With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up next week, a lot of people will take time to appreciate what they have. They will reflect on the good things in their lives like the people, places, and things that comfort them or make them feel loved and wanted. They will make memories with family and friends around a table filled with good things to eat. This week I saw a picture of a cornucopia, a familiar symbol of Thanksgiving. It led me to some unexpected findings about cornucopias in the Bible. and it brought to my attention something that too many people forget this time of year. You can’t be thankful FOR something unless you have Someone to be thankful TO.
From Latin, cornucopia means “horn of plenty.” The fruits and vegetables spilling out from the cone-shaped basket represent a bountiful harvest from the land. It’s a common centerpiece at Thanksgiving meals that are also about abundance. What an amazing blessing it is to have more than enough to fill our baskets — and our tables.
On a whim this week, I looked up what the Bible has to say about cornucopias. I found a terrific article from Bible Tools that showed me some things from the Old Testament that I had never connected before. When God gave the Israelites the Promised Land, He also gave them strict instructions about what they should do when they got their first harvest. It involved baskets and baskets of summer fruits, all spilling over like cornucopias, all dedicated to the Lord.
The First Fruits Offering to God
Deuteronomy 26:1-2 says, “And it shall be, when thou art come in unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance and possessest it, and dwellest therein, that thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, which thou shalt bring of thy land that the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket, and shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place His name there.”
When they got to the place God commanded, they had certain things they had to say, a script provided by God Himself. Their words acknowledged that the Lord had promised to deliver them, and He had kept His Word. After all their speeches, they were to end with Deuteronomy 26:10a, “And now, behold, I have brought the first fruits of the land, which thou, O Lord, hast given me.” The final instruction from God was in Deuteronomy 26:10b, “And thou shalt set it before the Lord thy God, and worship before the Lord thy God.” Bring the sacrifice. Worship God.
Cornucopias in the Bible
Those big, overflowing baskets filled with the produce of the land would serve as a visual expression of God’s faithfulness and blessings. Who could deny the goodness of God in the presence of such plenty? It reminded them that every good thing they had came from God, and He commanded that they should be thankful and worship Him.
Every Good Thing Comes from God
It’s the same with us today. Everything we have that is good comes from God. There is nothing we have that hasn’t been given to us. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” 1 Corinthians 4:7 says, “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”
In fact, that’s actually the definition of the word “thankful.” It’s “being conscious of a benefit received.” So, when the people of the world say they are “thankful,” what they really mean is that they are happy and appreciate what they have. You can’t be truly thankful FOR something unless you are thankful TO Someone for giving it to you. As Christians, we know where our blessings come from. It’s not our own hard work or the luck of the draw. It’s the goodness of God, and He deserves our praise and worship for all He has done for us.
What’s in Your Basket?
But if we’re honest, we will admit that sometimes we can get distracted and start to lose sight of all our blessings. We know God is good to us, but the size and breadth of all He has done can get lost when our harvest is still in the field. It’s only when we begin mentally collecting all our blessings one by one and stacking them up to overflowing in our own little baskets that we begin to really see how much He has done.
What’s in your basket today? Don’t just think about physical items like food, clothing, shelter, and safety. Think about family, church, and the people God has put in your path to love. Think about the little things like the air you breathe and the rising and setting of the sun. And the big things like hope, the precious presence of God walking with you each day, and the blood of Jesus that saved you and took you out of darkness and into His marvelous light.
God Commands the Sacrifice of Praise
God is the source of all goodness, and counting our blessings opens our eyes to their magnitude. Just like the Israelites were commanded to bring their first fruits and worship in thanksgiving, God commands the same of us. Hebrews 13:15 says, “By Him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.”
Psalm 106:1 says, “Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!’ Ephesians 5:20 says, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Like the cornucopias in the Bible, we should take time often to bring our basket and give our thanks.
Like articles about gratitude? Check out Are You Offering Your Sacrifice of Praise. It’s about the various offerings in the Old Covenant and how they apply to New Testament believers today. Or, try The Power of Thanksgiving, Praise, and Worship. Please sign up to receive my blog in your email inbox. You can find that at the upper right of your screen (or at the bottom on a phone). Also, check out my YouTube Channel where I read the blogs out loud. I also have a playlist of hymns from my church.