Deuteronomy 8:1-10: Thank God!

In the short creation account in the book of Job, the Almighty’s angels approached the brink of becoming breathless. The created magnificence captivated them. So moved, “the morning stars sang together, and the angels shouted for joy.” Next Job tells us why. The Almighty “shut the sea behind doors as it gushed forth from the womb.” Later, the “cloud became the sea’s clothing; the rain clouds, their swaddling bands” (Job 38:7-10).In Revelation, the last book in the Bible, we sense the same awe in the elders who “cast their crowns before the throne,” falling on their faces in worship. “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory, honor, and power, for you created everything. By your will, they existed and came into being” (Revelation 4:10-11).

The Scriptures express the same sober reverence and praise for God—from creation’s beginning to our time in heaven. Such grandeur speaks, not only to our minds but hearts, to those He formed in His image and appointed as stewards of this earth (Genesis 1:26-28). Your Lord God is no mere hypothetical theory or far-off abstraction, for His fingerprints are throughout His creation (Romans 1:20).

“Give thanks in every circumstance, for God desires this for you in Christ Jesus,” St. Paul so penned (1 Thessalonians 5:18). With faith-filled eyes, we’re able to turn and witness the wonders of His hand. Through His Son, Jesus, He brings life from death and joy out of sorrow. The Lord, who reigns in glory and grace, transforms life’s sorrowful plight and creates gladness and peace in its place.

Yes, though our grimmest moments may frighten us, too dark to face, God’s larger plan for us will still unfold and trace. In His mercy, God turns everything for His purposes, for our everlasting well-being. So, on this Thanksgiving Eve, we remember to thank our God.

A new generation stands on the east bank of the Jordan River. In anticipation and hope, they await the resources of the landscape, stirring with milk and honey. Ready, they stand to enter the promised land, trusting to receive their God-given blessings.

Except Moses must prepare them for their journey, reminding them of the past and God’s ways. “Behold your history,” he broadcasts, so they recall how God tried and trained them and strengthened them to endure.

Remember the long road the Lord your God led you on during these forty years in the desert to humble you. He tested whether you will keep his commandments to unmask your innermost heart. By letting you hunger, he humbled you, feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had experienced. So, he taught that man doesn’t live by bread alone but by every word from the Lord’s mouth. [Deuteronomy 8:2-3]

The Lord blesses us with His bounties, including our material blessings. Aren’t these lessons instructing us from the lesser to the greater? Yes, so we might perceive the spiritual wealth given us by the gift of God’s truth and teaching. Not another, but only Jesus is our true manna, nourishing our spirit and soul.

“The clothes on your back did not wear out, and your feet did not swell,” Deuteronomy conveys. An unheard-of disease in our day is beriberi, brought on by a vitamin B1, thiamin, deficiency in the diet. So Moses is expressing in his roundabout way, “You didn’t suffer this illness because God, in His provision, provided your proper nourishment.” Again, from the smaller to the larger, the spiritual manna God grants us supplies everything we need to live in His kingdom.

A few words later, God imparts to the Israelites, “You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the rich land he gave you” (8:10). Praise your Maker and thank Him for the meals that nourish us, grateful for what He’s given. This may be more challenging to comprehend today since farmers grow our grains, fruits, and vegetables, and ranchers raise the animals we consume. These go through various processes to become our food. Removed from the source of our sustenance, finding our Creator’s hand at work within these might be more difficult for us.

The farmer’s toil is in vain if God doesn’t supply needed sunshine, rain, and air. Nary, a weed, will grow apart from the Lord. Consider cattle, hogs, and chickens. Do they not need the same? Yes, and more! Ponder what they eat—plants, grains, and fodder from the ground—or other creatures who ate their fill. The higher we go up the food chain, the more dependent we become on God, not less, as He works through creation’s many levels of sustenance. Without God, “Nature’s first green is gold, [but is] her hardest hue to hold.”

Precious in His sight, God told His chosen to consider, not be careless. So, He spoke of how they should remember Him and how He provides for His beloved people. How foolish if Israel forgot God and only credited their successes to their doings and devices, not God’s providential care. So, too, in our time, lest we turn faithless and foolhardy, thinking little of the Lord.

Today, God still wants us to recall our past, not become a discarded dream. To recollect and reminisce are no mere pastimes, but one method God uses to help encourage us. The Apostle Paul wrote, “I am confident he who began a good work in you will carry this to completion until the Day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Take his words to heart since our earlier successes, failures, and experiences are part of our journey with God, through which He led and blessed us. Not finished, He’ll continue to do so in the future.

In our prosperity, whenever our lives overflow with “goodness,” we might assume we accomplished this alone, with little need for God. So our praises grow silent and stagnant, and our prayers remote. Consider the ten lepers whom Jesus healed. Each received something wondrous, yet only one returned to acknowledge the Lord. In those moments when Jesus sends His healing power our way, don’t forget how He works. Most often through people. Never ignore and neglect the gifts He gives.

More than every other blessing, thank God for your redemption, the price He paid to free you from sin. Isn’t this only because Christ died for us? Redeemed from our failings, Jesus liberates us to bask in His forgiveness. Without His respite, we are but outcasts, wanting evermore!

One time, Jesus’ neighbors chased Him from town and tried to hurl Him off a high cliff. Later, His closest friends will betray, abandon, deny, and desert Him in His hour of greatest need. At Gethsemane, our Lord’s sweat became as blood as He beheld our sins, soon to become His own. Undaunted, Jesus’ compassion for us propelled His broken body to the summit of Calvary’s hill, where His creatures rose to kill Him.

Throughout everything, Jesus never ceased doing what He came to do. Never did He speak a word of spite against others, but praised and thanked God. In a terrain of violence and despair, Jesus became the ultimate Thank-Offering, understanding His Father won’t forsake the world. After darkness shines the light, following defeat, our Savior’s triumph. In the wake of grief and death, joy and resurrection will arise.

At the sixth hour, after paying for everyone’s sins, Jesus rasps, “It is complete!” On Easter morning, He arose in glory. A new hope rose for us on the wings of faith because our heavenly Father accepted His sacrifice. So, we shall likewise rise from death to be forever with God.

Despite time’s distance and the darkness of our inherited sinfulness, we find ourselves in a place of light and warmth. Why? The Lord Christ continues to be our Father’s gift, bestowing the forgiveness He won on the cross. So forgiven, the resurrection becomes ours with eternal life to gain. How can we not express our gratitude to God?

A German Lutheran pastor who lived in the 1600s, Martin Rinckart, wrote the hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God.” Alive during the Thirty Years’ War, his walled town, Eilenburg, became a refuge for families fleeing the war. With so many crowded together, the bubonic plague struck in 1637, killing 8,000 in a matter of weeks. Soon, he’s the only surviving clergy left, providing the best pastoral care he can, burying over 4,000 people, including his wife.

In those darkest hours, faith still stirred inside him. A heart empty of joyous song, unable to sing, beckoned with hope, enabling him to write his majestic hymn:

Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in whom His world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blest us on our way
With countless gifts of love and still is ours today.

In Christ, after the darkness, a new light shall dawn. Victory supplants defeat, joy replaces sorrow, and the grave crumbles before life and resurrection. Yes, hope does spring eternal. Offer to God, the psalms commend, “a sacrifice of thanksgiving,” “before his people” (Psalm 116:17-18). So here we are, doing as Scripture describes, offering our praises and remembering to thank God. Amen.