The First Thanksgiving, painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863–1930)
Today is the American holiday called Thanksgiving. Unlike most holidays observed in the USA, this one is not of pagan origin. Hence, the vast majority in the Church of God (COG) consider it an “optional” (not biblically-required) holiday, and most in the USA COGs seem to observe it.
According to Wikipedia:
In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October. It is the only other country outside of the United States that officially observes the day as a holiday.
Jesus Himself seemed to observe a national Jewish, as opposed to a biblical, holiday called the Feast of the Dedication in the New Testament as He went to the Temple during it (John 10:22-23).
As Americans know, the history related to the USA Thanksgiving involves a group of people commonly known as the Pilgrims.
They were a dissenting religious group considered to be outside of mainstream “Christianity”. The Pilgrims felt that the only way freely to practice their religion was to physically separate themselves from the Church of England that had persecuted them. First to flee persecution, these “Separatists,” moved to the English Midlands. Then they went to Amsterdam in 1607. In 1609, they moved to the more religiously tolerant Netherlands. But they decided that this would not do. Finally, they began their voyage to America in 1620. It took months to cross the sea and they lost many during that voyage as well as after coming to America.. In spite of all their sufferings and the death of half of their company, in October 1621, the Pilgrims celebrated their first harvest. In 1863, US President Lincoln made a proclamation that ultimately led to Thanksgiving becoming a US holiday.
One song that comes to mind to me at this time (and is in the old WCG hymnal, as well as LCG’s hymnal with the title Oh Give Thanks and Praise the Eternal!) is based 1 Chronicles 16:8-13 upon which says:
8 Oh, give thanks to the LORD!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
9 Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
10 Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD!
11 Seek the LORD and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
12 Remember His marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,
13 O seed of Israel His servant,
You children of Jacob, His chosen ones!
Those of us who understand God’s plan of salvation, should be thankful for being part of those chosen in this age. This is consistent with the following admonition from the Book of Psalms and one from Saint Paul:
4 Sing praise to the LORD, You saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name (Psalm 30:4).
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Anyway, the Bible is full of admonitions to give thanks to God. in the NKJV the term “give thanks” is used 40 times and the term “giving thanks” is used 5 times–and nearly all of these verses are discussing giving thanks to God. The term “thanksgiving” is used 24 times. Here are a few of them:
14 Offer to God thanksgiving (Psalms 50:14).
30 I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving. (Psalms 69:30)
2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. 3 For the Lord is the great God, And the great King above all gods. (Psalms 95:2-3)
4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5 For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations. (Psalms 100:4-5)
Here is what LCG’s D. Winnail wrote about Thanksgiving yesterday:
A Time To Be Thankful: While the American Thanksgiving is a tradition that dates back to the founding of the American colonies, taking time to be thankful to God is not limited to Americans. David wrote in Psalm 95:2 that we should come before God in a spirit of thanksgiving. The Apostle Paul urges Christians, “in everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). James informs us that God is the giver of every good gift (James 1:17). It is certainly appropriate to take time periodically to thank God for our calling, for the opportunity to understand the purpose of life and God’s way of life, for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and for the opportunity for salvation that has been given to us by a just and loving Father and Creator. We can rejoice in the understanding of God’s great plan that peace will eventually come to this world, that the beauty of this earth will be restored and that all who have ever lived will have the opportunity to become part of God’s family. We can also rejoice in the truth that has set us free from the deception that has been fostered on the peoples of this world (John 8:32; Revelation 12:9). When you reflect on these things—it is a lot to be thankful for!
And I agree. Despite the fact that we and the peoples of the world will punished for our sins, God does have a plan to bring peace and prosperity (see the article Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism and a 6000 Year Plan?) and will offer salvation to all (please see the article Universal Salvation? There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis).
Give thanks and praise the Eternal!