Thanksgiving is a pretty self-explanatory holiday; its name and definition are one in the same. We set aside this one day of the year for the express purpose of thanking God for the blessings of the year. And we show our thanks by…over indulging. Let’s face it, Thanksgiving dinner is one of the biggest meals of the year. And there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that. Yet, the Bible does talk about a sacrifice of Thanksgiving. I know, we don’t often see those two words in the same sentence. Still, it’s a concept worth exploring in a little greater depth, especially with Thanksgiving day creeping up on us.
Psalms 50 talks about the sacrifices Israel regularly offered to God and records God saying, in effect, “I don’t need your sacrifices. Everything is mine already. What I really want is a sacrifice of thanksgiving.” Psalms 107 describes just some of what God has done for us and suggests our response should be one of thanksgiving and to “offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and tell of His works with joyful singing.” And in Psalms 116 the psalmist is giving thanks for deliverance from death and says “To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving.”
I did a little more digging on this subject and found that a sacrifice of thanksgiving is more than just a concept, but was actually an official type of sacrifice in the Old Testament, but it was different from most other sacrifices.
The sacrifice of thanksgiving was a type of peace offering. It was not a required sacrifice nor was it one that was to offered at a specific time. The offering of a sacrifice of thanksgiving was totally voluntary. Unlike most sacrifices, a portion of the meat offered was to be eaten by the person making the sacrifice while some of it was burned as an offering to God and the rest was to be eaten by the priest who officiated.
As we gather with family and friends around that bountiful Thanksgiving table this year, let’s be mindful of the source of the great blessings we experience every day and remember each day as we see God’s provision to return thanks and to share those blessings with others.