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CRITICAL NOTES.—Moses now begins an exposition of the principal laws which must govern the people in their ecclesiastical, civil, and domestic life in Canaan. The religious life of Israel is described first. In this chapter a place for God’s worship is chosen, and the right method pointed out.
Deuteronomy 12:2. Destroy all “places” of idolatory. Hills and elevated spots they imagined were nearer heaven. Green trees and shades of foilage or wood inspired awe.
Deuteronomy 12:3. Monuments of idolatry destroyed. Altars. piles of turf, or small stones. Pillars, rude blocks of coloured stone used before the art of sculpture was known. Groves, lit. idol, pillars of wood. (cf. Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 16:21.) Names, every trace of existence.
Deuteronomy 12:4-5. Not do, as idolators worship in what place and in what way you think fit. God chose the places and in these places alone did He put His name, i.e., manifest his presence. To these appointed places must they resort (seek cf. 2 Chronicles 1-5), to offer gifts and sacrifices. The various kinds of which are given “in order to enforce the order that each and every one of them is to be offered at the sanctuary, and nowhere else.”
Deuteronomy 12:6. First, two chief altar offerings. Burnt offerings and sacrifices with which meat offerings and drink offerings were united. (Numbers 15:4.) Second, tithes and heave offerings types of field produce and cattle (Leviticus 27:30-33; Numbers 18:21-24), heave offerings, free gifts of love in addition to legal offerings. Third, vows and free will offerings, in consequence of vows or spontaneous impulse. (Leviticus 7:16; Leviticus 22:1; Numbers 15:3; Numbers 29:39). Fourth, firstlings of herds and flocks. (cf. Exodus 13:2; Numbers 18:5.)
Deuteronomy 12:7. Eat, many injunctions had been allowed to lie in abeyance in their migratory condition, now the whole ritual would be obligatory. The sacrifical feast was to accompany certain offerings, put hand, all undertaken or acquired by activity. (cf. Genesis 3:22; Isaiah 11:14.)
Deuteronomy 12:8-9. Reason for these instructions, for up to this time every one had done what he thought right, because they were not in possession of the inheritance.
Deuteronomy 12:10-11. But when settled in the land a certain order and a fixed locality should be determined. Choice vows, lit., the choice of your vows, the vows of your choice, voluntary. (Leviticus 22:21; Numbers 3:8.)
Deuteronomy 12:12. Rejoice. Joy to be the distinctive feature of all sacrificial meals, to be shared by sons and daughters, and by slaves (menservants and maidservants). No part. Levites at gates, i.e., in towns and hamlets (Exodus 20:10) resembled strangers, and had no share in the land as hereditary property. “The repeated injunction to invite the Levites to the sacrificial meals is not at variance with Numbers 18:21, where the tithes are assigned to the tribe of Levi for their maintenance.”—Keil.
Deuteronomy 12:13-14. Moses sums up instructions. They must beware of offering sacrifices in every place they thought fit, especially burnt offering, the chief offering.
Deuteronomy 12:15. In the wilderness animals for food were slain at the door of the tabernacle. (Leviticus 17:3 -Ver. 6.) This prohibition, designed to gather them round one centre, and to cut off private idolatrous rites, was now to be relaxed. When the people were scattered they might slay at their houses (gates). Lusteth after, not in a bad sense, but means simply to will or choose. According, in preportion to means and condition. Unclean, as no longer consecrated as sacrifices. “The ceremonial distinctions do not apply in such cases, any more than to ‘the roebuck’ (or gazelle) ‘and hart,’ animals allowed for food but not for sacrifice.”—Speak. Com.
Deuteronomy 12:16. Blood forbidden to be eaten (Leviticus 17:10) was poured as water upon the earth and sucked in.
Deuteronomy 12:17-19. Sacrificial meals could only be held at the sanctuary. Servants and foreign slaves were to participate with them; the Levites especially were not to be forgotten.
Deuteronomy 12:20. These rules were to be in force when God would enlarge their border. If too far off (Deuteronomy 12:21) to come, the allowance in Deuteronomy 12:15-16, is repeated, and the reason of it given. Be sure, (Deuteronomy 12:23) lit., be strong, steadfast, determined to resist temptation to eat blood—a temptation to which they were specially exposed, probably.
Deuteronomy 12:23-24. The law relating to blood as in Deuteronomy 12:16.
Deuteronomy 12:26. Holy things, tithes, etc., as in Deuteronomy 12:17; not tithes for Levites, but special gifts of thankfulness and piety to be presented as peace offerings at the sanctuary. Vow. (Genesis 28:20.)
Deuteronomy 12:27. The flesh and blood of burnt offerings were to be put upon the altar. (Leviticus 1:5-9.) The blood of sacrifices in the ritual of the peace offering was poured out. (Leviticus 3:2; Leviticus 3:8; Leviticus 3:13.) Eat. (Leviticus 7:11.)
Deuteronomy 12:28. The closing admonition in expansion of Deuteronomy 12:25. (cf. Deuteronomy 11:21.)
Deuteronomy 12:29-32. A reference to the beginning (Deuteronomy 12:2), and a warning against Canaanitish idolatry. Heed. Be not ensnared by the worship of the local deities, the neglect of which was thought would bring misfortune, (cf. 2 Kings 17:26.) The fire. The heathens prepare all kinds of abominations for their gods which Jehovah hates. They even burn their children to their idols. (Leviticus 18:0; Jeremiah 32:35.) Observe. This verse is best taken “as an intermediate link, closing what goes before, and introductory to what follows.”—Keil.
THE LAWS OF DIVINE WORSHIP.—Deuteronomy 12:1-32
“Having thus rehearsed the Decalogue and enforced its leading principles, Moses now passes on to apply those principles to the ecclesiastical, civil, and social life of the people. Fourteen chapters are thus occupied. Many particulars are peculiar to the law given in Deuteronomy. The Sinaitic legislation was nearly forty years old, and had been given under conditions of time, place, and circumstances very different. Canaan was in sight, the legislator Himself was about to be withdrawn, and in the ripeness of his wisdom he now completes his work by enlarging, explaining, modifying and supplementing under Divine guidance the code which he promulgated in earlier days. Moses fitly begins with regulations pertaining to the worship of the Israelites during their settled life in Canaan” (cf. Speak. Com.). Taking the whole chapter, we get the following outline—
I. Worship as a protest to heathen idolatry. The invasion of Canaan was a new period in life—a period of true service and purified character.
1. Idolatry was not to be imitated (Deuteronomy 12:29-31). They must shun superstitions, and take heed not to be ensnared by their prevalence and popularity.
2. Idolatry was to be destroyed (Deuteronomy 12:2-4). Its monuments to be overturned, and its places swept away that God might come down and dwell among them.
II. Worship localised in its position (Deuteronomy 12:4-5). God would select a spot to which Israel must resort, institute a worship which should appeal to the senses, and teach the truth that where His people meet there He dwells. (1 Kings 8:29; 2 Chronicles 7:12.)
III. Worship joyful in its nature (Deuteronomy 12:7). There was enough in Israel’s past and present history to make them joyful. It is God’s will that we should serve Him with gladness, and never cover His. altar with tears. (Malachi 2:13.) Religion should never be a task or drudgery, but a pleasure. God commands those who worship Him to be joyful. “Neither be ye sorry, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
IV. Worship Divine in its regulations. God only knows and prescribes what is acceptable to Him. We must not follow custom, nor devise for ourselves. In papal ceremonies and the worship of images we have ingenuity “graven by art and man’s device” (Acts 17:29)—“a show of wisdom in will worship” (worship arbitrarily invented, devised by self-will, not by God, and which has a reputation of wisdom.) (Colossians 2:23.)
V. Worship obligatory in its ritual. There was room for vows, free-will offerings and voluntary efforts; yet the worship was binding upon all. The command was peremptory. Households and tribes must come to the appointed place (Deuteronomy 12:6). They must bring the kind of offerings specified, and no other. It is our duty to recognise God as our protector (Deuteronomy 12:10) and proprietor. Our attendance in His house should not be matter of form or custom, but of conscience.
Return, my senses, range no more abroad;
He only finds his bliss who seeks for God.—Parnell.
THE CHOSEN PLACE.—Deuteronomy 12:4-6
The name of the place is not mentioned by Moses. Different places were chosen in after times, Mizpeh, Shiloh and Jerusalem. “This studied silence was maintained partly lest the Canaanites, within whose territory it lay, might have concentrated their forces to frustrate all hopes of obtaining it; partly lest the desire of possessing a place of such importance might have become a cause of strife or rivalry amongst the Hebrew tribes, as about the appointment to the priesthood.” (Numbers 16:0.)—Jamieson
I. An assertion of God’s right to every place. All the earth belongs to God. He has perfect right to appropriate any spot. “The Lord hath chosen Zion; He hath desired it for His habitation.” Now spiritual incense may be offered in every place. (Malachi 1:11.) There has been divine order and gradual revelation in the worship of God; “but the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem worship the Father.” The heart, spirit and truth are required more than place. (John 4:21-24.)
II. A Dwelling place for God. “To put His name there.” God’s name is in every place, where He specially reveals Himself (cf. 1 Kings 8:29), and which is therefore His habitation or dwelling place. The God of heaven will indeed dwell with men upon earth. God is specially present in His house—a place distinguished by His presence—detached from secular pursuits, and attended by true worshippers—the most solemn and attractive place on earth. “How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” (Genesis 28:17.)
III. An aid to unity. To this chosen place all the tribes were to repair several times a year. The meeting would thus counteract local interests, tribal jealousies, and feuds. Like the Grecian games the festivals would cultivate national feeling and act as a bond of union. They were not merely commemorations of great events, but occasions for the reunion of friends, the enjoyments of hospitality and interchange of kindness. They opened the heart to joy and gave a welcome to the stranger and the fatherless. The Christian Church is a unity of many people, the centre of friendships and joys. “Jerusalem is builded (the well built one) as a city that is compact together (in unity), whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel (i.e., a law or custom to Israel, or a testimony to Israel’s covenant).” (Psalms 120:3-4.)
IV. A preservative of purity. “That there should be one national centre for the religion of the people was obviously essential to the great ends of the whole dispensation. Had fanciful varieties of worship such as Polytheism delighted in been tolerated, the Israelites would soon have lapsed into idolatry, and the deposit of the true faith and knowledge of God would have been, humanly speaking hopelessly lost.” (Speak. Com.) This holy ground, sanctified by God’ s presence and consecrated to His service, demands purity of motive, heart and life. “Feigned holiness is a double evil,” says St. Jerome. “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart, etc.” (Psalms 24:3-5.)
Look to thy actions well,
For churches either are our heaven or hell.
THE BLESSINGS OF PUBLIC WORSHIP.—Deuteronomy 12:5-6
It is advantageous individually and socially to meet together in religious worship.
I. It is a necessity of our moral nature. As social beings we crave for the society of our fellowmen; as religious creatures we depend upon God and seek His presence. Worship is needful to satisfy our instincts and hearts—to develope our nature and dispositions.
II. It is a bond of Christian fellowship. In this hallowed spot dearest friends “meet and mingle into bliss.” Here is delight with the excellent of the earth, sympathy and sweet converse with God and His people. Public prayer and praise have a sensible tendency to unite men together and to cherish and enlarge their generous affections.
III. It is an advantage to the nation. The national assembly to Israel was an immense advantage. But for public worship the greater part of mankind would have no instruction—no religion at all. This diffuses knowledge among the people, unites different classes of society and preserves real godliness in the nation.
IV. It is a duty of Divine appointment. “Thither shalt thou come, bring burnt offerings and eat” The apostle reproved those who deserted public worship. “Not forsaking the assembly of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.” (Hebrews 10:25.), We are not to forget the command of God, nor dispute the practice of apostolic churches and Christian communities in every age. “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God.”
THE FUTURE INHERITANCE.—Deuteronomy 12:9-10
Canaan is here described in a way adapted to the condition of Israel and may typify the future portion of the believer.
I. The description given.
1. A rest; “the rest.” “This is the scene of combat, not of rest.” At the end of the journey, will be peace, “quietness and assurance for ever.” “My chief conception of heaven is perfect rest,” said Robert Hall.
2. An inheritance not gained by hereditary succession, merit, or human friendship; but prepared for “the saints in light”—an inheritance “incorruptible and undefiled and fadeth not away.”
3. A gift. “The Lord your God giveth you”—a pure, munificent, and unparalled gift in Christ Jesus. Denoting great love, freeness and blessing.
4. A dwelling. “So that ye dwell in safety.” Beautiful in situation, secure in possessions, “it stands securely high, indissolubly sure.” The metropolis of the universe, the abode of saints, the palace of angels, and the residence of the Great King.
O ye blest scenes of permanent delight!
Full without measure! Lasting beyond bound!
A perpetuity of bliss, is bliss.
Could you, so rich in rapture, fear an end,
That ghastly thought would drink up all your joy,
And quite imparadise the realms of light.
II. The relation to this inheritance indicated. “Ye are not as yet come to the rest.” God’s people are seeking it and will attain it. Many come near but do not enter it. Hence all should take warning, be encouraged, and strive to enter it. “It is the best of all blessings,” said David Stoner, “to die well, and get safely home to heaven.” “Arise ye and depart, for this is not your rest.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
1. The duty. “Observe to do.” Weighty and most important.
2. Method of performing it. (a) Considerately “observe.” (b) Continually “all the days ye live upon earth.” “A sense of duty pursues us ever. It is omnipresent like the Deity.”—J. Webster.
The path of duty is the way to glory.
Deuteronomy 12:2-3. Destruction of idolatry. A divine command. A prudent policy. A good example. “We easily fall into idolatry; for we are inclined thereunto by nature, and coming to us by inheritance, it seems pleasant.”—Luther.
1. The place. The heathen sought and worshipped gods of nature wherever they could discern any trace of Divinity.
2. The name. The name indicates the manifestation of his presence in the place; “presents his personality, as comprehended in the word Jehovah, in a visible sign, the tangible sign of his essential presence.” (Keil.)
3. The seeking. Not merely turn in’ a certain direction; but to inquire for something. Hence come to God’s house for a purpose, in anxiety to fulfil that purpose. Not to seek entertainment, for it is not a place of amusement (Ezekiel 33:22); nor to attend with worldlimindedness; for it is not the house of merchandise (Luke 19:45-46). We must not profane it by sinful indulgence and Satan’s service (James 1:21). Attend with serious consideration, constant watchfulness and deep concern to obtain God’s blessing.
Deuteronomy 12:7; Deuteronomy 12:12. Joyful Worship. This joy springs—
1. From Divine goodness, past and present.
2. Great numbers, households and tribes.
3. Reciprocal feeling, warm hearts will create joy in prayer and praise and vibrate like chords in harmony. There is a place for song as well as meditation in the sanctuary. “Thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God.”
Deuteronomy 12:9. Not come to the rest. No more are any of us indeed, till we come to that “rest which remaineth for the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:3; Hebrews 4:8-10). The ark was transportive till settled in Solomon’s temple; so till we come to heaven are we in continual unrest.—(Trapp). Learn:
1. The insufficiency of earthly bliss; both to the believer and unbeliever.
2. The nature of heavenly bliss. Complete, perpetual and certain. Causes of evil and distress removed, and communications of glory beyond description.
THE SACREDNESS OF BLOOD.—Deuteronomy 12:16; Deuteronomy 12:20-23
The prohibition to use blood is most distinct and often repeated, and that for many reasons.
I. Blood sacred as an article of food. In Pagan and uncivilised nations it was the custom to eat flesh whilst quivering with life and to drink blood mixed with wine, as a right of idolatrous worship. (cf. 1 Samuel 14:32; Ezekiel 33:25; Acts 15:0.) But when animal food was granted to man it was forbidden “to eat flesh with its soul, its blood.” (Genesis 9:4.) The body may become food, but the blood, the life of the body which is the gift of God must be treated with reverence and reserved for Him.
II. Blood sacred as an emblem of life. Blood is the seat, the source of life. It contains the vital principle of all animal life, “For it is the life of all flesh,” (Deuteronomy 12:14). “Man is man only by virtue of his blood, and nature is chiefly admirable as supplying its ingredients.”—(Grindon.) Blood is distinguished from all other constituents of the human body. “It is the fountain of life, the first to live and last to die, and the primary seat of the animal soul; it lives and is nourished of itself, and by no other part of the human body.”—(Harvey.) When the blood is shed the life is gone. Hence, man or beast guilty of this act must be put to death.” “Blood of your lives will I require.” (Genesis 9:5; Exodus 21:12-28.)
Murder may pass unpunish’d for a time,
But tardy justice will o’ertake the crime.—Dryden.
III. Blood sacred as an element of expiation. As the blood was identical with the life and represented the soul of the victim, God appointed it as a substitute for the sinner’s life. Thus the life of the sacrifice was an atonement for the life of the offerer. It was an established rabbinical maxim that “there is no expiation except by blood,” a principle recognised in Hebrews 9:22 “without shedding of blood there is no remission.” Let us be thankful that Christ died, and shed His precious blood for us—blood which cleanseth from all sin and “which speaketh better things than that of Abel.” Never count the blood of the covenant, by which we are sanctified and saved “an unholy (or common) thing” (Hebrews 10:29) and thus insult God and lose your soul!
DIRECTIONS IN THE CHOICE OF ANIMAL FOOD.—Deuteronomy 12:15-16; Deuteronomy 12:20-26
The instructions concerning food were given to the Israelites in a way most convenient and generally understood at the time. God separated His people from others and all their laws reminded them of His covenant. Even laws of diet and regulations in the choice of food were given to teach dependence and enforce obedience.
I. Food in its benevolent design. Life requires for its maintenance constant supplies of food. Creatures may fast long, but can never dispense with food altogether. We may therefore learn the goodness of God in caring for the body, in providing sufficient and wholesome food, and in the enjoyment and strength which it gives. Since food is necessary we are taught to labour and pray for its continuance. “Give us this day our daily bread.” In legislating for our lower nature God teaches what is wholesome and unwholesome—suggests His greater care for our higher wants, food for mind, heart and soul, and reminds us of the care which should exercise over body and soul.
II. Food in its ceremonial use. In the garden of Eden vegetables were given to man (Genesis 1:29). Animal food was granted first to Noah (Genesis 9:25). In patriarchal times food consisted of flesh of animals tame and wild, as well as cereals. In the wilderness supplies came from heaven. In the promised land special rules were given as to kind of animals to be used. (Leviticus 11:0, Deuteronomy 14:0.) The Israelites were not to eat animals which were unclean, which were offered to idols (Exodus 34:15); and which had been torn by wild beasts (Leviticus 22:8 cf. Ezekiel 4:14). All animals for food had formerly to be killed at the door of the tabernacle (Leviticus 16:1-8), but in view of entrance into the land the prohibition is relaxed. More liberty was given, but the blood of the animal was prohibited to prevent ferocity in men towards lower creatures and profanation of a sacred element. The separation of animals into clean and unclean would remind Israel of their separation from the nations. They were not to join in convivals feasts and social banquets of idolaters. Their ordinary meals must be chosen with care and eaten in gratitude. We must be temperate, orderly and obedient in the government of the table, and exercise control over appetites and desires. Touch nothing unclean, regard the sanctity of life and let thanks giving be offered with daily food. (1 Timothy 4:4-5.) “Whether, therefore, ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Deuteronomy 12:16. The prohibition of blood. To elucidate this ordinance, I shall—I. Confirm the fact here stated. God had from the beginning appointed the blood of animals to be offered by man as an atonement for his soul. This appears throughout all the Mosaic history and the New Testament II. Consider the prohibition as founded on it. It was most salutary as tending—
1. To excite reverence for sacrifices.
2. To bring continually to remembrance the way of salvation.
3. To direct attention to the great sacrifice.—C. Simeon, M.A.
Deuteronomy 12:20-26. Laws of diet.
1. Founded upon God’s will.
2. Related to the health of the people. Most of animals forbidden are unclean and unwholesome—others injurious in warm countries. To please the appetite is often prejudicial to health.
3. Designed to promote religions sanctity. We must be separate from all uncleanness; in religious worship and in the common acts of life. “Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things; for in all these the nations are defiled, which I cast out before you.”
Here’s neither want of appetite no mouths;
Pray heaven we be not scant of meat or mirth.—Shakespeare.
THE LEVITE.—Deuteronomy 12:19
This frequently recurring description of the Levites (cf. Deuteronomy 12:18, Deuteronomy 14:27; Deuteronomy 16:11; Deuteronomy 16:14; Deuteronomy 18:6; Deuteronomy 26:12), does not assume that they were homeless, which would be at variance with the allotment of towns for them to dwell in (Numbers 35:0); but simply implies what is frequently added in explanation “that the Levites had no part nor inheritance,” no share of the land as their hereditary property, and in this respect resembled strangers (Deuteronomy 14:21; Deuteronomy 14:29; Deuteronomy 16:11). And the repeated injunction to invite the Levites to the sacrificial meals is not at variance with Numbers 18:21, where the tithes are assigned to the tribe of Levi for their maintenance. For, however ample this revenue may have been according to the law, it was so entirely dependent upon the honesty and conscientiousness of the people that the Levites might very easily be brought into a straitened condition, if indifference toward the Lord and his servants should prevail throughout the nation.—Keil.
I. The Levites, servants of the people. They were appointed to teach and officiate for Israel before God and thus prevent the anger of God from coming upon the people (cf. Numbers 8:18-22.) They were given to the people and depended upon their help and generosity, designed to train them for service and not absolve them from duty. In heathen countries the priestly caste was hereditary, wealthy, and held much of the land (cf. Genesis 47:2), but the Levites had no landed property, were servants of God and the people. “Behold I have taken your brethren the Levites from among the children of Israel; to you they are given as a gift for the Lord, to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation” (Numbers 17:6).
II. The Levites, servants of God. God claimed them as the first-born, separated and cleansed them. They were dedicated to him as Israel’s representatives in holy work. They had no worldly portion in houses and land. The avenues to wealth and power were closed to them. God alone was their inheritance in the riches of His grace and the resources of His providence.
WARNING AGAINST SNARES.—Deuteronomy 12:29-32
During the sojourn in Egypt Israel became familiar with the customs of idolatry. From this idolatry they were scarcely weaned. Since the forms of licentiousness were worse in the land which they were to inherit, there was need of caution. “Forewarned, forearmed.”
I. The need of warning. In circumstances most favourable and secure there is need of watchfulness and prayer.
1. The dangers were great. “Take heed”—Evils might be vivid, abominable, and cruel, but familiarity would weaken resistance and ensnare. The vices of a companion and of society may be gross and palpable to others, yet (says Shakespeare) “a friendly eye cannot see such faults.”
2. The attractions were strong. Idol worship was ancient and prevalent. Fashions are often popular and attractive. “Do at Rome what Rome does” is the rule of many. But conscience must be regarded, and the command of God obeyed.
3. The foe was conquered, not subdued. Sins may revive, and habits not broken may regain their dominion and tyranny. Men may cease to swear and forsake intemperate ways, and yet be afterwards ensnared. Pity for the enemy, and dependence upon resolves, must not throw us off our guard.
II. The consequences of neglecting the warning. There must be no curiosity, no parley, but constant regard to the word of God.
1. Neglect would offend God. Idolatry was hateful to God, and if guilty we lose His favour and protection. We must hate what He hates, and assimilate our tastes and habits to His. We shall never err, if we “observe to do” His commandments.
2. Neglect would bring ruin upon themselves. Idolatry had been the overthrow of Pharaoh, and the destruction of surrounding nations. It will bring utter ruin to individuals and nations who persist in it. Israel sadly fell by neglecting this caution. (Jeremiah 32:35; Ezekiel 23:37.) “They followed vanity and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them, that they should not do like them.” (2 Kings 17:15.)
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Deuteronomy 12:25. Not eat. Who can ever think any commandment of God to be light or little, when this of not eating the blood is charged with so much strictness? The minutula of the law, as well as the magnalia, must be carefully heeded and practised.—Trapp.
Deuteronomy 12:29. Cut off nations. God in the history of nations.
1. Appointing their lot. (Joshua 23:4).
2. Robbed of their inheritance. “God shall cut off the nations.”
3. Succeeding to their possessions. “Thou succeedest them.”
4. Secure in their dwelling “and dwellest in the land.” “The life of a nation,” says Dr. Arnold, “is to me as distinct as that of an individual.” “The Lord is governor among the nations.” (Psalms 22:28; 1 Chronicles 16:31.)
Deuteronomy 12:31. Idolatry.
1. Abominable to God.
2. Cruel to humanity.
3. Easily fallen into. “We are inclined thereunto by nature, and coming to us by inheritance, it seems pleasant.”—Luther.
1. The command a rule of duty. “Observe to do it.”
2. A complete rule of duty. “Thou shalt not add, nor diminish.” Add by pretending to have received similar divine revelations and persuading men to believe them, as Mahomet and others; diminish, by taking from them, denying them to be from God, and acting contrary to them.” From these words it is evident that the Jews were not to add any other rites of worship of their own devising, or from the idolatrous customs of those countries, nor omit any of those which God had commanded them to use, For if they had used any of the Gentile ceremonies, whereby they honoured their gods, it would easily have introduced the worship of the gods themselves; and if they had omitted any of the rites which God had ordained, some other would have easily stepped into their room which were used by idolators.”—Wilson.
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 12
Deuteronomy 12:1-4. Destroy. This is a very important law: in this world, unhappily, names are often things; for whenever a party wish to get power, a party holding erroneous doctrines, the first thing they do is to establish titles; and when they have got titles, they soon follow them up by asserting realities. And therefore it is very wisely provided here that not only should the scenes, the altars, and the groves, all be overturned, as having been desecrated by practices that were abominable in the sight of a holy God, but that even the very names that might remind of that superstition that had passed away should be expunged from their vocabularies, and not mentioned even in their conversation.—Dr. Cumming.
Deuteronomy 12:5-7. Place. When we remember what the policy and practice of all the kings of Israel was, viz., to draw off their subjects from the place where God set His name and to deter them from going to Judah and Jerusalem, by means of the calves of Bethel and of Dan … it is not possible that Deuteronomy, requiring every Israelite to bring his sacrifice to the place which the Lord should choose to set His name there, should ever have been accepted as genuine and inspired if its genuineness and inspiration had not been incontrovertible (Bp. Wordsworth). It is a wise, a salutary, and a laudable provision of the Church’s discipline, that she sets apart, and consecrates, by solemn religious rites to God’s glory, the places which she intends for His worship; and by outward signs of decency, and reverence of majesty and holiness, impresses them with an appropriate character which, whilst it redounds to the honour of God, operates also with no mean or trivial influence on the minds of His people. A certain sense of holy pleasure is diffused over the pious and meditative mind, as soon as the feet cross the threshold which separates the house of God from common places. We feel that we are on “holy ground;” and a still small voice within, as we draw near to “worship God in the beauty of holiness,” “it is good for us to be here.”—Bp. Mant.
Deuteronomy 12:17-18; Deuteronomy 20:0 -
26. Eat. Some people have a foolish way of not minding or pretending not to mind what they eat. For my part, I mind very studiously; for I look upon it, that he who does not mind this, will hardly mind anything else. (Dr. Johnson.) Moderation is absolutely required in the lower things of life, especially in that of eating. Health—one of the greatest blessings of life—depends upon it; so also the happy flow of spirits, without which life is at least a perfect blank.—E. Davies.
Deuteronomy 12:26. Vows.
Unheeded vows may heedfully be broken;
And he wants wit, that wants resolved will,
To learn his wit to exchange the bad for better.—Shakespeare.
Deuteronomy 12:30-32. Take heed. There is a story which tells of a bell suspended on a rock dangerous to navigation. The waves of the ocean beating upon it caused it to make a noise to keep off the approaching mariner. It is said that at one time some pirates destroyed the bell to prevent the warning. Not long after, these very pirates struck upon the rock and were lost. How many hush the voice of warning at the point of danger, and founder upon the rock of temptation and are lost for ever.—McCosh.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 12". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13