Summary: ***Did you know that Thanksgiving may be the most Biblical of all holidays?
The Thanksgiving Feast
INTRODUCTION: The first American Thanksgiving didn’t occur in 1621 when a group of Pilgrims shared a feast with a group of friendly Indians. The first recorded thanksgiving took place in Virginia more than 11 years earlier, and it wasn’t a feast. The winter of 1610 at Jamestown had reduced a group of 409 settlers to 60. The survivors prayed for help, without knowing when or how it might come. When help arrived, in the form of a ship filled with food and supplies from England, a prayer meeting was held to give thanks to God.
***Did you know that Thanksgiving may be the most Biblical of all holidays?
We often think of Christmas as being the most “Christian” holiday, and in a way it is: We are celebrating the birth of the Christ. But in terms of how special days were celebrated, Thanksgiving is much more Biblical.
The Old Testament talks about special days set aside for events. In fact there are seven feasts that mark special occasions in the scripture.
• Feast of Unleavened Bread - (Hag Ha Matzah)
*** A week of eating bread made without yeast (Matzah),
to remember how God brought the Isrealites out of Egypt in haste.
• First Fruits - Yom HaBikkurim
*** Known as the Feast of First Fruits. Presenting a sheaf of the first harvest. This was the Harvest Offering on the First day after the Sabbath after Passover.
• Shavuoth - (Feast of Weeks - Pentecost)
*** Celebrates the time of the giving of the Law to Moses on
Mount Sinai. Offering Fifty Days (hence: Pentecost) after Passover.
• Rosh Hashanah - (Feast of Trumpets) “The Jewish New Year”
*** Celebrates the beginning of the Jewish Civil year. It is both a time of rejoicing as well as a holy occasion. The Shofar (Ram’s horn Trumpets are blown to proclaim a gathering for worship.
o Yom Kippur - (Day of Atonement)
*** Is the holiest day of the Jewish year. Sacrifices for sins of the nation were made.
• Succoth - (Feast of Tabernacles/Booths)
*** Recalls 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, living in tents (booths) and worshiping in a portable tabernacle.
• Pesach (Passover)
*** Remembers the Exodus from Egypt. Remember Israel’s
deliverance from Egypt.
Each of these feasts were marked by four things. They share amazing similarities to our feast of Thanksgiving.
I. Gathering of Community
a. Everyone in the nation would take part in these holidays
i. The community would stop in observance
ii. All focus was on the special occasion
b. Thanksgiving gathers us together as a community. This is important because it involves:
i. Coming together (the definition of community)
o Illustration: “Not only your family” On Thursday it will not only be your family that stops to give thanks. Millions of Americans will focus on the occasion. Most businesses and shops will not be open in honor of the important day.
o The community will come together for a celebration, each home celebrating in their own way
ii. Service to others (the power of community)
o The cooks of the home often get started on the Thanksgiving feast hours (sometimes days) before the actual event
o They offer a service to their community/family
iii. Love for others (the spirit of community)
II. Giving of Thanks
a. During each of these feasts the nation of Israel would pray and rejoice to God for all of His blessings
i. Listen to this text referring to the feast of weeks
ii. Deuteronomy 16:11 “You shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your gates, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are among you, at the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide.”
iii. Everyone in the community, mother, father, son and daughter – took the time to rejoice and give thanks for God’s blessings
b. Illustration: “Giving thanks is really a lost art” A ministerial student in Evanston, Illinois, was part of a life-saving squad. In 1860, a ship went aground on the shore of Lake Michigan near Evanston, and Edward Spencer waded again and again into the frigid waters to rescue 17 passengers. In the process, his health was permanently damaged. Some years later at his funeral, it was noted that not one of the people he rescued ever thanked him.
i. Most of us forget to give God thanks
o Illustration “Thank God for that which is truly wonderful” A teacher asked her students to list what they thought were the present Seven Wonders of the World. The students cast the most votes for:
1. Egypt’s Great Pyramids
2. Taj Mahal
3. Grand Canyon