Summary: On this Thanksgiving Eve, we gather to do what God urged Israel to do--to remember. We gather to remember what our Lord has done for us. We gather to remember and give Him thanks.
The Israelites spent four decades wandering through the Sinai Peninsula. Finally, they arrive on the outskirts of Canaan. They are on the verge of leaving a desert of scarcity and going into a land of plenty.
Moses then warns the Israelites how easily they could forget the goodness of God when they lack for almost nothing. “Moses tells them, “Remember how the LORD your God led you the entire way in the desert these forty years.”
Moses had to use the word, “Remember.” He said that because they, and we, have a habit of forgetting. Just forty years before, the Israelites lived as slaves in Egypt. God told Pharaoh, “Let my people go.” Pharaoh said, “No.”
So God sent one plague after another. After each plague, Pharaoh still said, “No.” After the tenth plague, every firstborn male in Egypt died except those whose doorposts were marked by the blood of a Passover lamb. Pharaoh then changed his “No” to “Go.” And the people of Israel went.
Yet, the Israelites hadn’t even reached the Red Sea before they forgot what the Lord had done for them. That’s because Pharaoh changed his mind. Pharaoh sent his whole army after them. Israel saw a marauding military behind them and the Red Sea ahead of them. And they cried out in fear, “Why did you bring us into the desert to die.” But they didn’t die. Earlier, God had rescued them by sending ten plagues. Now, God rescued them again by splitting the Red Sea.
Once they crossed the Red Sea, they were in the desert. They had no food. They had no water. They forgot again what the Lord had done for them. They griped, “Life would be better if we had stayed in Egypt.” Yet, once again, God comes to the rescue: with manna from the sky and water from a rock!
Forty years later, they are poised to enter the Promised Land. Moses tells them, “Remember.” Remember the Passover, remember the Red Sea, and remember the manna and water. Remember how for forty years in the desert your clothes never wore out, and your feet never swelled up. Remember, so you’ll never forget who constantly cares for you. Remember, so you will never stop giving thanks to the gracious God who gives you everything you need--and even more!
Tonight, as those whom Christ has also rescued, we gather to remember. Remember, so you’ll never forget who constantly cares for you. Remember, so you will never stop giving thanks to the gracious God who gives you everything you need--and even more. Remember!
Think about it. We should be thankful for indoor plumbing, for hot water, and even toilet paper. But we’re not, not normally, not usually. We might when the plumbing goes out, the hot-water heater quits working, and you have no more toilet paper in the house. Then, we begin to be grateful for what we had!
Most of the time, we take most of life and its conveniences for granted. We should be thankful for the spice aisle and fresh produce in the stores all winter long. But are we? Are you thankful for asphalt, tires on your car, and microwave ovens? Are you thankful for soap, shampoo, and toothpaste?
However, there’s a problem with lists. They tell us what we should be thankful for. Yet, if we only listed items for which we’re, in truth, thankful, the list would be short. Most of the time, it would be a list of items we know we should always be thankful for, but rarely are.
Yet, even that list would be limited. We would include family, friends, food, health, and our nation. But our list would seldom mention plastic wrap, propane, or toilet paper. To be honest, we haven’t remembered the goodness of God. We have forgotten, just like Israel.
It’s on nights like this, when we do stop to remember the goodness of God, we realize just how ungrateful and unworthy we are. So tonight, even more than saying, “Thank you, God,” we must confess. We confess that we have often taken God’s gifts without being grateful. We have rebelled against His ownership of all we so quickly call our own.
“Remember,” Moses warns us. Remember that your Lord is the One who provides for you. Your Lord is the One who causes the wheat to sprout and grapes to grow, so there is bread for your table and wine for your cup. Your Lord is the One who has brought you to this land of plenty where food is not scarce, and we lack for little.
Prosperity is dangerous--even in these hard times of recession. It’s so easy to become complacent, easy to forget the source of all these marvelous gifts. We think we are poor, because someone around us has more money.