For Thanksgiving Eve, we gather to, well, give thanks to the Lord for all that the Lord has done for us. Which, come to think of it, is no different from what we do in any other worship service. But, before we gather for our holiday meals, we stop to give thanks and worship the Lord. Here are the readings for Wednesday night as well as my first thoughts (in italics) on these readings.
Deuteronomy 8:7 - 18
7For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, 8a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, 9a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. 10You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you.
11Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I am commanding you today. 12When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, 13and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, 14then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock, 16and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good. 17Do not say to yourself, “My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.” 18But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today.
In Deuteronomy 8, Moses is proclaiming to the people of Israel that the Lord is leading them to a land of abundance. The Promised Land is a place where they will have more food, fresh water, and resources than they will ever need. Moses encourages them to remember what the Lord has done for them, that the Lord is the ultimate source of this abundance. Sometimes, when we worry about scarcity, we need to be reminded that most of the world considers us rich beyond measure. This puts our concerns about “enough” into perspective.
There is a concern about prosperity gospel here. This passage, specifically the statement that “it is the Lord who gives you the power to get wealth,” is used to justify that brand of theology. How do we walk the line between a theology of abundance and a theology of prosperity?
“He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”
10He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; 12for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. 13Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, 14while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. 15Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!