"Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these 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..."
Second Corinthians 9:11-12 tells us that God gives riches that we may praise Him. We are also given riches to distribute through our generosity. Christians are supposed to be kind, meek, loving, caring, and forgiving. We are given much to spread these Christian attributes both materially and spiritually. We are enriched so that we may apply our riches to His glory, and the good of man. We are given much so we can care for many. Those who have plenty may exercise all bountifulness. This is primarily for the saints, for other believers in Christ, but we are to share this abundance with all mankind. We are given abundance to administrate, to minister, to give in service to others who are without. We, given much, are required in turn to distribute that blessing by giving as much as we can out of our abundance.
What I would like to consider today is the thankfulness of our nation. We have given much and there is too much for us to recount here. There are few nations in the world – if any – that give as much as the United States. Our people gave over $314 billion in 2007. We give more than money for the sake of freedom and our nation as well as our people every day.
Many historians today claim our forefathers were Deists at best, and secularists more generally. Yet, in their own handwriting, they speak frequently of God, of Jesus and of the providential power of God and His governance of mankind on a minute level. The Deist does not believe God is intimately involved with His creation. They believe He created, but deny His specific involvement. A Deist equally denies the authority of the scriptures. Our founding fathers leaned upon, quoted from, referenced and paraphrased the scriptures repeatedly throughout the Revolutionary War in full dependency upon God for deliverance. They repeatedly called for the people of the United States of America to “confess and deplore our many sins” and “beseeching him to forgive our iniquities, to remove our present calamities, to avert those desolating judgments, with which we are threatened.” This group of congressional leaders regularly sought God in prayer, and called for this nationally, to forgive their sins.
Our nation sought freedom from tyranny based upon Psalm 35. We understand this from the writings of John Adams to Abigail, his wife, in a letter dated September 16, 1774. This from a supposed Unitarian with Deist training, who spoke in his diary of witnessing of Christ to a Frenchman named Wuibert on May 22, 1779 as recorded in Adams’ own hand. He also noted, just before this, that he desired our ship’s men to have devout prayers with their chaplains, even as the French who offered prayers morning and evening for their crews. Our nation prayed, fasted, and beseeched the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob regularly, then gave thanks to God in line with Psalm 51:17 and Leviticus 7:12, respectively.
When we look at the congressional record on thanksgiving and appreciation to God, our nation’s history is rich. We find in this first prayer and supplication to God likened to Psalm 51 – a broken and contrite heart is the heart of man that knows its depravity. As real leaders should, our national leadership called for periods of prayer, fasting, humility and supplication to God for their national sins. This was followed by prayers of thanksgiving and joy at the answers to previous prayer and dependence upon God’s deliverance in the calamity in which they lived.
Behind these penitent displays of national worship to God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, we find abundant prayers of thanks. These thank-full prayers were much like those given in Leviticus 7:12 – a fellowship offering with offerings (broken and contrite hearts) of thanksgiving contained within. The entire section of Leviticus 7:11-15 deals with these fellowship and thank offerings. This penitence and thanks of our nation in history is where we will concentrate our time. True leaders, our founding fathers, recognized their being in fellowship with the Lord when they saw successes in battle, and great abundance of provision. National leaders regularly gave God these thanks when they saw prayers of humility, and submission answered. Real leaders know where they get their authority from; and it is not from a good political speech, not from saying whatever we can to engender friendship, but from God.
Therefore, our national Thanksgiving Day did not just come from the adoration of a few to God when they were provided for in 1623 as Pilgrims in this land. This national thanksgiving came from a history of recognition in America – of giving thanks to the great provider and creator God for all He does and has done. It is true; the most glaring truth we have ever heard is that of the Pilgrims who in 1623 were very prosperous. This prosperity came on the heels of a great drought. Governor Bradford called the entire colony to prayer and fasting and seeking God’s direct intervention. Indians witnessed the scene of the colony gathering, praying, and fasting. Shortly afterwards, clouds appeared and as Bradford himself records, “It came without either wind or thunder or any violence, and by degrees in abundance, as that ye earth was thoroughly wet and soaked therewith….” Corn likes a slow, misty rain intermingled with sun, and that is exactly what they received in perfect timing. Bradford continues to say,
“ye Indians astonished to behold; and afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest…”
Bradford, rightfully, gives all credit to God for the increase. This is our national heritage and it did not stop with the Pilgrims.
I thought that today, we would spend some time reviewing the 15 occurrences of our Nation’s prayer, fasting, and thanksgiving in the war for independence. If this took place again on a national scale, I have no doubt we would prevail in our current conflict, and put liberalism, relativism, secularism, and atheism on their heels. What you find then below are the exact quotes from the Continental Congressional minutes as taken by the recorder on the days indicated. Continue reading