A Sermon by Nate Wilson delivered to Christ the Redeemer Church 19 Nov 2006
ESV translation is used here.
The history of the American holiday of Thanksgiving is a meta-narrative that defines our culture. The legendary heroism of our forefathers and the works of God that set the course of our nation are worth telling again and again.
In 1603, King James of England resolved to exercise his authority over both the civil government AND the church in England. He opposed those who wanted to bring the Church of England's teachings and practices in line with the Bible. A group of Puritans who were known as Separatists was not willing to support the Church of England. They believed that the Church was under the leadership of Christ — not the king.
These Puritan congregations were ridiculed by their neighbors, brought into court by magistrates, and constrained to keep quiet about what God was teaching them. In 1609, a group of pilgrims petitioned to leave England for the religious freedom of Holland. King James refused their request to leave England, so they escaped in secret. Some were arrested while crossing the border.
These Puritans considered themselves "pilgrims," wanderers in a foreign land, but after a few years in Holland, their children spoke Dutch and had become attached to the Dutch way of life. The Pilgrims grew worried. They considered the Dutch frivolous and considered their ideas a threat to their children’s education and morality. So they decided to leave Holland and travel to the New World.
Their trip was financed by a group of English investors, the Merchant Adventurers. It was agreed that the Pilgrims would be given passage and supplies in exchange for seven years of labor for the investors. The Pilgrims were compelled to take this Trans-Atlantic voyage not only by a desire for freedom from harmful influences on their children but also by a desire to be “advancing the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in those remoter parts of the world.”
On Sept. 6, 1620, they chartered two ships – the Speedwell and the Mayflower – to take them to the New World. They sailed from Plymouth, England, and aboard were 44 Puritans, who called themselves the "Saints", and 66 others ,who were dubbed "Strangers." The Speedwell soon sprung leaks and most of the crew and passengers transferred to the Mayflower before the Speedwell turned back. The 102 passengers suffered 65 days of cold, wet, rough sailing across the Atlantic Ocean in the overcrowded ship before they finally reached Cape Cod. There was the danger of fire on the wooden ship, so food had to be eaten cold. Many passengers became sick and one person died by the time land was sighted on November 10th. Upon dropping anchor, they all fell on their knees thanking God.
However, their troubles were just beginning. No housing awaited them; there was no reception party, and no physicians or medical facilities existed. There were not even any stores. The men drew up a constitution, called the Mayflower Compact, introducing a measure of order, and they decided to settle at Plymouth, where there was an excellent harbor. A large brook offered a resource for fish. The Pilgrim’s biggest concern, however was attacks from the native peoples. Then the cold winter hit. Snow and sleet were exceptionally heavy, making the construction of the new settlement very difficult. Hunger and disease struck the group. At one point, only six people were well enough to help the sick and the dying. By March 1621, not even a year after arriving, only 51 of the original 102 remained alive.
As the weather began to warm and health began to improve, a remarkable event took place on March 16. An Indian brave walked into the Plymouth settlement and called out a welcome - in English! His name was Samoset. He had learned some English from some fishermen. Samoset returned later with another native man named Squanto. Squanto spoke better English than Samoset because he had been to England and Spain! It was Squanto who taught the Pilgrims how to tap maple trees for sap. He helped them learn about poisonous plants and medicinal herbs in America. He showed them how to grow corn (a grain not commonly known in England), how to fish the waters, and how to catch game – including the wild turkey which was not found in Europe.
The harvest was very successful, and that October, the Pilgrims found themselves with enough food to put away for the winter. There was the corn, fruits and vegetables, fish to be packed in salt, and meat to be cured over smoky fires. God had taken care of them, and it was time to celebrate. They invited Squanto and his people to join them, so chief Massasoit and 90 braves also came to the three-day celebration. They played games, ran races, marched and played drums. The Indians demonstrated their skills with the bow and arrow, and the Pilgrims demonstrated their musket skills. What a great time of worship, feasting, and merrymaking that was!
(Compiled from multiple periodicals, including Voice of The Martyrs Magazine, Colorado Christian News, Grace Presbyterian Church newsletter, Acts and Facts newsletter, an email from Rev. Mark Acell, and The Cleveland Free-Net.)
In the middle of the War Between The States, Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November, which is our tradition today:
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, A PROCLAMATION
It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to us new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards. Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions:
Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.
(Washington, 20 October, A.D. 1864, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-ninth, ABRAHAM LINCOLN)
However, I have discovered a Presidential proclamation that well pre-dates Lincoln’s, namely George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation, given during his first year as President:
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor;... a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safely and happiness:
Now, ... I do ... assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; ...
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; ... to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best. ...
Apparently, such proclamations by civil government in America were not uncommon even before the war for Independence. On June 20, 1676, the governing council of Charlestown, Massachusetts, held a meeting to determine how best to express thanks for the good fortune that had seen their community securely established. By unanimous vote they instructed Edward Rawson, the clerk, to proclaim June 29 as a day of thanksgiving.
“The Holy God having, by a long and Continual Series of his Afflictive dispensations in and by the present War with the Heathen Natives of this land, written and brought to pass bitter things against his own Covenant people in this wilderness, yet so that we evidently discern that in the midst of his judgements he hath remembered mercy, having remembered his Footstool in the day of his sore displeasure against us for our sins, with many singular Intimations of his Fatherly Compassion, and regard; reserving many of our towns from Desolation threatened, and attempted by the Enemy, and giving us especially of late with many of our Confederates many signal Advantages against them, without such Disadvantage to ourselves as formerly we have been sensible of, if it be the Lord's mercy that we are not consumed, It certainly bespeaks our positive Thankfulness, when our Enemies are in any measure disappointed or destroyed; and fearing the Lord should take notice under so many Intimations of his returning mercy, we should be found an Insensible people; as not standing before Him with Thanksgiving, [but] lading him with our Complaints in the time of pressing Afflictions:
The Council has thought meet to appoint and set apart the 29th day of this instant June, as a day of Solemn Thanksgiving and praise to God for such his Goodness and Favour, many Particulars of which mercy might be Instanced, but we doubt not those who are sensible of God's Afflictions, have been as diligent to espy him returning to us; and that the Lord may behold us as a People offering Praise and thereby glorifying Him; the Council doth commend it to the Respective Ministers, Elders and people of this Jurisdiction; Solemnly and seriously to keep the same Beseeching that being persuaded by the mercies of God we may all, even this whole people offer up our bodies and souls as a living and acceptable Service unto God by Jesus Christ."
The earliest proclamation I have been able to discover, however, came in the third year of the Plymouth colony, after a famine in which a lack of rain was leaving the crops dying in the fields. Governor Bradford ordered a day of fasting and prayer, and it was soon thereafter that the rain came. To celebrate, November 29th of that year was proclaimed a day of thanksgiving.
"Inasmuch as the great Father hath given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and hath made the forest to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He hath protected us from the ravages of the savages, hath spared us from pestilence and disease, hath granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now, I, your magistrate do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three, and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim rock, there to listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings."
But it goes back even further than that! The very first proclamation I could find in history came about three thousand years before Plymouth. The calendar system which God handed down to the Jews through Moses included instructions for the equivalent of what we call Thanksgiving. I believe that the Feast of Booths is the holiday after which the Pilgrims patterned Thanksgiving. It was held after harvest and included elements of feasting, thanksgiving, and remembrance of God’s deliverance, and the invitation of foreigners.
Lev 23:33-44 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, (34) "Speak to the people of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Booths to the LORD. (35) On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. (36) For seven days you shall present food offerings to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall hold a holy convocation and present a food offering to the LORD. It is a solemn assembly; you shall not do any ordinary work. (37) "These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim as times of holy convocation, for presenting to the LORD food offerings, burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each on its proper day, (38) besides the LORD's Sabbaths and besides your gifts and besides all your vow offerings and besides all your freewill offerings, which you give to the LORD. (39) "On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. (40) And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. (41) You shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. (42) You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, (43) that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God." (44) Thus Moses declared to the people of Israel the appointed feasts of the LORD.
Later on, as Moses’ life drew to a close and he re-stated the law for the people of Israel, he said in Deut. 16:13-17 "You shall keep the Feast of Booths seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your winepress. (14) You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your towns. (15) For seven days you shall keep the feast to the LORD your God at the place that the LORD will choose, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful. (16) "Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. (17) Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God that he has given you.” Skip to Deut. 31:9-13: “Then Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. (10) And Moses commanded them, "At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, (11) when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. (12) Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, (13) and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess."
Although we don’t give much consideration to it in modern Christianity, Succoth, or the Feast of Booths was a very special event in the Old Testament. I want to go to three more passages in Scripture which show how very special this feast was:
Neh 7:73-8:18 So the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the temple servants, and all Israel, lived in their towns. And when the seventh month had come, the people of Israel were in their towns. (8:1) And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. [Ezra chapter 3 adds here that the priests, including Jeshua son of Jozadak and Zerubbabel, rebuilt the altar and restarted the daily burnt offerings of every morning and evening, according to the law. Now back to Nehemiah:] And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the LORD had commanded Israel. (2) So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. (3) And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. (4) And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand, and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand. (5) And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. (6) And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, "Amen, Amen," lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. (7) Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. (8) They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. (9) And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. (10) Then he said to them, "Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." (11) So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved." (12) And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them. (13) On the second day the heads of fathers' houses of all the people, with the priests and the Levites, came together to Ezra the scribe in order to study the words of the Law. (14) And they found it written in the Law that the LORD had commanded by Moses that the people of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, (15) and that they should proclaim it and publish it in all their towns and in Jerusalem, "Go out to the hills and bring branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written." (16) So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim. (17) And all the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths, for from the days of Joshua the son of Nun to that day the people of Israel had not done so. And there was very great rejoicing. (18) And day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. They kept the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the rule.
John 7:2 Now the Jews' Feast of Booths was at hand. (3) So [Jesus’] brothers said to Him, "Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. (4) For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world." (5) For not even his brothers believed in him. (6) Jesus said to them, "My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. (7) The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. (8) You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come." (9) After saying this, he remained in Galilee. (10) But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private….
[Jesus then began teaching in the temple.] (37) On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. (38) Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'" (39) Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (40) When they heard these words, some of the people said, "This really is the Prophet." (41) Others said, "This is the Christ." But some said, "Is the Christ to come from Galilee? (42) Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?" (43) So there was a division among the people over him. (44) Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. (45) The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, "Why did you not bring him?" (46) The officers answered, "No one ever spoke like this man!"
Jesus died and was resurrected around Passover, the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and started the church, so that leaves Succoth open to represent another major event in redemptive history, the coming of Christ in glory. I’m not going so far as to predict the date of the coming Christ, but I do see the Feast of Booths as a shadow (Heb 10:1) which will be ultimately fulfilled in the second coming. It was at Succoth that Jesus revealed Himself in the temple as we saw in the Gospel of John, and the prophet Zechariah pictures the return of Christ and the peace of heaven in terms of the Feast of Booths:
Zec 14:1-21 Behold, a day is coming… (5b) Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. (6) On that day there shall be no light, cold, or frost. (7) And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the LORD, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light. (8) On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter. (9) And the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day the LORD will be one and his name one. (10) The whole land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem shall remain aloft on its site from the Gate of Benjamin to the place of the former gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king's winepresses. (11) And it shall be inhabited, for there shall never again be a decree of utter destruction. Jerusalem shall dwell in security... (v.16) Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths...
If Succoth was one of the three main religious festivals of Israel,
if godly men like Ezra reinstituted Succoth after the Babylonian exile,
if Jesus Himself didn’t miss it when He was on earth,
and if Succoth is related to the coming of Christ and heaven,
then we must see Succoth as an important part of the Bible and seek to understand and apply its meaning today.
Thanksgiving ,be sure to offer thanks to God. Men, we must be the leaders in this, just as it
says in Deut 16:16 that it was the males who were to take the initiative in
observing this feast. The Bible speaks of several
ways to offer thanks:
Singing – Psalm 30:11-12 “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, (12) that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” (cf Col. 3:16)
Playing instruments – 1 Chron. 16:41-42 “With them were Heman and Jeduthun and the rest of those chosen and expressly named to give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever. (42) Heman and Jeduthun had trumpets and cymbals for the music and instruments for sacred song…”
Giving gifts to God - Lev 7:11-15 “And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings that one may offer to the LORD. (12) If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the thanksgiving sacrifice unleavened loaves mixed with oil, unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and loaves of fine flour well mixed with oil. (13) With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving he shall bring his offering with loaves of leavened bread. (14) And from it he shall offer one loaf from each offering, as a gift to the LORD. It shall belong to the priest who throws the blood of the peace offerings. (15) And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering. He shall not leave any of it until the morning.”
Doing works of service - 1Ch 23:28 “For the duty [of the sons of Levi] was to assist the sons of Aaron for the service of the house of the LORD, having the care of the courts and the chambers, the cleaning of all that is holy, and any work for the service of the house of God. (29) Their duty was also to assist with the showbread, the flour for the grain offering, the wafers of unleavened bread, the baked offering, the offering mixed with oil, and all measuring of quantity or size. (30) And they were to stand every morning, thanking and praising the LORD, and likewise at evening, (31) and whenever burnt offerings were offered to the LORD on Sabbaths, new moons and feast days, according to the number required of them, regularly before the LORD. (32) Thus they were to keep charge of the tent of meeting and the sanctuary, and to attend the sons of Aaron, their brothers, for the service of the house of the LORD.”
Blessing God - Psa 145:10 “All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you!”
Boasting about God’s greatness - Psa 44:8 “In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever.”
Prayer at meals – Rom. 14:6 “…The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God...” (cf the cup of blessing in communion)
Private prayer – Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philemon 1:4 “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers”
Recounting God's deeds – Psalm 75:1 “We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds.”
Thanking others who have helped you - Rom 16:3-4 “Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, (4) who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well.”
May this Thanksgiving season be one of great thankfulness to God for His great blessings and a rededication to use His bounty to please Him and serve others.
Thanksgiving, don’t neglect to thank God with joy and gladness.
Lev 23:40b “you shall rejoice before the LORD your God”
Neh. 8:10b “the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
God’s people were commanded to be happy during their Thanksgiving feast. In fact, they were threatened with severe punishment if they didn’t do so with joy:
Deu 28:47-48 “Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, (48) therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you.”
God doesn’t want you to merely go through the motions of thanksgiving, but to have that attitude in your heart which is filled with genuine delight in all that God has done.
Thanksgiving, remember the foundation of your blessing
As the Jews came together with their harvest bounty in Jerusalem to celebrate Succoth, God pointed them to the source of all their blessings by making the harvest festival the special time in which the law was read. In those days, it wasn’t necessary for everyone to be able to read because there was not much to read; it took days of work just to make one piece of paper or parchment, and every page had to be handwritten by a professional scribe, so books were extremely expensive and few people had them. But the first five books of the Bible were read out loud to the Israelites every seven years at Succoth.
Deut. 31:10 “At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, (11) when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place that He will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. (12) Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, (13) and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God”
Take the time to read the Bible out loud, then. Are there any little children or visitors you could read it to so that they may learn to fear God too?
This Thanksgiving, remember
where you came from
Lev. 23:42 “You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, (43) that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”
When Israel came together to celebrate their present blessings, God pointed them back to the time when they had nothing, when they were slaves trying to escape from Egypt, camping in tents in the desert with little more than the clothes on their back. As soon as we forget where we came from we will have a hard time being thankful. When we forget, we can start thinking of God’s blessings as things we are entitled to, as though we deserve them. So this Thanksgiving, take the time to remember what it was like in the deserts of the history of your life. The Pilgrims came out of the context of persecution from churches gone bad, from lawless kings, and from careless, hypocritical Christians. They won their goal in America at great sacrifice as half of them died in the attempt. Let us then praise God for the freedom we enjoy as a result of their sacrifice and ask Him to preserve it for your children and grandchildren.