The Daily Thank You

In Leviticus 7:11-18, read of the laws concerning the peace or fellowship offering. In the midst of regulations concerning dedication offerings, sin offerings, trespass offerings, grain and fat offerings, there is a sacrifice that recognizes peace.

The זֶבַח שְׁלָמִים/zevah shelamim, peace – fellowship – or well-being offering, were shared, not only with God and the priesthood, but also with the worshippers family and friends. It recognized a general condition of well-being: reconciliation, forgiveness, rescue, health, success, etc. Yet, there is something deeper here.

The law regarding the זֶבַח שְׁלָמִים/zevah shelamim, peace offering first addresses a subcategory of that offering: the תּוֹדָה/Todah, or thank-offering. This offering expresses gratitude, but also confession and praise. I am reminded of Psalm 100:4-5:

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”

The words of Psalm 100 convey the heart attitude of entering before the Lord, with a sacrifice of thanksgiving. Entering His gates with thanksgiving recognizes, not only His goodness, but an internal recognition, knowing our own inner reality, of our unworthiness to receive His kindness. We receive His kindness by grace, and in our thanksgiving offering we confess this fact. What joy, and ultimately peace this should establish in our hearts!

Still, the Torah is teaching us something of great value by the peace offering. The זֶבַח שְׁלָמִים/zevah shelamim, peace offering can be eaten on the first and second day after it has been presented (Lev. 7:16-17). On the third day, anything remaining of the offering must be consumed by fire (Lev. 7:17). Yet, the תּוֹדָה/Todah, or thank-offering is only consumed on the day it was offered (Lev. 7:15). Why?

Some rabbinic opinions suggest that consuming the peace offering multiple times, over multiple days will aid in cultivating an experience peace in our lives. In that enduring communion, we seek His peace in the midst of all our circumstances, as Paul wrote, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Ro. 12:18).

Yet, this sub-offering, in the category of peace offering, the תּוֹדָה/Todah, or thank-offering teaches us to recognize His daily miracles operating as faithfulness, kindness, grace and mercy in our lives: a daily communion! (Ps. 100).

In Vayikra Rabbah 9:7, a midrasnhic teaching on Leviticus, states that in the future all sacrifices will cease, except for the thanksgiving offering (cf. Jer. 33:10-11). From this we learn of our need to recognize the daily kindness, daily mercies, daily miracles and the overall goodness shown to us by the Living God.

Where do we find this in the Apostolic Scriptures? In Hebrews 13:15, “Through him (Yeshua/Jesus) then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips giving thanks to his name.” Offering continually, daily, the sacrifice of thanksgiving, praise and confession of His goodness (cf. Ro. 12:1).

While cultivating His peace in all circumstances takes time, as we are all a work in progress, giving thanks to Him from a grateful heart, even in the midst of trail, and when experiencing the greatest of joys, should be the disposition of the renewed heart that has been filled by the Holy Spirit by saving faith in Messiah Yeshua/Jesus. Salvation we could not earn and do not deserve but for His love and grace, while we were yet sinners (Ro. 5:8).

Where do we enter His gates? Where we are, as we acknowledge Him in all our ways (Pro. 3:5-6). Give Him thanks, praise, glory and honor, for He is worthy.

Be well. Shalom.

Demonstrative Thanksgiving

“Give thanks to the Lord, He is good; for His mercy endures forever,” הֹדוּ לַיהוָה כִּי-טוֹב: כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ (Ps. 107:1).

It is a precious sight, that of family and/or friends, the young and the old, gathered around a beautiful table of blessing, food prepared over the course of days for a single united time of feasting. Followed by, thankfully, careful preparation and distribution of abundant leftovers.

Many have a unique dynamic within their families that make the day of Thanksgiving a collection of cherished memories. For some, it is the enjoyment of hearing what their relatives are thankful for from the previous year. For others it’s the food and conversation. Some enjoy cooking. Others enjoy the leftovers that always seem to taste better the second or third time around. Finally, for some, it’s the enjoyment of a parade or a football game, and, I would add, for a few very special people, the hunt of Black Friday.

Still, Thanksgiving Day is not simply a remembrance of a bountiful feast long ago celebrated by Pilgrim settlers in Plymouth. It is a very real and present necessity for those who follow the Messiah: it is the necessity of being a grateful, or thankful people. Thanksgiving is not actually a Pilgrim or American creation, but an expression of gratitude rooted in the Bible.

Leviticus 7:11-12 says, “This is the law of the sacrifice of the peace offerings which he shall offer to the Lord: If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer, with the sacrifice of thanksgiving, unleavened cakes mixed with oil…”

וְזֹאת תּוֹרַת, זֶבַח הַשְּׁלָמִים, אֲשֶׁר יַקְרִיב, לַיהוָה

אִם עַל-תּוֹדָה, יַקְרִיבֶנּוּ–וְהִקְרִיב עַל-זֶבַח הַתּוֹדָה חַלּוֹת מַצּוֹת בְּלוּלֹת בַּשֶּׁמֶן

The thanksgiving offering, which is one expression of the peace offering, was regarded as a supreme type of sacrifice in the Holy Temple. In this sacrifice, the rabbis teach, all other sacrifices complete their educational purpose, as it teaches of the importance of gratitude.

Ingratitude, in biblical and rabbinic literature, is regarded as a sin that reduces man below the level of an animal, which is why we must be reminded, from time to time, to stop and give thanks.

The celebration that surrounded the thanksgiving offering was very much like our Thanksgiving observance today, as Alfred Edersheim comments, “Then, after the priests had received their due, the rest (of the thanksgiving offering) was to be eaten by the offerers (and their families) themselves, either within the courts of the Temple or in Jerusalem” (cf. Lev. 7:15).

Thanksgiving unto the Lord is encouraged throughout the Scriptures, as examples, “Offer to God thanksgiving…” and, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving…” and, “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving…” and as the apostle Paul wrote, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God…” (Phil. 4:6(.

Thanksgiving (תּוֹדָה) in Hebrew means “extending of the hands up in adoration;” it’s a demonstrative action of the body. In Greek, thanksigiving (ευχαριστία) is “grateful language to God;” this is an expression of the heart.

Dear reader, this Thanksgiving demonstrate thankfulness, gratitude, to the Lord in both action and speech. How do you do this? Demonstrate the love that you have for family, friends, and even strangers, with words of kindness that shows the love of Messiah. In doing so, you build lasting memories that will always be a memory of thanksgiving in action, and a lifting of hearts and hands in praise.

Be well. Shalom, and Happy Thanksgiving.