the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
The Hebrew word todah means “confession, praise or thanksgiving.” An interesting use of todah is found in Joshua 7:19, a passage detailing Joshua's appeal to Achan concerning his transgression in the matter of Jericho's plunder. The verse reads, And Joshua saith unto Achan, `My son, put, I pray thee, honour on Jehovah, God of Israel, and give to Him thanks [todah], and declare, I pray thee, to me, what thou hast done--hide not from me' (Young's Literal Translation).
It may seem odd that Joshua enjoined Achan to give thanks to God and declare ...what thou hast done. Other translations render todah in this passage as “confession” (NKJV) or “praise” (ESV). Yet, the idea of giving thanks in admitting one's sin is profoundly appropriate; it is an acknowledgment of God's sovereignty in law and knowledge.
When a man acknowledges his sin before God he shows his acceptance of God's absolute standard of right and wrong. If there were no right or wrong, life would quickly devolve into chaos. Even those who deny God, borrow from Him when they assert the existence of objective moral values. They are unable to point to an unchanging standard in making this claim, and so their moral philosophy is open to constant revision. Eventually, all Godless doctrines succumb to the exercise of raw power. This does not mean those who reject God's law automatically embrace “power religion” but without the bulwark of an absolute standard they are unable to marshal an effective resistance against the belief that “might makes right.” Thus, confession of sin should include thanks to God for His law.
Moreover, the penitent sinner must be convinced God has perfect knowledge of the wrong he has done. This affords reason for thanks because it removes any excuse for hesitation. God knows the worst about us and yet, in Jesus Christ, he still loves us. Indeed, Christ died for us while we were still sinners, and by this God showed how much he loves us (Romans 5:8, Easy-to-Read Version, World Bible Translation). God loves his people and is willing to forgive; He even arranges events so we will arrive at a point where we seek his forgiveness. We consider the principal of reaping what we sow a negative truism. Nonetheless, it reminds us, God is constantly aware of what we do and orders circumstances so we cannot claim ignorance of his will. Once again, confession of sin ought to include thanks for God's love as it is revealed in His perfect knowledge of us.
There is much we can give thanks for this holiday season. While we're at it, let's not forget to thank God for his sovereignty in law and knowledge. If you are like most people (myself included), you will have opportunity to do so on a daily basis.