2015-11-26 @ 12:30 PM CST
(This was written on 2015-11-17 and sent as a proposed LCG Commentary to my supervisors. As it has not been accepted there for publication, I will put forward the text here as my personal thoughts about Thanksgiving. The hymn-melody given above is not what I’m used to in connection with the lyrics – but it certainly is inspirational!)
Almost immediately after Halloween was over, the local grocery store—part of a major chain in the United States—took down its Halloween decorations and put up decorations for Christmas. Where pumpkins, witches and skeletons once stood, Santa Claus now towers over grocery shoppers. One sees the same in local shopping malls and on private property outdoors: Christmas decorations are already up—and it’s not even Thanksgiving Day yet.
The motive is obvious: to encourage shopping for the Christmas holiday season. “Black Friday”—the start of the Christmas retail drive—used to be the day after Thanksgiving Thursday. Now, it’s essentially whatever day in November on which a retailer can post a “pre-Black Friday sale”. And Thanksgiving Day? For many, it seems to have become “Turkey Day”—if not even less: “Football Day”.
What has happened to Thanksgiving Day in the American consciousness?
Our American Thanksgiving Day has deep roots, but we need go back no farther than the American Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving, made on October 3, 1863, called upon the American people to give thanks for God’s manifest blessings, given even in the midst of such a terrible conflict. Lincoln set the last Thursday of the following November for a national day of thanksgiving, and in time this day was made a national holiday.
But how many today remember an earlier proclamation by President Lincoln? His Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day, made on March 30, 1863, called on the nation to fast and pray, seeking repentance before God and God’s deliverance in response. Who now in high political office would dare say the following words to the American people, even in the name of what Thomas Jefferson called “Nature’s God”—let alone of the God of the Bible?
“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”
God heard the sincere prayers of the American people. President Lincoln acknowledged this when he proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving, six months later. The American people were grateful for God’s deliverance and blessings. Are we?
What was true for ancient Israel and Judah was true for the United States in Lincoln’s day, and is just as true for the United States and all the descendants of Israel and Judah now. It is just as true for any other nation which seeks to serve God in truth (Proverbs 14:34). As God said to King Solomon: “When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14).
Our free booklets, The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy, Who Controls the Weather?, and Twelve Keys to Answered Prayer, are just three we could recommend on this topic. Wherever you are in the world, be thankful at all times for God’s blessings and deliverance as you obey Him! – (יוחנן רכב)