In our sermon last Sunday we raced past Deuteronomy chapter 12, so I’m taking the chance to say a little more here. The message to Israel in chapter 12 is that they were to worship God and bring him sacrifices “at the place of worship he himself will choose.” (12:5). This was to be one place in Israel (the temple) and the people were forbidden from setting up worship places wherever suited them. In doing this, God is continuing, just as he had done in the desert, to provide a place where his people can ‘find him’ and can come together as a community – “There you and your families will feast in the presence of the Lord your God, and you will rejoice in all you have accomplished because the Lord your God has blessed you.”
So what does this say to us non-Israelite Christians in 2023? Do we ask God to choose what church we should belong to? Well, that could be a good thing, but it’s not what this passage is about. If we search for how Jesus views this command, we will find ourselves in John chapter 4, as he talks with the Samaritan woman at the well. The woman asks him – “why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim,where our ancestors worshiped?” Jesus replies –
“Dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem … the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
Jesus says where we meet will no longer matter, but that’s not because God no longer cares. It’s because the ‘place’ where we meet God is no longer a place but a person! Jesus Christ himself is now the ‘living temple’, the ‘meeting point’ between God and human beings. We still meet God only as he chooses – through Jesus the Way, the Truth and the Life. There is no way to the Father but by him. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.
Love to you all, Miranda.