Deuteronomy 12

Listen to Deuteronomy 12
1 “These are the decrees and regulations you must be careful to obey when you live in the land that the LORD, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. You must obey them as long as you live.
2 “When you drive out the nations that live there, you must destroy all the places where they worship their gods—high on the mountains, up on the hills, and under every green tree.
3 Break down their altars and smash their sacred pillars. Burn their Asherah poles and cut down their carved idols. Completely erase the names of their gods!
4 “Do not worship the LORD your God in the way these pagan peoples worship their gods.
5 Rather, you must seek the LORD your God at the place of worship he himself will choose from among all the tribes—the place where his name will be honored.
6 There you will bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, your sacred offerings, your offerings to fulfill a vow, your voluntary offerings, and your offerings of the firstborn animals of your herds and flocks.
7 There you and your families will feast in the presence of the LORD your God, and you will rejoice in all you have accomplished because the LORD your God has blessed you.
8 “Your pattern of worship will change. Today all of you are doing as you please,
9 because you have not yet arrived at the place of rest, the land the LORD your God is giving you as your special possession.
10 But you will soon cross the Jordan River and live in the land the LORD your God is giving you. When he gives you rest from all your enemies and you’re living safely in the land,
11 you must bring everything I command you—your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, your sacred offerings, and your offerings to fulfill a vow—to the designated place of worship, the place the LORD your God chooses for his name to be honored.
12 “You must celebrate there in the presence of the LORD your God with your sons and daughters and all your servants. And remember to include the Levites who live in your towns, for they will receive no allotment of land among you.
13 Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings just anywhere you like.
14 You may do so only at the place the LORD will choose within one of your tribal territories. There you must offer your burnt offerings and do everything I command you.
15 “But you may butcher your animals and eat their meat in any town whenever you want. You may freely eat the animals with which the LORD your God blesses you. All of you, whether ceremonially clean or unclean, may eat that meat, just as you now eat gazelle and deer.
16 But you must not consume the blood. You must pour it out on the ground like water.
17 “But you may not eat your offerings in your hometown—neither the tithe of your grain and new wine and olive oil, nor the firstborn of your flocks and herds, nor any offering to fulfill a vow, nor your voluntary offerings, nor your sacred offerings.
18 You must eat these in the presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose. Eat them there with your children, your servants, and the Levites who live in your towns, celebrating in the presence of the LORD your God in all you do.
19 And be very careful never to neglect the Levites as long as you live in your land.
20 “When the LORD your God expands your territory as he has promised, and you have the urge to eat meat, you may freely eat meat whenever you want.
21 It might happen that the designated place of worship—the place the LORD your God chooses for his name to be honored—is a long way from your home. If so, you may butcher any of the cattle, sheep, or goats the LORD has given you, and you may freely eat the meat in your hometown, as I have commanded you.
22 Anyone, whether ceremonially clean or unclean, may eat that meat, just as you do now with gazelle and deer.
23 But never consume the blood, for the blood is the life, and you must not consume the lifeblood with the meat.
24 Instead, pour out the blood on the ground like water.
25 Do not consume the blood, so that all may go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what pleases the LORD .
26 “Take your sacred gifts and your offerings given to fulfill a vow to the place the LORD chooses.
27 You must offer the meat and blood of your burnt offerings on the altar of the LORD your God. The blood of your other sacrifices must be poured out on the altar of the LORD your God, but you may eat the meat.
28 Be careful to obey all my commands, so that all will go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and pleasing to the LORD your God.
29 “When the LORD your God goes ahead of you and destroys the nations and you drive them out and live in their land,
30 do not fall into the trap of following their customs and worshiping their gods. Do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations worship their gods? I want to follow their example.’
31 You must not worship the LORD your God the way the other nations worship their gods, for they perform for their gods every detestable act that the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters as sacrifices to their gods.
32 “So be careful to obey all the commands I give you. You must not add anything to them or subtract anything from them.

Deuteronomy 12 Commentary

Chapter 12

Monuments of idolatry to be destroyed. (1-4) The place of God's service to be kept. (5-32)

Verses 1-4 Moses comes to the statutes he had to give in charge to Israel; and begins with such as relate to the worship of God. The Israelites are charged not to bring the rites and usages of idolaters into the worship of God; not under colour of making it better. We cannot serve God and mammon; nor worship the true God and idols; nor depend upon Christ Jesus and upon superstitious or self-righteous confidences.

Verses 5-32 The command to bring ALL the sacrifices to the door of the tabernacle, was now explained with reference to the promised land. As to moral service, then, as now, men might pray and worship every where, as they did in their synagogues. The place which God would choose, is said to be the place where he would put his name. It was to be his habitation, where, as King of Israel, he would be found by all who reverently sought him. Now, under the gospel, we have no temple or altar that sanctifies the gift but Christ only: and as to the places of worship, the prophets foretold that in every place the spiritual incense should be offered, ( Malachi 1:11 ) . Our Saviour declared, that those are accepted as true worshippers, who worship God in sincerity and truth, without regard either to this mountain or Jerusalem, ( John 4:21 ) . And a devout Israelite might honour God, keep up communion with him, and obtain mercy from him, though he had no opportunity of bringing a sacrifice to his altar. Work for God should be done with holy joy and cheerfulness. Even children and servants must rejoice before God; the services of religion are to be a pleasure, and not a task or drudgery. It is the duty of people to be kind to their ministers, who teach them well, and set them good examples. As long as we live, we need their assistance, till we come to that world where ordinances will not be needed. Whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, we are commanded to do all to the glory of God. And we must do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to the Father through him. They must not even inquire into the modes and forms of idolatrous worship. What good would it do them to know those depths of Satan? And our inward satisfaction will be more and more, as we abound in love and good works, which spring from faith and the in-dwelling Spirit of Christ.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Verse 12:32 is numbered 13:1 in Hebrew text.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO DEUTERONOMY 12

In this chapter orders are given to destroy all altars, pillars, groves, and images, made for the worship of idols in the land of Canaan, De 12:1-3 and to bring all sacrifices and holy things unto the place which the Lord should choose for his habitation, and not do as they then did, not being come to their rest, De 12:4-14, flesh for their common food might be killed and eaten in their own houses, provided they did not eat the blood, but poured it out upon the earth, De 12:15-25, tithes, vows, and freewill offerings, were to be eaten in the holy place, De 12:17-19 and burnt offerings to be offered on the altar of the Lord and the blood of them to be poured out upon the altar, De 12:26-28, all which they were carefully to observe, De 12:29, and they are cautioned against idolatry, and inquiring after the manner of it, as practised by the old inhabitants of the land, and introducing their customs into the service of God, De 12:30-32.

Deuteronomy 12 Commentaries