How do you celebrate when something good happens? Dinner with friends? A special drink? A while ago, Pastor Adam stated that the three main ingredients of the Bible are burgers, chips and beer! I thought that was a fun way to remember that it’s really all about God’s people, God’s place and God’s blessing. Upon further consideration, I believe the burgers, chips and beer analogy can be applied to the subject of thanksgiving.
Recently, I’ve been inspired by Leviticus, and it led me to write this note on thanksgiving. Nowadays it’s all very easy to say a prayer of thanks by yourself to God and that’s it. To be honest, my prayers of thanks are too quick and usually only in response to something good that has happened. In contrast, however, imagine living in Old Testament times. You would most likely have to round up one of your sheep, bring it to the gate of the temple, kill it, and offer it as a thank or peace offering! It was an ‘event’ and a graphic illustration that can teach us so much about being thankful:
- First of all, it involved sacrifice. Note that this offering was not for salvation, yet it still required a sacrifice helping us to remember that Christ’s sacrifice and salvation is always at the centre.
- Secondly, it involved community. The one making the offering and the priest (and most probably, their families) participated in this sacrifice and shared the meal together.
- Thirdly, the fat and offal were burnt as a sweet aroma to the Lord, symbolising God’s goodness.
- Fourthly, all offerings to God always required ‘the best’. Our offerings to God can’t be an afterthought.
- Fifthly, there was an offering for something God already provided. Remember the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19? This teaches us to be thankful in times of plenty.
- Sixthly, there was an offering for something hoped for in anticipation. For example, deliverance from a trial. This teaches us to be thankful in times of want. James 1:2 even says, ‘Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds.’
- Lastly, there were provisions for the rich and poor alike to bring suitable offerings to God. It didn’t have to be a sheep. Everyone could give something freely to God in thankfulness, whether it was bread or grain or cakes or first fruits. The gospel has always been inclusive and gracious.
So, back to the burgers, chips and beer. The burgers represent the sacrifice of the bread of heaven, Jesus. The chips represent the first fruits of the land cooked with olive oil. The beer (let me make it wine!) represents Jesus’ blood shed for our sins. All of these things are delicious reminding us that our God takes delight in creating glorious and beautiful things for our pleasure. And that’s a reason to give thanks!
Finally, I can’t resist quoting from Matthew Henry on thankfulness: “We must continue it throughout the whole course of our lives; and we should give thanks for all things, not only for spiritual blessings enjoyed, and eternal ones expected, but for temporal mercies too; not only for our comforts, but also for our sanctified afflictions; not only for what immediately concerns ourselves, but for the instances of God’s kindness and favour to others also. It is our duty in everything to give thanks unto God and the Father.”