Last evening I watched a show on the Smithsonian Channel called “Behind the Holiday: Thanksgiving.” The description for the show states “Behind the familiar myths and tales of patriotism, the true story of Thanksgiving’s origins bears little resemblance to how we celebrate today.”

I really enjoyed learning more about the actual history of Thanksgiving and how it has developed into a unique American holiday of family feasting. I’m not a big fan of Thanksgiving food; turkey doesn’t thrill me.

So what do we mean when we talk about thanksgiving to God? I did a biblical word study on “thanks-giving.”

We first read it in Leviticus 7:12 where God gave instructions to his people about bringing peace offerings:

“If they offer [the
peace offering] as an expression of thanksgiving they are to present an offering with thick loaves of unleavened bread.”

It is an action of praise and an offering for giving thanks.

At the dedication of the temple, both Solomon’s and the 2nd one built by Ezra, and the wall built by Nehemiah, they were to celebrate God with sacrifices of thanksgiving and with choirs singing and instruments playing.

Nehemiah 12:43 “And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.”

Jeremiah 33:11 “…bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord, saying, “Give thanks to the Lord Almighty, for the Lord is good; his love endures forever.”

In Psalm 50, God declares that he really has no need for his people’s sacrifices of bulls, and goats; he is not hungry, and even if he was, he wouldn’t tell them about it because everything in the world belongs to him anyway!

“Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”

Psalm 69:30-31 “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hooves. More than roast turkeys [my addition].

This goes on through the Old Testament: when scripture mentions giving thanks, it is connected to an action of praise! This is carried into the NT; the act of giving thanks, a sacrifice of praise to God.

Hebrews 13:15 “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”

What were sacrifices supposed to do? Restore the broken relationship between God and humans, and between humans. The Old Testament sacrificial system to restore relationship with God, is a prelude to the significance of Christ’s supreme sacrifice and offering of Himself for all mankind. His sacrifice put an end to the sacrificial system “once for all,” and he reconciles humans to God when they believe in him as Lord and Savior.

Colossians 2:6-7 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

So, when you are gathered around tables filled with good food, gathered with family and friends, don’t forget to offer your sacrifice of thanksgiving to God. Let your sound of rejoicing be heard far away!

I’m praying for you,

Pastor Deb