Deuteronomy 12 & 13

Moses makes it very clear that when they enter the land they are not to worship God like the other peoples worship their gods because “they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates,” even burning their children in fire as sacrifices. In chapter 12 he tells the people there will be a specific place where the Lord will place his name, and there they will worship him. Verse 7 says something very profound that can be easily missed:

There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you.

Today, there is no specific place where we must experience God’s presence or worship because as Jesus says we now worship in the Spirit and in truth (John 4). Because of Jesus we can experience and enjoy God’s presence everywhere. But what stands out to me in this passage is that in his presence we can rejoice in everything, we can have true joy without qualification because of him. All of it is his blessing, from his hand, by his will. We can know equanimity; we don’t have to have constant worry or tension. That’s why it says the joy of the Lord is our strength.

And to add to this Moses says that at that time when they crave meat, and he uses that word (hearkening back to when they craved meat and were not satisfied with the mana from heaven), they can have all they want. Enjoy! You’re in God’s presence, he’s blessed you, be filled. The only qualification is one they already know, don’t eat the blood because the life is in the blood. But all of this depends on their obedience and not running after other gods.

Chapter 13 shows just how serious God is about this. Even if some prophet or dreamer comes along and does miracles and then tells them to follow other gods, he must be put to death. This is exactly what Caiaphas was referring to when he condemned Jesus to death. All the miracles where just something to deceive the people to follow a false god, him. You can see by his lights why he’d say it is better for one man to die than for an entire nation to perish. And when Jesus was hung on a tree, cursed of God, they obviously thought they were right, and the Apostles thought they must be too.

And even if a family member tries to entice them to worship other gods, they must die as well. Seems harsh, right? To each his own, bla, bla, bla. Not to the true and living God. Our lives are only what they are meant to be when they are lived in him. Anything else is death.

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