Awesome Hands – Part 145: “Seek not after their gods”

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Awesome Hands – part 145

“Seek not after their gods”

December 12, 2018


Deuteronomy 12 is a famous chapter for those that know what it contains. It is one of the earliest examples in scripture, of not following the example of the nations, which God has driven out of their lands, on behalf of the people of God.

I could almost end the study with that paragraph, but in order to add supporting evidence to this statement, we will continue the study 😊.

As with all of this series, we are going to read the context surrounding the mentioning of the word hand in Deuteronomy. In this chapter, we have 5 different verses which contain the word hand or hands, so it should become apparent that the Lord wants “our work” to reflect His mindset.

In fact, this is how the chapter starts off:

Deu 12:1  These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the LORD God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth.

We should all know by now that the land spoken of here is not a parcel of physical land in Israel for that “Jew which is one inwardly” (Rom 2:29). The land spoken of spiritually is the land we possess, but rather than think of it as our physical flesh, we must learn to think of this land us where it is our heart and minds dwell.

Just as verse 1 says, we live “upon the earth”; therefore, we who live upon and in this dust must possess it, while observing to do “in the land”, whatsoever the Lord commands via His statutes and judgments.

This chapter does not pull any punches in letting us know exactly what the Lord expects from us when we take over the land that He has prepared for us and which is freely given to us.

Deu 12:2  Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree:
Deu 12:3  And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.

Deu 12:4  Ye shall not do so unto the LORD your God.

It sounds to me like the Lord wants us to do something to the places, high mountains, hills, “under every green tree”, altars, pillars, groves, graven images and the very names of their gods which the nations served.
The word “served” tells us something about the nations and about those who do not hearken unto the warning of these words. If we do not do these things, we too will SERVE other gods. We will be subject unto them. We will be their servants for their glory.

Instead, we need to listen to the words we just read and make sure to destroy the things mentioned while also making sure to NOT serve the LORD your God in the same way.

No, we must serve Him differently and I can assure you He does NOT want to be called by the name of any other false god.

Here is how we serve our God:

Deu 12:5  But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come:

Deu 12:6  And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks:

Deu 12:7  And there ye shall eat before the LORD your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the LORD thy God hath blessed thee.

It can seem tempting to just bypass these verses because we do not offer physical offerings today of burnt offerings, sacrifices, tithes, heave offerings of our hands.

We don’t make vows, offer free will offerings or the firstlings of the herds and flocks physically either, but we do know that all of these examples do have spiritual applications.

Instead of bypassing these verses in our hearts and minds, or trying to figure out what each and every spiritual type and shadow is, we simply need to realize that whatsoever the Lord tells us to do in order to serve Him is what we should do we all of our heart, soul, strength and mind. All that we do, do to the glory of God.

In fact, trying to define things on our own or trying to define the terms of how it is we will serve our Lord, is what gets us in trouble the quickest.

Deu 12:8  Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.

Deu 12:9  For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth you.

In case that is not easily understood when reading it from the King James translation, I am including another translation.

(ESV) Deu 12:8  “You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes,

Deu 12:9  for you have not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance that the LORD your God is giving you.

In other words, when the Lord gives you rest and brings you into His inheritance, you must serve Him according to how He defines services to Him. Otherwise, it is all in lip service calling the Lord, Lord, but not keeping His commandments.

Look at the context of where it is Jesus tells us we desire to call Him, “Lord, Lord”:

Luk 6:45  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

Luk 6:46  And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

Luk 6:47  Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:

Jer 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Instead of doing what the Lord says to do, we decide we want to remain as children. The painful truth is though, that when the Lord brings us into His rest, we can no longer be of an ignorant mindset and pretend to ignore what He clearly says are His commandments.

1Co 13:11  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

1Co 13:12  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

1Co 13:13  And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

The greatest of these is a “love feast”, charity. We have a love feast with our Lord when we keep His commandments.

What we are not permitted to do is plead ignorant to the rules, statues and judgments of the Lord.

“You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes”.

Serving the Lord does NOT include serving the Lord in the capacity which makes us feel most comfortable. When the Lord gives us Faith that something is True or not, it is that Truth that we must adhere to.

Why is it I keep emphasizing these points? It is because the Lord specifically tells us how to serve Him as the one True God. We cannot serve in our own understanding, according to how it is “we” see it is good to serve the Lord.

I remember literally, and pridefully saying to many folks back in the day, that me and the Lord have an understanding. “He knows me and how I think”, was the justification I used to do whatever it is I wanted to do in service to Him because He was God and I was a mere man.

This reasoning allowed me to escape all judgment of the Lord because with that reasoning I am able to avoid doing whatever it is I don’t want to do “because me and God have an understanding”.

The problem is that God gives us His understanding and it sounds nothing like my reasonings.

Deu 12:10  But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the LORD your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety;

In other words, when the Lord does all the work and delivers you from all enemies, including the #1 enemy of yourself, then He gets to make the rules!

Deu 12:11  Then there shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD:

Deu 12:12  And ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters, and your menservants, and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your gates; forasmuch as he hath no part nor inheritance with you.

And again we are warned to NOT do things the way we see fit to do them. The Lord builds in, for lack of a better phrase, fail safes for situations that He knows He will cause us to be in.

He “allows” for these situations because He knows that there will be times when we will not be able to do things the way they have always been done i.e. maybe we cannot travel to the place the Lord has placed His name at, so we are able to “eat in the gates”. You are permitted to eat these things in your own towns or cities in other words.

The real focus here is on doing what the Lord commands versus just doing things willy-nilly and calling it serving the Lord.

Deu 12:13  Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest:

Deu 12:14  But in the place which the LORD shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee.

“Take care that you do not offer your burnt offerings at any place that you see” is a command that is stated because the Lord wants us to know that doing whatever we think is okay is not acceptable to Him.

There is a place and time for all things under the sun and the Lord wants us to take this admonition seriously. I know this because He states these same orders over and over with different topics or subjects being discussed.

Deu 12:15  Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh in all thy gates, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee: the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck, and as of the hart.

Deu 12:16  Only ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water.

Deu 12:17  Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand:

Deu 12:18  But thou must eat them before the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto.

Deu 12:19  Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth.

Again, there is much repeating in what is being told to us, but it is for good reason. 1) We will not get it right away and must be told over and over that something is serious enough for the Lord to repeat it multiple times. 2) The Lord is bringing us ultimately bringing us to the commandment of not serving other gods, but we will see that at the end of the chapter.

Remember, the Levite is there is serve, but has not inheritance “with you”. Therefore, we must not forsake nor forget that the Levite has been placed as a Levite for the benefit of God’s people.

Deu 12:20  When the LORD thy God shall enlarge thy border, as he hath promised thee, and thou shalt say, I will eat flesh, because thy soul longeth to eat flesh; thou mayest eat flesh, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after.

Deu 12:21  If the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to put his name there be too far from thee, then thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy flock, which the LORD hath given thee, as I have commanded thee, and thou shalt eat in thy gates whatsoever thy soul lusteth after.

Deu 12:22  Even as the roebuck and the hart is eaten, so thou shalt eat them: the unclean and the clean shall eat of them alike.

Deu 12:23  Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh.

Deu 12:24  Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water.

The Lord is clear in His commandments about what we are able to do and not do. We are able to eat the meat we crave, but we are not permitted to partake of the blood. The blood is the life, but notice in this type and shadow a person eating meat does not necessarily partake of life.

1Co 8:7  Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.

1Co 8:8  But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.

1Co 8:9  But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

1Co 8:10  For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;

1Co 8:11  And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?

1Co 8:12  But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

1Co 8:13  Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

We are not looking toward the outward appearance of things, but we are looking toward the inward meat of the spirit. But, we also must be castioned in how we THINK about things.

1Co 10:1  Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;

1Co 10:2  And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

1Co 10:3  And did all eat the same spiritual meat;

1Co 10:4  And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

1Co 10:5  But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

1Co 10:6  Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

1Co 10:7  Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

Meat is being mentioned in the same breath as idol worship. In the context of Deuteronomy 12, we must be very careful with doing what the Lord says versus allowing ourselves to do what we want and then claiming that it is serving the Lord.

This time of year is an example of a time where we must be prudent in our thinking. We must war against idolatry in high places and realize what spiritual idolatry is.

Deu 12:28  Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God.

Deu 12:29  When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land;

Deu 12:30  Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.

Deu 12:31  Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.

“(ESV)  take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.”

If the Lord looked on these nations and their god worship, and then destroyed them for it, why would He treat us any differently? In fact, because we are His people and have been told His commandments, we will be held to a higher bar.

Luk 12:46  The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.

Luk 12:47  And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

Luk 12:48  But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

The thing that should be screaming out to us all is how it is we can worship idols. Idols aren’t ONLY going to be something that we shape with our hands and place on a mantel to worship.

Far more insidious are those idols of the heart which we worship in ourselves and in OTHERS.

Notice, we are told several times in this chapter about idol worship and also about “eating meat”.

Where else are we told about “eating an idol”? This is the ESV translation.

1Co 10:26  For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.”

1Co 10:27  If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience.

1Co 10:28  But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience—

1Co 10:29  I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience?

1Co 10:30  If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

1Co 10:31  So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

This has been offered to idols is not something that I have ever heard someone say. I would be a bit surprised to ever hear this come from anyone alive today.

However, when we know idols are of the heart, then we can know what we are being told spiritually.

Eze 14:2  And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

Eze 14:3  Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?

(BBE)  Son of man, these men have taken their false gods into their hearts and put before their faces the sin which is the cause of their fall: am I to give ear when they come to me for directions?

If this can happen to the elders of Israel, it can happen to anyone. Holidays are but one way we worship “the gods of the nations destroyed before us”.

Much more hidden in our hearts and minds, for the people of God who desire to serve the Lord, is worshipping the idols of others.

As we talked about in our last study, Jesus asks us all, “Isn’t it written that you are gods?”

Joh 10:34  Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?

So, it is easy to conclude that the gods we want to worship are ourselves and others around us. We want everyone’s approval and acceptance naturally. There is much danger in serving these gods and their idols.

We must always be cautious because even when we are convinced that we are going to go one way, the devil will use subtle ways to speak through others so that we turn away from the way we were going.

This happens many times during our lives, but as we see in Deuteronomy 12, we are warned of the Lord not to do these things.

Deu 12:32  What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

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