Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
Too many of our celebrated holidays are of pagan origin and bear those marks even today; but one is free of it--Thanksgiving.
But even that one last touch of national gratitude to God is marred now by the designation "Turkey Day," so the Day is marked by indulgence of appetite. A popular Bible text for Thanksgiving Day sermons is, "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift" (2 Cor. 9:15).
The one gift above all gifts He has given us is this: "God so loved the world that He gave …" It was all that He had in the gift, not the loan, not the mere offer, of His Son (John 3:16). The Son of God is now the Son of man; He is eternally a member of our human race; but that wasn't far enough for the Father to "give." He went further in pouring out the "gift."
The Father gave Him to take seven steps in stepping down lower, itemized in Philippians 2:5-8:  He abandoned His high heavenly position;  He suffered the loss of His pure reputation, He Himself was covered with disgrace;  He took the lowest level of social honor;  He became One "made in the likeness" of fallen man (Rom. 8:3, 4);  He took a nose dive below that-- humbled Himself as low as a human being could go so He could "taste death for every person,"  which had to be the most horrible death one could know, "even the death of the cross."
"Thanks" for that, says Paul!
But that was not far enough down, as most people understand it: the death which He died was far more than the physical, social agony of His cross. It was what the Bible calls "the second death," the death in which there is no hope of a resurrection (that was the death that Christ saved us from!). He carried with Him that hope of a resurrection all His life, up until when He was "made to be sin for us, who knew no sin" (2 Cor. 5:21), when He cried out in most bitter agony, "My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46). That point was where the "giving" was the greatest; it was a gift for eternity, an infinite gift.
Contemplating that gift of His love has a subduing effect upon the human soul; no one can be the same after his heart grasps that!
If the idea can be translated and the consciousness of its "breadth, and length, and depth, and height" can be grasped, there is salvation in the very thanksgiving, as there is salvation in faith. Such thanksgiving is close to what faith is! The human heart is moved forever. Those heavenly beings who are still humans (the "24 elders," see Rev. 4:4; 5:9) never cease to give their thanks; neither will you, once you grasp what that "unspeakable gift" entails.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 19, 2007.
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