The Lord commands the people that when they have entered the land they are to go to Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, and with the people split into two groups, some on the one mountain and the rest on the other mountain, they are to announce to the land the blessings and curses that God will give them.
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Moses further relates that God also commands the people, once they are in the land, to utterly destroy all of the pagan altars, standing stones, and every remnant of the religious articles of the people they conquered.
God tells the people they are not to sacrifice anywhere they want to, but only where God will choose to place his name.
The other warnings that Moses gives deal with false prophets, and that a religious seducer (someone trying to get the people to follow pagan practices) must be killed as an example, even if members of one’s own family.
The laws regarding Kashrut (Kosher) and holiness are repeated, as are the rules for tithing and the Year of Release, treatment of slaves, and the Pilgrimage Festivals.
What I would like to talk about is the passage where God says we must not sacrifice unless it is where he says we should. Initially, this was at the Tent of Meeting which, during the time of the Judges, was located in Shiloh. Later, King David moved it to Jerusalem, and when King Solomon completed the Temple God then said that is where his name shall reside.
So why was it so terrible to sacrifice elsewhere? Isn’t God everywhere? If I sacrifice to him in my backyard, why is that different than in Jerusalem?
I’ll tell you why: because when we do whatever we want to do, we screw it all up.
The pagans would sacrifice under large trees and on the high places and God didn’t want us to do what they did, in any shape or form. In the Book of Judges, we read no less than three times that there was no king, and the people did as they wanted to. We know by reading that book, that every time the Israelites did what they wanted to, they ended up doing the wrong thing and were punished.
God gives us instructions for worship and treatment of others, and these are not just so that he can demonstrate his authority over us: he gives these to us so we can be protected. He is trying to keep us from harming ourselves, and I don’t mean falling off a ladder or burning our hands, but condemning ourselves to hell for all eternity. When we ignore what God says we should do, we ignore God.
This is a lesson that, unfortunately, Christianity hasn’t learned. They ignore most of the instructions God gave and justify it by referencing what men said, men like Paul, Peter, and James. And even though there are many good things that these men said, none of them is God, and not one of the Apostles or anyone after them has professed himself to be a prophet, hearing directly from God.
When King Solomon dedicated the temple in Jerusalem, the Jewish people had a place where they could go to be forgiven of their sins. That was the only place, and when the Romans destroyed it in 73 AD, the Jewish people were devastated because now there was no means of receiving forgiveness.
This is why they have to accept Yeshua as their Messiah because the resurrection of Yeshua was, in a way, a replacement of God’s name.
God said we could only sacrifice at the temple, and that has never changed, but when God raised Yeshua as a sign of his sacrifice being accepted, Yeshua then replaced the need to bring an animal to the temple. The commandment that we cannot sacrifice anywhere except where God places his name still exists and is valid; the only thing that has changed is where God put his name, which is now “on” Yeshua.
By accepting Yeshua as our Messiah, we have a new place where the sacrifice for sin is acceptable to God; through Yeshua, we can ask forgiveness without having to make a sacrifice at the temple.
All the other instructions in the Torah still stand- there is no “Get Out of Jail Free” card just because someone accepts Yeshua as their Messiah. We are ALL still expected to obey what God said we should do in the Torah.
Through Yeshua God has made forgiveness available to everyone, and he did it without ever changing his Torah.
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That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!