friends, it’s Thanksgiving week already. In just a few days, I’ll get to
celebrate Thanksgiving for a second time (the first one was in Ukraine last
month); so it is with that in mind that this week’s devotional comes your way.
In his second letter to the Corinthian church, the Apostle Paul told of an extraordinary experience. He was caught up to the third heaven (which he also called paradise). Inexpressible things were revealed to him, unutterable either by their celestial characteristics or by a prohibition against describing them. So great and incredible was this experience - in fact, this experience was so incredible, (and as far as we know) Paul was the only one to have such and experience. And he was told not to tell of all he had seen and experienced.
whole experience brought about a “thorn in the flesh” to torment Paul for the
rest of his life. And, from what we know from Scripture, it was allowed as an
ongoing pain, preventing him from being puffed up with pride because of the
singular privilege he had enjoyed. (Understand that a full fourteen years
passed before Paul even told that much of his experience.)
years after Paul’s experience in Paradise, the Apostle John was taken to
heaven, into the very presence of God on His throne. It was there that John saw
in the throne-room the 24 elders around the throne, seated themselves on
thrones and four “living creatures” on either side of the throne. John
writes, “And between the throne and
the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though
it had been slain” Revelation 5:6a ESV.
saw many other things, however, unlike Paul, he was not only allowed, but
commanded to write and tell about them – one exception being; what the 7
thunders said, about which he was told, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down” Revelation
scene, I want to focus on the 24 elders before the throne of God. What were
they doing? Revelation 11:16-18 “And
the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces
and worshiped God,17 saying, “We give You thanks, Lord God Almighty,
who is and who was, for You have taken Your great power and have begun to
Thanks for what, specifically? Let’s move on to verse 18, “The nations raged, but Your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding Your servants, the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your Name, both small and the great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth” ESV. The 24 elders were giving thanks to God for His justice! And, as far as I know, they are still and forever will be before the throne, thanking God.
With all that in mind: This week I want to offer some thoughts that came to mind as we approach the Thanksgiving. In the Old Testament, one of the offerings prescribed under the law was a “thank offering.” At some level all of the prescribed offerings, implied or explicitly expressed, it was an offering of thankfulness to God. (You can read the instructions for the thank offering as they were given in Leviticus 7:12-15; 22:29.)
Like all the offerings, thank offerings were to be given at the place God chose for His Name to dwell after the Israelites entered the Promised Land, it was over 400 years before that place was shown to be Jerusalem. During about 380 years of the Judges, and for years afterward, Shiloh was the center of worship. Shiloh is where the boy Samuel served under the tutelage of the priest Eli. Years later, when Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem, the glory of the Lord filled it and the Lord spoke directly to Solomon.
Look at that with me: 2 Chronicles 7:12 “Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice” ESV. “The place chosen for the Lord’s Name to dwell,” then, was the temple Solomon built in Jerusalem. It was then that Jerusalem became the center of worship and was the place where offerings were to be made, unless the person was too far away. Later this week, we will see that that “unless” will be significant.