Part 8: Changes - Jerusalem the Place of Worship
Let us first establish that Jerusalem was designated as the place of worship by the commandment of the Lord. But it was not always. Let’s see how Jerusalem came to be the place for worship. To begin with Moses was instructed that He was to keep the Passover specifically “in the place the Lord shall choose to place his name”:
Deuteronomy 16:1-7 Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the Lord thy God: for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night. 2 Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover unto the Lord thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the Lord shall choose to place his name there. 3 Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life. 4 And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coast seven days; neither shall there any thing of the flesh, which thou sacrificedst the first day at even, remain all night until the morning. 5 Thou mayest not sacrifice the passover within any of thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee: 6 But at the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt. 7 And thou shalt roast and eat it in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose: and thou shalt turn in the morning, and go unto thy tents.
It was not just the Passover that was to be observed “in the place the Lord shall choose to place his name”, all of the feasts as well as all sacrifices had to be performed there;
Deuteronomy 12:5-8 But unto the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come: 6 And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks: 7 And there ye shall eat before the Lord your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the Lord thy God hath blessed thee. 8 Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.
The only place acceptable for the offering up of these sacrifices according to the Law of Moses was at the altar:
Exodus 20:24 An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.
Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy. The “place” where the Lord would meet with Moses and the children of Israel was at the altar which was located at the door of the tabernacle:
Exodus 29:42-43 42 This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee. 43 And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory.
Again, let us be clear that men could not offer the sacrifice wherever they pleased. They had to accomplish the offering up of the sacrifices at the door of the tabernacle:
Deuteronomy 12:13-14 Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest: 14 But in the place which the Lord shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee.
I will not list all the scriptures that show that this is to be done at “the door of the tabernacle”, you can research this for yourself. But, having done the research, it should be established that we must offer all sacrifices to the Lord at the door of the tabernacle. And the tabernacle moved from place to place throughout the wanderings in the wilderness for forty years as well as the period of conquest leading up to the establishment of the temple in Jerusalem. Let’s see why worship exemplified by the offering up of sacrifices, eventually ended up being in Jerusalem. I will not spend time showing the travels of the tabernacle from the wilderness to Gilgal, then Shiloh and then back to Gilgal, then Nob, then Gibeon. But rather let’s look at the place in scripture where the Lord declared that Jerusalem would be the place He would place His name forever:
2 Chronicles 6:5-6 5 Since the day that I brought forth my people out of the land of Egypt I chose no city among all the tribes of Israel to build an house in, that my name might be there; neither chose I any man to be a ruler over my people Israel: 6 But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel.
2 Chronicles 7:12 And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice.
As a result of David and Solomon building the temple in Jerusalem to honor the name of the Lord, the Lord blessed and established that the temple in Jerusalem would be the place He would place His name:
2 Chronicles 7:15-16 15 Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. 16 For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.
Therefore, from the time of Solomon, the place to offer up sacrifices and meet with the Lord was at Jerusalem and not in any other place. With this fact established, we will be able to recognize the significance of the conversation that Jesus had with the woman at the well when she said this to Jesus:
John 4:19-20 19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
But what Jesus replied was a startling revelation:
John 4:21-23 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
Here, the Son of God, the Word made flesh (John 1:14), “that Prophet” that Moses spoke of (Deuteronomy 18:17-19), declares a change in the Law. No longer would men be required to worship at Jerusalem. And let’s be reminded that the temple was still standing at the time that Jesus spoke this change; and the temple remaine standing for another 40 years.
Someone might think to say, that the time or era that Jesus was speaking about was to be after the millennium when all believers are in heaven. But the key is that Jesus said to her (the woman at the well) “ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father”. That means Jesus was speaking specifically to the woman of a time in her life time when they would not have to go to Jerusalem to worship. This statement serves to prove the divinity of Jesus Christ by showing that Christ has the power to change the Law, not by an arbitrary ruling of His own, but by authority of Yahweh, Himself. I have written a separate paper explaining this, titled “The Final Lawgiver”. And here are Messiah's words declaring that authority:
John 12:47-50 47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. 49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
The Son of God only speaks what the Father has given Him to speak, and Jesus has been given the authority to change the place of worship from the temple at Jerusalem, representing an earthly location (neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem), to the spiritual location of every believer’s heart (in spirit and in truth). I have earlier explained this by pointing out that the temple has changed from an earthly to a spiritual in the paper titled “Changes – Ministry in the Holy Place”:
1 Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
Although we no longer are required to offer up blood sacrifices (earthly sacrifices), the Lord is looking for “spiritual sacrifices” as we see in the above scripture in 1 Peter 2:5 and along with these other scriptures:
Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Hebrews 13:15-16 15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. 16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
So, not only has the “place” for worship changed but also the manner of the sacrifices themselves from “earthly” to “spiritual”. How does this change in worship from “earthly” to “spiritual”, and also being required to perform worship in Jerusalem exclusively, to being able to worship in any location not qualify as “one jot or one tittle” passing from the Law?