To a time well before William Bradshaw and to a place other than Plymouth Colony. A time and place where the children of Israel were dedicating the rebuilding of the walls by Nehemiah and giving thanks (Nehemiah 12:24-40). For them walls saved. Walls preserved. Walls protected. While Israel fell away from God many times in the Old Testament she did experience revival through her labor and thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is not a reward or to be expected rather it is acknowledging ones thankfulness to another. No finite payment could ever repay what God has done for us and we are eternally thankful. The revival that Nehemiah and the Israelite's experienced rose out of their giving God praise and thanksgiving.
In the Old Testament the children of Israel offered material sacrifices of thanksgiving of which included specific direction (See Leviticus 7:12-13, 15; Psalm 107:22; 116:17). Today, it is the privilege and honor of the believers to participate in the Kingdom of God. We are to still offer gifts of thanksgiving to God but the motivation should be on sacrifice and thankfulness instead of compensation or re-numeration.
The Old Testament only anticipates the thanksgiving of the New Testament. There we find that there is to be ceaseless thanksgiving to God in heaven (Revelation 4:9; 7:12; 11:17) and on earth (Hebrews 13:15). Christ, our supreme example, practiced giving thanks regularly (Matthew 15:36; 26:27; Mark 8:6; 14:23; Luke 22:17). As noted in other blogs posts, Paul was faithful in giving thanks to His Creator (Acts 27:35; Romans 14:6; 2 Corinthians 9:15).
The Apostle Paul even writes, "For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God." (2 Corinthians 4:15). Perhaps the pervasiveness of human ingratitude is neatly exposed when Paul even suggests, "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (ESV) Read that again. Give thanks in all circumstances. All circumstances. Surely, Paul does not mean when a person gets cancer! Surely, this does not apply when our closest loved ones die or are injured! Read it again. Give thanks in all circumstances.
We not only thank God for His material blessings (jobs, cars, etc.) but we are to thank Him for His free gift of salvation brought to us through Jesus Christ. To do this admits there is higher purpose and that God has intervened in human history. We give thanks always. Even in circumstances like the very first thanksgiving which precipitated bloodshed and hunger. Even in circumstances like Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the wall.
Perhaps, we live in a time and place where we must work on rebuilding the wall. A time when the sin of ungratefulness (See 2 Timothy 3:2) is a trend and popular. A time when only one of the ten lepers who was healed actually returns (See Luke 17:11-19). A time to tirelessly work to rebuild the walls, even expanding the walls, in order to protect, preserve and add new territory. To change and make a difference. To offer hope for the hopeless and shelter for the weary.
2) Gillon, Steven M., and Cathy D. Matson. The American Experiment: A History of the United States. 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002. 64. Print.