The Lord God had plans for Israel, big plans.
Designated place of worship – Jehovah would choose a place in Canaan to which the Israelites were to travel to worship Him. “But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place, and there you shall go. There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes . . .” (12:5,6). We later learn that God’s chosen place was Jerusalem (1 Kings 14:21). Today we can offer acceptable worship anywhere throughout the world (John 4:21-24).
Not drudgery, but joy – When Israel came before the Lord, He wanted them to rejoice. “And there you shall eat before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand . . . And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God . . .” (12:7,12). That message of rejoicing applied specifically to those occasions when Israelites came to worship Him, but it applied in general to their everyday service to Him as well. Serving and worshipping the God of heaven was/is not a burden, but a blessing; not a drudgery, but an honor.
“Rest” in Canaan – Moses spoke of Cannan as “the rest and the inheritance which the LORD your God is giving you” (12:9). Canaan was the promised land, a place in which Israel would no longer dwell in tents or live a “here-today, move-on-tomorrow” life. Many of the Israelites failed to enter that “rest” due to their unbelief, and that serves as a strong reminder to us that we need to have a persevering faith, lest we miss out on the “rest” of heaven (Hebrews 3:18-4:11).
Do not forsake the Levite – God selected the Levites to serve at the tabernacle (and later the temple). Concerning them, He warned, “Take heed to yourself that you do not forsake the Levite as long as you live in your land” (12:19). Again, “You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you” (14:27). The Levites would be dependent on the tithes of the people in order to survive. If the Israelites ever chose to cut back on or cut out their tithes, they would be robbing God (Malachi 3:8). That would mean that the house of God would be forsaken and the Levites, as well as their families, would suffer (Nehemiah 13:10,11).
Avoid imitating unlawful actions – God implored His people not to learn and follow the ways of the heathen. If Israel ever adopted the philosophy of, “How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise” (12:30), they would be heading down a path of disaster. God’s children must be holy, distinct people, not imitators of the world (Romans 12:1,2).
— Roger D. Campbell