Worship Only Where the Lord Wants You To
1Here are the rules and laws you must obey. Be careful to obey them in the land the Lord has given you to take as your own. He’s the God of your people who lived long ago. Obey these rules and laws as long as you live in the land. 2 You will soon drive the nations out of it. Completely destroy all the places where they worship their gods. Destroy them on the high mountains, on the hills and under every green tree. 3 Break down their altars. Smash their sacred stones. Burn up the poles they use to worship the female god named Asherah. Cut down the statues of their gods. Wipe out the names of their gods from those places.
4 You must not worship the Lord your God the way those nations worship their gods. 5 Instead, go to the special place he will choose from among all your tribes. He will put his Name there. That’s where you must go. 6 Take your burnt offerings and sacrifices to that place. Bring your special gifts and a tenth of everything you produce. Take with you what you have promised to give. Bring any other offerings you choose to give. And bring the male animals among your livestock that were born first to their mothers. 7 You and your families will eat at the place the Lord your God will choose. He will be with you there. You will find joy in everything you have done. That’s because he has blessed you.
8 You must not do as we’re doing here today. All of us are doing only what we think is right. 9 That’s because you haven’t yet reached the place the Lord is giving you. Your God will give you peace and rest there. 10 But first you will go across the Jordan River. You will settle in the land he’s giving you. It will belong to you as your share. He will give you peace and rest from all your enemies around you. You will live in safety. 11 The Lord your God will choose a special place. He will put his Name there. That’s where you must bring everything I command you to bring. That includes your burnt offerings and sacrifices. It includes your special gifts and a tenth of everything you produce. It also includes all the things of value that you promised to give to the Lord. 12 Be filled with joy there in the sight of the Lord your God. Your children should also be joyful. So should your male and female servants. And so should the Levites from your towns. The Levites won’t receive any part of the land as their share. 13 Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you want to. 14 Offer them only at the place the Lord will choose in one of your tribes. There you must obey everything I command you.
15 But you can kill your animals in any of your towns. You can eat as much of the meat as you want to. You can eat it as if it were antelope or deer meat. That is part of the blessing the Lord your God is giving you. Those who are “clean” and those who are not can eat it. 16 But you must not eat meat that still has blood in it. Pour the blood out on the ground like water. 17 Here are the things you must not eat in your own towns. You must not eat the tenth part of your grain, olive oil and fresh wine. It belongs to the Lord. You must not eat the male animals among your livestock that were born first to their mothers. Don’t eat anything you have promised to give. Don’t eat any offerings you have chosen to give. And you must not eat any of your special gifts. 18 Instead, you must eat all those things in the sight of the Lord your God. Do it at the place he will choose. You, your children, your male and female servants and the Levites from your towns can eat them. Be filled with joy in the sight of the Lord your God. Be joyful in everything you do. 19 Don’t forget to take care of the Levites as long as you live in your land.
20 The Lord your God will increase your territory, just as he has promised you. When he does, you might get hungry for meat. You might say, “I’d really like some meat.” Then you can eat as much of it as you want to. 21 The Lord your God will choose a special place. He will put his Name there. But suppose that place is too far away from you. Then you can kill animals from the herds and flocks the Lord has given you. Do it just as I have commanded you. In your own towns you can eat as much of the meat as you want to. 22 Eat it as you would eat antelope or deer meat. Those who are “clean” and those who are not can eat it. 23 But be sure you don’t eat meat that still has blood in it. The blood is the animal’s life. So you must not eat the life along with the meat. 24 You must not eat the blood. Pour it out on the ground like water. 25 Don’t eat it. Then things will go well with you and your children after you. You will be doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord.
26 But go to the place the Lord will choose. Take with you the things you have set apart for him. Bring what you have promised to give him. 27 Sacrifice your burnt offerings on the altar of the Lord your God. Offer the meat and the blood there. The blood of your sacrifices must be poured out beside his altar. But you can eat the meat. 28 Make sure you obey all the rules I’m giving you. Then things will always go well with you and your children after you. That’s because you will be doing what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord your God.
29 You are about to attack the land and take it over as your own. When you do, the Lord your God will destroy the nations who live there. He will do it to make room for you. You will drive them out. You will settle in their land. 30 They will be destroyed to make room for you. But when they are destroyed, be careful. Don’t be trapped. Don’t ask questions about their gods. Don’t say, “How do these nations serve their gods? We’ll do it in the same way.” 31 You must not worship the Lord your God the way they worship their gods. When they worship, they do all kinds of evil things the Lord hates. They even burn up their children in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.
32 Be sure you do everything I am commanding you to do. Do not add anything to my commands. And do not take anything away from them.