"Wandering Arameans? - not Americans - Arameans? Elliott, what in the world are you talking about?" So went the conversation.
I love Thanksgiving. Memories are connected to smells, and family gatherings with Grandma and Grandpa. Pumpkin pies, stuffing, yams, and of course, Turkey. Abundance and abundance..more than we can contain, more than we deserve.
It is the bounty of God's blessings the Pilgrims wanted to exclaim. They survived the first year, winter and all, and had enough food to see their way through the Winter ahead...and so they said, "Let's feast together with our Native friends and give Thanks". It's a good thing to do whether you're a Pilgrim or a 21st century citizen.
When God took Israel out of slavery from Egypt, he brought them into the Wilderness in order to give them the Law, order their former-slaved-living into a Kingdom of Priests...a Kingdom of God's people who knew their God and delighted in their relationship with Him.
Moses is near the end of his life - the Wilderness wanderings are coming to an end. He is near the Promised land, but he knows that God is not going to allow him to enter into it. Still he has a heart that is soft towards God - a thankful heart - and he sees this nation of his fellow Jews and it strikes him:
Without Thanksgiving to God we will become a people who grumble and complain without the ability to see the hand of God that has protected, led and cared for us...
AND, so he writes to them to give thanks to God as Wandering Arameans.
1 When you have entered the land the LORD your God is giving you as an
inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it,
2 take some of the firstfruits of all that you
produce from the soil of the land the LORD your God is giving you and put them
in a basket. Then go to the place the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling
for his Name
3 and say to the priest
in office at the time, "I declare today to the LORD your God that I have come to the
land the LORD swore to our
forefathers to give us."
4 The priest
shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of
the LORD your God.
5 Then you shall declare before the LORD your God: "My father was a
wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there
and became a great nation, powerful and numerous.
But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, putting us to
7 Then we cried out to
the LORD, the God of our fathers,
and the LORD heard our voice and
saw our misery, toil and oppression.
So the LORD brought
us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror
and with miraculous signs and wonders.
He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing
with milk and honey;
10 and now I
bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, O LORD, have given me." Place the basket
before the LORD your God and bow
down before him.
11 And you and the
Levites and the aliens among you shall rejoice in all the good things the LORD your God has given to you and your
Wandering Arameans - people who were nobody until God came along and made them Somebody... For Him.