To gather...congregate, assemble, meet, collect, come/get together, harvest, reap, pick, and pluck.
As our Thanksgiving holiday approaches, my thoughts go back to Sukkot, the original Autumn feast for expressing gratitude for what the earth would produce in the future. As an agrarian society, the Israelites were directly dependent on what crops were produced. The earth was cultivated and cared for with high respect because survival was directly proportional to the harvest. Sukkot is a celebration acknowledging what had been produced and an offering of prayer for cops provided from the upcoming rainy season.
It is hard for our Western minds to fully comprehend the importance on a good harvest because we always have the super, big-box stores providing everything in abundance, from multiple vendors and serving sizes. We carefully pick the best from the selection offered.
Consider a life where grapes were only available during the harvest of July each year? What if you were only allowed to have an apple during September and October? Strawberries were for sale in only in February? Or what if all the olive oil you would have for the year was provided in December? Personally, I think the restrictions would cause me to savor the first taste of the luscious fruit a bit longer, place more value and carefully prevent any waste of the precious commodity.
"If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them, then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last till the time of vintage, and the vintage shall last till the time of sowing; you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely." Leviticus 26:2-5 NKJV
The LORD promised His people that if they obeyed His commands they would have enough to satisfy all they needed. However, consider those who did not own a field. If there were no groceries stores where farmers sold their produce, and no real monetary system for payment, how were the poor fed? They gleaned behind the landowner owners staff. Collecting what was dropped or left along the fringes. This was a form of charity that provided for the less fortunate while allowing them to maintain self respect by collecting food for themselves.
“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 23:22 NIV
Furthermore, in addition to the commandment for a day of rest each week, after six years, He commanded a year of rest for the land. Elohim promised the land would produce enough for the people without their efforts. What a picture of generosity! We work, strive and anxiously stress over how we will obtain what we need (want), but our Adonai promise if we are obedient to His statutes, He will provide rest AND sustenance.
The LORD said to Moses at Mount Sinai, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the LORD.
For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops.
But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the LORD. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest. Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you—for yourself, your male and female servants, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you, as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten. Leviticus 25:1-7 NIV
This Thanksgiving week, I encourage you to rest. Surround yourself with family, friends, and neighbors. Share the bounty the LORD has provided, enjoy good conversation while offering encouragement for those going through difficulties as you praise the HOLY ONE, the great IAM who in His generosity demonstrates His unending love for us through His gifts. Praise Him for the good that He will bring in the coming new year. Offer gratitude for "crops" yet provided, knowing your ABBA is faithful.
ABBA FATHER, You are mighty and holy in all You do. We gather together during this time of Thanksgiving in celebration of Your generous provisions. We offer our gratitude for the bounty, abundant and innumerable. In our celebration, may we sincerly acknowledge Your precious gifts while opening our eyes and hands to assist those around us who struggle to have enough. Please help us demonstrate to our children commitment obedience to You, the Holy One, surrendering our wills and hopes to Your established decrees so we might enjoy rest as only You can provide. Gather us together in unity, setting aside differences, so Your family, the church, might rejoice more bountifully as we grow to understand the depth and breadth of Your love for us. May You be glorified as we praise the Father, our Savior the Son and the Spirit who guides, three in one. Amen