Summary: What is Thanksgiving all about? What role did God play in the founding of our nation? Discover with me the amazing way God was personally involved in the early days of our nation.
What is Thanksgiving?
Introduction: The Bible tells us that God takes personal interest in the rising and falling of nations and kings. In fact He sets up and tears down nations according to His Divine will. He most often shows Himself strong in behalf of His people when they have reached the point just beyond the realm of human possibility.
Text: Psalm 100
I. Biblical Examples
A. Under God’s leadership, the Israelites marched around Jericho and the walls fell down.
B. Elisha had been captured by the Syrian army. The next morning his servant asked him why he was so calm. He prayed that God would open the eyes of the servant. The servant looked and the hillsides were full of multitudes of Heavenly horsemen and chariots of fire who had come to protect him.
C. Gideon’s army of 300 men miraculously defeated the Midianite army because God confused the Midianites and they destroyed themselves.
II. Examples in the founding of our nation.
A. In 1492 the ships of Christopher Columbus were headed for the Carolinas. If he had landed there, the U.S. would have been claimed by Spain and we would have the language and religious culture of Latin America here. God desired America to be a Christian nation. Columbus and his men thought they saw land toward the south, thus turning their ships in that direction. They soon realized that it was a cloud they saw. This turn headed them toward Florida. After a few days a flock of bird flew overhead directing them further south to find where they were headed. Thus they landed in San Salvador.
B. In 1588 (thirty-two years before the arrival of the Pilgrims) Spain attempted to conquer England and force them to fall under the authority of the Roman Catholic church. This “invincible” Spanish Armada was determined to destroy and crush England once and for all. A storm destroyed a great number of their warships. In this weakened condition they ended up fleeing from the British toward Scotland where the Spanish Armada was completely destroyed by storms. God was preserving Britain from which would come the Pilgrims to establish a Christian nation.
C. In 1606, fourteen years before the arrival of the Pilgrims, Led by Pierre DeMonts, the French made three attempts to settle in the New World. The first two attempts were stopped by strong winds that drove them away from the coast. In the third attempt the storms were so violent, the ships were destroyed and DeMonts was killed.
D. In 1746, many years after the Pilgrims had established the thirteen colonies, the French planned to take over the colonies. Rev. Mr. Prince of the Old South Church in Boston received word of the plan. He stood up before his congregation in Boston and called for a day of fasting and prayer. While they were praying the shutters of the old church began to shake as a violent gale wind began to blow. The entire fleet of French ships were destroyed by the storm. Once again God was working to preserve a Christian nation.
III. Who were the Pilgrims?
America began as a church relocation project.
The Pilgrims were a group of Puritans and Separatist who were victims of religious discrimination in England. Because they believed that the teachings of the Church of England were not true to the Bible, the Puritans wanted to “purify” the church. The Separatist wanted to separate themselves and start their own churches. In either case they were persecuted because of their faith. After spending some time in refuge in Holland they decided it was time to try living in the New World. Thus they set sail for America in 1620. Many such voyages had ended in disaster and death for other voyagers. God protected the Pilgrims and all of them survived the journey. The only death on the ship was a crew member that hated the Pilgrims.
God had already prepared the place for them to land. The area around Plymouth had been plagued about three years previous to their arrival and the hostile Indian tribes in the area had nearly all died. The Pilgrims found land empty and tilled waiting to be planted. One Indian who had survived the plague knew English and was glad to show the Indians how to plant corn for food. His name was Squanto. The winter was harsh and many Pilgrims did not survive, but it was this corn that kept them all from starving.
In the spring they planted a new crop of corn. By mid-summer a drought was damaging the corn which was to be their main source of food for winter. They called for a day of fasting and prayer and God sent a life-giving rain to save the corn. This same corn was harvested in the fall and used for food in the first Thanksgiving celebration when the Pilgrims gave thanks to God for His Providence and protection upon them.