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 this 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: (1) He gave up His "equality" with God; (2) "emptied Himself," like you turn a bottle upside down to drain it; (3) gave up His "reputation"; (4) was "made in the likeness of men," lower than the angels; (5) "humbled Himself," became a slave washing people's feet (John 13); (6) "became obedient unto death," the only one in 6000 years to do so (this "death" that Christ was "obedient" to is the real thing--the "second death," the "curse of the law" (Gal. 3:13; Rev. 20:15); (7) He died "the death of the cross," the curse being "forsaken" by God forever; the most horrible death one could know.
"Thanks" for that, says Paul!
The death which Christ died was far more than the physical, social agony of His cross. "The second death" is the death in which there is no hope of a resurrection (the death that Christ saved us from!). He carried with Him all His life that hope of a resurrection, until the time 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 understood, 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 comprehend what that "unspeakable gift" entails.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 19, 2007.
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