Thanksgiving Cornucopia

by Rev. Terence Groth

1108scripturestory1.jpgMany of our homes feature a cornucopia as part of our traditional Thanksgiving decorations. The curved goat’s horn overflowing with fruit and ears of grain serves as both a celebration of our abundance and an encouragement to thank God for it. Likewise, as the Scriptures speak of thanksgiving they overflow with both celebration of God’s gifts and encouragement to thank Him for them. The cornucopia invites: “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good” (Ps. 136:1 ESV).

One accent that flows out of the horn of God’s plentiful words about thanksgiving is just how important it is. It is so crucial that in Israel’s calendar for worship God prescribed two festivals connected explicitly with harvest for His people to give thanks annually. What were they? How were they to be celebrated?

Ex. 23:16; Deut. 16:9–17

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Not only the times for these thanksgiving celebrations were specified by God, so were the gifts God’s grateful people were to offer to Him as expressions of their gratitude. What tangible thanksgiving gifts are specified for the Feast of Weeks (Harvest/Pentecost) and Feast of Tabernacles (Booths/Ingathering)?

Lev. 23:16–18; Num. 29:12–16

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Similarly, what tangible offerings of thanks does God direct New Testament believers to give?

Rom. 6:13; 12:1; 1 Cor. 16:1–2

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Phil. 2:17; 4:16–18; Heb. 13:16

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Of course, Scripture also overflows with encouragement for utterances of thanksgiving from believers’ hearts and lips. How is that expressed in these passages?

1 Chron. 16:8–10; Col. 2:6–7; 3:16–17; 4:2

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Ps. 95:1–2; 100:1–4; 147:7; 1 Thess. 5:18

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Eph. 5:19–20; 1 Tim. 2:1; Phil. 4:6

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Nor do the Scriptures lack in models of believers giving thanks. Who gives thanks, for what, and how in these texts?

1 Chron. 16:4–6; 23:28–31; Matt. 15:36; 26:26–27

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2 Chron. 29:31; Luke 2:36–38; 17:11–19

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Dan. 2:19–23; 6:10; Rom. 1:8

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The overwhelming majority of scriptural thanksgiving references are all those that proclaim the greatness of who God is and what He has done as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier for His people. Such revelation of God always leads His grateful people to give thanks. What acts, or characteristics, of God result in thanksgiving in these passages?

1 Chron. 16:34; 2 Cor. 2:14; 9:12–15

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Ps. 75:1; 100:4–5; 136; Rom. 1:8; 6:17–18

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Col. 1:3–6, 12–15; 1 Cor. 1:4–9; 15:54–57

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2 Thess. 1:3; 2:13–14

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What an abundance of reasons for thanksgiving—and these are only a sample of the Bible’s witness of God’s gifts!

Obviously, the Scriptures are overflowing from front to back, not only with encouragement, but especially with reasons for thanksgiving! They give a cornucopia of directions, examples, and good news in Christ for giving thanks. Sounds like a great centerpiece for Thanksgiving!

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