“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest…shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:22)
What an amazing assurance! What a precious promise! Have we ever considered what would happen if the harvest really ceased? Supposing that God limited the promise of a harvest only to the year 2200, would that not cause great concern for us today already? Would we not be anxiously wondering what would happen then?
Are we not reminded by the Word of God of why we have it so good? Yes, why do we really have it so good? The answer lies in the very remarkable word: “Seedtime and harvest…shall not cease.” And since our Father in Heaven is faithful to His Word, we have been allowed to bring in a harvest again this year. And because the harvest is such an immeasurable and irreplaceable blessing, we may again decorate our churches for Thanksgiving and celebrate with thankful and joyful hearts in honor of our God.
We need to be prepared for Thanksgiving. A preacher writes: “With some helpers, we decorated the sanctuary for Thanksgiving. Under the harvest crown, we spread out some of the field crops, the garden vegetables, as well as a variety of beautiful fruits. And everywhere in between, the various flowers shone through in their magnificent colors. Everything we presented was to be an indication of how the Lord our God had so richly given to us again this year.
“We placed a jug of water on the altar. It quenches our thirst and waters the plants and animals. We will give thanks for the rain and for the water in streams and rivers. – We will also place a bowl of earth; because out of the fertile soil, the many fruits have grown.
“‘But what will I say to the congregation tomorrow?’ this man asked himself. ‘I will speak of the richness of creation, but also how God’s gifts are misused. How we pollute and waste the water; how we exploit and poison the soil, how we let plants, flowers and trees die!’ And with that we are really directed to a sad state of affairs, or should we say a ‘sin’?
“Being thankful should be at the forefront of a Thanksgiving Day celebration. Thankful for our daily bread, thankful for the sun, wind, and rain; thankful for our health, strength, and work; thankful for the peace in our country, for the joys and sorrows; thankful for God’s help, for His blessings on our soul, for the precious Word of God! We give thanks for Jesus Christ, for His grace and for the many blessings through Him! And last but not least, giving thanks for every step we take and for every breath God gives us!”
The aforementioned preacher finally remained alone in the church. He sat down and began to ponder his life. Then he continued writing: “What have I all been given in my life! My country, my freedom, prosperity, God’s guidance, the many blessings… And as the individual stages of my life pass before me and I quietly look back, a prayer wells up inside of me!”
May each one of us experience true thanksgiving and an offering of godly prayer!
We know from God’s Word that the two brothers, Cain and Abel, felt the inner need to bring sacrifices to the God of Heaven and then had a very remarkable experience. Cain’s sacrifice was rejected, and how that must have frightened him! This teaches us not to bring our Lord an offering of thanks with just any kind of haphazard attitude.
So when and why does this not work? Let’s take a look at one example: I believe that someone who has often thrown bread into the garbage all year, who has carelessly allowed many delicious foods to be spoiled and ruined, who has transgressed against the Word of God, or who has not respected or cherished the many spiritual blessings, is not worthy of giving an offering of thanks. He can be sure that he lacks the necessary conditions for giving God a thank offering, and the Lord will not accept it. The godly thing to do is to repent and seek forgiveness and only then bring an offering of thanks.
Jesus explains this as follows: “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24). So, if reconciliation with our neighbor is necessary, then how much more is it necessary to be reconciled with God before we bring Him our offering of thanks. Perhaps this is the reason why our Thanksgiving celebrations are often so thankless?
We all have sufficient reason to be thankful. But our hearts must be blameless before God so that we can freely and joyfully come before Him with our offerings of thanks. This is the prerequisite for blessed, thank-filled Thanksgiving celebrations. And it remains my wish and prayer that the Lord would grant it to us!