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Thanksgiving Day: The Reenactment of Israel’s First Passover in Canaan (Part Two)

Posted on November 21, 2012 at 4:13 PM Comments comments (1)

Text: Joshua 5:10-12

In Part One of this sermon, I proposed that the Thanksgiving Day in the United States of America is the reenactment of Israel’s first Passover celebration in Canaan.  My conviction stems from the fact that Israel and America have lots in common.  Both were delivered from slavery: Through Moses and Aaron God saved Israel from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land. America was founded as a result of Christian men and women who were enslaved by a new law enacted in England. The law required every subject of the kingdom to be a member of the Church of England. Those who were opposed to this unbiblical law became enemies to the kingdom.

The bulk of the population acceded to Elizabeth's religious settlement with varying degrees of enthusiasm or resignation. It was imposed by law, and secured Parliamentary approval only by a narrow vote in which all the Roman Catholic bishops who were not imprisoned voted against. As well as those who continued to recognize papal supremacy, the more militant Protestants, or Puritans as they became known, opposed it. Both groups were punished and disenfranchised in various ways and cracks in the facade of religious unity in England appeared.

The militant Protestants/Puritans were in complete religious slavery. Like Moses, God raised up William Bradford, and others, who became leaders and lead them to the new Land of Liberty via Holland. Having discussed the commonality with regard to slavery and possession of the land in Part One, the next and final point is that both celebrated a feast with the first produce of the land.

Third, both celebrated a feast with the first produce of the land praising God for His provisions and blessings upon them.  The people of Israel had never previously farmed the land.  During the warfare, many people of Canaan, in fear of the Israelites, took refuge in Jericho. They left their barns and fields, and all that was in them.  These served for the subsistence of this great army headed by Joshua, son of Nun. M. Henry affirms,[2]

But now they found old corn, enough in the barns of the Canaanites to supply them plentifully for that occasion; thus, the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just, and little did those who laid it up think whose all these things should be which they had provided… On the morrow after the Passover-Sabbath they were to wave the sheaf of first-fruits before the Lord, Lev. 23:10, 11. And this they were particularly ordered to do when they came into the land which God would vice them: and they were furnished with the fruit of the land that year (v. 12), which was then growing and beginning to be ripe.

Verses 11-12 read, “The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain.  The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; ....” It was now time for them to return to the curse of Adam and his descendants: “… It [that is the ground] will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your brow, you will eat your food until you return to the ground…” (Gen 3:17-19).

Initially those who escaped the religious persecution in England did not enter the new land with warfare like the Israelites, though it developed later.  They were trained by some of the indigenous people how to farm the land and hunt, and how to do successful fishing on the river for their subsistence.  History tells us that during the harvest, a great Thanksgiving feast was held (-click on this link for details). Probably not all the staples we use in America for Thanksgiving basket were the very food items they used then. However, I understand that Thanksgiving food varies from country to country.  For example, in Liberia, 95 percent of the people prepare special food from their regular produce of the land. Five percent of Liberians that have traveled in America do purchase turkeys and use a traditional Thanksgiving meal as is done in the United States. 

I believe this unique celebration was the reenactment of Israel’s first Passover in the Promised Land. These men knew their Scripture and reflected on this fact. They remembered that, in the same way God guided the Israelites, in spite of their stubbornness, He also guided them through the storms of the sea, gave them favor with some of the indigenous people, and were now in their new home with religious freedom, with Liberty and Justice for all. In the Congress, July 4, 1776, the unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America declared, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

As we celebrate the Thanksgiving Day this week, I have something to thank God for.  I praise God for:

  • All our partners and friends who have and are praying daily and supporting this ministry with their financial resources.
  • The volunteers at the Community Outreach of Boynton Beach who are working weekly in serving the needy people of Boynton Beach and its environs.
  • The continual prayers, financial support, and supervision of the Board of Directors of this ministry since its founding in 2000.
  • My beautiful wife, Esther and our children who are standing by me for the Great Commission.

I believe Israel, and the Pilgrims had something to thank God for: They praised Him for delivering them from slaveries: For Israel, from Egypt to the Promised Land, and the Pilgrims, from England to this land of Liberty. In some part of Africa, the people believe that having a meal is a form of worship.  Therefore, a man would invite a friend thus: “Come and join me in talking with God.” Who are you inviting at your Thanksgiving table?  Happy Thanksgivings!  

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[2] M.  Henry. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: Complete and unabridged in one volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994) Josh 5:10–12.