“When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which He hath given thee. Beware lest thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping His commandments, and His judgments, and His statutes, which I command thee this day.”
Among the flood of voices and musical strains attending the so-called celebration of the national holy day of Thanksgiving, I heard a certain man say something like this: “If God were a man He would surely be offended at the way we profess to have a national holyday dedicated to thanksgiving, and then proceed to completely forget Him in eating and drinking. But now that He is not a man, but God, He must surely be hurt.” Well, my dear reader, that was the understatement of the week. And yet, when I mused awhile on this last statement of a “hurt” God, I was reminded of a text in, which reads: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart.” Of course, I realize full well that this certain man did not think of that kind of a “hurt”: his whole speech was in a different strain. But I thought of it, and it set me to more thinking. And when I noted the following verse in Genesis 6, I shuddered at this “hurt” of God at this juncture of the history of the world. We know what this “hurt” of Genesis 6 produced. And if you have forgotten, I will remind you of it, by quoting the following text: “And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth Me that I have made them.” And He did. The flood came and they were all drowned.
Now we know that this will not happen again, and we have the rainbow for proof. But a far worse flood is “coming, and for the same reason as in Genesis 6: a flood of fire that shall destroy the wicked from the face of the earth. In His just wrath, the Lord has reserved unto fire this world of ours, and then the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat. And all this because of the godlessness of the wicked. For I may safely assure you that the Lord is grievously “hurt” because of all the wickedness that goes on day after day. And not only on Thanksgiving Day but during all the days of our history.
Lest we forget.
Lest we forget.
Do not think that we can quietly quote these things, these dreadful things, and then smugly sit by with Pharisaical delight in a self-made righteousness. These dreadful things have a message for us. The “hurt” which was caused to God by this last holyday (?) was not caused by the out and out wicked alone. There is a measure of co-responsibility for these dreadful things with us, the church of Christ4. The church is not completely holy as yet, and she sins also in this spectacle of Thanksgiving. And the danger to sin on a day like this is not the only one of the myriads of dangers to sin but threatens the church throughout all of her history. For proof I would point you to the history of God’s covenant people Israel. And to the warnings which God sent to her by her prophets throughout all of the days of her history. The text of my post-Thanksgiving meditation is a case in point. The Lord knows our frame. He knows that nothing human is strange unto us; that we are inclined to the same sins as the wicked unregenerate world. Read the swan song of Moses, and shudder. Read the fulfillment of prophecy, and weep.
Israel was about to enter Canaan. And Moses, the servant of God, gave them Deuteronomy, that is, the second reading of the Law. In it he rehearsed the forty years’ journey through the howling wilderness. And rehearsing that journey is tantamount to rehearsing the wondrous deeds of Jehovah. Listen to him. On the one hand, Jehovah had humbled them, proved them, and had made them to hunger. But on the other hand, He had marvelously saved them: their raiment had not waxed old; their feet did not swell; and He had fed them with the bread from heaven, while the flinty rock gave water. And God’s professed purpose was to teach His heritage that man does not live by bread alone, but that they must have the Word of God. And they were on the way to Canaan, the picture of wondrous well-being. There would be plenty of good land, water in abundance, depths and valleys and hills; wheat, barley, wines, fig trees, olives and honey. There would be no lack, no scarcity. There would be iron and brass, in short, all their needs would be fulfilled, and they would be a happy, contented people.
But, My people, beware!
Lest you forget!
Lest you forget!
All such wonderful provision had a definite purpose.
My people, said God through Moses, when thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which He hath given thee. Beware that thou forget not.
Forget what? This: the Lord thy God!
In other words: when all your needs are supplied, do not forget to bless God!
And now I know that Israel is no more. And I know also that our land is not the land of the text: America is not the holy land of yore. But I know this too, that there is no fundamental difference in this admonition in this year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and fifty one. And I know too that the same danger threatens us that threatened Israel of old.
When thou hast eaten and art full.
Refers first of all to all earthy food drink and substance. It certainly refers to the things that are called by Agur: food convenient. Food convenient is a term which applies to all the things which we have need of according to God’s own ordinances. You need a little oxygen for your lungs and your blood. You must have a mediocrity of health and well-being. You must have a little warmth when the thermometer stands at zero or lower. You must have a friend or two that smile every time they see you. You must have a little sanity lest you rave and rave. Oh there are many things we must have if we are to live, even if we are to live for God. And God knows that we need these things. Jesus said that. I do not mean luxury nor poverty. Agur was afraid of both. I mean food convenient for bare life. The barest necessities.
Well, God knows we need them; and we knew it, and so on Prayer Day we asked for food convenient. And what did He do? And what is His usual custom? He made us full. We ate and we drank and we became full. And that is the understatement of this meditation. After all, I write for those that live with me in this good land, the North American Continent. Again I would ask; What did Jehovah do? He literally threw things at us. He overloaded us with good things. And we are full. You ought to come in the homes of some of us. And the least have more than the best had in other parts of God’s dominion where I lived when I was a child. I remember how one boy said to another boy: Wonder how it would feel if we could eat as much meat as we wanted.
Lest we forget.
Lest we forget.
What did Jehovah do?
Well, I told you what He did in the realm of the earthy.
But that is nothing compared to what He did for our souls, for our spirits, for eternity. He gave us Jesus. In these simple words you have an eternity or bliss such as my poor tongue cannot adequately express.
He gave us Jesus.
All the bread and drink, all the shelter and contentment of an earthy nature are but symbols and God intended them to be just that. They are not an end in themselves. And there we strike at the heart of the godlessness of our race, of ourselves. The bread of life is Jesus. And that bread is for the eternal sustenance of our souls and of our bodies. Man does not live by bread alone. The main thing is Jesus.
Sometimes the Lord breaks the staff of life.
And in its wake comes hunger, distress, utmost misery, and finally death.
We need that object lesson. To call us from life’s dream away to the eternal realities that abide forever. And the eternal reality is this: We must have God in order to be happy forever.
And so, when we have eaten and are full in the proper sense then we should bless the Lord our God.
In these few words you have the only purpose of the universe, both this universe which is now, and the universe that is coming, the renewed universe.
Here is the purpose of God which He purposed with Himself: there should be a huge mirror before His face wherein He would see His wonders, His majesty and His praises.
And He chose you and He made you to be that mirror. And you may forget the mirrors we have: they are dead things. I mean a living, sounding, glorifying mirror.
And therefore the Lord said: Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God!
And, positively, “then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God!”
Lest we forget!
Lest we forget!
What is it: to bless God?
Primarily it is a work of God. He blesses Himself. He bows down to His own beauty and He blesses Himself.
But after creating a good thing, He bows down to that good thing and blesses it. And that means, literally, to speak beautiful words to that object. And when God does that, something happens. When God speaks beautiful words to you, then something happens to you, then you are blessed, and that means that things happen to you, things of salvation. I will give you an example. There was a harlot standing behind Jesus. We do not know of one word which that woman spoke, but we know that she wept, and she wept much, for she employed the long tresses of her hair to dry the feet of Jesus. Finally, Jesus turned Himself about and He spoke wonderful words to her: Thy sins are forgiven. Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace! There you have the blessing wherewith God blesses. They are beautiful words, and they do something. Ask of this woman if it did anything to her. She was transformed. I can imagine how she found her way out of this house of Simon, and along the streets of the city, back to her home. Her heart was bursting with happiness.
Well, the Lord wants you to bless Him.
That is proper thanksgiving.
That is heaven on earth.
In one way I can understand that the world does not thank God. Yes, they are wicked. Yes, they are responsible. Yes, they shall be called to account in the judgment day. Yes, they shall agree with God when
He damns them for not thanking Him. That is all true. But I ask you: Were they blessed? Are they blessed as you are? Did God speak His beautiful words to you as He did to that harlot?
What manner of people ought we to be in holiness and righteousness.
Lest we forget.
Lest we forget.
Is it possible to bless God on Thanksgiving Day, and every day in the year?
There is a beautiful story in the answer to that question. It is the story of God’s eternal love in Jesus.
My first answer must be: no! It is not possible to bless God.
Have you not seen round about you last week during the national holyday of Thanksgiving how utterly impossible it is to bless the Lord?
Another, a better question: have you not known from the beginning of your vain life that you are absolutely incapable to do any good and inclined to do all kind of evil?
Oh yes, there is a beautiful story about this blessing of God by man.
And this is the story: when we could not do it anymore because of our sin, death and curse, God sent a Man in the world, and He placed Him before all the commandments, judgments and statutes of God, and He said to this Man: My people have broken all of them, and they continue to break them, and they have done this breaking instead of keeping them. So I ask a twofold work of you: you must keep them and you must remedy the broken commandments in suffering the punishments.
And He did.
He did this for us. He did it in us. And He did it through us. And therefore the Word of God comes to us: Bless the Lord.
A while ago I said that we must speak beautiful words about God to God. Well the most beautiful words of blessing of God are not spoken but lived. A while ago I directed your wondering gaze to that woman who was a sinner. At that time I said that she spoke not one word. And that is true. But oh how she spoke in her deeds!
She spoke such wonderfully beautiful words that Jesus made it a point to call Simon’s attention to it.
Oh, let us go and do likewise. Let us in the power and the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ live lives of true thanksgiving to God.
And that is living the Lord Jesus Christ.