Blog: Original Thanksgiving (11/31/21) | Dickinson County News
By Reverend Nicholas Hanges – Foundation Church, Spencer
This week, over 300 million people celebrated Thanksgiving in America. If you google “Thanksgiving Origins,” you’ll find a wealth of historical information regarding the start of the holidays that we relegate to big meals and family reunions.
From harvest festivals to pilgrims, there is an abundance of information that gives an idea of how this festival began. On a spiritual level, our vacations are only a shadow of a deep reality. The truth is, Thanksgiving began before America was born.
The ancient word in the Hebrew Bible that we translate to thanksgiving has a deeper meaning than just savoring all of our benefits and blessings. Biblical thanksgiving goes beyond gratitude for friends and possessions. In fact, the ancient biblical object of thanksgiving itself is directed only to the one true Almighty God.
The Hebrew word depicts worship by a presentation of songs that exalted all of the mighty wonders of God. The purpose of these ancient choirs reflected in humanity what was already happening in the heavens. Just as angels maintain a prepared and holy environment in heaven by thanking and praising, mankind is created to do the same.
Thanksgiving of this magnitude prepares us to live sacrificially in worship despite our surroundings. True, biblical thanksgiving transcends our circumstances or our loneliness. Nothing in heaven or on earth can damage biblical thanksgiving because the object of praise is God.
We may “feel” grateful all day long, but without God as the divine object of our praise, our momentary feelings will pass as quickly as a Macy’s parade and leftover prank.
The Bible tells us “Everything good and perfect is a gift that comes to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens” (James 1:17).
Our thanksgiving should be directed primarily to God. We are responsible for preparing our hearts and thanking Him every day rather than during the marketed vacations alone. If we do not live in a biblical state of thanksgiving, we will suffer consequences when there is no earthly reason to be thankful in our minds. Scripture trains us to become like Christ, which involves being prepared for suffering, as well as for blessing.
Be grateful at all times, for it is God’s will for you that belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Jesus Christ alone displayed biblical thanksgiving when he broke bread and gave thanks (Mat. 26:26) before he was about to be betrayed, arrested and tortured to death for all of us. In a way, it was the original Thanksgiving meal.
No feast or socialization can ever train us to give thanks like Jesus did. Today take a moment beyond thanking God for everything you have in your life. Just thank God for who he is in all his majesty and glory. Give thanks to the one who never changes beyond this ever-changing world. Whatever happens, you will always have a reason to be thankful for knowing the reality of Christ. One day we will enter the heavenly courts through the original meaning of thanksgiving and praise. Why not start now?