Offering the Sacrifices of Thanksgiving

Lev. 7:11-15

11 And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he shall offer unto the LORD.
12 If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried.
13 Besides the cakes, he shall offer for his offering leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offerings.
14 And of it he shall offer one out of the whole oblation for a heave offering unto the LORD, and it shall be the priest’s that sprinkles the blood of the peace offerings.
15 And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day that it is offered; he shall not leave any of it until the morning.

With Thanksgiving 2020 now behind us, it might be wise to step back and think about how we celebrated this unique holiday. Thanksgiving became an official U.S. holiday when then President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Holidays Act into law in 1863. However, Washington was the first to implement an unofficial holiday in 1789 with his Presidential Proclamation.

Today, we tend to associate Thanksgiving with family gatherings, good food, football, and the start of the holiday shopping season. As Christians, we remind ourselves to give thanks to the One who is the source of all blessing. But perhaps there is more to being thankful than saying a cursory prayer or two to the LORD.

In Leviticus chapter 7, Scripture outlines how peace offerings should be made when such offerings are made in thanksgiving to God. In other words, there was an actual physical sacrifice made when a person wanted to show thanks to the LORD for his blessings.

Preparing such an offering took real effort. Taking the offering to the temple or synagogue for sacrifice required even more effort. Showing one’s thanks to God was no small matter. With that in mind, consider the following references from Psalms:

  • “I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.” (Ps. 116:17)
  • “And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.” (Ps. 107:22)

Notice how, in these two references, giving thanks is associated with a sacrifice. This isn’t to say that we have to make a big production out of things. It’s not to say that in order to give genuine thanks we have to sacrifice animals or bake sacrificial loaves of bread to be offered on the altar.

However, Scripture does suggest that genuine thanksgiving is not demonstrated in mere words. It is demonstrated by some sort of sacrificial behavior. It’s interesting to note that multiple references in Psalms link thanksgiving with praise and worship. That seems to coincide with Hebrews 13:15, Jeremiah 33:11 and Psalm 54:6 — all of which refer to genuine praise as a sacrifice.

Perhaps genuine giving of thanks should be accompanied by genuine praise and worship. And by the way, we are to practice thanksgiving year-round. Above and beyond the annual holiday, we should routinely give the LORD thanks for what he has done. What does this suggest? That we need to spend more time in personal praise and worship. Our praise and worship should not be confined to Sunday morning. And whenever we engage in praise and worship, if it’s genuine, thanksgiving should be a natural and organic part of it.