If we look upon the many facets of thanksgiving presented in the Bible, we see that God himself established a sacrifice of thanksgiving in His temple. Perhaps it was due to the fact that the Israelites were not really known for giving thanks, or that it was never modeled to them.
We see the families of Issac and Jacob condending for the blessings of God instead of thanking Him for them. Later, we see God provide miraculously for Israel again, and again, and again… and instead of an attitude of thankfulness, we see grumbling and discontentment spoken against those in leadership over them (and ultimately God). On a day of feasts, we need to remember that God literally rained food from heaven for them, on a daily basis. This ultimately became familiar, expected, and taken for granted.
We then see God establishing a law demanding an act of thanksgiving within His own house. Leviticus 7:11-16 gives specific instructions to this act which was a type of peace offering, designed to give thanks for any act of love, or deliverance from God. They were intentionally kept separate from a sin or guilt offering so that those giving the offering were focused on God’s goodness and love.
Looking further along in the Word, it obviously had it’s desired effect. The psalms give us more than 20 ways and reasons to give thanks. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good” is a common command, and is focused sometimes on the reason, but more often focused on the character of God.
This is what we need to focus on now. This is what we need to focus on daily, in every circumstance, and in every need, doubt, trial, or test. We need a deep indwelling response of thanksgiving to the redemptive work of God in our lives.
We live in a time where the very spirit of God lives and dwells inside of us, but we are more focused on what others are doing around us. We spend more time talking about politics and what people should do or not do, than thanking God for what He has already provided for us. Which is everything!
The words for thanksgiving (eucharisteo and eucharistia) appear about 55 times (depending upon your translation) in the New Testament. Eucharisteo is translated as “to be thankful, to feel thanks”.
I look around my own life, and those around me and I don’t always see someone “feeling thankful”. We need… I need… to understand the redemption God has designed in His word to bring us into a lifestyle of thanksgiving. This will ultimately culminate in His kingdom coming to earth!
A general attitude of thanksgiving in both the trials and blessings of life should be the distinguishing mark of the Christian. Paul instructs us to give thanks for all things, in all circumstances ( Ephesians 5:20 and 1 Thesselonians 5:18 ), even in suffering ( Romans 5:3-1 ), and to do everything in the name of Jesus out of a spirit of gratitude ( Colossians 3:17 ).
How does this culminate in His Kingdom coming to earth? In that thanksgiving, those around you get a glimpse of heaven itself! Revelation 4:9 states “Four living creatures “give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne”, twenty-four elders worship him for he has taken his great power and begun to reign ( Revelation 11:17). If we continue to read, we see God overthrowing evil, and a new heaven and earth comes…
We can have a glimpse of that NOW. We can bring heaven to earth by living out of thanksgiving and shining the light on the glory of who God is in our lives! Then others will thirst for that, and out of that He is glorified, and the whole cycle continues until He comes to finally rule and reign!
This thanksgiving, while we are sitting alone, or with a house full of family and food… instead of focusing on what we don’t have, and what we see others have, lets focus on WHO we have, and who has us.
God commanded it.