Why do we attend God’s annual Feasts and Sabbath services in the place where God makes His name to be known?
The Church of the Eternal God states that the location of the weekly Sabbath services and annual Feast days that it conducts are held in the place where God places His name. The location of worship in the past, today, and in the future is ordained by God, and is not something that is arbitrary. Why is this the way that the Church conducts its operations? Where does this instruction come from? Why is it important?
From the early days of prescribed worship for the nation of Israel, God provided clear instruction to conduct the holy functions of the Church in a location where God places His name. In Exodus 20:24, God sets a basic foundation regarding location for worshiping Him properly, stating that “…where I record My name I will come to you, and I will bless you.” This statement appears right after the pronouncement of the Ten Commandments, and in the context of worship. As God brought the nation of Israel out of Egypt and into the promised land, He makes a clear proclamation that His people are to worship in a location where He places His name, and He promises a blessing to go along with it.
As God led His people into the land He promised, the instruction to seek the place where God places His name is reinforced. In Deuteronomy 12:5-7 we read about the places where the nation of Israel will go to dispossess the current inhabitants. God instructs His people not to follow in the way of worship of those inhabitants, but rather to “… 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, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.” From this, it is clear that the place of correct worship is not arbitrary, but deliberately chosen.
From both of the previous examples, we can see that the placement of God’s name in a specific location involves much more than merely naming a place. When God places His name somewhere, this is a location where He chooses to dwell. We must understand what it means for God to dwell in a location, however. When Solomon was in the process of building a temple for worship, he acknowledged that there is no physical place where God’s presence can be contained (1 Kings 8:27). Solomon’s prayer was for God to hear his request, and to grant favor to the place of the temple, so that He might place His name there (1 Kings 8:29). As a place of worship, Solomon knew how critical it was to have God’s name placed, so that His presence might bless it. In 1 Kings 9:3, we see that God grants His approval, and establishes His presence by casting His eyes and putting His heart there. All of this occurs in conjunction with the placement of His name. The placement of His name includes the approval of a place for worship, His oversight and blessing, as well as His guidance, direction and inspiration during the worship services.
While it is true that general worship must be conducted at a place where God places His name, we most frequently hear about this practice in the context of the annual Feast days. In Deuteronomy 16, we read about the three seasons of holy days – the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Pentecost, and the Fall Holy Days – and in each of these descriptions, a command is given to observe the Feasts at the place where God places His name (Deuteronomy 16:2, Deuteronomy 16:11, Deuteronomy 16:15). For this reason, God’s people travel as they are able in order to worship God in the place where He abides.
It is clear that the location where God places His name could be, but may not have to be, near the place where one lives. In some circumstances, there are legitimate physical constraints that may prevent someone from traveling to worship God at the place where He places His name, whether it is for the weekly Sabbaths, or for the annual Feasts. In those circumstances, the Church provides live internet broadcasts of its services for those who are physically unable to attend. Mere inconvenience, however, is not a reason to preclude physically gathering for worship. We have a more comprehensive Q&A that answers the question, “Does the Bible command regular personal attendance of Church members at weekly Sabbath and annual Holy Days services?”
The practical application of this today is that man does not choose where God places His name, but rather, that God’s name is sought out. Solomon had a temple constructed for the purpose of worshiping God, but his good intentions alone are not what made it holy. Solomon prayed for God to lead him and approve his work (2 Chronicles 6:12-16). Only after God approved and consecrated the temple, placing His name there, did it truly become a holy place of worship. Likewise today, it is the practice of the ministry to seek God’s guidance through prayer in finding the places of worship that He chooses.
When coming together to worship God, an arbitrary location selected just by man does not suffice. In order to worship Him completely, a location must be sought out where God places His name, so that we can ensure that His presence is there, and so that the events conducted may be performed under His approval.
Lead Writer: Eric Rank