William Bradford, the governor of the Plymouth Colony, proclaimed the first day of Thanks in 1623 and did so with the following proclamation:
To All Ye Pilgrims: Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now, I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three, and third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.
In 1779 George Washington proclaimed Thanksgiving as a national holiday. President Washington’s proclamation demonstrates the spiritual nature of this holiday and that it was a call to the citizens of this great land to give thanks to the One who had overseen them throughout the year. Washington’s proclamation stated:
Whereas, it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; Whereas, both the houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness!" Now therefore, I do recommend next, to be devoted by the people of the states to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be, that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country.
The United States is still the most powerful nation in the world today and that power is not attributed to its democratic roots, but to its Christian heritage. God has so “shed His grace on thee.” But our nation has been steadily cutting away its moorings since the early 1960s when prayer, the Bible and God were systematically removed by a handful of judges from the schools. We are in danger of being completely cut adrift as we battle for even the slightest mentions of God in our society (like the mention of God in the Pledge of Allegiance). Make no mistake about it, if we severe as a nation, our ties to Almighty God, we will relinquish His protection from our enemies and soon find ourselves in repeated 9/11 types of tragedies and a constant fear that will rob us of our freedoms and liberty. Our nation, as it takes a jackhammer to the Judeo-Christian foundations of our society will continue to plummet morally into anarchy, avarice and antichristian actions that will bring God’s wrath.
The consideration of same-sex marriages, once unthinkable, is a clear indication of the depths to which this nation has plummeted. When all of the candidates of a particular party in a presidential campaign to the man and woman, support same-sex marriage and homosexuality and lesbianism it shows that we as a nation are sick and sinful from the head of government on down. Homosexuality is being pushed on us from every media. Why is it that a group so small, has so much influence and is being allowed to push itself on the nation and demand they be not only tolerated, but accepted and given equal viability and standing with traditional Biblical family forms? It is because we as a nation are in the process of rejecting God (see Romans 1).
If you look in history and observe empires, kingdoms, and nations in decline you will see a common characteristic of all of them, the rise in immorality, promiscuity, and particularly homosexuality. If (or should I say when) same-sex marriage is approved in our land, can the legalizing of incest, polygamy, pedophilia, and other debauched things conjured by reprobate minds be far behind?
This year many will be stuffed to capacity and lulled to sleep by full bellies (See Philippians 3:18-19). That physical condition is a picture of the spiritual condition too many of us are in. We are stuffed with the things of this world in thought, word, and deed and we have become Christian couch potatoes conked out on the couch while our drawers containing the precious jewels of our Christian heritage are being rifled through and ripped off by heretics and heritage robbers! We need to wake up and stop the pillaging of truth and our heritage.
I wonder how President Washington and the founding fathers viewed Separation of Church and State when they were drawing up this proclamation of thanksgiving to God above. Their view of God's role in our national workings was obviously quite different than that held by many in our day. (No amount of revisionist histroy can change that.)It would be hard to imagine a politician in the land today making such a proclamation. Our country has drifted far from its godly moorings. God has blessed this land so much, isn’t it time we act responsibly in a spirit of thanksgiving?
Wouldn’t it be great to see our land healed of its child abuse (e.g. abortion, partial birth abortion, RU486), immorality (e.g. pornography, adultery, homosexuality/lesbianism, and promiscuity), and antichristian attitude, of its sin? Progress has been made in some of these areas, but the enemy continues to fight tooth and nail against any godly and righteous advancement. We need to repent as a nation and as individual sinners. There is a way for us to get back on the right track with God. God promises to intervene if . . .
2 Chronicles 7:14 - “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.”
All is not lost, yet (Romans 13:11-14; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; 2 Peter 3:9-13). There is still time; as long as God’s gavel has not fallen, there is time. There is still time for a comeback, for a last minute drive to the goal of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-21). The comeback starts when we as individuals turn to God with prayerful, searching and thankful hearts and recognize how patient God has been with us as we’ve followed our flesh in so many ways. We need to ask God to search us and show us where our paths are wicked ways (Psalm 139:23-24). Then we need to repent; to actually, by God’s grace and the power of the Spirit, “turn from their wicked ways” and walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:19-24). We need to confess those sins, receive forgiveness and cleansing from God through faith in Christ (1 John 1:9). Then we need to walk in the light of His word and live in fellowship with Jesus (John 8:31-36; 1 John 1:7). This is all the beginning of warring against the forces of evil with spiritual weaponry and that is the only way to be victorious (2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:10-18). Receive God’s blessed cleansing from sin and be filled with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
Once we’ve invited Jesus into our hearts to clean house (Revelation 3:20), then we war on the floor on our knees in prayer. Then we can begin to pray for others and be used by God to minister to others in our families, friendships, neighborhoods and nation. Pray for our country and its leaders and for God to continue to be longsuffering with us. Pray for a conviction of sin to fall upon this land that will fuel a groundswell of repentance from top to bottom. Pray for a move of the Spirit that will win the lost to Christ in our families, friendships, workplaces, our neighborhoods, in our nation, in our land. Be thankful for God’s many blessings, for His patience with us this Thanksgiving. May we be thankful for our freedom, our land, and our families, His church, His word, His provision, for the Father, His only Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Be thankful that there is still time to get right with God!
“It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning,
And Your faithfulness every night,” - Psalm 92:1-2