It seems like every year that thanksgiving comes around I am shocked by how much the Bible addresses and elevates thanksgiving.
I was just recently studying Psalm 50 and came across a familiar theme of thanksgiving in verses 7-15.
7 “Hear, O my people, and I will speak;
O Israel, I will testify against you.
I am God, your God.
8 Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
your burnt offerings are continually before me.
9 I will not accept a bull from your house
or goats from your folds.
10 For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine.
12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and its fullness are mine.
13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?
14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving.
and perform your vows to the Most High,
15 and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” ESV
God is pictured here as a judge making his case against Israel.
Whenever we get a glimpse into God's view of how He makes judgments it should make us stop dead in our tracks and listen. This is God's view of things and God's view is ultimately the only one that matters. This is significant.
God rejects the sacrifices being made saying that the worship offered through the sacrifices was unacceptable.
He clarifies that his rejection has nothing to do with the amount of sacrifices they were making. The amount is not the problem here. They make plenty of sacrifices. They were incredibly efficient at making sacrifices.
The reason God rejected the sacrifices they made was because of the attitude of the worshiper.
They were making sacrifices as if God needed them or as if it somehow added something to God.
God says clearly that He does not need anything. He owns all the cattle on a thousand hills. That is a lot of cattle. He is the creator after all and therefore owns everything.
The attitude of the worshiper that God rejects is therefore an attitude of self sufficiency rather than utter dependence on God.
The were acting like God was no better than the pagan gods around them.
All of the nations surrounding Israel were in fact very needy. They had nothing and were nothing so they needed the sacrifices to give any appearance of validity to themselves.
What a disgrace to act like God was similar to the false pagan gods surrounding Israel.
The true God has no needs.
Every creature has great needs that only God can provide.
The true worshiper recognizes this reality.
What God requires in worship is an attitude of complete and utter dependence on God alone for everything.
God does not say "stop making sacrifices." Sacrifices were actually at the time required of God.
Instead God says that they are to offer God thanksgiving with there sacrifices.
Thanksgiving acknowledges that we have nothing to bring to God but everything we have comes from God.
God also says to call on Him in the day of trouble. He will deliver you and you shall glorify Him. God is glorified when we say I need you to deliver me and I cannot be delivered without you. When we cry out to God in the day of trouble we say that God is the one who delivers. We can't deliver ourselves. He is the only one who can save.
What does this mean?
This means that God is glorified when we view ourselves as coming to Him with nothing and as God having and being everything that we need.
A life that exhibits thankfulness to God for what He has done particularly in His saving work on the cross and depends on Him for salvation is a living sacrifice that is acceptable to God.
God requires an attitude of complete dependence on Him and an attitude that recognizes that I am completely insufficient in myself. It is an attitude that takes the rightful place as a creature before my creator.
This honors God and this what worship is all about.
Dependence on God is an essential ingredient in all acceptable worship.
Without dependence on God no matter what we appear like we are doing on the outside it is not worship at all. We might go to church every week. We might even read our Bibles. But our worship is unacceptable to God if it is not with a sense of dependence on Him. It is in fact self worship as if we had anything to bring to the table. Self worship is not acceptable to God. Worship that is acceptable is that which magnifies the truth about God.
I pray that we can speak the truth about God this thanksgiving. One way we speak the truth about God is by giving thanks.