Vol: 86 Issue: 27 Thursday, November 27, 2008
Of all of the various holidays, Christmas is the most fun. To my mind, it always has been. I loved it as a kid, but I’ve loved it even more since becoming an adult.
It is the one time of the year when I get to express my love and appreciation to my family and friends without anybody feeling awkward about it.
But Christmas isn’t my favorite holiday. Thanksgiving Day is.
I love its historical purpose. It is the one time of the year when America expresses its collective love and appreciation to our Creator God for the many blessings showered upon us as a nation.
Thanks to the foresight and faithfulness of America’s Founding Fathers, even in the rabidly secular post-Christian America of the 21st century, there remain a significant number of Americans who still heed 2nd Chronicles 7:14:
“If My people, which are called by My Name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
The fact that despite America’s many sins, America remains the most Divinely favored nation on the face of the earth is evidence that God heeds His promise in 2nd Chronicles 7:14 as well.
That is what I love most about Thanksgiving Day. The opportunity to witness God’s continued involvement in the affairs of men.
During the American Revolutionary War the Continental Congress appointed one or more days of thanksgiving each year. And each one carried a recommendation to the executives of the various states for the observance of these days in their states.
George Washington, leader of the Revolutionary forces in the American Revolutionary War, proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving in December 1777 as a victory celebration honoring the defeat of the British at Saratoga. The Continental Congress proclaimed annual December Thanksgivings from 1777 to 1783 (except in 1782).
The concept of setting aside a day of thanksgiving is as old and as universal as mankind.
Many countries, such as for example, Asia, Japan, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka have celebrated in gratitude for their rich rice harvest for many, many centuries.
In Africa, many tribal expressions of gratitude are similar as this ancient prayer: “The Year Has Come Around Again, Great Lord Of Our Land – Never Can We Thank You For Your Good Deeds And All Your Blessings.”
In South America you find many of the native Indian cultures have expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving. Modern Brazil has a special public day of thanksgiving and prayers and has been celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November since 1949.
In Chaldea. ancient Egypt and Greece, harvest festival has been celebrated with great rejoicing.
The Hindus and the Chinese marked their harvest with a holiday. The Romans celebrated their Thanksgiving early October. They dedicated it to the Goddess Of The Harvest, Ceres, and the holiday was named “Cerelia.”
Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia, offered the first or last sheaf of wheat to the “Great Mother” or the “Mother Of The Wheat”, believing that earth power was a feminine force.
The annual “Declaration of World Thanksgiving”, is signed by 12 world leaders — religious leaders, scholars, scientists, philosophers, artists — representing various religions and cultures from around the world.
If everybody celebrates thanksgiving in some form or another, and if the tradition goes back to the ancient Chaldeans, then what is so American (or Christian) about Thanksgiving?
The answer should be obvious. “By their fruits ye shall know them,” Scripture tells us.
America is, hands-down, the most abundantly blessed nation on the face of the earth. Sharing in that blessing are Canada, Australia, New Zealand and some of the nations of Western Europe.
Those nations also share the tradition of offering thanks to the Almighty God of the Bible for their blessings.
Israel also has a tradition of thanksgiving, called Sukkot. Sukkot has three names: Hag HaAsif – The Festival of Ingathering, Hag HaSukkot – The Festival of Booths, HaHag – The Festival), which comes on the fifth day after Yom Kippur, lasts for seven days.
During that time the Israelis remember the protection God gave them during the forty years they spent traveling in the desert. The Jews also celebrate the ingathering of crops during the Feast of Tabernacles.
Like the Christians, the Jews offer their thanks to the True Author of blessing, and like the Christian nations, are among the biggest recipients of God’s provision and protection.
Places like India, Sri Lanka, Africa, Indonesia, Thailand, etc., have traditional celebrations in which they give thanks to pagan gods.
What the pagan gods are able to deliver in return is self-evident.
“Yet ye have forsaken Me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more.” (Judges 10:13)
The reason that I love Thanksgiving Day above all other holiday seasons isn’t the turkey (but I love that) and it isn’t the feasting (but I love that) or the parades, or the football games or any of the secular trappings that go along with it.
It is because I get to watch God keep His promises. When God told Abraham of the coming destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham pleaded with God until the Lord agreed that if there remained yet ten righteous men in the city, He would stay His execution on the city.
Even though not ten righteous men could not be found, for the sake of Lot and his family, the Lord arranged first for their evacuation, before bringing judgement on the city.
Each Thanksgiving Day, Americans acknowledge the Creator and offer Him thanks for His blessings. And a walk through American history shows that every year was more abundantly blessed than the year before, with one notable exception.
The longest period of economic stagnation in US history was the period between the War of 1812 and the Civil War. Economic growth was all but non-existent and banking panics were commonplace.
The Banking Panic of 1837 almost tanked America — in 1861, Abe Lincoln had to issue ‘greenbacks’ — in essence government IOU’s — to finance the Civil War.
It is especially interesting in light of the fact that, from 1816 to 1861, there were no presidential Thanksgiving proclamations issued.
America was therefore ‘blessed’ accordingly.
We live in a post-Christian era, but there remain a few righteous men left, in a handful of nations, that still heed the national call for thanksgiving and prayer.
Thanksgiving Day renews my hope that, as in Lot’s case, the Church will be evacuated before God executes judgement on a lost and sin-sick world.
“And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.” (Jeremiah 30:19)
Offer up thanks to Our Creator, the Almighty God of Israel, Isaac, Jacob. Let Him hear the ‘voice of them that make merry’ — wherever you may be.
I pray each of you have a happy Thanksgiving Day. God bless you all.