The Story of Thanksgiving and Why it Matters, Part 4

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, November 24, 2015 0 comments

by Bill Seng

“This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me…This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” ~1 Corinthians 11:24-25

The past couple of weeks I have been discussing Thanksgiving as it relates to American history. You can read those posts here, here, and here. We went from the Pilgrims fleeing Britain, celebrating their first Thanksgivings, and then to the establishment of Thanksgiving as a national holiday and its roots after the establishment of the United States. All of this information is fascinating, but without understanding the true meaning of Thanksgiving, it is all meaningless.

When I say “the true meaning of Thanksgiving,” I am referring to what it is that we are thankful for. In every instance that a national day of Thanksgiving was proclaimed in past centuries, it was always accompanied with prayer. That is because the people in those days were grateful to God for his faithfulness in providing for them in their times of need. If you are a Christian, or are at least curious about the Christian faith, you need to understand that this tradition of Thanksgiving dates back much further than the holiday we have all grown to cherish.

Let me first take you back thousands of years to a time long forgotten. It was a time of great tribulation as the entire world had become violent and entrenched in warfare. One man and his family stayed separate from the evils. His name was Noah. You remember the story of Noah’s ark, but let me refresh you. God commanded Noah to build an ark, in this case an enormous sea vessel that was designed to carry a large amount of precious cargo, and to take a sampling of all of the world’s land animals onto it to preserve them from mass extinction. The world was completely covered with water for an entire year until Noah, his family, and all of the animals stepped onto dry land. Immediately, Noah gave thanks to God for preserving their lives by building an altar and sacrificing some of the animals that had been set aside by God for that very purpose. Noah and his family were grateful that God remembered them amid this worldwide catastrophe that very easily could have claimed the lives of everyone and everything aboard the ark.

Previously, God had not condoned the act of eating the meat of animals. After Noah’s sacrifice, God announced that humans could eat animals as well as the plants. In turn he placed the fear of man on the hearts of the entire animal kingdom. This signified a drastic change in the creation order, but it also foreshadowed a wonderful act of grace. Later in the days of Moses and the commandments, sacrifices would be presented unto God as ceremonial offerings for the forgiveness of people’s wrongdoings. This was a tradition that endured for centuries, but the meaning of it all became clear at the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. It finally became clear that the sacrifice of unblemished flesh of “innocent” animals was a precursor to the future reality of Jesus’ death by the hands of men and for the sake of mankind. So, every time you eat meat along with any meal it is an opportune moment to thank God for allowing the blood of his Son to be shed for the sake of mankind. This again signified a change in the order of the creation.

I know that sometimes we take this for granted, but Jesus gave us a Thanksgiving feast that we are supposed to celebrate regularly among our church brethren. Among its more popular titles are the Lord’s Supper and Holy Communion.

As the Bible tells us, Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread and broke it. He told his disciples that the bread was his body that would be broken. He then told them to eat the bread. He took a cup of wine and told them that it was his blood and that it signified the new promise that he was making with them. He asked that they drink the wine in remembrance of him. It was through Jesus’ broken body and shed blood that the wicked deeds of the entire world would be forgiven. We can remember and give thanks, not only when we take communion in church, but also when we sit down for a routine meal. We can remember that the meat that we eat was first permitted for our consumption as a precursor to the One whose “body” would be “consumed” to save the entire world.

It is for God’s faithfulness in saving his people from their sins that we can all be thankful. Even when it appeared that the whole world had gone astray, God in his mercy preserved a remnant so that he might redeem the entire world through the shedding of his own blood. We are to remember his sacrifice until the day that Jesus returns through celebrating communion in our churches. May we always eat and drink in remembrance of him. Happy Thanksgiving!

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