It is amazing how many times in the Old Testament you read this about God’s people, “they forgot the Lord their God.”
As the Jewish people wandered through the desert for forty years, God tells them just before they entered the promised land:
For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you shall eat food without scarcity, in which you shall not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper (Deuteronomy 8:7-9).
After 40 years of wandering through the desert, He was leading them into what would feel like paradise to them. And in verse 10 He says once they arrive and are experiencing this new life, they are to bless the Lord their God and be thankful for His goodness towards them.
Then God offers them a stern warning. Before He leads them into this wonderful new land and gives them all this prosperity and wonderful surroundings, He warns them, “Beware.” Whenever we see God use this word, we should take notice. He warns them about forgetting the Lord their God and not keeping His commandments. Otherwise, what so often happens is that after they have eaten and are fully satisfied and have built beautiful houses and lived in them, and when their herds and flocks multiply, and their silver and gold multiply, and all that they own grows and multiplies, their hearts can become proud and they will forget the Lord their God.
We are being instructed that if we are not continually giving thanks to God, it is just a matter of time before we forget Him.
Os Guinness says that in the Bible the theme of remembering God is directly linked to giving Him thanks and is inseparable from faith. People of strong faith remember, and those who remember are those who give thanks. Those who forget God are ungrateful. This is true for nations as well as individuals.
The great Nobel Prize winning author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn made this observation about his own country:
“Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”
Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”
There seems to be a certain historical pattern in Western Civilization. God blesses certain people who are hardworking, but who are also humble, thankful, and who depend on God in their day-to-day living. Over time they experience a certain degree of abundance and wealth.
And then slowly they begin to take credit for all of their prosperity, their hearts then become proud, and they forget about God.
As we approach Thanksgiving, I encourage you to cultivate a thankful heart. Not only is it pleasing to God, it will impact you. It will keep your heart humble.