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Fifty-three Thanksgivings a Year?

Fifty-three Thanksgivings a Year?

In the United States and Canada—albeit on different days for each nation—citizens celebrate an annual holiday known as Thanksgiving Day. On that day, families and friends gather to express thanks for one other and the good things in their lives and, yes, to enjoy a nice meal together.

But did you know that along with that one day of national Thanksgiving, there are 52 other days each year that were created especially for us to give thanks? These other days don’t necessarily involve producing a massive meal and inviting all your relatives to your home, but they are days in which we are to express gratitude. They are the weekly Sabbath days.

Dr. Laura Nash, a school psychologist in New Jersey, spoke with The Christian Science Monitor about these special days, mentioning her journey from non-practicing Catholicism to what she calls the “ethical monotheism” of her husband’s Judaism, the religion to which she converted in the year 2000.

“I like the fact that we have this way of stopping and celebrating, of resting and honoring God,” says Nash. She also refers to Genesis 2:3, noting that God had pronounced the Sabbath to be a good thing. Although Nash’s observance of the Sabbath is not as strict as Orthodox Jews’ or as biblically based as many Sabbath-keeping Christians’, she and her family nevertheless set aside the day as special.

A Weekly Rest

But the Sabbath is not only for Jews or Sabbath-keeping Christians; it is a weekly day in which everyone can participate. In Genesis 2:2, 3, we read about the origin of the Sabbath, a day given long before there were Jews and Gentiles: “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”

Let’s be clear: God wasn’t tired! He didn’t need to take a nap. God rested because He wanted the people He had just created to see an example of how humanity should live. Humans are not intended to ceaselessly labor without a break. We’re not intended to live what Thoreau, in his famous work Walden, called “lives of quiet desperation.” 

Instead, after six days of pursuing one’s own interests, there is a day of rest for all, even for working animals. (See Exodus 20:10.) In that day, we are to gain a blessing as well as be a blessing by giving thanks in many different ways.

Sabbath Made for All Humanity

The Sabbath isn’t intended as a day of idleness. God rested on the seventh day in order to spend time with His creation—with us. That is why we attend church on that day, a day of “holy convocation” (Leviticus 23:3) in which we have the privilege of worshiping and learning more about God. The Sabbath is our opportunity to reaffirm that it is God “who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them” (Acts 4:24). 

In our free article “Sabbath Observance Honors the Creator,” we read a direct explanation of the Sabbath’s importance: “In Psalm 111:4, we are told that God ‘made his wonderful works to be remembered.’ The reason is that His works remind us of creation, and creation reminds us of the Creator, and the Creator is the only true God. Since He ‘hath made his wonderful works to be remembered,’ it would be only natural that, at the close of the week in which these wonderful works were done, He should institute a memorial by which we would be reminded from week to week of them. Thus, we would never forget who the true God is, and drift into idolatry, or deny Him as the Creator.”

The Sabbath is also a remembrance of God’s saving us by coming to die on the cross for our sins: “Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them” (Ezekiel 20:12). We are sanctified not on our own merits, but rather through Christ’s righteousness when we receive Him as Savior and Lord. What a beautiful day, expressly given to us that we, by our worship and study, may give thanks to the One to whom we owe our very lives, both at creation and at the cross!

The Sabbath is also a special time where we can glorify God through service to others, as Jesus Himself demonstrated while on this earth: “It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:12). It is particularly in these times of giving to others that we may remember all that God has given to us.

There is, it turns out, a long and fascinating history of the Sabbath that spans centuries, crosses cultures, and transcends politics. Our free video series The Seventh Day, hosted by Academy Award-winning actor Hal Holbrook, fills in the gaps and tells you just how the Sabbath has been used—and abused—over two millennia. You’ll never view the Sabbath in the same way after watching this informative, eye-opening series!

The Sabbath is not just another day of the week. It’s a day set apart from the usual toil and cares, a day for reflection on God’s goodness. It’s a day in which believers come together to praise God, to thank God, through worship, remembrance, study, and service. It is the true day of thanksgiving—and it is God’s gift to you.

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