What’s Wrong with Thanksgiving?
Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, November 22, 2020
The history books tell us how, centuries ago,
ships sailed across the water from Europe.
They arrived at a new land
populated by natives they considered uncivilized.
They viewed the natives as savages
who needed to be ruled over for their own benefit.
And those who came from across the water
were able to rule over them,
because they brought with them
superior technology and weaponry
that the natives couldn’t match.
The European invaders completely changed the land
they came to occupy—
replacing the native culture with their own.
Now, you might think I’ve been talking about
the Europeans who came to America 400 years ago
and supplanted the Native Americans.
But I was actually describing the Roman
conquest and colonization of Britain.
Europeans under the command of Julius Caesar
crossed the waters of the English Channel
more than 2,000 years ago,
to begin the Roman conquest of England.
Writing about the land across the water
that he intended to conquer,
Caesar described the British as uncivilized,
not cutting their hair,
wearing animal skins for clothing,
and using a blue dye from plants
to color their bodies blue.
And Caesar said that these English savages
shared their wives among groups of 10 or 12 men.
The Romans viewed their own civilization as far superior,
and thought it only natural
that they should rule over the British
and take control of their land.
And the Roman Empire did, in fact,
rule England for 400 years.
I bring this up because this is Thanksgiving week.
And there are many left-wing liberals in this country
who try to put Americans into a guilt trip—
to make us feel so guilty for coming here
and taking this land from the Indians,
that we should be ashamed
and stop celebrating Thanksgiving Day.
For example, one Wikipedia article says,
"Thanksgiving is considered by some
to be a ‘national day of mourning,’
as a celebration of the genocide and conquest
of Native Americans by colonists."
The same people supply the ideology
that leads violent mobs in the streets
to tear down statues of Christopher Columbus.
Around 3 dozen statues of Columbus
were toppled or vandalized and removed
all across America this year—
from Boston and New Haven to
Sacramento and San Francisco—
to protest European colonization of America.
But the fact is that human history
is the history of one civilization conquering another—
one culture replacing another—
not just in North America,
but in England, in the Middle East,
in Africa—actually everywhere.
The Romans abandoned England
after ruling there for 400 years,
and then the Saxons from Germany came in
and dominated the land for a century,
imposing a Germanic culture.
After them came the Angles, another group from Europe,
and their domination led to
the former Roman province of Britannia
coming to be called Angle-Land or “England.”
And, after another 500 years, the famous Battle of Hastings
resulted in the Normans from France
taking over England
and imposing their own culture
on the native peoples
and the previous conquerors.
So, there was nothing unusual about
Europeans taking over the Americas
and overwhelming the Indians or Native Americans.
That was just one instance
of the same sort of thing happening all over the earth,
to one national group after another,
all down through human history.
It was not some horrific crime
that we Americans need to repent of today
by replacing Thanksgiving Day
with a day of mourning
for the Indian tribes that lost their land.
Before the European colonists arrived,
those Indian tribes
had been fighting among themselves
and conquering and subduing and even
enslaving one another,
and taking land from one another—
just as the tribes of European white men
were doing to each other
back in England and the rest of Europe.
The only reason why
the European colonization of the Americas
was because of the vast oceans
separating Europe from the Americas,
leaving each group ignorant
of the other’s existence.
If they had been closer together
and more in touch with each other,
they would have been fighting and conquering
each other all down through the centuries—
just as all the nations did to each other.
As soon as the New World was mapped out,
the British and French
divided North America between themselves,
and the Spanish and Portuguese
divided Central and South America.
The native people’s spears and bows and arrows
were no match for the Europeans’
pistols, rifles and cannons,
just as the rag-tag English forces
Julius Caesar encountered
were no match for the professional fighters
of the Roman Legions.
But, centuries before Caesar,
the Romans themselves were defeated by Africans,
when African general Hannibal
marched into Italy with an army of 100,000 troops
led by armored elephants from Africa.
At that time the Roman infantry and cavalry
were thrown into a frightful panic
at the very sight of the war elephants.
The Romans were overpowered
by the North Africans’ superior fire power,
just as Native American Indians
were overpowered by the guns and cannons
of the European colonists.
Such has been the history of mankind
over the thousands of years
since the families of man spread abroad
as the earth was re-populated
after the Flood of Noah’s day.
One national group has
overpowered and subjected another
all down through human history.
European colonization and settlement of the Americas
was nothing new or out of the ordinary.
It’s much like what happened in England,
when the Brits were subjected by the Romans
and then later by the Saxons
and the Saxons were later subjected by the Angles
and the Angles were stomped on by the Normans.
So, why the big fuss today?
Why do protesters in Plymouth
hold protests at Plymouth Rock,
and try to turn Thanksgiving Day
into a national day of mourning and sadness?
The reason why some people today
are trying to shame the memory
of that first Thanksgiving Day
is that these left-wing liberals
hate America’s Christian foundation
and want to tear it down.
When the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony
invited their Wampanoag Indian neighbors
to share a good time feasting together
on the fruits of their harvest,
they set the pattern for
the holiday we observe this week.
And there is no reason to be ashamed of it.
Sure, there were times later on,
when settlers who came after the Pilgrims
mistreated Native Americans—
just as there were other Indian tribes
that weren’t as hospitable and friendly
as the Wampanoags.
The fact is, before any Europeans arrived at all,
the Native American tribes were enslaving one another,
making war against one another,
and subjecting one another,
just as all of sinful mankind has been doing
throughout human history.
So, the left-wing liberals’ demand today
that we should apologize to the Native Americans
for taking their land,
and that Thanksgiving Day should be replaced
with a national day of mourning—
that’s all just a propaganda trick
on the part of those
who hate America’s Christian heritage
and who want to replace
the American way of life
with the atheistic socialist system
that ruined Cuba and Russia.
We do well to read our history books,
and to read our Bibles
and to speak out against
such attacks on the American way.
And I speak favorably of “the American way”
because, historically, it is based on
the Christian way of life outlined in the Bible.
Certainly. there have been many shameful departures
over the years,
but this nation was founded on Bible principles,
and most of our leaders,
down through the centuries,
have professed Christian faith,
and have upheld Bible truths.
A nation made up of sinners can not be without sin,
but sinners who repent and look to Christ as Savior
have done their best
to keep this a Christian nation.
So, we do well to remember
how Thanksgiving Day began
as a time of peaceful rejoicing
with Pilgrims and Wampanoags sharing together
and giving thanks together.
The kindness of the peace-loving Pilgrims
helped many Wampanoag natives to receive Christ
and become Christian believers.
In fact, the oldest church on Cape Cod
is the Old Indian Meeting House
on Meetinghouse Road in Mashpee, Massachusetts.
It was built in 1684,
and it stands as a testimony
to the large numbers of Wampanoag Indians
who received the Gospel with joy.
The tribe’s territory stretched from the Cape & Islands
what is now Marshfield, Brockton, Foxboro
and eastern parts of Rhode Island.
And within that territory
Christian Wampanoags formed 14 towns of their own—
there were so many of them
who put faith in Christ.
So, there is no valid reason whatsoever
to even think of turning Thanksgiving Day
into some sort of “day of mourning”
as the left-wing liberals demand.
And there is every reason to keep on following
the Bible’s advice to give thanks on every occasion.
And what better occasion is there
than this holiday with its rich history
and family traditions.
Instead of being ashamed of God’s blessings on this nation,
we can say as Isaiah 9:3 said to God about Israel,
You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy. The people have rejoiced before You as they rejoice at harvest time
Yes, God has enlarged this nation
from the small beginnings at Plymouth Plantation
back in 1620,
to 50 states spanning North America.
And he has showered this nation with blessings
beyond the blessings of any other nation on earth.
So, it is only fitting that we be thankful
and even have a national holiday to give thanks.
And that is what our leaders have done,
ever since the birth of this nation in 1776.
I could hardly find the words to say it better
than our nation’s leaders have done.
So, I’d like to read now the very first national proclamation
of a Thanksgiving Day,
and the last one that has been made, so far.
The first proclamation was made in the year 1777,
while our War of Independence was still being fought.
So, it was 12 years before George Washington’s
Thanksgiving proclamation as the first president.
In 1777 it was the Continental Congress
that called for a national Day of Thanksgiving—
at that time in December,
before the November holiday was enacted.
And, as I read and put up on the screen
the words the Continental Congress wrote,
notice that their document named our Lord Jesus
and placed his name in all capital letters.
This is what that very first national Thanksgiving Day
November 1, 1777
FORASMUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of: And it having pleased him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence; but also to smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary War, for the Defense and Establishment of our unalienable Rights and Liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased, in so great a Measure, to prosper the Means used for the Support of our Troops, and to crown our Arms with most signal success:
It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and PRAISE: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole: To inspire our Commanders, both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all human Blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE: That it may please him, to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People, and the Labor of the Husbandman, that our Land may yield its Increase: To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles oftrue Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand; and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom, which consisteth "in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost." And it is further recommended, That servile Labor, and such Recreation, as, though at other Times innocent, may be unbecoming the Purpose of this Appointment, be omitted on so solemn an Occasion.
What a testimony to the faith of our Founding Fathers!
And that same faith is expressed in the most recent
Proclamation by President Donald Trump
on Thanksgiving Day, 2019.
Copied from the White House web site,
On Thanksgiving Day, we remember with reverence and gratitude the bountiful blessings afforded to us by our Creator, and we recommit to sharing in a spirit of thanksgiving and generosity with our friends, neighbors, and families.
Nearly four centuries ago, determined individuals with a hopeful vision of a more prosperous life and an abundance of opportunities made a pilgrimage to a distant land. These Pilgrims embarked on their journey across the Atlantic at great personal risk, facing unforeseen trials and tribulations, and unforetold hardships during their passage. After their arrival in the New World, a harsh and deadly winter took the lives of nearly half their population. Those who survived remained unwavering in their faith and foresight of a future rich with liberty and freedom, enduring every impediment as they established one of our Nation’s first settlements. Through God’s divine providence, a meaningful relationship was forged with the Wampanoag Tribe, and through their unwavering resolve and resilience, the Pilgrims enjoyed a bountiful harvest the following year. The celebration of this harvest lasted 3 days and saw Pilgrims and Wampanoag seated together at the table of friendship and unity. That first Thanksgiving provided an enduring symbol of gratitude that is uniquely sewn into the fabric of our American spirit.
More than 150 years later, it was in this same spirit of unity that President George Washington declared a National Day of Thanksgiving following the Revolutionary War and the ratification of our Constitution. Less than a century later, that hard-won unity came under duress as the United States was engaged in a civil war that threatened the very existence of our Republic. Following the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, in an effort to unite the country and acknowledge “the gracious gifts of the Most High God,” President Abraham Lincoln asked the American people to come together and “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.” Today, this tradition continues with millions of Americans gathering each year to give their thanks for the same blessings of liberty for which so many brave patriots have laid down their lives to defend during the Revolutionary War and in the years since.
Since the first settlers to call our country home landed on American shores, we have always been defined by our resilience and propensity to show gratitude even in the face of great adversity, always remembering the blessings we have been given in spite of the hardships we endure. This Thanksgiving, we pause and acknowledge those who will have empty seats at their table. We ask God to watch over our service members, especially those whose selfless commitment to serving our country and defending our sacred liberty has called them to duty overseas during the holiday season. We also pray for our law enforcement officials and first responders as they carry out their duties to protect and serve our communities. As a Nation, we owe a debt of gratitude to both those who take an oath to safeguard us and our way of life as well as to their families, and we salute them for their immeasurable sacrifices.
As we gather today with those we hold dear, let us give thanks to Almighty God for the many blessings we enjoy. United together as one people, in gratitude for the freedoms and prosperity that thrive across our land, we acknowledge God as the source of all good gifts. We ask Him for protection and wisdom and for opportunities this Thanksgiving to share with others some measure of what we have so providentially received.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 28, 2019, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all Americans to gather, in homes and places of worship, to offer a prayer of thanks to God for our many blessings.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
twenty-seventh day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand nineteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fourth.
DONALD J. TRUMP
What a joy it is to see our Creator honored
with expressions of thanksgiving
from the highest levels of government.
But we’re living at a time right now
when our nation’s traditional Christian values
are being challenged and rejected.
And we don’t know which way future leaders will go.
So, it’s good to keep in mind the conditions
that the Apostles and early Christians lived under.
The heads of government were brutal Caesars.
Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero
were all pagan rulers, hostile to the Gospel message.
Yet, it was under such heads of government
that the Apostle Paul wrote
in his First Letter to Timothy,
1 TIMOTHY - CHAPTER TWO
1 I exhort therefore, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and givings of thanks, be made for all men: 2 for kings and all who are in high places; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and reverence.
So, the Lord calls on us to pray for
our government leaders—no matter who they are—
so that we may continue to lead peaceful,
quiet and godly Christian lives,
And he calls on us to continue to be thankful
for our blessings.
If we do that, we have the assurance
of the inner peace that comes from God,
regardless of the outward circumstances
Philippians 4:6 says,
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
God’s peace cannot be taken away from us.
And we can all be truly thankful for that.