This morning I read an enlightening essay on Thanksgiving Day written by Pastor Tim Boffey of the Cincinnati Church.  Rather than attempt to summarize, I have reprinted the article below with permission.

Thanksgiving Day
by Pastor Tim Boffey

On the fourth Thursday of November, America takes time off from its ordinary pursuits to observe the civic holiday of Thanksgiving Day. Or, does it? For too many Americans, ordinary pursuits of life include beer, football, overindulgence and sloth. On Thanksgiving Day, these pursuits simply shift into overdrive, unhindered by that tedious interruption called work. Thanksgiving Day seems to underscore what is truly important to our culture: pleasure. Pleasure in and of itself is not evil, but when it becomes the summum bonum of a nation, watch out! The God of nations still reigns on high and when warning Babylon of its imminent demise, said, “Therefore hear now this, thou that art GIVEN TO PLEASURES, that dwellest carelessly…” (ISA 47:8). We do well to regard that at the root of the filthy debauchery of condemned Sodom & Gomorrah was “pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness” (EZE 16:49). Scripture describes perilous times as being typified (amongst other things) by the attitude, “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God” (2TI 3:4).

Thanksgiving Day means different things to different people, but for too many it only means a long weekend, a day of which is a paid bacchanalian pleasure-orgy. For others, it marks the traditional beginning of the most critical time of year for business: weeks of frenzied consumerism climaxing in that most “noble” of “holy” days, Christmas (Roman Saturnalia in a new Christian dress). If I sound somewhat cynical here, it is only because I earnestly decry the taboo on speaking out against what any discerning person knows: that the primary reason such holidays have almost universal support is “ye know that by this craft we have our wealth” (ACT 19:25). But for many, Thanksgiving Day has rich roots in American tradition which hearken back to a simpler and more reverent era. Thankfully, the significance of such a day is not entirely lost on all Americans but perhaps some historical review, and some practical and Scriptural exhortations are in order.

We would first take notice of the fact that since the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ (“thanks be unto God for His unspeakable Gift,” 2CO 9:15), men are no longer (and never again shall be) under the dispensation of shadows and darkness known as “the law,” with its many obligatory holy-days. These things were only temporary portents of the reality of Jesus Christ and His work of salvation, they expired with the passing away of the Old Testament order (GAL 3:19-25; GAL 4:9-10; COL 2:14-17;HEB 9:9-12). For a Christian to set aside a special time of thanksgiving is not wrong, but as a “holy-day” it is not required and is certainly not a test of righteousness or fellowship. A civil government which recommends to its people a time for earnest thanksgiving to the true and only LORD God THROUGH the Lord Jesus Christ (by Whom ONLY supplications are acceptable—see JOH 14:6; 1JO 2:23; ROM 7:25) does well, for its secular power is ordained of God (JOH 19:11; 1PE 2:13-14) and should be used to encourage the people to righteousness, which exalts a nation (PRO 14:34). By contrast, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (PSA 9:17). How important is thankfulness to righteousness? Consider the wretched excesses, sexual immorality, carnality and violence to which the nations were turned over, as described in ROM 1:22-32. That slippery slope began with “when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, NEITHER WERE THANKFUL…” (ROM 1:21).

Throughout U.S. history, various presidents have issued Thanksgiving Day proclamations: Washington, Madison and Lincoln for example. This was apparently done by men who lacked prophetic foresight of the inventive constitutional reinterpretations by modern activist federal justices who somehow found a “wall of separation between church and state” in the First Amendment, thus twisting the obvious intent of the constitution’s framers, to wit, ‘freedom OF religion’ to ‘freedom FROM religion.’ Nevertheless, federal authority continues to sanction Thanksgiving Day. Somehow, official encouragement to Americans to pause, recognize and thank God is not deemed a violation of the “separation” argument but permitting a prayer at a high-school graduation is a gross breach. One wonders whether this tolerance of Thanksgiving Day is because the atheists, humanists and other antiChrist forces have not yet devised a way of purging Thanksgiving Day without undermining the commercial value such a tradition represents. Let us be thankful that the Lord God reigns, of Whom it is written, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain” (PSA 76:10).

The recognition of a day of thanksgiving precedes the founding of our present form of civil government as witness the proclamations made by the Continental Congress (1777), or the colonies in New Netherlands (1644), Connecticut (1639) and Massachusetts Bay (1630). But it seems clear that the rootstock and model of all such declarations is that of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation immediately after their first harvest in 1621. To these humble (yea, HUMBLED people, as their experience testifies) we owe much, not the least of which is a model of a free-enterprise capitalist system (they tried communism and it failed miserably) and Thanksgiving Day.

The Pilgrims were evidently a sub-sect of the Puritans in England, who opposed the oppressive and unjust policy of the Divine Right of Kings. The Puritans played a pivotal role in the English civil war of the mid-1600′s which brought about the cancellation of the Divine Right when the treasonous King Charles’ head one day fell into a basket. In these people breathed the sweet air of liberty; not just liberty from royal indifference and injustice, but liberty of soul and conscience. Whether the Pilgrims fully identified with the political objectives of Cromwell or other Puritans is a matter of conjecture. It seems that their primary reason for seeking a new country was to escape religious bigotry, assuming great risk for the opportunity to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience. Unlike the many envoys and adventurers which preceded them under the banner of the Roman Church, they did not come to exploit the New World, but to (as they prayed), “afflict ourselves before God, to seek of Him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance” (EZRA 8:21). It has been noted that the President of Argentina once said to the statistician, Roger Babson, “I have been wondering why it is that South America with all its natural advantages, its mines of iron, copper, coal, silver and gold; its rivers and great waterfalls which rival Niagara, is so far behind North America.” After short contemplation, he answered his own question, “I have come to this conclusion. South America was settled by the Spanish, who came to South America in search of gold; but North America was settled by the Pilgrim Fathers, who went there in search of God.” A fair summary, indeed. Some have postulated that the Pilgrims had aspirations of establishing a theocratic kingdom of God on earth in the New World. This may or may not be true but it is virtually above suspicion that spiritual things, not carnal, were their primary incentives.

The Pilgrims left England in 1608 for the more tolerant lands of Holland, where they labored industriously until, after trial and disappointment, they secured a patent from the Virginia Company of London. Their first vessel, the Speedwell, returned home with a belly full of water and was declared unseaworthy but the Pilgrims eventually set sail on the Mayflower. For over two months they endured the confines of the dim, dank, infested bowels of the Mayflower surviving on “food,” the description of which could make one queasy.

At last, land was sighted on November 9th: not the shores of more moderate Virginia, but the colder and less forgiving Highlands of Cape Cod. Before any disembarking, the company on the Mayflower drew up the novel Mayflower Compact, of which it has been observed that this constituted the first time in recorded history when free men had voluntarily covenanted together to formulate their own civil government. Thus was the precedent for Constitutional America set.

After a few explorations of the area which proved the natives and elements less than receptive, they removed to find good harbor at Plymouth Rock. But in the week that it took to dispatch all goods and passengers from the Mayflower as it anchored in deeper waters, future colony governor William Bradford’s wife “fell” overboard and drowned. Some have affirmed it was suicide brought on by fits of depression. In time, 99 of the original 102 went ashore, and commenced to endure the most miserable of fortunes: hunger, privations, sickness and death. Before a year passed, only half of them remained alive.

The expected threat of Indian attack strangely did not materialize though. It was later found that the fierce, ruthless Patuxet Indians who once dwelt where the Pilgrims landed had been wiped out by plague in 1617. In the middle of March of 1621, an Indian who had been watching the Pilgrims walked boldly into their camp. I suppose if there was any doubt that the Pilgrims were surely arrived in America, Samoset’s first words to them in broken English removed it. He said, “Have you got any beer?” Funny, but apparently true. Samoset was a Sagamore who previously had interaction with English vessels and learned English in the process. He told the Pilgrims that the Wampanoags were the nearest Indian nation, about forty miles distant. Their chief, Massasoit, would be very “honored to establish peaceful relations with the people of the Great White Spirit.” Soon thereafter, a somewhat apprehensive parlay was arranged with Massasoit, who came in full regalia with a company of some sixty painted warriors. With them was the last surviving Patuxet Indian, named Squanto, who spoke excellent English and served as interpreter. Fifteen years earlier, Squanto had been providentially befriended by an English explorer, Captain John Weymouth, who took him to England. Upon his return, Squanto was kidnapped and sold as a slave to the Spanish in the Caribbeans. There, a priest befriended him and helped him to Spain from where he eventually got to England, met Samoset and returned to Patuxet to find it devastated. Though he had been misused, Squanto had developed an appreciation for the English and an affection for the Lord Jesus Christ, being “baptized” in His name.

A six-point peace treaty which lasted twenty-five years was hammered out between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags. Squanto then remained with the Pilgrims and taught them invaluable skills for survival in this new frontier. Fever took him in September of 1622; he died longing to see the Englishman’s God in Heaven. But in the fall of 1621, after a bountiful harvest for which Squanto’s industry was greatly responsible, Governor Bradford declared a day of Thanksgiving to God. It was enjoyed by Indian and Pilgrim alike, Chief Massasoit bringing ninety of his people and also
supplying a substantial portion of the repast.

In researching for this essay, I came across information which is shedding new “light” on Thanksgiving Day for public schoolchildren. The spin doctors are doing a marvelous job of revising this history to make it more politically correct. To sum it up, the real protagonists during the Colonial Period were the native Indians. The Indians were generally peaceful, harmless, flower-loving natives who lived in harmony with nature and one another. The antagonists were the profiteering Europeans (especially the English) whose ambitions were to pillage, plunder and exploit the New World and to tolerate the Indians only until they had the upper hand, deceiving them at every turn. It cannot be denied that there were mistakes, abuses, broken treaties and other shameful things that blackened Colonial and Constitutional relations with Indians. Such injustices are not acceptable. But to paint all settlers with the same brush is equally wrong. One of the most unacceptable things the Pilgrims did, according to one revised public school Thanksgiving Story was “The Pilgrims started telling their Indian neighbors that their Indian religion and Indian customs were wrong.” Apparently, changing men’s corrupt thinking by sound doctrine and reason is deemed in our enlightened age of tolerance as intolerable. The article closes, “But today we work toward a better America, a more Indian America where people and nature once again are important.” Excuse me, but a Biblical worldview has always deemed people and nature to be important—just not so important that either should be worshipped practically or in principle.

Noble reader, there may be some things that European Christians did that were not beneficial for the Indians but converting them was not one of them. The “peaceful, harmonious, harmless” New World Indians could also be bloodthirsty savages at war with other tribes. Their religions were hardly harmless when you consider the human sacrifice that was demanded by the thousands every year by the Aztecs or Incas for example. The Mound-Builders of Alabama ritually sacrificed children to appease their “harmless” nature spirits. One should read the account of the first contact made with the Tsimshian Indians of the Pacific Northwest, when Mcdougall watched tribal members chase down one of their own women, carve her up while still alive and ingest her hot flesh while she screamed. And, these are not simply isolated exceptions. For many of the New World Indians, even an errant form of Christianity would have been a step in the right direction away from this devilish horror.

To the highly evolved intelligentsia of today, a truly great evil was the fact that Europeans moved in and took away the historic homeland of the natives who dwelt here. But is this not basically what has happened to the Palestinians in the Middle East for Israel’s sake and is almost universally lauded by the same intelligentsia? Emerson quipped, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds…” to which I retort, “A blatant inconsistency exposes the goblins of subtle minds.”

Returning to the Pilgrims’ experience, consider the heart of these people who had only recently seen the stormy clouds of trouble roll back from their lives. This first Thanksgiving Day was close on the heels of some of the most bitter times that try mens’ souls, and yet they fretted not against God. Their attitude was “What, shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil” (JOB 2:10)? Thanksgiving is not meant only for times of ease and prosperity. “In EVERYTHING give thanks…” (1TH 5:18). How easy it is to bless and thank God when “the Lord gave,” but can we do the same when “the Lord hath taken away” (JOB 1:21)? For every person who is sure he has Christ there is always something to be thankful for even if all creature comforts dissolve: “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (HAB 3:17-18). The Pilgrims’ attitude sets in sharp relief that of the modern American who on Thanksgiving Day curses God because his cable company is not delivering a decent broadcast of the big game. How far as a nation have we deteriorated, allowing our success to undo us. To make a turn on Cotton Mather’s observation, “Humility and thankfulness begat liberty and prosperity; And the children have devoured the parents.” Sadly, the first Pilgrim Church eventually became a Unitarian-Universalist Church which embraces everything from syrup to sodomy. See:

First Parish Church

I hope those Pilgrims were buried face down.

Be thankful, brethren, that a merciful God has seen fit to preserve faith in the earth and, though it be in short supply at His coming, He shall certainly avenge it (LUK 18:7-8). Be thankful for having a part in it. Be thankful for the innumerable blessings that God has given, both spiritually and materially. Be thankful that it is as well with you as it is. Though it be a test of your faith, be thankful always, brethren, even for your civil government which is becoming the enemy of true religion, for so are we commanded (1TI 2:1-3). Give thanks also that God overrules all governments, saying to the proud waves of the wicked, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further…” (JOB 38:11). Above all, “thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift” (2CO 9:15), Whose saving grace is a cause for rejoicing “with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1PE 1:8).