The Scriptorium

Worship God's Way

God knows how He wants to be worshiped. Deuteronomy 12.5-7

Concerning Worship: Deuteronomy 12 (2)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 132.13-18
For the LORD has chosen Zion;
He has desired it for His dwelling place:
“This is My resting place forever;
Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
I will abundantly bless her provision;
I will satisfy her poor with bread.
I will also clothe her priests with salvation,
And her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
There I will make the horn of David grow;
I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed.
His enemies I will clothe with shame,
But upon Himself His crown shall flourish.”

Psalm 132.13-18

(Finlandia: Be Still My Soul)
God dwells among us, and He will forever,
to meet our needs and clothe us with His grace.
He has to us sent Jesus Christ, our Savior,
and made us His eternal resting-place.
His foes are banished from His Presence ever,
but we shall reign with Him before His face.

Today’s Text: Deuteronomy 12.5-7

Preparation

1. Where were God’s people to worship Him?

2. What was their worship to include?

Mediation
The important point in these verses is that God sets the standards and protocols for worship. Three purposes for worship are outlined in these verses.

First, God intends to host His people in His dwelling place (v. 5). In worship, we come before God, as invited guests in His abode. We are in His Presence, and all our orientation and conduct must be determined by that fact. We are there on His terms, for His purposes, and according to His desires. Worship, in short, is about God.

Second, the people of God come into His dwelling place for the purpose of honoring Him with offerings, tithes, sacrifices, and gifts (v. 6). Worship is about giving honor to God. In ancient Israel, the people did this with various kinds of sacrifices. Detailed explanations of these are provided in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. Those offerings have now ceased, since Jesus fulfilled all they pointed to (Heb. 7-9). Nevertheless, when we come before God in worship, the principle established in sacrifices and offerings remains. We come to God to honor Him with gifts of singing, prayer, testimony, tithes, and, indeed, our whole lives (Rom. 12.1, 2).

Third, in worship the people of God hold communion with Him. When sacrifices were made, the people ate them, together with the priests and Levites, there in the Lord’s dwelling place together (v. 7). In worship we have fellowship with God by His Word and Spirit, and especially by the Lord’s Supper. God, having received our offerings and gifts, feeds and renews us by the ministry of the Word and sacrament. Worship is meant to be a time of rejoicing together in the Lord, honoring Him for His greatness and blessings, and being fed by Him according to our needs (v. 7).

Scripture has much more to say about worshiping God, but this is the bare outline. Our worship as a community must follow His will and seek His glory, or we do not worship Him at all.

And we worship God at His dwelling place.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.We are to “seek the place where the LORD your God chooses…and there you shall go” (vs. 5). Here is a house-hunting adventure with the Master Realtor. He chooses the place; we just need to find it and go there. We bring all our housewarming gifts of singing, prayer, tithes, communion, and hearts full of love, and then we hear it: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3.20). And there we are in the perfect property: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…” (Deut. 33.27).

Reflection
1. Why does it make sense that God should prescribe the pattern of worship we are to follow?

2. Paul says we are the temple of the Lord (1 Cor. 6.19, 20). What does this suggest about meeting with God for worship?

3. What will you bring to honor God in worship today?

Although, then, there is a special promise here concerning Zion, still there is no doubt but that God in the meantime confines the Jews to His sanctuary, lest any one should erect a private altar for himself, or build for himself other cities and other temples. The phrase is worthy of observation, “to put his name there;” and again, “his habitation.” John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Deuteronomy 12.5

Lord, thank You for dwelling in me by Your Spirit. Make my life a living sacrifice to You as I…

Closing Prayer: Psalm 132.1-12
Pray that God would make you a living sacrifice for His service and glory in all you do today (Rom. 12.1, 2). Cling to His Presence and call upon Him throughout the day to receive your prayers and labors and to bless you in all things.

Psalm 132.1-12
(Finlandia: Be Still My Soul)
Remember, Lord, we pray, in David’s favor,
the hardships he endured, the oath he swore,
the vow he made to Jacob’s mighty Savior:
“I shall not enter through my palace door;
I shall not sleep, nor slumber my eyes favor,
until I make a dwelling for the Lord!”

The word throughout the chosen nation spread,
to Ephrata, and in the fields of Jaar:
“Now let us go,” the faithful people said,
“and worship where our Savior’s dwellings are!
Around His footstool let our worship spread;
come, gather to Him, all from near and far!”

Arise, O Lord, come to Your resting place;
Your holy Presence meet with us in might.
Clothe us with righteousness in Jesus’ grace,
and we will shout to Your divine delight!
For David’s sake, turn not away Your face,
but look upon us in Your holy light.

Remember, Lord, the oath You swore to David;
do not turn back, do not deny Your Word:
“One of your sons, with your throne I will favor,
and He shall keep My cov’nant evermore,
and walk within My testimonies ever,
thus He shall ever rule as Israel’s Lord.”

T. M. and Susie Moore

Listen to our summary of last week’s study in Deuteronomy by clicking here. You can download all the studies in the series by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy: Ancient Christian Commentary Series III, Joseph T. Lienhard, S. J. ed. in collaboration with Ronnie J. Rombs, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001). All quotations from John Calvin from John Calvin, Commentaries on The Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Order of A Harmony, Rev. Charles William Bingham M. A., tr. and ed. (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1863. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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