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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 12

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-3


Verses 1-3:

Moses had taught Israel all the statutes and judgments which God had commanded, chapter 4:5. In the section beginning with this chapter, he restates those laws which Israel was to observe in their Land, throughout all their generations therein.

The beginning point of obedience is the total destruction of all traces of idolatry:

(1) All places of worship upon the mountain peaks.

(2) All places of worship on the hilltops

(3) All places of worship in the forests, the shade of the trees, see Ezekiel 6:6; Ezekiel 6:13.

(4) The altars upon which sacrifices were offered.

(5) The pillars, matstsebah, "a thing set up, a standing pillar," an obelisk usually containing writings or figures; in this case, concerning the idol god.

(6) The groves, asherah, "shrine," see Exodus 34:13; Deuteronomy 7:5.

(7) Graven images, pesilim, cut or hewn images, see Exodus 20:4.

Israel was commanded to destroy even the names of the pagan gods from the places where they were inscribed. Every trace of idolatry was to be eradicated from the Land.

Verses 4-7

Verses 4-7:

The pagan idolaters sacrificed unto their false gods at whatever place seemed convenient or desirable to them. Thus must not be so with Israel. In this text, God promises to designate a certain place where He would meet with Israel and to which they must bring their sacrifices, tithes, and offerings. He had not made that designation at the time of this text. Eventually this place was to be Jerusalem

God has appointed a place to receive His worship today: the tithes and offerings and sacrifices of His people. That place is His house, His church, 1 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 9:13-14.

Verses 8-16

Verses 8-16:

Israel led a nomadic life in the wilderness. Thus, no fixed place was determined for observance of their worship rites. Each man offered as it was convenient for him. But this was to change once they were in the Land. God would appoint one specific site, and Israel must attend to worship in that place only. This included both mandatory and voluntary sacrifices, offerings, and vows.

This provision was not intended to prohibit the slaughter and eating of clean animals for food, within their own households. In this matter there were but two restrictions:

(1) The animals slaughtered and eaten must be ceremonially clean, after the Levitical ritual, see Leviticus 11.

(2) Eating of blood was expressly forbidden, see Leviticus 17:10-14.

Verses 17-19

Verses 17-19:

The law of the tithe required that the entire tithe be given to the Lord: none must be kept back for use by the offerer, Leviticus 27:30-34. This was true also of:

(1) The firstling, of all beasts, Leviticus 27:26-27.

(2) Things devoted to the Lord, by voluntary vows, Leviticus 27:28-29.

(3) All heave offerings, associated with the various sacrifices, see Exodus 29:27; Leviticus 7:14; Numbers 15:19-21; Numbers 18:24; Numbers 31:41.

All such were to be brought to the Temple, in the place where God would appoint, and there offered upon the brazen altar.

Verses 19 is a pointed reminder that the twelve tribes of Israel were never to forsake or ignore the Levites, nor to withhold from them what God had designated as their portion. For application of this principle today, see 1 Corinthians 9:11-14.

Verses 20-28

Verses 20-28:

Israel was to continue to observe these laws even after the Lord had enlarged the borders of the Land, according to His promise, Genesis 15:18; Exodus 23:27-31.

Leviticus 17:3-7 required that all animals slaughtered for food must be brought to the Tabernacle (Temple), and slain ceremonially before the altar. The present text allows exception for this requirement, in event one lived a distance from the Temple. This applied to animals to be eaten as daily table fare. It did not apply to those animals offered as sacrifice, see Lev chapters 1-6. All such sacrificial animals must be brought to the Temple.

Compare these verses with verse 15.

Verses 29-32

Verses 29-32:

This text is a repetition of the warning given in verse 2, q.v. It is a stern, solemn warning against any intercourse with the idolatrous practices of the inhabitants of the Land.

The text implies that Israel was not to inquire after the manner of the pagan worship, even as a matter of curiosity. Such knowledge could become a snare that would lead them into idolatry. This is a reminder that God does not want His child to know the details of evil with his mind, Ephesians 5:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:22; 2 Corinthians 6:17.

Jehovah God is pure, holy, just, and righteous. He will not accept worship after the manner of the false gods of the heathen. His worship must reflect His character. This is true today as in Israel’s day, John 4:23-24; Philippians 4:8.

History records the excesses of immorality and cruelty which the Canaanites practiced. Among these was the practice of offering children as burnt sacrifices, particularly in the worship of Molech, see Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:1-5.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 12". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/deuteronomy-12.html. 1985.
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