“Take care; lest you forget the Lord your God … beware lest you say … my power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth … for it is God who gives you the power to get wealth”. (Deuteronomy 8:11, 17)
These words are part of Moses’ farewell sermon to the people of Israel before they crossed over into the Promised Land; a land “flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8) that God had said they would enter forty years earlier.
God had heard the cries of the Israelite slaves in the land of Egypt and by a series of plagues/miracles
He rescued them. When they left their life of slavery, God even allowed them to carry off much of the riches of Egypt. When Pharaoh and his armies followed them to try and bring them back, God allowed the Israelites to cross over the Red Sea on dry ground while all of the Egyptian army drowned.
But within a few weeks of experiencing these great miracles of God, the Israelites seemingly forgot all God had done for them.
They began to openly complain to God and to Moses.
Among other things, they coplained of not having enough food to eat, or enough fresh water to drink. So God sent the manna, the bread from heaven, as well as quail for them to eat and provided water from the rock for them to drink.
Also, “their clothing did not wear out and their feet did not swell these forty years." (Deuteronomy 8:4)
Despite all that the Lord had done for them the people of Israel were never pleased with their situation.
Yet Moses continued to pray for the people and to remind them to be thankful to God.
The Israelites in the wilderness were not the only Biblical examples of ingratitude.
Consider the Gospel account of Jesus healing the ten lepers. By cleansing them of the dreaded disease of leprosy; Jesus rescued them from a life of pain and isolation from the rest of their society.
Yet nine of the ten men went on their way, forgetting to give thanks to the One who had healed them. Only one Samaritan “when he saw that he was healed, turned back … and fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks”. (Luke 17:15-16)
Of course, we never forget/neglect to give thanks, do we? The truth is that we are not all that different from the people we read about in the Bible, because we, like them, are sinners. So we also complain to God about the situations in our lives; we forget or neglect to give thanks for all of the material blessings that God provides for us on a daily basis.
We also often forget or neglect to give thanks to God for the love that He has shown for us in Jesus Christ, by His death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins and His resurrection from the dead. We often fail to come to God’s house to hear and give thanks for His holy Word, which is “able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ”. (2nd Timothy 3:15)
Because of our sinful nature, all of us need to be reminded on a regular basis to be thankful; for God does not give us all these blessings because “of our righteousness; for we (like the Israelites) are a stubborn people (so He tells us through Moses) remember and do not forget”. (Deuteronomy 8:6-7)
The word of God is full of reminders to be thankful. The Apostle Paul reminds us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”. (1st Thessalonians 5:18) The writer of Hebrews tells us to “continually offer up a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God”. (Hebrews 13:15) The Psalmist also writes “We your people, the sheep of Your pasture, will give thanks to You forever; from generation to generation we will recount Your praise”. (Psalm 79:13) So let us be thankful, and may God keep us from the terrible sin of ingratitude and forgetfulness of His blessings.