“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” (Deut 12: 13 – 14)
The Israelites were close to taking the Promised Land. Moses had just addressed the nation, reminding them of God’s faithfulness (and some of their own failures), and he had now switched gears to summarise God’s laws, given 40 years ago to the previous generation.
You are not to partake of religious sacrifice anywhere you want in your new home. I have given you a sacred tabernacle for that and I’ll tell you where it’s going to reside.
Back at Mount Sinai, the Lord had revealed to Moses detailed instructions for the design, construction and function of the tabernacle – God’s place of meeting. It had travelled with them through the wilderness wanderings and, when the new land was taken, it will find its place of rest. When God reveals it.
They could eat as much meat as they want, wherever they want, but when it came to religious observance, including tithes and freewill offerings, “you shall eat them before the Lord your God in the place that the Lord your God will choose” (Deut 12: 18. See also 15: 20, 16: 5).
You must obey the Lord, but the Lord hasn’t revealed the details yet.
I remember a time when I felt compelled to challenge a brother in Christ about a course of action he was taking. If I am honest, on hindsight, I was driven more by how I was affected by his decision than by what was best for my friend. My prayer was, in effect, “Lord, I am doing this. Please bless it.”
The whole encounter was disastrous. I lost my cool in our conversation and I scarred our relationship, which took years to recover. I had acted in my way and in my time and nothing good came of it.
Several years later, a similar situation arose with another brother, but this time my prayer was different: “Lord, I want to help. If I am the right person to have a conversation with him, please set up a ‘natural’ opportunity”.
Nothing happened. God didn’t want me involved.
Recently, I have seen a word in season genuinely change another person’s perspective. A timely word, shaped by the Holy Spirit, can be the very thing a person needs to change course. But like the ancient Israelites’ place of worship in their new land, it must be where and when the Lord chooses. And with His plans and wisdom.
Until His instructions are clear, perhaps the Lord’s message to us is simple: rest and take no action. You can do other things, fight other battles, take other land. But rest. Rest in the uncertainty.
The uncertainty of how God might lead on that one matter you can’t touch yet.
Until God tells you to.