"The First Fruits"
The Lord God said, " When you come into the land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance, and have taken possession of it, and live in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from your land that the Lord your God gives you, and you shall put it in a basket, and you shall go to the place which the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell there."
As we gather this evening to celebrate the day of Thanksgiving which comes upon us tomorrow, our thoughts turn to the Pilgrims who came to America and celebrated what we have regraded as the first Thanksgiving. But as you heard the first lesson read this evening from Deuteronomy, the first Thanksgiving was really celebrated by the Israelites as they moved into the promised land. God told them as they came into this land flowing with milk and honey, they were to take the first fruits of the ground, place them in a basket and take it to the priest. There they were to relive through the words of that speech which begins, "A wandering Aramean was my father; and he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number; and there he became a nation, great, mighty and populous," God’s deliverance in their lives.
Because God had delivered and blessed them, God asked them to return to Him the first fruits of the ground, to give thanksgiving to Him for this act of deliverance in their lives.
For the Israelites, their thanksgiving was seen in the action of God as He delivered them from Egypt and brought them into this land flowing with milk and honey. The Pilgrims gave thanks for the deliverance which came to them during their first year on the North American shore. They were delivered from hunger by a good summer crop, they were delivered from war by peacefully living with the Indians, they were delivered from cold by building strong sturdy homes, we could go on and on. Deliverance brought thanksgiving into their hearts.
Can we think of Thanksgiving as deliverance for us?? Think about that for a moment?? Usually, when we think of this time of Thanksgiving, we list all those things we are thankful that we have or been blessed with. But what about being thankful for all those things we have been delivered from, that we don’t have to experience???
Maybe the following will help clarify my point:
"There was a man who lived with his 6 children in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Just before school was to start all of his children were in need of new shoes. At the same time the washing machine wore out. To top it all off, because of bad weather, his work as a carpenter had dwindled to almost nothing.
He was able to scrap together enough money to buy the children shoes, but he ran an ad in the paper wanting to buy a used washing machine. One day the phone ran, and it was someone who had a used washing machine to sell. He went to the home and noticed they had all the things he wished for his family. After talking to the man of the house concerning the washing machine and how he would get it home, the conversation got around to children. Claude, the out of work carpenter, began complaining about how expensive it was to raise 6 children. Especially when they all needed shoes at the same time. The woman of the house ran out of the room crying. Her husband explained that they had only one child who had been paralyzed from birth and he had never needed a pair of shoes.