‘Be careful. The people around you practice sexual immorality and they even go so far as to dispose of their babies. Don’t fall into the trap and follow their practices. You are to live differently. Love me with all your heart. I will show you where to worship so that there is blessing, rejoicing and celebration.’
How different do the people of God look than the people around us?
The Lord was appalled at the practices of the Canaanites and the people of the land. He gave them 400 years to mend their ways and they didn’t, so he was using the Israelites to drive them out completely. Not because Israel was so righteous, but because the people of the land had become so evil.
“They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire…” (12:31)
The Lord was warning them to not be like them. Instead they were to worship the LORD. He tells them again and again (21x) to “be careful.”
- “Be careful to follow these statutes and ordinances” (v. 1)
- “Be careful not to offer your burnt offerings in all the sacred places you see” (v. 13)
- “Be careful not to neglect the Levite, as long as you live in your land” (v. 19)
- “Be careful to obey all these things I command you” (v. 28)
- “Be careful not to be ensnared by their ways” (v. 30)
How could they be careful? It would require drastic measures. They would need to
- Completely demolish the wood, silver and gold idols that the people worshiped (12:2-3)
- Not eat/drink the blood of an animal (12:15-28)
- Drive out the peoples of the land (12:29-30)
- Not so much as even ask about their gods (12:30)
Instead the Lord was going to them a place where they could worship him.
- “Instead, you must turn to the place Yahweh your God chooses from all your tribes to put His name for His dwelling and go there (12:5)
- “then Yahweh your God will choose the place to have His name dwell (v. 11)
- “You must offer your burn offerings only in the place the LORD chooses in one of your tribes” (v. 13)
- “You must eat them [sacrifices, offerings] in the presence of the LORD your God at the place the LORD your God chooses” (v. 18)
- “If the place where Yahweh your God chooses to put His name is too far from you…” (v. 21)
- “But you are to take the holy offerings you have and your vow offerings and go to the place your LORD chooses” (v. 26)
And lest you think it’s all just warnings, the LORD did this so they could prosper, their children and servants and Levites could all prosper (v. 12), and they could…Rejoice!
- “You will eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice with your household in everything you do, because the LORD your God has blessed you” (v. 7)
- “You will rejoice before the LORD your God” (v. 12)
- “But whenever you want, you may slaughter and eat meat within any of your gates, according to the blessing the LORD your God has given you (v. 15)
- “Rejoice before the LORD your God in everything you do” (v. 18)
- “Be careful to obey all these things I command you, so that you and your children after you may prosper forever because you will be doing what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God” (v. 28)
God’s path for His people was that He could bless them to their fullest. As the creator of the earth, He knows the way to blessing, joy, prosperity and happiness. And it wasn’t determined by man and “doing whatever seems right in his own eyes” (v. 8). God made a path but it meant obedience and trust. And…it still does.