The following is the second of three installments of a message that I preached on giving thanks. Scroll down if you would like to read part 1.
A model of Thanksgiving
Olney Southern Baptist Church
Sunday Morning, November 23, 2008
Speaker: Travis Peterson
Text: 2 Chronicles 7:1-10
Point 3: Practice extravagant obedience to show your thankfulness.
2 Chronicles 4-5, 7
4 Then the king and all the people offered sacrifice before the Lord. 5 King Solomon offered as a sacrifice 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the people dedicated the house of God. . . 7 And Solomon consecrated the middle of the court that was before the house of the Lord, for there he offered the burnt offering and the fat of the peace offerings, because the bronze altar Solomon had made could not hold the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat.
Offerings were not unusual to the people of Israel. Throughout their wilderness wanderings and their initial years in the land, the people of Israel already knew of the different kinds of sacrifices and offerings that God required. So when we see offerings being made by Solomon and those under his leadership, what we see is the people of God responding to the revelation of God with obedience to God.
But the obedience that you see here is not some sort of drudgery. There is no sense of an unpleasant duty that nobody really wanted to perform. There is a clear delight that Solomon and the people have in obeying God. How do we know that? We know that there is delight here because the obedience is so extravagant, so rich, so giving.
“King Solomon offered as a sacrifice 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep” (v5a). This was not your average, everyday, ordinary sacrifice. This is sacrifice to the max. This is Solomon thinking, not how little can I give to God, but how much can I offer. What can I give that will really show the world that God is important to me. It is Solomon saying, “I want to obey God so much that everybody around me will grasp that God is super significant.”
These people went so far in their sacrificing that they had to set aside extra room in order to be able to accommodate the offerings. Solomon ordered so many animals sacrificed as a gift to God that there was no way that they could all be sacrificed on the one altar. This was a big-time offering that the king made.
And let’s be sure that we do not miss the point. Every day, you are supposed to obey God. How will you do it? Specifically, how will you obey God as this Thanksgiving holiday approaches? Will you begrudgingly drag yourself out of bed and read a couple of verses so that you can say you did your duty? That doesn’t really honor God. Will you give your offering in such a way that your face will show that you really wish you could keep that money for something else? That doesn’t honor God. No, what honors God is when we obey him, but not just a little bit. It honors God when we obey him extravagantly.
Right now, think of something you know that you are supposed to be doing in obedience to God: giving thanks, sharing Jesus, loving your spouse, studying his word, singing his praises, giving to support ministry, praying, forgiving others, etc. Plan to obey God, but not just a little bit. If you glimpse God’s glory and remember his greatness, you will want to obey him more than just a little. How can you obey with extravagance? Pray and ask God, “Lord, help me to do what I should, but to do it with joy and to do it to the extreme.” Obey with extravagance as part of giving thanks.
Point 4: Sing to the Lord as an act of thanksgiving.
2 Chronicles 7:6
The priests stood at their posts; the Levites also, with the instruments for music to the Lord that King David had made for giving thanks to the Lord—for his steadfast love endures forever—whenever David offered praises by their ministry; opposite them the priests sounded trumpets, and all Israel stood.
It is not only that Israel obeyed God and made sacrifices to show their thankfulness to God. They also did something that God has commanded time after time after time. They sang. They played instruments. They listened to one another. They made music for the glory of God.
1 Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
2 Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
I think I can say with total confidence that God wants us to be a thankful, singing people. We are to sing new songs and old songs. We are to sing with instruments and all kinds of music. We are to sing with joy. Honestly, we need to do a better job at this. We need to do a better job of rejoicing with one another and singing the praises of god. We need to learn to love singing new songs and old songs, fast songs and slow songs, hymns and worship songs, piano songs and guitar songs and all sorts of songs that declare the truth of the glory of our God.
When the people sang of God, they said, “for his steadfast love endures forever.” They sang songs of thanks to God for his kindness, for his love, for his character, for his faithfulness, for his saving grace and covenant-keeping love. When you get a glimpse of God’s glory and when you remember what God has done to show you his goodness and kindness, you should offer him thanks. And one of the ways that we can be a rightly thankful people is for us to sing songs of thanksgiving to our God.