We’re familiar with the famous
of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
They didn’t talk turkey or football.
They exhorted the nation to thank their God.
Actually our Thanksgiving today got its real start on Sept. 25, 1789.
“The inaugural session of the first Congress was about to recess
when Rep. Elias Boudinot of New Jersey rose to introduce a resolution.
He asked the House to create a joint committee with the Senate
to ‘wait upon the President of the United States,
to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States
a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging,
with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God’”
(“1789 Thanksgiving—U.S. as a Nation,” Wall St. Journal, Melanie Kirkpatrick)
Grateful for the favors of God? Thanksgiving is a perfect time to come to understand the Beatitudes more fully.
“The Beatitudes are beautiful attitudes we should be in. Do they promise being “blessed” or being “happy”?
Translators disagree whether the Latin word BEATUS means “blessed” or “happy.” So next time you use Latin, worry about that.
The Hebrew word ESHER is translated “blessed” 60% of the time and “happy” 40% of the time in about 35 cases. Next time you use Hebrew, worry about that!
The Greek word MAKARIOS comes from the name given to the Isle of Cypress because it was such a happy place. Next time you use Greek, worry about that!
But the next time you speak English, no worries, realize that the Beatitudes promise you to be “blessed”—meaning favored—because when you’re in these beautiful attitudes,
You can have a relationship with God
As Psa. 106:3 puts it, one of the 30-some Psalms and Proverbs that Jesus was remezing back to when He made deliberate use of the popular “blessed are” format: “Blessed are those who keep justice, And he who does righteousness at all times! Remember me, O Lord, with the favor You have toward your people.”
“Basically,” explains Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, ESHER “connotes the state of ‘prosperity’ or ‘happiness’ that comes when a superior bestows his favor (blessing) on one. In most passages, the one bestowing favor is God Himself …
“The state that the blessed one enjoys does not always appear to be ‘happy’ … the rendering of ‘happiness’ does not always convey its emphasis to modern readers.”
So while we can hardly be happy while mourning, we can be blessed—favored by God! He’s concerned about us. The outcome will be good.
The Beatitudes begin the first of five discourses presented by Matthew, which are not necessarily in chronological order like Luke. In Luke 6, the Sermon on the Plain which contains four Beatitudes, comes right after Jesus called His 12 Apostles.
So having announced the kingdom of God as “at hand,”
The King now declares to His disciples:
♥ Christianity 101—the basic foundational principles of His coming Kingdom of God
♥ The beautiful attitudes, attributes and characteristics those “blessed of God” need.
These are unattainable by self-effort, but we can be in these beautiful attitudes
through the Father and Jesus Christ living in us.
♥ The incredibly high standards reflecting the character of His Kingdom
♥ “The happiness of those who are fit for the kingdom”—Unger’s Bible Dictionary
♥ The beautiful attitudes of the perfect disciple of Christ
♥ In sum, the beautiful attitudes we need to be in!
On this Day of Thanksgiving 2016, how thankful we should be to have opportunity to be blessed and favored by God and promised such rewards!
“Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34).
Remember, it’s Thanksgiving not Thanksfeeling.
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