November is Thanksgiving Month in many Christian churches. In the Bible, the Jews were commanded to hold three thanksgiving celebrations. Deuteronomy 16:16 says, “Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles.”
These three thanksgiving celebrations is for their freedom, for their land, and for their harvest. It was required of them to go to Jerusalem every year to celebrate it. These celebrations continues up to this day since that time that God decreed it.
The Christian tradition of holding thanksgiving services comes from these three festivals that are commanded by God to celebrate every year.
How can we relate these three festivals to our thanksgiving celebration nowadays?
First, we must thank God for the freedom that we have. We have been set free from the bondage of sin.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread or the Passover in the Old Testament is a foreshadow of the death of Lord Jesus Christ, the Passover Lamb who died to take away our sins.
Second, we must thank God for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
The Feast of Weeks is also called the Pentecost. During the Pentecost in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit came upon the believers and they were empowered to spread the Gospel to the whole world.
Third, we must thank God for the blessings that we have received.
The Feast of Tabernacles is a celebration of the harvest that the Israelites have gathered. It also reminded them that in the wilderness they were living in temporary shelters until God allowed them to enter the Promised Land.
In these three thanksgiving celebrations, there is a command that says in Deuteronomy 16:16b-17, “No one should appear before the LORD empty-handed: Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you.”
So, as we celebrate Thanksgiving in our churches, let us not forget to bring our offering in proportion to the blessings that God has given us.
May God bless us all!
Rev. Francis Neil G. Jalando-on
Director, Office of Communications
Central Philippine University