This image is seen pretty regularly during the holiday season from Thanksgiving to Christmas. But, its origin has long been forgotten and could be a good lesson to us all.
Cornucopia comes from the Latin “cornu copiae” or “horn of plenty.” The Romans borrowed the myths of their god Heracles from the Greeks who are credited with the origin. The Greeks believed that the horn belonged to Amaltheia, who nurtured baby Zeus. Zeus accidentally broke the horn off and its magic powers include unending nourishment.
But there is a much older story of the horn shaped wicker basket. When God was instructing the nation of Israel to give an offering of their first fruits, this basket would have been used. “When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance and have taken possession of it and live in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from you land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket, and you shall go to the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name to dwell there.”(Deuteronomy 26:1-2)
This idea of the first fruits is a common theme in the Bible. We are to always give our best to God. At the harvest, we give our best. When we work, we give our best. In our family, we give our best. It is a reminder that all we have, is a provision from the Lord, not a result of our work.
Another important message ties directly to this and is a great reminder of the work we should be doing while we consider this harvest basket. Jesus is recorded in Matthew as saying, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the Harvest to send out laborers into the harvest.”(Matthew 9:35-38)
Jesus is reminding his disciples that there are many people who are unreached for the Gospel and there will not be many people willing to do the work to reach them. Then he tells them to pray that the Lord will send out laborers, or those willing to share the Gospel, so that the world may be reached.
There are a couple of important take-aways from these verses and this history. First, the world will always try to counterfeit God’s work. The cornucopia is a beautiful reminder of giving our best to God first, it is not a pagan myth, and Satan cannot have it. Second, there are unreached people who need to hear about the hope we have in Christ Jesus.
So today, while you are being thankful, remember there is work to do. Do not assume that because your plate is full that you have succeeded in life. Being thankful for your provision is great, but remember that people are not simply hungry, they need Jesus.
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)