“Whatever man of the house of Israel who kills an ox or lamb or goat in the camp, or who kills it outside the camp, and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting to offer an offering to the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord, the guilt of bloodshed shall be imputed to that man. He has shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people” (Leviticus 17:3-4).
Where should I go to worship God? Does it matter whether or not I go on a regular basis to church to worship God or can I just worship Him in the place I choose?
The verses above shed some light on this question. These verses are not speaking about the killing of an animal for food purposes, but the killing of an animal as a sacrifice to God. God did not want such animal sacrifices to be made just anywhere, but insisted that such animal sacrifices be brought to the tabernacle of meeting (Leviticus 17:4). The end result God wanted was: “to the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices which they offer in the open field, that they may bring them to the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, to the priest, and offer them as peace offerings to the Lord” (Leviticus 17:5). Notice what God would impute to the person who failed to obey this command of God: God would impute to them the “guilt of bloodshed” (Leviticus 17:4)!
Why was this? First, God considered the death of an animal as a sacrifice to Him as a solemn matter: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11). Second, God was also concerned that His people would also begin practicing false worship if each of them worshipped in the place of their choice. He was concerned that they would be tempted to sacrifice to demons (Leviticus 17:7) and eat the blood of the animal (Leviticus 17:10).
The Old Testament law was taken away when Jesus died on the cross (Ephesians 2:14-16; Hebrews 8:6-8; 9:15-17). As Christians, we do not offer animal sacrifices today or have to assemble together at the Old Testament tabernacle of meeting. This is because the blood of God’s Son Jesus Christ was shed for our sins to make atonement for our souls (1 Peter 1:18-19; Romans 5:11).
However, just as God was concerned in Moses’ day that His people would be tempted to falsely practice worshipping Him in the place of their choice (Leviticus 17:3-4), He is also concerned about Christians today being tempted not to assemble with their fellow saints to worship Him. The Hebrew writer states: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25). It is interesting to note in the context of the same passage he speaks about not appreciating the significance of the blood of Christ: “Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29)?
I celebrate the sacrifice of God’s Son for my sins. I do not want to treat His blood as a common thing. I understand the importance that God places on my coming together with my fellow Christians to worship Him. I don’t go to church because I have to. I go because I want to! Today, I will strive that whenever the saints meet together I will be there to praise God and what He has done for me!
“Praise the Lord! I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation” (Psalm 111:1)