Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Thanksgiving: An Ancient View

Read Psalm 100

Intro: Bible Study can take on many forms.

  1. For most of this fall, we have spent time looking at the broad strokes of truth found in Paul's epistle to the Romans

  2. Bible Study can also take us closer to scripture – allowing us to examine every word and it meaning and use in scripture.

  3. But it is also possible stand back and take a look at the big picture.

  4. That is what I did this week – I took the English work “thanksgiving” and looked to see what other words were used with in the OT

  5. Four words stood out – four words that will help us that will help us to understand the meaning of Thanksgiving.


The Hebrew word for thanksgiving is Tow-dah

  1. Used in many different ways

  2. The Thanksgiving offering sacrifice

  3. Used to refer to songs of thanksgiving

  4. Used to refer to a worship service whose focus was thanksgiving

  5. And it is used with four words that help us to better understand what it means to be thankful.


  1. Peace Leviticus 7:13

      1. I don' know about your house, but around the Johnson

      2. And yet to the Jew of the OT, these two terms were connected

      3. But peace comes in two forms

        1. First it is the gentle, restful times when we can find ourselves away from the craziness of this world live in. And for those times we can be thankful – though they don't seem to come as frequently as we might want. The Bible calls this the “Peace of God”.

        2. But there is another kind of peace. The kind that Paul mentions in Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.“ We have just finished our study of Romans where we looked at the impact of sin on our lives. As unsaved men and women, we stand as enemies of God. But as people of God, we have “Peace with God.”

(Ill.) In failing health, Patrick Henry wrote in 1799 to President John Adams, to express regrets that he would not be able to serve as the U.S. Minister to France, nor the term he had been elected to in Virginia’s legislature. Knowing his time was short he told his family: “Oh, how wretched should I be at this moment, if I had not made my peace with God!”

      1. I trust that this Thanksgiving that you, too, can be thankful that you have “Peace with God” regardless of how much peace you may have in your lives right now.

  1. Praise Psalm 100:4

(Ill.) If you had been attending our Wednesday evening Bible Study, you would know the relationship between Praise and Thanksgiving. In fact if you would wander downstairs later this morning, you will find over in the corner of the fellowship hall a white board with the definitions that help us understand the difference between Praise and Thanksgiving.

    1. Praise puts the focus on God and who He is – the all powerful, all knowing, blessed creator, and Redeemer of our souls.

    2. Thanksgiving places the focus on what God is doing in our lives.

    3. Praise and Thanksgiving invite two errors.

        1. First there is the tendency to forget who God is

        2. Second is the tendency to forget what God has done

    4. Our Thanksgiving holiday gives us the opportunity to quiet both of these errors -

    5. Take time to Praise God by remembering who he is.

    6. Take time to be thankful for what God has done for you this year.

  1. Prayer Isaiah 6:10

    1. Prayer – is having a conversation with God and, as such, certainly is connected to Thanksgiving

(Ill.) Chuck Swindoll, President of Dallas Theological Seminary, reminds us that we never learned to pray at school. In fact, he says, we never learned to pray at church. Most people did not learn to pray in PJ's at their bed. No, most people learned to pray at the dinner table – starting from the very first solid food. Blessing was part of every meal – and we learned to pray.

    1. And when we sit down at this year's Thanksgiving feast, for many of us prayer will again be a part of our meal.

(Appl.) Look at your table. Look at the mashed potatoes, the jello salad, the green bean casserole, the turkey. And then remember that 13% of the world's population will go to bed hungry that night, earning less than $1 per day. Remember that 11 million children die each year from malnutrition. American food banks serve 23 million people – that is 10% of our population. Now look again at those mashed potatoes, the jello salad, the green bean casserole, and that turkey. And then, as a family, remember to pray and give thanks for all that God has given you and yours this year.

  1. Psalms Psalm 100 - “A Psalm for giving thanks.”
    1. I was caught by surprise. I mean Christmas is about music, Christmas is about singing Christmas carols.

    2. But of all the word's I found connected to “Thanksgiving” the group of words associated with songs, singing, the Psalms, occurred more than any other.

    3. When I think of the music that has meant the most to me over the years, it is music that has touched my heart. It is music that has brought tears to my eyes. Songs that have made me thankful.

(Ill.) I have spoken before of the fact that I like country music. Though I spent most of my teen years but as I grew older, I lost interest and started to listen to golden oldies and Christian music. But seven years ago, the summer before we moved to New York, my kids, much to their consternation, introduced my wife an I to a song that relit my appreciation for country music. It was Shania Twain's song, “You're Still The One.” It is the story of how one couple survived, with a lot of hard work, the rigors of marriage. It is the story of my marriage. It is a song that still brings tears to my eyes. Those are tears of thankfulness.

    1. We don't usually think about music being about Thanksgiving – but many of us can think of a song or two that expresses our thankfulness for the things that God has provided to us.

(Appl.) Let me encourage you consider adding a song to your Thanksgiving feast.

Conclusion: There are lots of way to be thankful

  1. It may be finding a few minutes of peace to remember our what God has done

  2. It may be learning to praise God – in the midst of our hectic world

  3. It may be just remembering what we do have – and letting our prayers express our thankfulness

  4. Or it may be taking time to sing a song that will help you to remember that you do have things to be thankful for this year.

I truly hope that you this year you will find Thanksgiving a remarkable holiday – with a fresh view of God's gifts and God's love.

Read Psalm 100

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