When you read through the book of Deuteronomy, there are many phrases that are repeated throughout the course of the book. One such phrase is reminding the Israelites to keep/observe all the commandments of God. Another, and the one I want to focus on today, is “in the place which the LORD your God chooses.”
Reading through this book, you find many, many, many examples of the Israelites being required to do something or sacrifice something “in the place where God chooses.” From just chapters 12 to 16, you see that phrase or one with the same meaning at least 15 times. FIFTEEN TIMES. In 5 chapters. Clearly, the Holy Spirit is trying to tell us something.
God is an unchanging God. While His law changed (Jesus fulfilling the first and then implementing a new one), His character and attributes have not and will not. He has always been a merciful God, a just God, and a God who keeps His promises. He has always and will always be a God who expects obedience, and gives clear guidelines for the good of His people. He is a God who loves and who is love. He is a God who is holy. He is our God, and aren’t we so thankful to be His chosen people!
But because God is an unchanging God, I think we can learn a lot about who we should be if we’ll carefully examine that phrase “in the place which the LORD your God chooses.” The Israelites, who were going to be given the land of promise by their great God, had certain regulations and commands they were going to have to be “careful to observe.” One such area where they were to take great care was in offering their sacrifices to God in both the way He prescribed and in the place He prescribed. They could not choose for themselves what to offer, nor could they choose for themselves where to offer. God alone chooses what is and is not acceptable worship, and we would do well to remember that.
So many in our present world want to change worship to be all about them. While they may not come right out and say that, their actions surely indicate that type of mindset. Sometimes, our attitudes reflect that type of mindset. We want something to be engaging, so we add instruments or extreme emotionalism. We want singing to sound good to us, so we mic people with special talents so their voices can be heard above all! We decide it might be better and mean more to only partake of the Lord’s Supper every so often, thus making it more special and less routine.
But worship has never and will never be about us and our preferences.
Worship is about God Almighty, and since He is the audience and object of our worship, He alone is the One who decides how it should be done. It is up to what “the LORD your God chooses” and not up to frail, incompetent, human minds.
When we start thinking we know better than God how He ought to be worshipped, we put ourselves at least on an equal playing field with God, if not elevate ourselves above God. How utterly foolish! God is above all that we could think or imagine. He is supreme! And His ways (all His ways) are higher than ours. His views on worship are the only ones that matter. His views on anything are the only ones that matter. He is Jehovah God, and He alone chooses what is right and acceptable.
This is a lesson I need to plant deep in my heart. Sometimes, I like to make things about me. I like for things to be done a certain way, or feel they’d be done better a different way. I like what I like, and that’s generally the path I want to pursue. But understanding who God is (everything) and who I am (nothing) will make me realize that He is the One who gets to make the decisions, and I am the one who gets to humbly fall on my face and praise Him for allowing me to enter into His holy presence in the first place.
May we all be people whose entire lives are centered around whatever “the LORD our God chooses.” In worship, whatever He chooses. For our speech, whatever He chooses. For our dress, whatever He chooses. For our finances, whatever He chooses. For our recreation, whatever He chooses. For our marriages, whatever He chooses. In all things, what the LORD chooses is what we abide by. End of discussion.