“Take care that you do not offer your burnt offerings at any place that you see, but at the place that the Lord will choose in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I am commanding you.” (Deuteronomy 12:13-14)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Moses warns the Israelites that they cannot offer their sacrifices just anywhere they please, but they must offer their sacrifices to God only in that place that God chooses for Himself. If a Jew wanted to make a sacrifice, he had to go to the Temple in Jerusalem. In this way, God marked Jerusalem as the place of atonement—the place where the Lamb of God would be slain on a cross to take away the sins of the world.
In many ways, this text doesn’t apply to us today. We are not required to sacrifice animals, since Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice. We no longer have a holy building located in one place. Now, the Church is the Temple and can be found all around the world.
Nevertheless, there is some important application to be made here. Moses says that we must worship God in the way that God wants to be worshiped. That’s still true today!
Every church must call a pastor. Pastors are not optional, for the Lord instituted the pastoral Office. Likewise, Christians must gather together in person. Jesus wants His followers to live and to worship as a community. The proclamation of the Word is essential. The Lord’s Supper is crucial. The proper response to the grace given in Word and Sacrament is always prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.
Whenever we fail to worship the way our Lord told us to worship, we risk missing out on some gift that our Lord would have us receive. Indeed, we risk stirring up His wrath, for one is terribly proud if he thinks that he can decide how best to worship His Creator and Redeemer. However, if we take to heart our Lord’s instructions and draw near to Him in the way that He prescribes, then we are sure to please Him and to receive the Gifts that He desires to give. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
This day, God’s people meeting, His Holy Scripture hear; His living presence greeting, Through bread and wine made near. We journey on, believing, Renewed with heav’nly might, From grace more grace receiving, On this blest day of light. (“O Day of Rest and Gladness” LSB 906, st.3)
-Pastor Alexander Lange is pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Albany, Oregon.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.