Thanksgiving : Rated R

This post is not for the weak of heart. This is not for the self-righteous or the politically correct. We live in a time when many inevitably believe that any and all walls should be tore down. No one will say it that way but our culture believes that walls are negative. They are isolating. They are polarizing. They exist but to restrict and torture us. Many want no wall around the sanctify of marriage and the sanctify of human life. Many do not care whether it be a small human or a big human, they just do not want a wall between them and the abortion clinic. Many do not want a wall when they glorify their sexual deeds and preferences. Many just want to build four walls and put everyone who does not think like them in those walls.

This is supposed to be about Thanksgiving. And it shall. Thanksgiving is a holiday by believers for believers who believe that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). As I was thinking about this holiday I thought of the first Thanksgiving in 1621. It was a time when the first harvest was good and although the relationship with the Indian and the white man had not completely deteriorated the Wampanoag Indians did offer food and taught the settlers how to plant maize. With the promise that they would help protect them from another tribe (Narraganset). Notice an excerpt from Margaret J. Preston's (1820-1897) early poem about this day:

Through virtue of vested power— 
ye shall gather with one accord, 
And hold, in the month of November,
thanksgiving unto the Lord.”

“He hath granted us peace and plenty, 
and the quiet we’ve sought so long; 
He hath thwarted the wily savage, 
and kept him from wrack and wrong; 
And unto our feast the Sachem shall be bidden, 
that he may know We worship his own Great Spirit, 
who maketh the harvests grow.”(1)

This was all short lived. The food supplies quickly ran out, the Indians felt betrayed and famine became the settler's torment for the next two years. By 1622 the tension between the Indian and the white man burst at the seems.(2) After thinking about these and other tragedies that transpired in early North American history my mind went to another time and another group of people.

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. 

The Bible speaks often about Thanksgiving but of all the Biblical books the Psalms contain perhaps the most references. Thankfulness is not predicated upon success or even failures (Psalm 119:62). It is a personal, voluntary expression from our heart. If you were no longer able to work another would fill your place. If a solider falls another steps into their place. With thanksgiving no one can offer your word or sacrifice of thanksgiving for you (3). It is important that you give your thanks. And that I give my thanks.

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. 

Rebuild the wall. 

1) Preston M. 2006 Jul 12. The First Thanksgiving. Poetry X. http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/11689/>. Accessed 2012 Nov 20.

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.

3) Leviticus 22:29 | ESV And when you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted.

No comments:

Adversus Trinitas

"...unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." (John 8:24 ESV)