Summary: Thanksgiving should be a reminder that we need to have a proper attitude all year long.
Attitude of Gratitude
INTRODUCTION – WHY DO WE CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING?
When did the Thanksgiving celebration in the US begin?
THE INSECURE TIMES OF JOEL
During the time of Joel’s prophecy, the people were living in similar insecure times. The prophet called the people to a time of prayer and fasting before the judgment of God. This process of prayer and fasting because you recognized that God would judge the world placed the attitude of gratitude (or thanksgiving) in its proper context. People did not thank God because He gave stuff. They thanked God because He would soon judge the world and so we needed to respect Him for what He has done.
SIDE NOTE: WHAT ABOUT THE LOCUSTS?
The debate centers on the idea that a group of real locusts would come and destroy Judah. Does Joel’s prophecy speak of a group of real locusts, or are the locusts symbolic of an army? Some scholars believe that this was a prophecy that never came to pass because the people repented. So the argument in this case is moot. However, there are others who say that these locusts are a devastating army that would come and destroy the land.
I would say that this is a description of a real army for many reasons.
THE ARMY IN JOEL
Apparently, this army uses the tactics of a locust army (Joel 1:4)
It is called a “nation” , which is now compared to a lion (Joel 1:6)
It clearly describes an army’s movements (Joel 2:4-9)
God calls it His army (Joel 2:11)
The “northern army” reveals the location of the people who come to invade (Joel 2:20)
The army is therefore a physical army. Which army is it? Most scholars date the book (based on Joel 3:4-8) as somewhere in 850BC. This makes the people who invaded Jerusalem the Sabeans, Greeks, or Phoenecians.
So the prophet Joel showed the people a way to deal with the insecure times in which they were living:
PROCESS OF NATIONAL THANKSGIVING IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
Announce God’s judgement (Local Day of the Lord) – Joel 1:15-20
Call to Repentance – Joel 2:12-17
Thank God for His Response and Promise – Joel 2:18-27
HISTORY OF THE U.S. HOLIDAY OF THANKSGIVING
When the United States was first founded, this process was well known the colonists. As a result, a day of “prayer and fasting” for repentance was set aside to prevent God’s judgment on the land. A second day, known as “thanksgiving” was also set a side to feast and celebrate what God provided during the harvest. In the process of time, the Day of Prayer and Fasting was dropped in favor a Day of Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving Day was moved to accommodate the Christmas shopping season in the late 1940s to spur economic growth. After this, Thanksgiving has been overshadowed by its Christmas neighbor.
As a result, Thanksgiving has become a special day in which we spend time with the family – a reunion of sorts. But it is not necessarily celebrated as a “holy” day to God. We spend more time worrying about the turkey rather than thanking God for the turkey.