Celebrating The Thanksgiving Holiday: What the Bible Says
By Betty Miller
Christians look forward to the time of the year when we celebrate two important holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. These holidays have their beginnings and roots in Christian celebrations. The word holiday actually means “holy day”; hence these events should be remembered and celebrated in a holy manner. We have strayed from that purpose over the years as we have embraced many unholy practices and worldly customs and added them to our “holy days.”
Compromising as Christians
Thanksgiving is one of our main national holidays here in the USA. A good question to ask is “Are we as Christians celebrating it the way the Lord would have us celebrate, or have we compromised with the world?” Have we lost the emphasis on thanksgiving and prayer and shifted it to a gluttonous feast of food, drink and games like those in the world have done? God wants us to enjoy family, friends and feasting, but leaving God out of the day breaks His heart. More and more the media is referring to this holiday as “turkey day” instead of Thanksgiving Day. They also eliminate the object of who we are to offer our thanks. We are just to be “thankful” we are told. Who should our thanks be directed to? The object of our thanks for our many blessings, should be directed to the Lord God. It should not just be a general “thanks.”
The first American Thanksgiving was celebrated less than a year after the Christian Plymouth colonists had settled in the new land of America. The first Thanksgiving Day, set aside for the special purpose of prayer as well as celebration, was decreed by Governor William Bradford in July 30, 1623. There were harvest festivals, or days of thanking God for plentiful crops. During the Revolutionary War, eight special days of thanks were observed for victories and for being saved from dangers. On November 26, 1789, President George Washington issued a general proclamation for a day of thanks. Our national day of thanksgiving was proclaimed by President Lincoln in 1863 with these words, “a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father.”
Today we still celebrate this national and legal holiday, but are we celebrating in the right manner as Christians? Are we forgetting the main purpose of this day is prayer and thanksgiving as we feast and fellowship? The Lord is not opposed to our feasting and our gathering of friends and family to dine, but if our only prayer is to ask God to bless our food are we not forgetting the real meaning of this day? God delights in blessing us as His children. However, do we, as His children delight in blessing Him with our prayers and thanks? Do our celebrations revolve more around the meal and the football game that follows, than around the discussion of the things we should be thankful for? Many are worshipping the idol of ball games on holidays instead of focusing on the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Not that watching games are wrong in themselves, but many have forgotten the Lord and have replaced thanking God, praying and reading the Bible with watching games, drinking and eating. Let us ask God to forgive us and truly celebrate this day in real thanksgiving and prayer.
Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare. Psalm 75:1
O Give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Psalm 107:1
A Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer
THE YEAR OF 1798
“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 implore His protection and favor– and Whereas both 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 signal favors of Almighty God, especially in a form of government for their safety and happiness.
“Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday…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 that was, that is, or that will be–that we may then all unite in rendering Him our sincere and humble thanks…
“And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions…to render our national Government a blessing to the people…to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations…and to bless them with good government, peace and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true knowledge and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of prosperity as He alone knows to be best…”
-President George Washington, 1798
“As the Pilgrims did almost four centuries ago, we gratefully give thanks for the beauty, abundance, and opportunity this great land offers. We also thank God for the blessings of freedom and prosperity; and, with gratitude and humility, we acknowledge the importance of faith in our lives.
Throughout the Thanksgiving holiday, let us renew our commitment to make our country and our world better…This Thanksgiving, we recognize the ties of friendship and respect that bind us together. And we renew our pledge to uphold the timeless principles of freedom, equality, and opportunity that have made our country into a great Nation. By working together, we will continue to build mutual trust, peace, and hope for all across this land and around the world.”
-President George W. Bush, with troops before sharing Thanksgiving dinner at Fort Campbell, KY, in November of 2001
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Topic: What the Bible Says about Thanksgiving Holiday
Related Topics: What the Bible Says about Praising God in All Circumstances; Prayer; Gluttony; Drinking Alcohol; Christmas