Thanksgiving

thanksgiving

2Co 9:11  Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.

Rev 7:11  And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,
Rev 7:12  Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

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Thanksgiving is a time of unity when all men of various religions can gather to give thanks to God, despite their differences in understanding (Colossians 3:14-17).

Psa 67:3  Let the peoples thank You, O God; let all the peoples thank You.
Psa 67:5  Let the peoples give thanks to You, O God; let all the peoples give thanks to You.

Psa 100:1  A Psalm of praise {תודה ‘todah’ – thanksgiving} Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands (כל־הארץ ‘kol ha`aretz’ – “all the earth”).

The Hebrew word for thanksgiving is תודה ‘todah’ which literally means to raise up the hands in praise, confession, and thanksgiving.  The yearly Thanksgiving celebration in the United States is a confession by the Americans that the LORD God is our Lord.

Psa 33:12  Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.
Psa 144:15  Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.

Thanksgiving & His mercy/grace
Psa 136:1  O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Psa 136:2  O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Psa 136:3  O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.

The primary Greek word translated as ‘thanks’ in the Scriptures is εὐχαριστία ‘eucharistia’ which consists of the words εὖ ‘eu’ meaning to be well off and χαρίζομαι ‘charizomai’ to dwell in grace.  χαρίζομαι ‘charizomai’ comes from the root word χάρις ‘charis’ which means grace and mercy.  Thanksgiving is a proclamation by the United States that we live by His grace and mercy.

Another Greek word translated as ‘thanks’ is ἐξομολογέω ‘exomologeō’ which means to confess or give praise to, similar to the Hebrew word תודה ‘todah.’

Rom 14:11  For it has been written, “As I live, says the Lord, that every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue confess to God.” Isa. 45:23
Php 2:10  that at the name of Jesus “every knee should bow,” of heavenly ones, and earthly ones, and ones under the earth,
Php 2:11  and “every tongue should confess” that Jesus Christ is “Lord,” to the glory of God the Father.

Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess.  Amazingly, the Hebrew word for kneel, ברך ‘berekh’ is also translated as ‘give thanks’ (2 Samuel 14:22) as the word literally means to kneel before another and give honor to.  This is the essence of Thanksgiving.

Rom 15:9  and for the nations to glorify God for mercy, even as it has been written, “Because of this I will confess to You in the nations, and I will give praise to Your name.” Psa. 18:49

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In America’s first “official” Thanksgiving, George Washington spoke of this holiday as a time for Americans to unite in prayer and thanksgiving to God.

“Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next 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 the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nationfor the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war –for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
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 enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us – and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.”

Thanksgiving is a time of unity when all men of various religions can gather to give thanks to God, despite their differences in understanding (Colossians 3:14-17).

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Thanksgiving and special meals to unite people

The Greek word for Thanksgiving is εὐχάριστος ‘eucharistos’ from whence comes the term “Eucharist” referring to the Lord’s Supper or Communion.  Communion unites believers into one body.

Col 3:15  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Luk 22:19  And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
Luk 22:20  Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

1Co 10:16  The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
1Co 10:17  For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

2Co 13:14  The grace {χάρις ‘charis’} of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion {κοινωνία ‘koinonia’} of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

χάρις ‘charis’ is commonly translated as grace but also means thanks (Luke 6:32-34; 1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:57; 2 Corinthians 2:14; 8:16; 9:15; Romans 6:17).

The Hebrew counterpart of the word κοινωνία ‘koinonia’ is the word חבר ‘chabar’ which is the word used for the joining together of the Tabernacle.  Communion then is the fellowship that believers have which makes them one.  The connection of communion and a meal comes from the Hebrew word for friend {רעה râ‛âh} which means to feed (as a flock).

The flock of God are His people who are to abound in thanksgiving.

Psa 100:1  A Psalm of Thanksgiving. Shout joyfully to Jehovah, all the land.
Psa 100:2  Worship Jehovah with gladness; come before His face with joyful singing.
Psa 100:3  Know that Jehovah, He is God; He has made us, and not we ourselves, His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Psa 100:4  Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, into His courts with praise; be thankful to Him; bless His name.
Psa 100:5  For Jehovah is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His faithfulness to generation and generation.

To give thanks is also to confess

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יהודה ‘yehudah’ (Jew – Romans 2:29) comes from the Hebrew root ידה ‘yadah’ which means to raise the hands in confession, giving thanks or praise.

1Jn 4:2  By this know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.

Rom 2:28  For he is not a Jew that is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that outwardly in flesh;
Rom 2:29  but he is a Jew that is one inwardly, and circumcision is of heart, in spirit, not in letter; of whom the praise is not from men, but from God.

The Gospel connection
Rom 10:10  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses unto salvation.
Rom 10:11  For the Scripture says, “Everyone believing on Him will not be put to shame.” Isa. 28:16
Rom 10:12  For there is no difference both of Jew and of Greek, for the same Lord of all is rich toward all the ones calling on Him.
Rom 10:13  For everyone, “whoever may call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Joel 2:32
Rom 10:14  How then may they call on One into whom they have not believed? And how may they believe One of whom they have not heard? And how may they hear without preaching?
Rom 10:15  And how may they preach if they are not sent? Even as it has been written, “How beautiful” “the feet of those preaching the gospel of peace, of those preaching the gospel of good things.” Isa. 52:7
Rom 10:16  But not all obeyed the gospel, for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” Isa. 53:1
Rom 10:17  Then faith is of hearing, and hearing through the Word of God.
Isa 40:9  Go up for yourself on the high mountain, one bearing good news to Zion; lift up your voice with strength, one bearing good news to Jerusalem. Lift up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, Behold! Your God!
Isa 40:10  Behold, the Lord Jehovah will come with strength, and His arm rules for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him, and His wage before Him.
Isa 40:11  He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; He shall gather lambs with His arm; and carry them in His bosom; those with young He will lead;

1Jn 4:15  Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

In Greek ‘confession’ comes from the word  means ὁμολογέω ‘homologeō’ which literally means ‘joined to the Word.’  To ‘cleave’ to Him.  One of the Hebrew words for flock is דבר ‘davar’ which also means ‘word’ in Hebrew.  This is speaking of the ordering of the sheep by the Shepherd (Micah 2:12).

The word Hallelujah, which means praise, comes from the word הלל ‘halal’ which is pictographically displayed by a man with two outstretched arms, holding the shepherd’s staff or it could be said the Shepherd with outstretched arms.

As Hallelujah is said to be the only word that man speaks that is the same in every language, it is only appropriate to share that the Shepherd with outstretched arms is what gathers and unifies mankind through the love of the Father.

The Hebrew word הללויה ‘HalleluYah’, which means praise Yah, is a perfect depiction of this concept of lifting the hands in praise. הללויה ‘halleluYah’ comes from the following root word:

The word Hallelujah is used 27 times (23 times in the TaNaKH and 4 times in the New Testament) in the Bible corresponding to the 27 bones in the human hand. The is yet another connection to the meaning of praise being the raising up the hands.

 

thanksgiving-unity

Thanksgiving traces back to a group of Christians commonly known as Pilgrims.  These Christians were considered to be outside of the mainstream during their time and felt the only way to freely practice their religious beliefs was the physically separate themselves from the Church of England who was persecuting them.  They first fled to the English midlands and then to Amsterdam in 1607 and the Netherlands in 1609.  Finally, they made their voyage to America in 1620.  In spite of all their sufferings to reach America and the death and suffering their first year in America, they were able to celebrate their first harvest in 1621.

The Pilgrims held to the principle that we call today Libertarianism, each man working out his own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13).

This working out of our salvation is a growing process in Christ  that is to lead us to maturity through the working of the Holy Spirit.  This maturation process is intimately linked to the purification and unity of the bride of Messiah.

Php 2:12  So, then, my beloved, even as you always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much rather in my absence, cultivate your salvation with fear and trembling,
Php 2:13  for it is God who is working in you both to will and to work for the sake of His good pleasure.
Php 2:14  Do all things without murmurings and disputings,
Php 2:15  that you may be blameless and harmless, children of God, without fault in the midst of a crooked generation, even having been perverted, among whom you shine as luminaries in the world,
Php 2:16  holding up the Word of Life, for a boast to me in the day of Christ, that I ran not in vain, nor labored in vain.

Thanksgiving brings to recollection the first Americans who came to America in the name of the Lord, bringing Liberty.

2Co 3:17  Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

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“In the name of God amen … having undertaken for the glory of God, and [the] advancement of the Christian faith….” – The Mayflower Compact

“In that region (Scrooby) the idea of ‘reformation without tarrying for any’ was beginning to take effect.  Men were beginning to learn that there might be individual and personal reformation, voluntary conformity to the rules and principles given in the New Testament, without waiting for a reformation of the National Church by the national government…’by the travail and diligence of some godly and zealous preachers, as in other places of the land, so in the north parts, many became enlightened by the word of God, and had their ignorance and sins discovered by the word of God’s grace, and began to reform their lives and make conscience of their ways.’  In other words, they began to be conscientious in all things, and were earnest to know the will of God that they might obey it.  This was nothing else than private judgment in religion – the practical recognition of individual responsibility to God – the first stage of ‘reformation without tarrying for any’.  Individuals, one by one, were beginning to reform themselves under the guidance of the Scriptures.”  {The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States of America – Verna Hall pg 24  REFORM WITHOUT TARRYING FOR ANY}

“The Pilgrim wanted liberty for  himself and his wife and little ones, and for his brethren, to walk with God in a Christian life as the rules and motives of such a life were revealed to him from God’s Word.” {Pilgrim Republic – John Goodwin}

“And so it was that out of rare public virtue grew our great republican government…It was said to a people trained under Christian influences, who habitually looked upward in every form of supplication, that the spirit which actuated the United Colonies ‘was as much from God as the descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, and was introductory to something great and good to mankind.’” {Richard Frothingham – The Rise of the Republic}

From the Great Law, first Legislative Act in the Colony
“Whereas the glory of the Almighty God and the good of mankind is the reason and end of government, and therefore government itself is a venerable ordinance of God, and forasmuch as it is principally devised and intended by the Proprietary and Governor and freemen of Pennsylvania and territories thereunto belonging, to make and establish such laws as shall best preserve truth Christian and civil liberty, in opposition to all unchristian, licentious, and unjust practices, whereby God may have his due, Caesar his due, and the people their due…” {The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States of America – Verna M. Hall pg 262A}

Daniel Webster ‘A Discourse delivered at Plymouth 12/22/1820

“…a government and a country were to commence, with the very first foundations laid under the divine light of the Christian religion…Lastly, our ancestors established their system of government on morality and religious sentiment…Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens..”

Thanksgiving remembers the foundations of America which are based upon faith in the Lord and proclaiming Him as King.

“As Men was have God for our King, and are under the Law of Reason: as Christians, we have Jesus the Messiah for our King, and are under the Law reveal’d by him in the Gospel.” {John Locke, ‘The Reasonableness of Christianity’}

“…The right of freedom being the gift of God Almighty…’The Rights of the Colonists as Christians’…may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institues of the great Law Giver…which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament” {Samuel Adams – Rights of the Colonists}

10/3/1789 Washington proclaims the 1st national Thanksgiving Day on November 26th.

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 to implore His protection and favour; 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 PUBLICK THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”
NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, 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 the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;– for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;– for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;– and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
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 enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.
(signed) G. Washington

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10/3/1863 Abraham Lincoln designates last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day

“No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things [ending of the civil war].  They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.  It has seemed to me fit and proper that they (gifts of God) should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.” {10/3/1863}

Interestingly, Thanksgiving was proclaimed as a national holiday after the north and south came back together as one nation.  The Scriptures speak of the northern tribes and the southern tribes of Israel coming back together as a time of Thanksgiving as well.

Jer 30:18  So says Jehovah, Behold I will turn the captivity of Jacob’s tents and will have mercy on his dwelling places. And the city shall be built on her ruin heap; and the fortress shall remain on its own ordinance.
Jer 30:19  And out of them shall come thanksgiving and the voice of those who are merry. And I will multiply them, and they shall not be few. I also will honor them, and they shall not be small.

Isa 51:3  For Jehovah comforts Zion. He comforts all her desolations, and He makes her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of Jehovah; joy and gladness shall be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of singing praise

The first Americans believed they were Israelites who were being led to a new promised land by the hand of Providence.  They believed they were fulfilling Scripture.

Deu 29:24  Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger?
Deu 29:25  Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt:
Deu 29:26  For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them:
Deu 29:27  And the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book:
Deu 29:28  And the LORD rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.

The phrase “another land” in Deuteronomy 29:28 is translated from the Hebrew words ארץ אחרת ‘eretz acharet’ which can be roughly translated as “New World,” the term applied to America during the 1600s.

After God’s proclamation to Moses, He spoke to David of Israel being placed in a safe land where the wicked would no longer oppress them.  Ultimately, this is a prophecy of the Kingdom of Christ but a partial fulfillment may be America.

2Sa 7:10  Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime,

“Was it just by coincidence or was it by the providence of God that in 1630 a young Puritan minister by the name of John Cotton chose 2 Samuel 7: 10 as his text for a farewell message to a boatload of fellow Puritans departing for America.”  {Pastor John Cotton in a sermon to sermon to fellow Puritans departing for America in 1630}

In the Apocryphal book of 2nd Esdras there is an amazing prophecy of the ten tribes of Israel traveling to a place where mankind never dwelt.  This can be applied to the Christians that left Europe to travel to the New World.
There is much historical evidence that a large portion of the 10 tribes of Israel migrated to Europe and later accepted the Gospel.  It is these ‘lost tribes’ that purposed to go to a land where the civilized world had not known to follow the Word of God that they didn’t keep while in the Land of Israel.

2 Esdras 13:34 And an innumerable multitude shall be gathered together, as thou sawest them, willing to come, and to overcome him by fighting.
35 But he shall stand upon the top of the mount Sion.
36 And Sion shall come, and shall be shewed to all men, being prepared and builded, like as thou sawest the hill graven without hands.
37 And this my Son shall rebuke the wicked inventions of those nations, which for their wicked life are fallen into the tempest;
38 And shall lay before them their evil thoughts, and the torments wherewith they shall begin to be tormented, which are like unto a flame: and he shall destroy them without labour by the law which is like unto me.
39 And whereas thou sawest that he gathered another peaceable multitude unto him;
40 Those are the ten tribes, which were carried away prisoners out of their own land in the time of Osea the king, whom Salmanasar the king of Assyria led away captive, and he carried them over the waters, and so came they into another land.
41 But they took this counsel among themselves, that they would leave the multitude of the heathen, and go forth into a further country, where never mankind dwelt,
42 That they might there keep their statutes, which they never kept in their own land.

In Magnalia Christi Americana; or, The Ecclesiastical History of New England, Pastor Cotton Mather, writing of the dangers facing the Puritans seeking asylum beyond the seas, pictured America as a desolate wilderness:

“… the God of Heaven served as it were a summons upon the spirits of his people in the English nation; stirring up the spirits of thousands which never saw the faces of each other, with a most unanimous inclination to leave all the pleasant accommodations of their native country, and go over a terrible ocean, into a more terrible desert, for the pure enjoyment of all his ordinances.”  {Pastor Cotton Mather – Magnalia Christi Americana: or, The Ecclesiastical History of New-England vol. 1, p. 69}

“Being happily arrived at New-England, our new planters found the difficulties of a rough and hard wilderness presently assaulting them…” {Pastor Cotton Mather – Magnalia Christi Americana: or, The Ecclesiastical History of New-England vol. 1, p. 77}

These Christians and their descendants believed they were the “vine in the wilderness” spoken of by the Prophet Isaiah, and referred to by Christ Jesus.

Isa 5:1  Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:
Isa 5:2  And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.
Isa 5:3  And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.
Isa 5:4  What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
Isa 5:5  And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:
Isa 5:6  And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
Isa 5:7  For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.

Mat 21:33  Hear another parable: There was a certain man, a house master, who planted a vineyard and placed a hedge around it; and he dug a winepress in it, and built a tower. And he rented it to vinedressers and left the country. Isa. 5:1, 2
Mat 21:34  And when the season of the fruits came, he sent his slaves to the vinedressers to receive his fruits.
Mat 21:35  And the vinedressers, taking his slaves, they beat this one, and they killed one, and they stoned another.
Mat 21:36  Again he sent other slaves, more than the first. And they did the same to them.
Mat 21:37  And at last he sent his son to them, saying, They will respect my son.
Mat 21:38  But seeing the son, the vinedressers said among themselves, This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and possess his inheritance.
Mat 21:39  And taking him, they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
Mat 21:40  Therefore, when the lord of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?
Mat 21:41  They said to Him, Bad men! He will miserably destroy them, and he will rent out the vineyard to other vinedressers who will give to him the fruits in their seasons.
Mat 21:42  Jesus said to them, Did you never read in the Scriptures, “A Stone which the builders rejected, this One became the Head of the Corner? This was from the Lord, and it is a wonder in our eyes?”
Psalm 118:22, 23
Mat 21:43  Because of this I say to you, The kingdom of God will be taken from you, and it will be given to a nation producing the fruits of it.

In his book New England’s Memorial, Nathaniel Morton demonstrated how America’s early  settlers fulfilled this passage from Isaiah:

“That especially the seed of Abraham his servant, and the children of Jacob his chosen, may remember his marvelous works (Psal. 105.5-6.) in the beginning and progress of the planting of New England, his wonders, and the judgements of his mouth; how that God brought a vine into this wilderness; that he cast out the heathen and planted it; and he also made room for it, and he caused it to take deep root, and it filled the land; so that it hath sent forth its boughs to the sea, and its branches to the river. (Psal. 80.8-9.) And not only so, but also that He hath guided his people by his strength to his holy habitation, and planted them in the mountain of his inheritance, (Exod. 15.13.) in respect of precious gospel-enjoyments. So that we may not only look back to former experiences of God’s goodness to our predecessors, (though many years before) and so have our faith strengthened in the mercies of God for our times….”  {Nathaniel Morton – New England’s Memorial pg 13-14}

The following excerpts from Pastor Ezra Stiles’ sermon capture the vision which many of America’s great churchmen had for this planting of God’s vine in the wilderness:

“…I have assumed the text only as introductory to a discourse upon the political welfare of God’s American Israel, and as allusively prophetic of the future prosperity and splendor of the United States.”

“Already does the new constellation of the United States begin to realize this glory. It has already risen to an acknowledged sovereignty among the republics and kingdoms of the world. And we have reason to hope, and, I believe, to expect, that God has still greater blessings in store for this vine which his own right hand hath planted, to make us high among the nations in praise, and in name, and in honor. The reasons are very numerous, weighty, and conclusive.” 

“Our degree of population is such as to give us reason to expect that this will become a great people…. This will be a great, a very great nation…. Should this prove a future fact, how applicable would be the text, when the Lord shall have made his American Israel high above all nations which he has made, in numbers, and in praise, and in name, and in honor!” {Pastor Ezra Stiles – “The United States Elevated to Glory and Honor,” election sermon on May 8, 1783}

Pastor W. B. Record further displays this America-Israel imagery.
LOOKING WESTWARD…

Standing on the western shores of Europe 500 years ago, you could not see nor visualize a great continent that lay to the west; only what seemed to be an endless stretch of the Atlantic Ocean. Yet there was a great continent out there to the west.

Now may I ask you, “Did Jesus Christ know of this North American Continent?” Your only answer could be, “Yes, of course He did.”

Let me ask another question, “Did Jesus Christ know that a great nation would be established here?” Of course He did!

Still another question, please -“Did Jesus Christ know this great nation (yet to be born) would be Christian from its beginning?” Of course He knew that, for He Himself is the source and Author of the faith we call “Christian.”

Now one more question, “Is it possible that this great nation, known to Jesus, was never mentioned, indicated, or foretold in the Bible?”

Consider this, “I will make of thee a great nation” (Gen. 12:2). “The kingdom of God shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matt. 21:43). Where is this great nation, which is bringing forth the fruits of the kingdom of God? The answer is quite obvious: you are living in it. See to it that you make your calling and election sure.” {Pastor W.B. Record, Truth & Liberty Magazine, September 1964}

thankgiving-turkey

הודו ‘Hodu’ – Thanksgiving Turkey

“In excavations near Salem, Massachusetts, an old Hebrew manuscript was found that sheds some light on why one eats turkey on Thanksgiving. This manuscript was titled Haggada Shel Hodaya, literally “Telling of Thanksgiving”), reminiscent of the book used during the Passover Seder titled Haggada Shel Pesach, literally “Telling of Passover.” It prescribes that someone at the table ask why turkey is eaten at the festive meal, it gives the story of thanksgiving that is familiar to every child in the U.S. today, and then suggests eating a festive meal containing at least turkey.”

“It is clearly not surprising that a manuscript dealing with the origins of Thanksgiving was found near Salem, Massachusetts. However, it may be surprising that a Hebrew manuscript was found near Salem, Massachusetts. It should not be; the influence of the old testament, written in Hebrew, on the pilgrims and their descendants in Massachusetts is well known….The Massachusetts cities of Salem, Rehoboth, and Hebronville are clearly named after the ancient Israeli cities of Jerusalem, Rehobot, and Hebron. That Salem is named after Jerusalem is clear when you consider that Jerusalem’s original name in Genesis XIV:18 is Salem.

Moreover, Benjamin Franklin once proposed that Hebrew be the national language of the nascent U.S.A. After all, why keep English if the U.S.A. is breaking away from England? Franklin felt that every educated person should be able to read the Old Testament of the Bible in the original language. Moreover, Hebrew was a required course at Harvard and Yale. It went so far that Hebrew is in the seal of Yale, Urim v’Tumim.

By the way, Franklin once proposed that the national bird of the U.S.A. be the turkey instead of the bald eagle. He argued that the turkey was more honest, more honorable, more diligent, and smarter than the bald eagle. As with the national language issue, he was not able to prevail.”
Analysis of the manuscript showed that the pilgrims evidently knew that the Hebrew word hodu means both: thank (plural imperative) and India. The other name for turkey in those days was Indian chicken because Columbus thought he was in India when he saw turkeys for the first time! Indeed, in modern Hebrew, the phrase for turkey is precisely tarngol hodu (literally “Indian fowl or chicken”), and this is often shortened to simply hodu, especially in contexts in which it is known that one is speaking about a fowl to be eaten. What better way to have the holiday dinner remind people to give thanks!”
{Why North American Folk Eat Turkey on Thanksgiving – Daniel M Berry}

Following is the quote from the “Haggada Shel Hodaya”:

“On the holiday of Thanksgiving, give thanks that you are not the turkey that is before you.”  In the Hebrew there is a play on the word הודו ‘hodu’ that means both thanksgiving and turkey.

 

“The Haggada also specifies a number of thanksgiving prayers after the meal and ends with a single sentence that is reminiscent of the last sentence that is said after the Passover meal, which is aimed mainly at Jews in the diaspora, L’shana habaa b’irushalayim (literally “Next year in Jerusalem”). The last sentence of the Haggada Shel Hodaya is l’shana habaa b’shalem (literally “Next year in Salem”).”  {Why North American Folk Eat Turkey on Thanksgiving – Daniel M Berry}

God’s American Israel

gods-american-israel

Excerpts from Marvin Wilson’s book,  Our Father Abraham
explains (pp. 127-128):

The Puritans came to America deeply rooted in the Hebraic tradition. Most bore Hebrew names. The Pilgrim fathers considered themselves as the children of Israel fleeing “Egypt” (England), crossing the “Red Sea” (the Atlantic Ocean), and emerging from this “Exodus” to their own “promised land” (New England). The Pilgrims thought of themselves as “all the children of Abraham” and, thus, under the covenant of Abraham. (Feingold p. 46.)

The President of Yale College used these words before the Governor and General Assembly of the state of Connecticut in 1783: “Their influence on American society was not soon forgotten: more than a century and a half after the first Puritan settlers reached New England, the American people were referred to in a State Assembly as ‘God’s American Israel.’” (Feldman p. 5)

The seeds of religious liberty for the American Church did not come from New England leaders such as Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson-as noble as they and others were. Rather, it came from the Hebrews themselves, whose sacred writings inspired the Puritans. Accordingly, many of the Puritans in seventeenth-century England were learned Hebraists. William Bradford (1590-1657), prominent early American and Governor of Plymouth Colony for more than three decades, maintained an intense interest in Hebrew. Bradford stated that he studied Hebrew so that when he died he might be able to speak in the “most ancient language, the Holy Tongue in which God and, the angels, spake.” Cotton Mather (1663-1728), a well-known Puritan minister and scholar from Massachusetts, had a similar deep respect for the Hebrew language. Concerning its importance, Mather once observed, “I promise that those who
spend as much time morning and evening in Hebrew studies as they do in smoking tobacco, would quickly make excellent progress in the language.” (Rosovsky)

So popular was the Hebrew Language in the late 16th and early 17th centuries that several students at Yale delivered their commencement orations in Hebrew. Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Brown, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Pennsylvania taught courses in Hebrew—all the more remarkable because no university in England at the time offered it.

Many of the population, including a significant number of the Founding Fathers of America, were products of these American universities—for example, Thomas Jefferson attended William and Mary, James Madison Princeton, Alexander Hamilton King’s College (i.e. Columbia). Thus, we can be sure that a majority of these political leaders were not only well acquainted with the contents of both the New and Old Testaments but also had some working knowledge of Hebrew. Notes Abraham Katsh in The Biblical Heritage of American Democracy (p. 70):

At the time of the American Revolution, the interest in the knowledge of Hebrew was so widespread as to allow the circulation of the story that “certain members of Congress proposed that the use of English be formally prohibited in the United States, and Hebrew substituted for it.

Many of the earliest “pilgrims” who settled the “New England” of America in early 17th century were Puritan refugees escaping religious persecutions in Europe.

Over the next century, America continued to be not only the land of opportunity for many people seeking a better life but also the land of religious tolerance. By the middle 1700’s, the east coast of America was settled by a virtual “Who’s Who” of Christian splinter sects from all over Europe. Among them were:

* the Puritans, whom we already know so well
* the Quakers, an extremist Puritan sect who did not believe in ministers and for whom a Society of Friends meeting together was good enough to bring down the Holy Spirit
* Calvinists, who early on had challenged the Catholic belief that the bread and wine became the body and blood of Jesus in the celebration of the mass
* the Huguenots, or French Calvinists
* the Moravians, followers of John Hus, the protestant martyr from Bohemia
* the Mennonites, a Swiss sect of Anabaptists who rejected infant baptism
* the Amish, the most stringent of the Mennonites

These were just some of the numerous groups who arrived in America in search of religious freedom.

The majority of the earliest settlers were, of course, Puritans. Beginning with the Mayflower, over the next twenty years, 16,000 Puritans migrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and many more settled in Connecticut and Rhode Island. Like their cousins back in England, these American Puritans strongly identified with both the historical traditions and customs of the ancient Hebrews of the Old Testament. They viewed their emigration from England as a virtual re-enactment of the Jewish exodus from Egypt. To them, England was Egypt, the king was Pharaoh, the Atlantic Ocean was the Red Sea, America was the Land of Israel, and the Indians were the ancient Canaanites. They were the new Israelites, entering into a new covenant with God in a new Promised Land. Thanksgiving—first celebrated in 1621, a year after the Mayflower landed—was initially conceived as day parallel to the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur; it was to be a day of fasting, introspection and prayer.

After that first harvest was completed by the Plymouth colonists, Gov. William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer, shared by all the colonists and neighboring Indians. In 1623 a day of fasting and prayer during a period of drought was changed to one of thanksgiving because the rain came during the prayers. Gradually the custom prevailed in New England of annually celebrating thanksgiving after the harvest. During the American Revolution a yearly day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress. In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom, and by the middle of the 19th century many other states had done the same. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a day of thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November, which he may have correlated it with the November 21, 1621, anchoring of the Mayflower at Cape Cod.

Other believe that the Pilgrims were celebrating a form of Sukkot

http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday5.htm

Many Americans, upon seeing a decorated sukkah for the first time, remark on how much the sukkah (and the holiday generally) reminds them of Thanksgiving. This may not be entirely coincidental: I was taught that our American pilgrims, who originated the Thanksgiving holiday, borrowed the idea from Sukkot. The pilgrims were deeply religious people. When they were trying to find a way to express their thanks for their survival and for the harvest, they looked to the Bible for an appropriate way of celebrating and found Sukkot. This is not the standard story taught in public schools today (that a Thanksgiving holiday is an English custom that the Pilgrims brought over), but the Sukkot explanation of Thanksgiving fits better with the meticulous research of Mayflower historian Caleb Johnson, who believes that the original Thanksgiving was a harvest festival (as is Sukkot), that it was observed in October (as Sukkot usually is), and that Pilgrims would not have celebrated a holiday that was not in the Bible (but Sukkot is in the Bible). Although Mr. Johnson claims that the first Thanksgiving was “not a religious holiday or observance,” he apparently means this in a Christian sense, because he goes on to say that the first Thanksgiving was instead “a harvest festival that included feasts, sporting events, and other activities,” concepts very much in keeping with the Jewish religious observance of Sukkot.

Gabriel Sivan, in The Bible and Civilization, (p. 236) observes:

“No Christian community in history identified more with the People of the Book than did the early settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who believed their own lives to be a literal reenactment of the Biblical drama of the Hebrew nation. They themselves were the children of Israel; America was their Promised Land; the Atlantic Ocean their Red Sea; the Kings of England were the Egyptian pharaohs; the American Indians the Canaanites; the pact of the Plymouth Rock was God’s holy Covenant; and the ordinances by which they lived were the Divine Law. Like the Huguenots and other Protestant victims of Old World oppression, these émigré Puritans dramatized their own situation as the righteous remnant of the Church corrupted by the “Babylonian woe,” and saw themselves as instruments of Divine Providence, a people chosen to build their new commonwealth on the Covenant entered into at Mount Sinai.”

The earliest legislation of the colonies of New England was all determined by Scripture. At the first assembly of New Haven in 1639, John Davenport clearly stated the primacy of the Bible as the legal and moral foundation of the colony:

Scriptures do hold forth a perfect rule for the direction and government of all men in all duties which they are to perform to God and men as well as in the government of families and commonwealth as in matters of the Church … the Word of God shall be the only rule to be attended unto in organizing the affairs of government in this plantation. (See Abraham I Katsch, The Biblical Heritage of American Democracy, p. 97)

Subsequently, the New Haven legislators adopted a legal code—the Code of 1655—which contained some 79 statutes, half of which contained Biblical references, virtually all from the Hebrew Bible. The Plymouth Colony had a similar law code as did the Massachusetts assembly, which, in 1641—after an exhortation by Reverend John Cotton who presented the legislators with a copy of Moses, His Judicials—adopted the so-called “Capitall Lawes of New England” based almost entirely on Mosaic law.

Ezra Stiles

The following excerpts from Pastor Ezra Stiles’ sermon capture the vision which many of America’s great churchmen had for this planting of God’s vine in the wilderness:

… I have assumed the text only as introductory to a discourse upon the political welfare of God’s American Israel, and as allusively prophetic of the future prosperity and splendor of the United States.
Pastor Ezra Stiles, D.D., “The United States Elevated to Glory and Honor,” election sermon on May 8, 1783, quoted in John Wingate Thornton in The Pulpit of the American Revolution: Political Sermons of the Period of 1776, 1860 ed., reprinted (Boston, MA: Da Capo Press, 1970) p. 403.

Already does the new constellation of the United States begin to realize this glory. It has already risen to an acknowledged sovereignty among the republics and kingdoms of the world. And we have reason to hope, and, I believe, to expect, that God has still greater blessings in store for this vine which his own right hand hath planted, to make us high among the nations in praise, and in name, and in honor. The reasons are very numerous, weighty, and conclusive.  Stiles, pp. 438-439

Our degree of population is such as to give us reason to expect that this will become a great people…. This will be a great, a very great nation…. Should this prove a future fact, how applicable would be the text, when the Lord shall have made his American Israel high above all nations which he has made, in numbers, and in praise, and in name, and in honor!  Stiles pp. 439-440

Any possible ambiguity in Pastor Stiles’ sermon is cleared in the following declaration by Pastor W. B. Record:
LOOKING WESTWARD…

Standing on the western shores of Europe 500 years ago, you could not see nor visualize a great continent that lay to the west; only what seemed to be an endless stretch of the Atlantic Ocean. Yet there was a great continent out there to the west.

Now may I ask you, “Did Jesus Christ know of this North American Continent?” Your only answer could be, “Yes, of course He did.”

Let me ask another question, “Did Jesus Christ know that a great nation would be established here?” Of course He did!

Still another question, please -“Did Jesus Christ know this great nation (yet to be born) would be Christian from its beginning?” Of course He knew that, for He Himself is the source and Author of the faith we call “Christian.”

Now one more question, “Is it possible that this great nation, known to Jesus, was never mentioned, indicated, or foretold in the Bible?”

Consider this, “I will make of thee a great nation” (Gen. 12:2). “The kingdom of God shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matt. 21:43). Where is this great nation, which is bringing forth the fruits of the kingdom of God? The answer is quite obvious: you are living in it. See to it that you make your calling and election sure. Pastor W.B. Record, Truth & Liberty Magazine, September 1964

In The Beginnings of New England, American historian and philosopher John Fiske wrote:

The men who undertook this work were not at all free from self consciousness. They believed that they were doing a wonderful thing. They felt themselves to be instruments in accomplishing a kind of “manifest destiny.” Their exodus was that of a chosen people who were at length to lay the everlasting foundations of God’s kingdom upon earth. Such opinions … took a strong colour from their assiduous study of the Old Testament…. In every propitious event they saw a special providence, an act of divine intervention…. This steadfast faith in an unseen ruler and guide was to them a “pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night.  John Fiske (Edmund Fisk Green), The Beginnings of New England (Cambridge, MA: H.O. Houghton, Mifflin and Company, The Liberty Press, 1889) vol. 1, p. 308

Samuel Eliot Morison commented on Pastor Cotton’s vision of this New Canaan land:

[Pastor John] Cotton’s sermon was of a nature to inspire these new children of Israel with the belief that they were the Lord’s chosen people; destined, if they kept the covenant with Him, to people and fructify this new Canaan in the western wilderness.  Samuel Eliot Morison, Colonial America (1887) p. 25.

John Cotton

Pastor John Cotton, D.D., sermon to fellow Puritans departing for America in 1630, God’s Promise to His Plantation (London, UK: William Jones, 1630) pp. 13-14.

Was it just by coincidence or was it by the providence of God that in 1630 a young Puritan minister by the name of John Cotton chose 2 Samuel 7: 10 as his text for a farewell message to a boatload of fellow Puritans departing for America

2Sa 7:10 Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime,

In his book New England’s Memorial, Nathaniel Morton demonstrated how perfectly America’s early  settlers fulfilled this passage from Isaiah:

That especially the seed of Abraham his servant, and the children of Jacob his chosen, may remember his marvelous works (Psal. 105.5-6.) in the beginning and progress of the planting of New England, his wonders, and the judgements of his mouth; how that God brought a vine into this wilderness; that he cast out the heathen and planted it; and he also made room for it, and he caused it to take deep root, and it filled the land; so that it hath sent forth its boughs to the sea, and its branches to the river. (Psal. 80.8-9.) And not only so, but also that He hath guided his people by his strength to his holy habitation, and planted them in the mountain of his inheritance, (Exod. 15.13.) in respect of precious gospel-enjoyments. So that we may not only look back to former experiences of God’s goodness to our predecessors, (though many years before) and so have our faith strengthened in the mercies of God for our times….  Nathaniel Morton, New England’s Memorial (Cambridge, MA: S.G. and M.J. for John Usher, 1669), reproduced with extracts from other writers (Boston, MA: Congregational Board of Publication, 1854) pp. 13-14.

Cotton Mather

In Magnalia Christi Americana; or, The Ecclesiastical History of New England, Pastor Cotton Mather, writing of the dangers facing the Puritans seeking asylum beyond the seas, pictured America as a desolate wilderness:

… the God of Heaven served as it were a summons upon the spirits of his people in the English nation; stirring up the spirits of thousands which never saw the faces of each other, with a most unanimous inclination to leave all the pleasant accommodations of their native country, and go over a terrible ocean, into a more terrible desert, for the pure enjoyment of all his ordinances.
Pastor Cotton Mather, D.D., Magnalia Christi Americana: or, The Ecclesiastical History of New-England, 1702 and subsequent editions reprint. (New York, NY: Russell & Russell, 1967) vol. 1, p. 69.

Being happily arrived at New-England, our new planters found the difficulties of a rough and hard wilderness presently assaulting them… Mather, vol. 1, p. 77.

Never was any plantation brought unto such a considerableness, in a space of time so inconsiderable! … an howling wilderness in a few years became a pleasant land, accommodated with the necessaries, yea, and the conveniences of humane life Mather, vol. 1, p. 80

In his foreword “An Attestation to this Church-History of New England” in the above mentioned book, John Higginson also depicted America as an empty wilderness:

It hath been deservedly esteemed one of the great and wonderful Works of God in this last age, that the Lord stirred up the spirits of so many thousands of his [Celto-Saxon] servants, to leave the pleasant land of England, the land of their nativity, and to transport themselves, and families, over the ocean sea, into a desert land in America, at the distance of a thousand leagues from their own country; and this, merely on the account of pure and undefiled Religion [Christianity], not knowing how they should have their daily bread, but trusting in God for that, in the way of seeking first the kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof: And that the Lord was pleased to grant such a gracious presence of his with them, and such a blessing upon their undertakings, that within a few years a wilderness was subdued before them, and so many Colonies planted, Towns erected, and Churches settled, wherein the true and living God in Christ Jesus, is worshipped and served, in a place where, time out of mind, had been nothing before but Heathenism, Idolatry, and Devilworship; and that the Lord has added so many of the blessings of Heaven and earth for the comfortable subsistence of his people in these ends of the earth. Surely of this work, and of this time, it shall be said, what hath God wrought? And, this is the Lord’s doings, it is marvellous in our eyes! Even so (O Lord) didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name!

John Higginson, “An Attestation to This Church-History of New-England,” foreword to Pastor Cotton Mather, D.D., Magnalia Christi Americana: or, The Ecclesiastical History of New-England, 1702 and subsequent editions reprint. (New York, NY: Russell & Russell, 1967) vol. 1, p. 13.

Pastor William Gordon was another voice of the early American church. He not only preached concerning what this land had been, but he also preached what it was becoming in light of Isaiah 35:1-2:

They came from a well-cultured kingdom to a savage people and a wild country, enough to discourage the stoutest. However, they ventured to take up their abode in it…. The face of the colony is not less changed for the better since first settled than what is set forth in the language of Isaiah’s prophecy: “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing; the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it; the excellency of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.  Pastor William Gordon, discourse preached on December 15, 1774, quoted in John Wingate Thornton, The Pulpit of the American Revolution: Political Sermons of the Period of 1776, 1860 ed., reprint. (Boston, MA: Da Capo Press, 1970) p. 210-211.

Pastor Emry contrasted the new promised land with the old promised land:

A look at the United States, and Canada, reveals a different picture. Here we find the only land on the face of this earth that is truly a land of unwalled villages. Our Christian ancestors left castles, walls, and moats in the “old world” when they came to the “New World,” and our cities are without walls. God who knows the end from the beginning, can be expected to be accurate in His word.
Emry, p. 10.

[Pastor] John Norton, in the Election Sermon of 1661, said that they came “into this wilderness to live under the order of the gospel”; “that our polity [government] may be a gospel polity, and may be compleat according to the Scriptures, answering fully the Word of God: this is the work of our generation, and the very work we engaged for into this wilderness; this is the scope and end of it … written upon the forehead of New England … the compleat walking in the faith of the gospel, according to the order of the gospel.”

The venerable [John] Higginson, of Salem, in his Election Sermon of 1663, stated the point with great fulness, as follows: “It concerneth New England always to remember that they are originally a plantation religious, not a plantation of trade…. Let merchants … remember this:

that worldly gain was not the end and design of the people of New England, but religion….”

In the [Harvard University] Election Sermon of 1677 … Increase Mather uttered these words: “It was love to God and to Jesus Christ which brought our  fathers into this wilderness…. There never was a generation that did so perfectly shake off the dust of Babylon, both as to ecclesiastical and civil constitutions, as the first generation of Christians that came into this land for the gospel’s sake.”

[Pastor] William Hubbard, the historian, in a Fast-day sermon, preached June 24, 1682, declared that the fathers “came not hither for the world, or for land, or for traffic; but for religion, and for liberty of conscience in the worship of God, which was their only design.”

The historical fact was stated by President [Ezra] Stiles, of Yale College, in 1783: “It is certain that civil dominion was but the second motive, religion the primary one, with our ancestors, in coming hither and settling this land. It was not so much their design to establish religion for the benefit of the state, as civil government for the benefit of religion, and as subservient, and even necessary, towards the peaceable enjoyment and unmolested exercise of religion – of that religion for which they fled to these ends of the earth.”  John Wingate Thornton, The Pulpit of the American Revolution: Political Sermons of the Period of 1776, 1860 ed., reprint. (Boston, MA: Da Capo Press, 1970) pp. xviii-xix.

I WRITE the WONDERS of the CHRISTIAN RELIGION , flying from the depravations of Europe, to the American Strand; and, assisted by the Holy Author of that Religion, I do with all conscience of Truth, required therein by Him, who is the Truth itself, report the wonderful displays of His infinite Power, Wisdom, Goodness, and Faithfulness, wherewith His Divine Providence hath irradiated an Indian Wilderness.  Pastor Cotton Mather, D.D., Magnalia Christi Americana: or, The Ecclesiastical History of New-England, 1702, subsequent ed. reprint. (New York, NY: Russell & Russell, 1967), vol. 1, p. 25.

The people in the fleet that arrived at New-England, in the year 1630, left the fleet almost, as the family of Noah did the ark, having a whole world before them to be peopled … but where-ever they sat down, they were so mindful of their errand into the wilderness, that still one of their first works was to gather a church into the covenant and order of the gospel.  Mather, vol. 1, pp. 78-89

In the year 1643, after divers essays made in some former years, the several colonies of New-England became in fact, as well as name, UNITED COLONIES. And an instrument was formed, wherein having declared, “That we all came into these parts of America with the same end and aim -namely, to advance the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, and enjoy the liberties of the gospel with purity and peace….”  Mather, vol. 1, p. 160.

The ministers and Christians by whom New-England was first planted, were a chosen company of men; picked out of, perhaps, all the counties in England, and this by no human contrivance, but by a strange work of God upon the spirits of men that were, no ways, acquainted with one another, inspiring them, as one man, to secede into a wilderness … a reasonable expression once used by that eminent … lieutenant-governor of New-England … “God sifted three nations [England, Scotland,and Ireland], that he might bring choice grain into this wilderness.”

The design of these refugees, thus carried into the [North American] wilderness, was, that they might there “sacrifice unto the Lord their God:” it was, that they might maintain the power of godliness and practice the evangelical worship of our Lord Jesus Christ, in all the parts of it ….Mather, vol. 1, p. 240

In “An Attestation to This Church-History of New-England,” the foreword to Magnalia, Christi Americana, John Higginson wrote:

It hath been deservedly esteemed one of the great and wonderful works of God in this last age, that the Lord stirred up the spirits of so many thousands of his servants, to leave the pleasant land of England, the land of their nativity, and to transport themselves, and families, over the ocean sea, into a desert land in America … and this, merely on the account of pure and undefiled Religion … seeking first the kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof… Surely of this work, and of this time, it shall be said, what hath God wrought? And, this is the Lord’s doings, it is marvellous in our eyes! Even so (O Lord) didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name [Isa. 63:141]  John Higginson, “An Attestation to This Church-History of New-England,” Foreword to Pastor Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana: or, The Ecclesiastical History of New-England, 1702, subsequent ed. reprint. (New York, NY: Russell & Russell, 1967) vol. 1, p. 13.

Daniel Webster

…if God prosper us, we shall here begin a work which shall last for ages; we shall plant here a new society, in the principles of the fullest liberty and the purest religion; we shall subdue this wilderness which is before us; we shall fill this region of the great continent, which stretches almost from pole to pole, with civilization and Christianity; the temples of the true God shall rise, where now ascends the smoke of idolatrous sacrifice ….Daniel Webster, discourse at Plymouth Rock, 2 December 1820, The Works of Daniel Webster (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Company, 1858) vol. 1, p. 10.

Patrick Henry

America’s Christian foundations could not be affirmed any more emphatically than they were by Patrick Henry:

It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Patrick Henry, quoted in David Barton, The Myth of Separation (Aledo, TX: Wallbuilders Press, 1992) p. 117.

David Josiah Brewer

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice David Josiah Brewer provided additional evidence that America began as a Christian nation:

We classify nations in various ways, as, for instance, by their form of government. One is a kingdom, another an empire, and still another a republic. Also by race. Great Britain is an Anglo-Saxon nation, France a Gaelic, Germany a Teutonic, Russia a Slav. And still again by religion. One is a Mohammedan nation, others are heathen, and still others are Christian nations….

This Republic is classified among the Christian nations of the world. It was so formally declared by the Supreme Court of the United States. In the case of HOLY TRINITY CHURCH vs. UNITED STATES, 143 U.S. 471, that Court … added, “these and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation….”

Nathaniel Morton also observed:

In the year 1602, divers godly Christians of our English nation … entered into covenant to walk with God, and one with another, in the enjoyment of the ordinances of God, according to the primitive pattern in the word of God .

1639 – FUNDAMENTAL AGREEMENT OF THE COLONY OF NEW HAVEN [Connecticut]: … We all agree that the scriptures hold forth a perfect rule for the direction and government of all men in duties which they are to perform to God and to man, as well in families and commonwealth as in matters of the church; so likewise in all public officers which concern civil order, as choice of magistrates and officers, making and repealing laws, dividing allotments of inheritance, and all things of like nature, we will, all of us, be ordered by the rules which the scripture holds forth; and we agree that such persons may be entrusted with such matters of government as are described in Exodus 18:21 and Deuteronomy 1: 13 with Deuteronomy 17:15 and I Corinthians 6:1,6 & 7.

1639 – CONNECTICUT HISTORY: In June 1639, however, a more definite statement of political principles was framed, in which it was clearly stated that the rules of Scripture should determine the ordering of the Church, the choice of magistrates, the making and repeal of laws … that only Church members could become free burgesses and officials of the colony … and in 1644 the general court decided that the judicial laws of God as they were declared by Moses should constitute a rule for all courts ….

1776 – DELAWARE CONSTITUTION: … officeholders were required to make and subscribe to the following declaration: “I … do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His Only Son, and the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed forevermore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration. ”

1776 – NORTH CAROLINA CONSTITUTION: … no person who shall deny the being of God or the truth of the Protestant religion, or the divine authority either of the Old or New Testaments, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding any office or place of trust or profit in the civil department within the State.

1777 -VERMONT CONSTITUTION: …required of every member of the house of representatives that he take this oath: “I do believe in one God, the creator and governor of the universe, the rewarder of the good and punisher of the wicked, and I do acknowledge the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be given by divine inspiration, and own and profess the Protestant religion. ”

Alexis de Tocqueville recognized the uniqueness of our beginnings and wrote of the Scriptural, moral and civil code which was the foundation for those early laws of New England:

… in studying the earliest historical and legislative records of New England. They exercised the rights of sovereignty; they named their magistrates, concluded peace or declared war, made police regulations, and enacted laws as if their allegiance was due only to God. Nothing can be more curious and, at the same time more instructive, than the legislation of that period; it is there that the solution of the great social problem which the United States now present[s] to the world is to be found.

Amongst these documents we shall notice, as especially characteristic, the code of laws promulgated by the little State of Connecticut in 1650. The legislators of Connecticut begin with the penal laws, and … they borrow their provisions from the text of Holy Writ. “Whosoever shall worship any other God than the Lord,” says the preamble of the Code, “shall surely be put to death.” This is followed by ten or twelve enactments of the same kind, copied verbatim from the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. Blasphemy, sorcery, adultery, and rape were punished with death ….

The 1879 McGuffey’s Sixth Eclectic Reader clearly illustrated how early America’s Christianity influenced her government:

Their  form of government was as strictly theocratical … insomuch that it would be difficult to say where there was any civil authority among them entirely distinct from ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

Whenever a few of them settled a town, they immediately gathered themselves into a church; and their elders were magistrates, and their code of laws was the Pentateuch]….

God was their King; and they regarded him as truly and literally so ….

James Madison, “the Father of the U.S. Constitution” and our fourth President, understood that the future of our American civilization was (and still is) dependent upon the Laws of God:

We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.

 

Forefathers of the Puritans & Immigrants to America believed they were Israel

Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, England
During his reign from 871 to 899 the Anglo-Saxon king Alfred the Great declared:

Be ye kind to the stranger within thy gates, for ye were strangers in the land of the Egyptians

Scottish Declaration of Independence
In 1320 the Scottish Declaration of Independence was drawn up by King Robert (the Bruce) and twenty-five Scottish nobles in which the Scots are addressed as Israelites. This great document states the following regarding their migrations:

…the Scots … passing from the greater Scythia … and coming thence one thousand two hundred years after the outgoing of the people of Israel … acquired for themselves the possessions in the West…

Adam de Houghton, Bishop of Saint David, Wales
In 1377 Adam de Houghton, the Bishop of Saint David, Wales, delivered a speech before the British Parliament in which he recognized England as Israel:

…you may embrace your noble King … there is through him [King Edward III] that peace over Israel which the Scriptures name – Israel being the heritage of God, and that heritage being also England. For in good truth, I believe that God would never have honoured this country by victories such as had given glory to Israel, had He not intended it for His heritage also.

William Tyndale, English Reformer and Martyr
In 1530 the great English religious reformer, William Tyndale, who translated the New Testament and the Pentateuch into English announced his amazing discovery:

…the properties of the Hebrew tongue agreeth a thousand times more with the English than with the Latin. The manner of speaking is both one; so that in a thousand places thou needest not but to translate it into the English, word for word; when thou must seek a compass in the Latin, and yet shall have much work to translate it well-favouredly, so that it have the same grace and sweetness, sense and pure understanding with it in the Latin, and as it hath in the Hebrew. A thousand parts better may it [the Hebrew tongue] be translated into the English, than into the Latin.

Sir Francis Drake, English Navigator and Admiral
In 1587 Sir Francis Drake, an explorer for Queen Elizabeth I, wrote to the religious writer John Foxe beseeching his prayers:

God may be glorious, His church, our Queen and country preserved, the enemies of truth vanquished, that we may have continued peace in Israel…. Our enemies are many, but our Protector commandeth the whole world….

King James VI of Scotland and I of England

King James VI of Scotland (James I of England) (1566-1625), who commissioned the King James Bible, claimed that the Lord had made him King over Israel; the gold coin of his day, bearing his head was called the “Jacobus” and James had the reverse inscribed in Latin the prophecy of Ezekiel 37:22, “I will make of them one nation.”

Pastor John Cotton, Puritan Clergyman
In 1630, prior to the departure of the ship Abrella for America with Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor John Winthrop and his fellow Puritans aboard, the young Puritan minister John Cotton preached a stirring farewell message taken from 2 Samuel 7:10:

I  will appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed….

Pastor Cotton further exhorted his audience:

Go forth … with a publick spirit … have a tender care … to your children, that they doe not degenerate as the Israelites did….

American historian Samuel Eliot Morison wrote the following concerning Pastor Cotton’s sermon:

Cotton’s sermon was of a nature to inspire these new children of Israel with the belief that they were the Lord’s chosen people; destined, if they kept the covenant with Him, to people and fructify this new Canaan in the western wilderness.

B. Woodbridge concluded his epitaph for Pastor John Cotton with the following words:

Though Moses [referring to Pastor John Cotton] be [dead], yet Joshua is not dead: I mean renowned [Pastor John] Norton; worthy he, Successor to our Moses, is to be. O happy Israel in America. In such a Moses, such a Joshua.

Edward Johnson, English Historian
In 1630 historian Edward Johnson, writing of those early Puritan and Pilgrim settlers, often made reference to them as being Israel:

…the Lambe is preparing his Bride … yee the ancient Beloved of Christ, whom he of old led by hand from Egypt to Canaan through that great and terrible Wildernesse.

…you the Seed of Israel both lesse and more, the rattling of your dead bones is at hand, Sinewes, Flesh and Life: at the Word of Christ it comes.

…you  People of Israel gather together as one Man, and together as one Tree. Ezekiel 37 and 23.31

Then judge all you … whether these poore New England People, be not the forerunners of Christ’s Army, and the marvelous providences which you shall now heare, be not the very Finger of God, and whether the Lord hath not sent this people to Preach in this Wildernesse, and to proclaime to all Nations, the neere approach of the most wonderful workes that ever the Sonnes of men saw. Will not you believe that a Nation can be borne in a day [Isa. 66:8 – a Scripture that can only be fulfilled in Israel]?

This year the great troubles in our native country encreasing, and that hearing prophane Esau had mustered up all thye Bands he could make to come against his brother Jacob, these wandering race of Jacobites deemed it now high time to implore the Lord for his especial aid in this time of their deepest distress.

As Jacob professes, I came over this Jordan with my staff, and now have I gotten two Bands; so they came over this boisterous billow-boyling Ocean, a few poor scattered stones raked out of the heaps of rubbish, and thou Lord Christ has now so far exalted them, as to lay them sure in thy Sion … the seed of Christ’s Church in the posterity of Israel should be cut off, and therefore pleaded the promise of the Lord in the multiplying of his seed; so these people at this very time, pleaded not only the Lord’s promise to Israel, but to his only son Christ Jesus.

Pastor Jonathan Mitchell, Puritan Preacher
On October 4, 1649, Pastor Jonathan Mitchell wrote in his diary:

…God will humble me before the sun, and in the sight of all Israel

On August 8, 1667, at Pastor John Wilson’s funeral, Pastor Mitchell included the following in his eulogy:

Ah! Now there’s none who does not know, that this day in our Israel, is fall’n a great and good man too

Nathaniel Morton, New Plymouth Court Secretary
In 1669 in New England’s Memorial, Nathaniel Morton wrote of God moving the seed of Abraham to New England:

That especially the seed of Abraham his servant, and the children of Jacob his chosen, may remember his marvelous works (Psal. 105.5,6.) in the beginning and progress of the planting of New-England, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth; how that God brought a vine into this wilderness; that he cast out the heathen and planted them in the mountain of his inheritance (Exod. 15.13.) in respect of precious gospel-enjoyments. So that we may not only look back to former experiences of God’s goodness to our [Israelite] predecessors, (though many years before) and so have our faith strengthened in the mercies of God for our times

I shall close up this small history with a word of advice to the rising generation…. God did once plant a noble vine in New-England, but it is degenerated into the plant of a strange vine. Jer. ii, 21. It were well that it might be said that the rising generation did serve the Lord all the days of such as in this our Israel …Josh. xxiv, 31.

Pastor James Keith, American Clergyman
On October 30, 1676, in a letter to Pastor John Cotton, Pastor James Keith wrote the following:

Let us join our prayers, at the throne of grace, with all our might, that the Lord would so dispose of all of public motions and affairs, that his Jerusalem, in this wilderness, may be the habitation of justice and the mountain of holiness

Pastor Increase Mather, American Clergyman and Author
In 1681, in a preface to a discourse on Urian Oakes, Pastor Increase Mather wrote the following:

…[Urian Oakes] at last called to the head of the “sons of the prophets” in this New-English Israel

Pastor John Bunyan, English Preacher and Author
Regarding the beliefs of Pastor John Bunyan (1628-1688), author of Pilgrim’s Progress, Rabbi Louis Finkelstein commented:

…Bunyan actually fancied himself an Israelite

Pastor Cotton Mather, American Clergyman and Historian
In 1702 a Boston minister Cotton Mather wrote the following concerning New England and some of her earlier inhabitants:

…in our hastening voyage unto the History of a new-English Israel

…I am going to give unto the Christian reader an history of some feeble attempts made in the American hemisphere to anticipate the state of the New-Jerusalem

These good people [the first settlers of Plymouth, Massachusetts] were now satisfied, they had as plain a command of Heaven to attempt a removal [from England, Ireland and Scotland], as ever their father Abraham had for his leaving the Chaldean territories…

Among these passengers were divers worthy and useful men, who were come to seek the welfare of this little Israel…
The colony might fetch its own description from the dispensations of the great God, unto his ancient Israel, and say, “O, God of Hosts, thou has brought a vine out of England…

whilst he [Massachusetts Bay Colony’s Governor John Winthrop] thus did, as our New-English Nehemiah, the part of a ruler in managing the public affairs of our American Jerusalem … he made himself still an exacter parallel unto the the governour of Israel…
Make room, then, for Urian Oakes, ye records of New-England. He was born in England … whose liberal education in our College have rendered the family not he least in our little Israel…

Dean Jacque Abadie, French Educator and Author
In 1723 Dean Jacques Abbadie of Killaloe, Ireland, wrote regarding the whereabouts of the “lost” Israelites:

Unless the Ten Tribes of Israel are flown into the air, or sunk into the earth; they must be those ten Gothic Tribes that entered Europe in the fifth century, overthrew the Roman Empire and founded the ten nations of modern Europe.

Alexander Cruden, Scottish Bible Concordance Compiler
In 1761 on a page addressed “TO THE KING” in the well-known Concordance of Alexander Cruden, the author renders this prayer:

May the great God be the guide of your life, and direct and prosper you, that it may be said by the present and future ages, that King George the Third hath been an Hezekiah to our British Israel.

In 1773 the men of Marlborough, Connecticut, made this proclamation:

Death is more eligible than slavery. A freeborn people are not required by the religion of Jesus Christ to submit to tyranny, but may make use of such power as God has given them to recover and support their laws and liberties… (they) implored the Ruler above the skies, that He would make bare His arm in defense of His church and people, and let Israel go.

Jonathan Trumbull, Connecticut Governor
In a letter dated July 13, 1775, to George Washington (then Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army) Jonathan Trumbull, Governor of Connecticut, wrote in part:

…be strong and very courageous, May the God of the Armies of  Israel shower down the blessings of His Divine Providence on You

George Washington

[Almighty God] Endow with the spirit of wisdom those whom in Thy name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be peace and justice at home, and that through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth….

One may wonder at whether Governor Trumbull was referring to the Continental Army as one of the “armies of Israel.” There appears no question as to his intent when one reads another exhortation written in his own hand later that same year. In a public proclamation concerning Thanksgiving, dated October 14, 1775, Governor Trumbull proclaimed:

That God would … guide our affairs in this dark and difficult Day; and make them know what Israel ought to do … that He would confirm and increase Union and Harmony in the Colonies, and throughout America…

Great Seal of the United States of America
On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress appointed a committee to design a seal for the emerging new nation. The committee was composed of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams. Both Franklin and Jefferson proposed designs related to ancient Israel. While John Adams’ contribution is not recorded here, he wrote to his wife, Abigail, on August 1, 1776, and described in part what the committee had thus far accomplished:

Dr. F[ranklin] proposes a Device for a seal. Moses lifting up his Wand, and dividing the Red Sea, and Pharaoh, in his Chariot overwhelmed with the Waters … The motto: Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.

Mr. Jefferson proposed. The Children of Israel in the Wilderness, led by a Cloud by day, and Pillar of Fire by night, and on the others Side Hengist and Horsa, the Saxon Chiefs, from whom We claim the Honour of being descended and whose Political Principles and Form of Government We have assumed.

Following are later depictions of these ideas by Franklin and Jefferson:

Pastor John Clark, American Preacher
In 1781 in his election sermon, Pastor Jonas Clark spoke of the children of the captivity who came to this new land to serve God:

Under this happy [Massachusetts] constitution we have seen, to universal satisfaction, that blessed prophecy concerning GOD’S people after their return from captivity, literally fulfilled unto us “There congregation shall be established before me – their nobles shall be of themselves, and their Governor shall proceed from the midst of them.” (Jer. 30:20-21)

May we not – yea, rather, ought we not, upon this joyful occasion, in a deep sense of our obligations to heaven, to ascribe the glory of all to GOD, and devoutly acknowledge that this is the LORD’S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes!

On this joyful day we are invited to see God, the Supreme ruler, on the throne of his holiness, the favour and defence of an afflicted land; “The princes of the people of the God of Abraham gathered together”: And ‘The Shields of the earth.” (Ps. 47:9) The rulers of every department, devoting themselves to the service of God and their country, in devout acknowledgement of his government, to the end, that God might be greatly exalted, in the good of his people, by their administration.

Noah Webster, American Statesman and Lexicographer
In 1783 Noah Webster wrote The Elementary Spelling Book, better known as the Blue-Back Speller. Following “Lesson Number 123” we find Mr. Webster’s sentiments regarding our Israelite relatives:

All Israelites are brethren, descendents of common parents. How unnatural and wicked it is to make war on our brethren, to conquer them or to plunder and destroy them

George Washington, American General and President

In 1785 George Washington referred to America as the “second land of promise,and in his first inaugural address in April, 1789, he accredited Providence for advancing the affairs of this new nation:

No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency

Thomas Jefferson, American Statesman and President
In 1814 in a letter written to Dr. Walter Jones regarding the death of President George Washington, Thomas Jefferson conveyed his belief in an American Israel:

I felt on his [George Washington’s] death, with my countyrmen, that “verily a great man hath fallen this day in Israel.”

Pastor B. Murphey, Canadian Preacher
In 1817 Pastor Murphey provided evidence for the Israelites’ migrations into Ireland:

Israelites came from Egypt into Ireland.

Washington Irving, American Essayist, Novelist, and Historian
In 1824 in his story “The Devil and Tom Walker,” Washington Irving wrote the following about a man whom he named “Absalom Crowinshield” who lived in New England in the 1700s:

It was announced in the papers with the usual flourish, that “A great man had fallen in Israel.”

Sir Walter Scott, Scottish Poet and Novelist
In 1830 in his novel Woodstock, Scottish author Sir Walter Scott had Oliver Cromwell using these words:

…as my soul liveth, and as He liveth who hath made me [Oliver Cromwell] a ruler in Israel

United States District Court for the District of Maine
On November 5, 1840, in a case titled “The Huntress, 12 F. Cas. 984, 993” regarding Constitutional neglect, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine declared:

…we may well ask, with some feelings of surprise, where during these seven years, were slumbering the watchmen of our American Israel.

Charters & Constitutions

In several colonies and States a profession of the Christian faith was made an indispensable condition to holding office. In the frame of government for Pennsylvania, prepared by William Penn, in 1683, it was provided that “all treasurers, judges, and other officers, and all members elected to serve in provincial council and general assembly, and all that have right to elect such members, shall be such as profess faith in Jesus Christ.” And in the charter of privileges for that colony, given in 1701 by William Penn and approved by the colonial assembly, it was provided “that all persons who also profess to believe in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, shall be capable to serve this government in any capacity, both legislatively and executively.”

Similar requirements can also be found in the Delaware Constitution of 1776; the New Hampshire Constitutions of 1704 and 1792; the Fundamental Constitutions of the Carolinas; the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780; the Fundamental Order of Connecticut for its Governor; the Vermont Constitution of 1777; the Maryland Constitution of 1776; the current Maryland Bill of Rights, Article 37; the Mississippi Constitution of 1817; and the Arkansas Constitution of 1874 with 1963 supplements – most of which are listed in Justice Brewer’s speech.

1606 – The Charter for the Virginia Colony read in part: “To the glory of
His divine Majesty, in propagating of the Christian religion to such people
as yet live in ignorance of the true knowledge and worship of God.”

1606 – JAMESTOWN CHARTER – Purpose: “…in propagation of the Christian religion.”

1606 – FIRST VIRGINIA CHARTER: “…tend to the Glory of his Divine Majesty, in propagating of Christian Religion to such People, as yet live in Darkness and miserable Ignorance of the true Knowledge and Worship of God….”

1610 – NEW ENGLAND CHARTER – Aims in settling America: “…to increase the knowledge of the Omnipotent God and the propagation of our Christian faith.”*
*”First, it will be a service unto the Church of great consequence, to carry the Gospel unto those parts of the world, and raise a bulwark against the Kingdom of AntiChrist….” Pastor Cotton Mather, D.D., “General Considerations for the Plantation of New England,” Magnalia Christi Americana or The Ecclesiastical History of New-England quoted by Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America (New York, NY: The Colonial Press, 1899) Vol. 2, p. 360.

1609 – Second Virginia Charter – Purpose: “to live in fear and true worship of Almighty God, Christian peace, and civil quietness.”

1610 – New England Charter -Aims in settling America: “to increase the knowledge of the Omnipotent God and the propagation of our Christian faith.  Walter S. Remmie, “This Is a Christian Nation,” Kingdom Digest (Irving, TX) July 1981, p. 28.

1620 – MAYFLOWER COMPACT (the first legal document in America): “In the name of God amen … having undertaken for the glory of God, and [the] advancement of the Christian faith….”

1620 – King James I granted the Charter of the Plymouth council. “In the
hope thereby to advance the enlargement of the Christian religion, to the
glory of God Almighty.”

1620 – The Pilgrims sign the Mayflower Compact aboard the Mayflower, in
Plymouth Harbor. “For the glory of God and advancement of ye Christian faith.
doe by these presents solemnly & mutually in ye presence of God and one of
another, covenant & combine our selves together into a civil body
politick[sic].”

1623 – “But God gave them health and strength in a good measure; and
showed them by experience the truth of the word, Deuteronomy 8:3: ‘Man does
not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the
Lord.’” (William Bradford, in BHOPP, p. 175).

1624 -SWEDISH CHARTER OF DELAWARE COLONY: “In the first place God’s glory, which above all must be especially cared for and promoted, can be increased thereby, His blessed Word and Holy Gospel planted and spread among all kinds of people and many thousand souls be brought to the true knowledge and understanding of God.”

1629 – The first Charter of Massachusetts read in part: “For the
directing, ruling, and disposing of all other Matters and Thinges, whereby
our said People may be soe religiously, peaceablie, and civilly governed, as
their good life and orderlie Conversacon, maie wynn and incite the Natives of
the Country to the Knowledg and Obedience of the onlie true God and Savior of
Mankinde, and the Christian Fayth, which in our Royall Intencon, and The
Adventurers free profession, is the principall Ende of the
Plantacion….”[sic]

1632 – MARYLAND CHARTER: [our Celto-Saxon forefathers were] animated with a laudable and pious zeal for extending the Christian religion … Cecil Calvert [founder of Maryland] wrote in a letter at the time: “At the place prepared we [Celto-Saxon Christians] all kneeled down and said certain prayers; taking possession of the country for our Saviour and for our sovereign Lord.”  Nathanial Morton, New England’s Memorial (Cambridge, MA: S.G. and M.J. for John Usher, 1669), reproduced with extracts from other writers (Boston, MA: Congregational Board of Publication, 1854) p. 20.

1630 – Settlement of Massachusetts published under the subtitle of “Wonder-Working Providence of Zion’s Saviour.”

1636 – Harvard, which was the first college in America, whose name-sake and benefactor* stated in his provision for a fund to build a college: “Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life, John 17:3, and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.”  1636 Harvard University document, quoted in John le Boutillier, Harvard Hates America: The Odyssey of a Born-again American (South Bend, IN: Gateway Editions, 1978), quoted in Walter S. Remmie, “This is a Christian Nation,” Kingdom Digest (Irving, TX, July 1981) p. 29.
John Harvard (1607-1638) was the namesake and benefactor of Harvard University, founded in 1636 and still operating undera 1650 charter

1638 – The towns of Hartford, Weathersfield, and Windsor adopt the
Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. “To mayntayne and presearve the liberty
and purity of the Gospell of our Lord Jesus, which we now professe….” [sic]

1639 – The governing body of New Hampshire is established. “Considering
with ourselves the holy will of God and our own necessity, that we should not
live without wholesome laws and civil government among us, of which we are
altogether destitute, do, in the name of Christ and in the sight of God,
combine ourselves together to erect and set up among us such government as
shall be, to our best discerning, agreeable to the will of God….”

1639 – Fundamental Orders of Connecticut states as a part of its purpose: “to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess…Walter S. Remmie, “This is a Christian Nation,” Kingdom Digest (Irving, TX, July 1981) pp. 28-29. Additional documents, charters, constitutions, etc., are quoted in this same article.

1643 -ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION: “Whereas we all came into these parts of America with one and ye same end and arms, namely to advance the Kingdom of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and to enjoys ye liberties of ye Gospell in puritie with peace….”
1775 – In Patrick Henry’s speech: “We shall not fight alone. God presides
over the destinies of nations, and will raise up friends for us. The battle
is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave…
Is life so dear, or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains
and slavery? Forbid it Almighty God! I know not what course others may take,
but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

1787 Article III of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787: “Religion, morality,
and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of
mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

1789 – George Washington said “Let us with caution indulge the
supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion.” (Schroeder
ed. p. 106)

1794 – John Jay, first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, in a
letter to his wife, stated “God’s will be done; to him I resign-in him I
confide. Do the like. Any other philosophy applicable to this occasion is
delusive. Away with it.” (Johnston ed. vol. 4, p. 7.)

In addition to the nation’s united expression of faith in God, each individual state has separately acknowledged God as Sovereign and as the Author of liberty. The Legislative Service of the Library of Congress has compiled the provisions of State constitutions relative to the Supreme Being.  Pat Brooks, et.al., “50 Evidences that the U.S.A. is ‘Constitutionally Christian!,” Appendix D, Freedom or Slavery! (Fletcher, NC: New Puritan Library, 1990) p. 159. Pages 159-165 contain the pertinent portion of all 50 state constitutions.

ARIZONA, BILL OF RIGHTS, Section 12: The liberty of conscience shall not be construed to excuse acts of licentiousness….

CALIFORNIA, DECLARATION OF RIGHTS, Article 1, Section4: … The liberty of conscience does not excuse acts that are licentious….

DELAWARE, BILL OF RIGHTS, Article 1, Section 1: …it is the duty of all men to frequently assemble together for public worship of Almighty God; and piety and morality, on which the prosperity of communities depend are hereby promoted….

MARYLAND, BILL OF RIGHTS, Article 36: …it is the duty of every man to worship God; and piety and morality, on which the prosperity of communities depend are hereby promoted….

MASSACHUSETTS, DECLARATION OF RIGHTS, Article 2: It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly and at stated sessions, to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe.

Article 3: As the happiness of a people and the good order and preservation of civil government essentially depend upon the piety, religion and morality…. And every denomination of Christians….

MINNESOTA, BILL OF RIGHTS, Section 16: … The right of every man to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience shall never be infringed … the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness….

MISSISSIPPI, BILL OF RIGHTS, Section 18: … The rights hereby secured shall not be construed to justify acts of licentiousness injurious to morals or dangerous to the peace and safety of the state, or to exclude the Holy Bible from use in any public school of this state.

NEBRASKA, BILL OF RIGHTS, Article 1, Section 4: All persons have a natural indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience…. Religion, morality, and knowledge, being essential to good government, it shall be the duty of the legislature to pass suitable laws to protect every religious denomination in the peaceful enjoyment of its own mode of public worship….

NEW HAMPSHIRE, BILL OF RIGHTS, Article 6: As morality and piety, rightly grounded on high principles, will give the best and greatest security to government, and will allay, in the hearts of men, the strongest obligations to due subjection; and as the knowledge of these is most likely to be propagated through society, therefore, the several parishes, bodies, corporate, or religious societies, shall at all times have the right of electing their own teachers, and of contracting with them for their support and maintenance, or both….

OHIO, BILL OF RIGHTS, Section 7: All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience…. Religion, morality, and knowledge, however, being essential to good government….

VIRGINIA, BILL OF RIGHTS, Article 1, Section 16: That religion or the duty which we owe our Creator… it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other….

On the 20th September, 1776, the first constitution of the Delaware State was adopted, the 22d article of which provided, that “every person who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust, before taking his seat or entering upon the execution of his office, shall take the following oath … to wit: I … do profess of faith in God, the father, and Jesus Christ his only son, and in the Holy Ghost, on God blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the old and new testaments to be given by divine inspiration.  Clayton, pp. 565-566.

Thanksgiving Proclamation

32 Presidents have issued official Thanksgiving proclamations beginning with George Washington.  Thanksgiving was later made an official holiday by Abraham Lincoln in 1863.  Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation began an unbroken chain of yearly thanksgiving proclamations made by U.S. Presidents.

Thanksgiving is a time of unity when all men of various religions can gather to give thanks to God, despite their differences in understanding (Colossians 3:14-17).

Psa 67:3  Let the peoples thank You, O God; let all the peoples thank You.
Psa 67:5  Let the peoples give thanks to You, O God; let all the peoples give thanks to You.

Psa 100:1  A Psalm of praise {תודה ‘todah’} Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands (כל־הארץ ‘kol ha`aretz’ – “all the earth”).

The Hebrew word for thanksgiving is תודה ‘todah’ which literally means to raise up the hands in praise, confession, and thanksgiving.  The yearly Thanksgiving proclamations given by the President of the United States, who is the ‘head’ of the country, is literally a proclamation by the United States of America that the LORD God is our Lord.

Psa 33:12  Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.
Psa 144:15  Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.

Thanksgiving & His mercy/grace
Psa 136:1  O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Psa 136:2  O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Psa 136:3  O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.

The primary Greek word translated as ‘thanks’ in the Scriptures is εὐχαριστία ‘eucharistia’ which consists of the words εὖ ‘eu’ meaning to be well off and χαρίζομαι ‘charizomai’ to dwell in grace.  χαρίζομαι ‘charizomai’ comes from the root word χάρις ‘charis’ which means grace and mercy.  Thanksgiving is a proclamation by the United States that we live by His grace and mercy.  Numerous times this concept is seen in the proclamations of the Presidents.

Another Greek word translated as ‘thanks’ is ἐξομολογέω ‘exomologeō’ which means to confess or give praise to, similar to the Hebrew word תודה ‘todah.’

Rom 14:11  For it has been written, “As I live, says the Lord, that every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue confess to God.” Isa. 45:23
Php 2:10  that at the name of Jesus “every knee should bow,” of heavenly ones, and earthly ones, and ones under the earth,
Php 2:11  and “every tongue should confess” that Jesus Christ is “Lord,” to the glory of God the Father.

Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess.  Amazingly, the Hebrew word for kneel, ברך ‘berekh’ is also translated as ‘give thanks’ (2 Samuel 14:22) as the word literally means to kneel before another and give honor to.  This is the essence of Thanksgiving.

Rom 15:9  and for the nations to glorify God for mercy, even as it has been written, “Because of this I will confess to You in the nations, and I will give praise to Your name.” Psa. 18:49

Thanksgiving Proclamations

The Real Thanksgiving Story. Glory to God, the Author of Liberty! (Story of Liberty)

What’s the Truth About the First Thanksgiving? – Michael Medved

Holidays

 

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