no new places
Deuteronomy 16:5 You are not to sacrifice the Passover animal in any of the towns Yahveh your God is giving you.
Deuteronomy 16:6 Sacrifice the Passover animal only at the place where Yahveh your God chooses to have his name dwell. Do this in the evening as the sun sets at the same time of day1 you departed from Egypt.
Deuteronomy 16:7 You are to cook and eat it in the place Yahveh your God chooses, and you are to return to your tents in the morning.
no new places
The pagans had their sacred places, and the Israelites would be tempted to adopt and adapt those sacred places for their own rituals – including Passover. God strictly forbade it, for several reasons, some of which are included in this instruction.
- Passover celebrated the saving work of God. It was not a human work, and so was not to be initiated by human choice. The Israelites were not celebrating a revolt against Egypt, but a deliverance from bondage brought about by God himself. The sacred places of the Canaanites would not do for such a celebration. New places conceived and built by the Israelites would not do. Only God’s place.
- The special place – the tabernacle – was the place God chose to have his name dwell. Eventually that special place would be the city of Jerusalem, where David would reign as king, and his descendant would give his life as the ultimate sacrifice to which the Passover ritual pointed.
- Eating the Passover meal was to happen at the same time of day that they were delivered from death by the sacrifice of the first Passover lamb – when the firstborn of each household was spared. It was a fixed even in history to be remembered and pondered. It was not to be adapted to any new circumstances until Christ – our Passover lamb – would come (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Lord, we have a tendency to take over even your sacred services and make them into something that suits us. Lead us to a pure worship that reflects on your grace and your gospel. Help to jettison the trappings of our worship that hide your work and your intention for us.