Deuteronomy 12

Deuteronomy 12

Deuteronomy 12 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

What separated the people of God from the pagans around them was their total allegiance to the One True God. He gave them commands to follow which centered around every facet of life. They expressed love and obedience to God through their worship, economy, family life, and their personal and corporate morals. Following God meant continually repenting and receiving forgiveness through altar sacrifices.

The altar was a place for consecration. This simply means to set yourself apart or dedicate yourself to the Lord through a symbolic act. Churches today have altars where people are invited to come forward and meet with God. There is nothing mystical or superstitious about coming to the altar, but it does posture you to give more of yourself to the Lord through an obedient act. Many times in my life I have had burdens lifted, priorities refocused, and peace given through an altar experience. There is something to be said about humbling yourself in front of other believers who love you and can surround you in prayer.

However, there is something else to consider about the altars. Just as Satan has always done, he mimicked the Lord’s true place of worship by orchestrated pagan altars through neighboring nations. Often, the Israelites would fall into the temptation of worshiping false gods at these altars. In fact, their false worship reached an all-time low when King Solomon established idolatrous high places for his foreign wives outside of Jerusalem and worshiped alongside them.

Are there still false places of worship today? Yes. In a sense, the human heart is the altar where the flesh and the spirit battle it out each and every day. Jesus was the final atoning sacrifice, giving Himself freely for the destruction of sin and the freedom to choose obedience. When we elevate different pleasures in our life above God, we are worshiping with our whole heart a false “idol.” We, like the Israelites, find temporary pleasure in false and empty finite gods.

Let’s get even more specific. When we look at pornography, we make our heart and mind a pagan altar that worships and idolizes sex. When we constantly overeat, we posture our heart to make an idol of food and worship it for how it makes us feel. When we obsess over money, we give away our heart to a piece of paper that can never truly satisfy us. I could go on and on. The point is, our flesh wants to transform our hearts in a full-blown idol worshiping machine.

The Holy Spirit wants to change our hearts into a temple of holiness by pointing it back to Jesus. Every day we are faced with decisions that will either worship God or worship something else.

What can we do to fight the temptations that bombard our altars?

And he said to them, “Keep watch, and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Mark 14:38 GNB

Keep watch and pray. Paul writes that God will always provide a way out for those who are tempted. When we keep watch, we are looking for that way out. We are also looking to identify temptation before fully hits so that we can be led into prayer. I can’t begin to tell you how powerful this has been in my own life.

When temptation comes for me personally, I am vigilant in reminding myself that I know where that path leads, and I begin praying that God would protect my thoughts and my mind from further temptation. Often, He will remind me of a verse, or a story, or simply an action to take at that moment that allows me to flee temptation.

Keep watch. Pray. Allow the Spirit to build your heart into a temple of worship for Jesus.

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