The Holiness of Worship
Both the place of worship and the person worshiped are critical to the Lord. Throughout the history of Israel the people worshiped in their homes and at local shrines there came a time when Israel centralized their place of worship in Jerusalem. This was related to the reform of Josiah in the seventh century BC. This was the probable intent of Deuteronomy: “But you shall seek the LORD at the place which the LORD your God will choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come.” Permission was given for the slaughter of animals far from the sanctuary, and the people who were scattered were cautioned about fidelity to the Lord. But the priority of the central place for worship was clear.
The concentration of a central place to worship the Lord continues to be both positive and necessary. Today, few would call for the legal stipulations related to Jerusalem as the single sanctuary and place of sacrificing and offerings. The place of worship is not unimportant as it is meaningful that people worship in the community of believers. The sanctuary is a continuing and vital aspect of worship and nurture in covenant faith.
More important than the place of worship was the holiness of the one being worshiped. The Israel people served a holy God and they had to fear His uniqueness. The people must both acknowledge His holiness for himself and affirm that for the community. Chapter 12 closes with a warning against apostasy.