vv. 5-6).
The children of Israel had to come to the place which God had chosen, even though, for many of the tribes, the journey was long and difficult. Three times a year the Israelites had to come with their families to the place of God's choice. Furthermore, they had to bring their tithes and offerings, including livestock. According to the record in the Old Testament, the unity among the children of Israel was preserved by the act of coming to the worship center chosen by God.
This keeping of the unity is spoken of in Psalm 133. This psalm is one of the songs of ascent (Psa. 120134), songs that were sung by the children of Israel as they ascended Mount Zion to worship God. As they were making the ascent, they sang, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (133:1). This oneness is likened to "the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments" (v. 2). This oneness is also likened to "the dew of Hermon" which "descended upon the mountains of Zion" (v. 3). In Psalm 133 we have a beautiful picture of the oneness of God's people, the oneness they were to keep by coming to worship God at the place of His choice.
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