Herald Journal Columns
Nov. 3, 2003 Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

Praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you

By Rev. Michael Nirva, St. James Lutheran Church, Howard Lake

"Praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you."

- Deuteronomy 8:10

When God was ready to bring the Children of Israel into the promised land, God described the country as "a good land ­ a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills." (Deuteronomy 8:7-9).

Then God laid on them the responsibility of thanksgiving. In the words of Deuteronomy 8:10: "Praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you."

When the President of the United States issues a proclamation setting aside a day of national thanksgiving, and in his official capacity calls upon the people of the nation to express their gratitude to God, he is echoing that same divine injunction: "Praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you."

As sons and daughters of God through His grace in Jesus Christ, we welcome this call to thanksgiving. We, too, need to be reminded of the blessings which God bestows upon us through our beloved nation, and we need to emphasize constantly the eternal purpose of His goodness.

To that end, may God's Holy Spirit lift up our hearts. We live in a good land; a land of abundance in fields and cattle, in mines and industries, in labor and skills, in technical knowledge, and scientific research; these are but a part of the blessings found in this good land of ours.

The land is good, by the grace of God, also in its national philosophy. The founding fathers established this land a covenant nation, that is, a nation which in its official documents and publications recognizes God and expresses dependency upon Him and His will.

In counting our blessings we too often forget this remarkable gift. In that noble document, The Declaration of Independence, God is recognized as the "Creator," as the giver of "certain unalienable rights," as the supreme judge of the world, and the protector of the nation.

Our coins proclaim "In God We Trust." That national philosophy has been underscored in the Pledge of Allegiance in these words, "One nation, under God."

To be sure, such statements do not make our nation a Christian nation. And our Constitution wisely provides that the government shall not establish any official religion.

But, the philosophy of our government takes into account the knowledge of God, which St. Paul wrote, "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities ­ His eternal power and divine nature ­ have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made." (Romans 1:20).

This is no small blessing when we look at the world in which we live and note that tremendous areas of the world are subject to evil forces in government.

Read your newspapers and "Praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you." While this lesson speaks of "the good land," its emphasis is on gratitude to the giver, the Lord God.

Israel was warned about forgetting the source of its blessings. That same warning is very much in place today. We must constantly be on guard or our hearts will be lifted up in pride and we might say, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." (Deuteronomy 8:17)

Why did God give Israel good land? He wanted to establish the Messianic promise.

Why has God raised up great governments since His coming? Read history as the mighty story of God's mercy, instead of the foolish story of sinful people, and you will behold His wonderful purpose to reveal the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The wicked and the good have been His instruments in revealing His loving-kindness, His judgment, and His righteousness on earth. And it can not be otherwise, because the Father has given His Son Jesus who redeemed the world by His innocent suffering ­ that all who believe in what Jesus has done will be saved.

As it is written, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life for God's wrath remains on him" (John 3:36).

God has given us this good land so that this message of salvation would be given to all people. The need for the Gospel today is tremendous.

As we consider this month of Thanksgiving may we be reminded of the blessings which God has bestowed on us, and let it remind us of the eternal purposes of His goodness. "Praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you."


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