Something to Celebrate!
When did Thanksgiving begin? Well, our great American holiday started with 53 pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians on the shores of Massachusetts in the fall of 1621.
Did you know, however, that thousands of years before the Pilgrims, such a holiday was set up by God? Deep in the Old Testament God gave people a festival of thanksgiving called Tabernacles. This harvest celebration came in the fall at the end of the growing season when all the crops had come in. The wheat harvest was in (not just the barley), all of the olives were gathered and pressed to provide those precious calories stored to sustain life through the winter when there were were no refrigerators. The fruit was harvested, the citrus, the pomegranates, and all the rest. Time to celebrate and give thanks.
God didn’t want this to be just a festival that lasted only one day, but he wanted it to be enjoyed for one week plus one day (eight days). They decorated their tables and homes with the color and the fruit of the land. God gave his people a holiday full of the imagery of agriculture.
Jesus himself, also, loved the imagery of agriculture. He loved to talk about harvests, especially a spiritual harvest.
He also used rich images of agriculture to describe his own ministry. Jesus talks about himself as the Son of Man who sowed the good seed. The field is the world. The good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The harvest is at the end of the age and the harvesters are the angels (Matt. 13).
Jesus has in mind a spiritual harvest to end all harvests, a harvest of people, people from every nation under heaven. Revelation 7 describes the end of the ages when God will bring about the Thanksgiving to end all Thanksgivings.
I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and in their hands—palm branches (Rev. 7:9).
Palm branches in Rev. 7 point us to the holiday of Thanksgiving in the Old Testament where palms were an important part of that harvest celebration. Knowing this small bit of history from the Old Testament gives us insight into what is yet to come. God envisions a Great Thanksgiving to End all Thanksgivings at the end of the ages when he gathers all his people around his heavenly banqueting table.
Dear Family, maybe, just maybe, even as we celebrate Thanksgiving 2011 in our homes, Jesus is setting his grand table, and even preparing the meal for us—in heaven.
May this Thanksgiving satisfy you and your family in every way. And may it do even more. May this Thanksgiving whet our appetites for what God is preparing in advance for us who love him.
We have so much to Celebrate! May God bless this Thanksgiving. Amen!