Summary: Annual Thanksgiving Message 2014
A Lifestyle of Thanks
November 23, 2014
Annual Thanksgiving Message
What is thanksgiving really all about? Thanksgiving is the product of an inward experience that results in an upward focus and an outward expression.
Our modern society has forgotten the depth and importance of Thanksgiving. We seem to have made Thanksgiving is a time when we pause to reflect on the many blessings that God has given to us.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:4-5
The psalmist lays out the foundation of being thankful with an attitude of praise before God. The call to enter his gates is a call to come to the tabernacle for worship but it was more than just entering the gates, it was a call to come and meet with God. The gates were the only way to go into the tabernacle.
The tabernacle was the key place of worship in Israel prior to the building of the temple. The tabernacle was not in a permanent place and could be moved from location to location. The set up was always the same with an outer area surrounding the inner tent of the tabernacle.
The call is to come before God with a spirit of thanksgiving. The word here was used to describe the service of the thank offering. Bringing a thank offering to God included a number of things: confession, songs and a sacrifice. Sometimes the Israelites had a service procession prior to giving a thank offering that involved a line of people entering the tabernacle with shouting and songs of praise.
The psalmist says to come into the courts with praise. The gates of the tabernacle led into the outer courts, which was a place of prayer and worship. The court was a central place used during times of thanksgiving. Normally, this was during Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. Sukkot was a time of giving thanks and praising God. To praise meant to offer songs of worship that focus on the greatness of God.
The purpose of Sukkot was to remember how God delivered the people from slavery in Egypt and guided them through the wilderness. The celebration would be a mixture of our Thanksgiving and our Independence Day. The goal was to thank God for His work to provide the people with freedom and giving them the Promised Land.
give thanks to him and praise his name
The psalmist seems to repeat the call for praise and thanksgiving near the end of the verse. Hebrew writers never just repeat themselves but to give deeper meaning. In this case, the Hebrew words in the opening of the verse are different from the words near the end of the verse. The difference adds distinction and clarification to the purpose of the psalmist.
The second use of the word thanks in English is actually a different Hebrew term than thanksgiving. The word here is yadah, which means to humble oneself in an expression of gratitude. It also gives the understanding of proclaiming personal need for God and to tell of God’s greatness. The call to give thanks is to express the depth of gratitude for the work of God. It is to share with others how amazing God has been to us.
Giving thanks here echoes the statement of the psalmist in verse 1: Shout to the LORD. We are called to loudly proclaim or vocally share what God has done. We are to praise God and tell of His incredible greatness. We are to shout at the top of our lungs about how awesome and amazing our God is.
The psalmist calls for God’s people to praise His name. The word here for praise is again different than the word earlier in the verse. The word here is barach which means to bless another, to kneel before another and to proclaim blessing. Our praise is the way that we bless God back for the blessings that He has bestowed upon us. We are to share those blessings with others because of what God has done for us.
Why should we give thanks to God?
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations
We give thanks because God is good
God is declared as being good. We see this and think that good is just so so or substandard. In Hebrew, good is the highest of all compliments. There is nothing better than good. The psalmist is saying that God is beyond the measure of greatness.
We give thanks because God loves us
God loves us beyond our ability to comprehend. The depth of God’s love is seen in His actions toward sinful humanity. God chose to send Jesus to us and buy us back from the power of sin and death. Some translations say mercy or lovingkindness. The Hebrew word here for love deals with action and not merely emotion. God’s love for us moves Him to action on our behalf.