In this month of harvest, we are called upon to overflow in thanksgiving (Colossians 2:7). This is a tradition that the people of God established in both the Old and New Testament. In the wilderness, the Israelites continued to bring materials for the construction of the Tabernacle until they were restrained from doing so because they had brought more than was needed (Exodus 35 &36). Paul commended some churches for overflowing in thanksgiving to God through their munificent supply for the mission work (see, 2 Corinthians 8 & 9 and Philippians 4:4-20).
It is worthy to note that God’s people overflowed in thanksgiving even in times of adversity. It was in the parched wilderness that the people oversupplied materials for the construction of the Tabernacle. The Macedonian church overflowed in generosity while facing severe affliction and extreme poverty. May their examples inspire us to do likewise in Jesus name, Amen.
Today we consider the ultimate reason why we should overflow in thanksgiving. This is the fact that our God, to whom all thanksgivings belong, overflows in all aspects of His being and works. As no mortal can fully understand and explain the Immortal and Invisible God, permit the use of the term ‘the overflowing God’.
Overflowing in His Being
God is by His very nature overflowing: We get some clues of this from God’s appearance, names and voice.
The revelations of God in Scripture unmistakably evoke the sense of an overflowing presence. We see this in the divine appearance to Moses at Mount Horeb. The bush was not consumed because the Flame of Fire was overflowing (Exodus 3:1-6). We see this in Isaiah’s vision of the Lord sitting upon the throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple (Isaiah 6:1-3). We see this also in Ezekiel’s indescribable vision of the glory of the Lord; particularly in the illustration of the fire and rainbow upward and downward His waist (Ezekiel 1:26-28). Finally, we see this in John’s vision of the Lord who sits on the throne (Revelation 1:12-16; 4:1-6).
God’s innumerable names all show that He is more than time and space can contain. However, two names of God will suffice for our purpose today: El Gibbor and El Shaddai. El Gibbor is the Mighty God (Isaiah 9:7). The One who overflows in might and power; whose power is limitless and inexhaustible to help. El Shaddai means Almighty God; the All-Powerful God who nourishes, sustains and satisfies all creatures yet does not run dry and needs no replenishment (Psalm 104:1-35).
Descriptions of the sound of God’s voice in the Scriptures suggest an overflow. Several references indicate its sound is like that of rushing waters-evidencing an overflow (see Psalm 29; Ezekiel 43:2 and Revelation 1:15)
Overflowing in His works
We consider the works of God in creation, in provision, in deliverance and salvation.
The story of creation is that of God turning a world that was formless and void into one that is overflowing with creatures on land, air and water. For good measure, the Lord mandated all living creatures to overflow in perpetuity: increase, multiply and fill the earth-was the divine command to humanity, animals, birds and sea creatures (Genesis 1&2). The divine mandate was reinstated as Noah and all living creatures who were spared from the flood started the new world (Genesis 8 & 9).
The Patriarchs show how God overflows in providing for and sustaining His people. This is evident in God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants would be like the sand on the seashore and stars in the sky for multitude (Genesis 15:5, 22:17). We see the bounties of God in the life of Father Abraham that not many years after departing his native land, he had acquired 318 servant-soldiers and become so rich that he could reject the spoils offered him by the king of Sodom (Genesis 14). Years later, Abraham’s servant would testify that God had blessed Abraham mightily and he had become very great (Genesis 24:15). We see this in the fact that Isaac prospered in the midst of famine and strife (Genesis 26:12-16). We also see this in the story of Jacob who left his father’s house as a fugitive with a staff but returned years later with two troops and enough provisions to spare (Genesis 32:9-13).
Have you ever wondered why God did not use one miracle to deliver Israel from Egypt? Why God initiated the 10 plagues before Israel could be freed from the house of bondage? The answer is God is overflowing in the work of deliverance. He hardened the heart of Pharaoh that He might multiply signs and wonders to bring out Israel with His strong and outstretched arm (Exodus 7:3). This also explains why God drove out so many nations for Israel to settle in the promised land- the land flowing with milk and honey.
The incarnation, suffering, passion, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus demonstrate the overflowing mercies of God to save sinners. Charles Wesley, the hymn writer, captured this overflowing grace in the following words: ‘He left His Father’s throne above. So free, so infinite His grace; Emptied Himself of all but love; And bled for Adam’s helpless race.’ Jesus poured out His soul unto death to save humanity (Isaiah 53; John 3:16; Luke 22&23; Philippians 2:5-10; Hebrews 7:25).
This little knowledge of the God we are appearing before at harvest should guide us on how to come before Him with acceptable thanksgiving (Deuteronomy 16:16; Malachi 1).