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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Deuteronomy 12

 

 

Verses 1-32

Deuteronomy 12:5. The place which the Lord shall choose. No place is here named; for the Lord was content, and most significantly, to dwell in the tent. He sojourned in the desert; and afterwards removed his abode to Gilgal, to Shiloh, to Nob, and to Jerusalem, which he chose by the falling of fire from heaven. 1 Chronicles 21:26. In all these places he recorded his name; and the people usually looked towards his holy place when they called on his name.

Deuteronomy 12:17. Thou mayest not eat the tithe of thy corn. The tithe was assigned to the levites, out of which they gave a tenth part to the priests. Numbers 18:21. Yet one part of the tithe was consumed in the sacred festivals, in which the worshipper participated. Tobit 1:7.

REFLECTIONS.

Having already spoken of the commands to destroy the Canaanites, let us fix our eye on the place so frequently mentioned in this book, which God would choose for the residence of his ark and of his glory. Heaven most assuredly is the city and habitation of the Most High: there his temple and altar abide for ever. Carnal Israel being a figure of God’s spiritual Israel, it was requisite that their worship should bear a resemblance to the heavenly glory. Hence they must have but one altar, but one highpriest, but one sanctuary. This restriction did not extend to the devotional exercises of prayer and praise, and public instruction; for these purposes synagogues were erected in every city. But the christian church, having their altar and their Saviour in heaven, and being a nation of priests, may everywhere offer up the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, and everywhere worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

Though the patriarchal liberty of sacrificing in any place was now removed; yet Israel acquired advantages by the change, which more than compensated for its loss. By bringing all their victims to one altar, care would be taken that no corruptions, no deviations should tarnish the glory of the ritual code, and render the service displeasing to God. No vestige of idolatry, no superstitious practices would be allowed to degrade the altar of JEHOVAH. By approaching him three times a year in his chosen residence, and between the more laborious periods of agricultural toil, they would be preserved from idleness, and all its consequences; for the Jews were never distinguished as a commercial people. They would derive superior instruction, for the liberty of prophesying and teaching was fully allowed. They would in fine become acquainted with all the great and good men of every tribe, and be united by the bonds of sacred and national affection.

This injunction to present oblations and victims only in one place, is not however to be understood as restrictive of the Almighty on special occasions. Few dispositions in religion have a worse effect than to be narrow and uncharitable in our views. The Lord accepted the sacrifice of Gideon. Judges 6. The levites offered kine on a stone in Bethshemesh, which was a complicated breach of the law. 1 Samuel 6. Samuel also offered a sucking lamb in Mizpeh. 1 Samuel 7. David at the threshingfloor of Araunah, and Elijah on mount Cannel, indulged the same liberty, and with the divine approbation. 2 Samuel 24 :1 Kings 18. It follows of course, that the church of Christ, a blessed and fruitful mother, is not to be too straitlaced with the cords of discipline. In revivals of religion, and on extraordinary occasions, God often works in an extraordinary way. But while we invariably adhere to the doctrine of Christ, let us abide as near as possible by the apostolic discipline of the church. From the divine laws, and the diligent worship of the Israelites, christians may learn how assiduous they should be to improve the abundant means of grace they have always at hand. They who are most constant in the courts of the Lord, are generally found to have the sincerest love for his cause.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 12:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/deuteronomy-12.html. 1835.

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