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The Ultimate Thanksgiving, Beulah Land

The Ultimate Thanksgiving, Beulah Land
Beulah Land is a well-known gospel hymn written by Edgar Page Stites (1836–1921) in either 1875 or 1876. The hymn, Stites’ most popular, is set to music written by John R. Sweney (1837–1899). The orginal hymn concludes with the chorus: O Beulah land, sweet Beulah land! As on thy highest mount I stand, I look away across the sea Where mansions are prepared for me And view the shining glory shore My heaven, my home forever more.

The hymn derives from Isaiah 62:4; “Never again will you be called the Forsaken City or Hephzibah the Desolate Land. Your new name will be Beulah the City of God’s Delight and The Bride of God, for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as his bride.” The verse is in reference to the return of the Jews from their exile in Babylon in which the Jews shall no longer be called Forsaken, but Hephzibah (My Delight Is in Her), and Jerusalem shall no longer be called Desolate, but Beulah (Married). This implies that the Jews have turned back to the worship of God. The connection between Beulah Land and Heaven is found in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress in which he wrote, “Therefore it is, I say, that the Enchanted ground is placed so nigh to the land, Beulah, and so near the end of their race [i.e. Heaven].”

​Edgar Stites said that on one Sunday he began to write Beulah Land, but he could only write two verses and the chorus when he was overcome by the Lord and fell on his face. He was unable to write the last two verses until the following Sunday, and again he was so influenced by emotion that he could only pray and weep. The first time it was sung was at the regular Monday morning meeting of Methodists in Philadelphia. Bishop McCabe sang it to the assembled ministers.

​Thanksgiving is the one universal day we set aside for proclaiming our thanks for what we have. The natural assumption is we are saying thank you to someone for something. But, to whom are we giving thanks? For so many have given us so many things. Around the Thanksgiving table we give thanks for each other, our good health and the bountiful food flowing across the table before us. But, who deserves our ultimate thanks? How about the One who gave us our first breath and the air to take that breath? There just has to be a creator of the earth upon which we stand. It is the one and only creator, God. This is hard to grasp, but when there was only God, He created everything out of nothing. Here is an interesting question to pose as you feast upon the banquet set before you, “What would you have left if God removed everything for which you have not given Him thanks?”

​This brings us to another soul-searching question; “Of all that God has provided you, for what are you most thankful?” The answer is found in 1Peter 1:3-9 (NLT), “3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation,4 and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.5 And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.”

​From the first moment you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you have a priceless inheritance waiting for you in heaven. This inheritance is beyond the corruption with which sin has contaminated this world. This inheritance is priceless for there is not enough wealth in existence for you to purchase it. Only the blood of your sinless Savior will procure your place for eternity in Heaven. Would you like some more good news? God is using all of His power during every moment of your life to protect you until you receive your heavenly inheritance.

So, are you living every day of your life with great expectation of the moment you will depart for your heavenly home? Are you kind of homesick for a country to which you have never been before? If not, why not? Peter reminds you, “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. (Verse 6) While you are enduring one of the many trials sweeping through your life, a little smile should creep across your face as you remember what God has waiting at the end of your life’s road.

​I am pretty sure that you have not thought of “Beulah Land “as a Thanksgiving hymn”, but I invite you to take a closer look at the words of this old hymn.

Beulah Land

I’m kind of homesick for a country
to which I’ve never been before.
No sad goodbyes will there be spoken,
And time won’t matter anymore

(Chorus) Beulah Land I’m longing for you,
and someday on thee I’ll stand.
There my home shall be eternal.
Beulah Land… sweet Beulah Land

I’m looking now across that river
to where my faith is gonna end in sight.
Theres just a few more days to labor,
Then I’ll take, my heavenly flight

Beulah Land I’m longing for you,
and someday on thee I’ll stand.
There my home shall be eternal.
Beulah Land, Sweet Beulah land

As you celebrate this Thanksgiving,
lift your hands as you praise God
for the heavenly home
He has prepared for you.

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