Scripture records many instances of those in authority over people and nations issuing proclamations for the giving of thanks to God. King David wrote … “A psalm for giving thanks. Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 100 NIV). Known as Old One Hundred in early hymnals, it appears in Christian hymnals today as the Doxology.
During the time of the Babylonian captivity, God demonstrated His power through the lives of Daniel, Shadrack, Meshach and Abednigo. So powerful was their witness for the God of Israel, that Nebuchanezzar , King of Babylon, became a believer in the pre-incarnate Christ, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and issued the following proclamation: “King Nebuchadnezzar, To the peoples, nations and men of every language, who live in all the world: May you prosper greatly! It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me. How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation” (Dan 4:1-3 NIV).
Nearly seventy years later, at the close of the seventy years of Babylonian captivity, Nehemiah issued a proclamation of thanksgiving …“At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres” (Neh 12:27-28 NIV). These Biblical accounts no doubt were the precedent for the founding fathers of these United States to set aside a day of celebration in Thanksgiving to God for His provision and protection. The nation had come through a war of independence that defied military odds. The victory at the cost of the lives of men and women patriots would ensure the freedom ordained by God to worship, to prosper, and to experience the blessings of heaven as the people honored the Divine institutions of volition, marriage, family and nationalism.
While acknowledgment of Divine providential care was in view for a national day of Thanksgiving, there also was remembrance of individuals who had paid the supreme price for victory or those who survived but were suffering the disabling wounds of battle. Ever conscious in the thinking of those who endured all to create a nation where freedom would abound was the respect for the Word of God. Though all of the citizenry were not believers in Jesus Christ as their Savior, there was great respect for Person and Work of Christ on the Cross.
Thankfully, that respect still exists in this country in spite of many attempts to discredit the Word of God and remove it from the public arena. How sad it is to reflect on the opposition by some to acknowledge the Divine source of all our blessings. In this nation, Christianity enjoys a high degree of acceptance and this has led to complacency in expressing thanks for life, liberty, protection, and provision. In other parts of the world, Christians are being persecuted, their homes burned, their churches destroyed and even their lives taken. We would do well to join the Apostle Paul in praying for the “Persecuted Church,” though unknown to many of us, but yet, our brothers and sisters in Christ. “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now” (Phil 1:3-5 NASB).