What I didn't realize about Thanksgiving...
Last week I talked about developing faithfulness in others but did you know that celebrating Thanksgiving can be a way to encourage ourselves to be faithful in our relationship with God?
Thanksgiving, when engaging with actual thanksgiving, is an act of remembering and God had a lot to say to the Israelites about remembering and forgetting:
The passage then goes on to describe many of the difficulties the Israelites had faced and the miracles God did to remind them of what they must not forget - the terrors of the wilderness, the fiery serpents, the back-breaking slavery, the thirsty ground with no water, the supernatural provision of the manna that fell, the way that was made when there was no way as the sea parted, the water that flowed from the rock… some of those things not too different from the History of the United States over the past 500 years.
The full warning (in Deut 8:11-19) also shows us what happens when we forget to remember: our hearts start believing that it was by our own power and strength that we got the breakthrough. And if we start thinking that we are the ones who did it, then our hearts will get led astray towards idols rather than the One True God and we will perish because we won’t believe for the next miracle.
Better start remembering then!
I love that God chose feasts as a way to help His children remember. What better way to remember than gathering together eating delicious food and sharing in rituals and symbolism. Of course those rituals and symbols were never meant to be the focus themselves but were meant to point us towards Him. God placed seven feasts of them within the Old Covenant specifically to help Israel remember:
The Passover reminded the Jews of the deliverance of their first born sons from the Angel of Death.
The Feast of Unleavened bread came just after the Passover and reminded the Jews of how God got them out of Egypt quickly and how they were to be set apart and holy for Him.
The Feast of First fruits happened the day after the first sabbath after Passover and celebrated and remembered the first fruits of the bounty of the Promised Land.
The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost remembered the giving of the Law 50 days after crossing the Red Sea and thanked God for His blessings.
The Feast of Trumpets reminded Israel to come before the Lord and seek His favour from judgement.
The Day of Atonement set a day aside to remember the Covenant and Atonement of the people.
The Feast of Tabernacles celebrated the fruit harvest and reminded the people of the giving of the Tabernacle, where God’s Presence came down and dwelled with man in the tabernacle.
But remembering was not the only point - these feasts also pointed forward. They were also promises of the coming Messiah! Christ came and fulfilled these feasts. When those feasts were celebrated they pointed back but they also pointed forward to their fulfillment in Christ! Jesus became the Passover Lamb, set apart and holy. He became the Promised Land, and His Holy Spirit descended on the day of Pentecost to be the fulfillment of the law, present always in our hearts. Jesus became the Atonement and the tabernacle. John 1:14 tells us that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, or literally ‘tabernaculed’ with us. John 14:23 tells us that Jesus himself said: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” Isn't that awesome?
When we take time this Thanksgiving to remember we are not just remembering what God did, we are also declaring what He is going to do! When we recognize the breakthroughs God has brought in our lives this year and see His faithfulness, it causes our hearts to be faithful to Him.
We will celebrate Thanksgiving in our community one day late here in Lima, Peru - there will only be one American present but we as a community have adopted the tradition to come together and say Thank You to God and to acknowledge what He has done in our lives this year. We will give testimony together of His faithfulness and spur one another on to greater faithfulness too!
If you are celebrating this week, Happy Thanksgiving! If you aren't, then maybe take a moment to look over the past year and remember how faithful God has been to you through it all.
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