Thanksgiving and Divine Purposes

I read this article from the Pentecostal Herald and felt inspired to share it with you, so I take no credit for this post, its a little lengthy but definitely worth your time.

On October 3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, issued Proclamation 106. a presidential proclamation calling for a national day of thanksgiving. Written by Secretary of State William Seward, and signed by Abraham Lincoln, The proclamation made the commonly practiced day of thanksgiving, a nationally recognized day set aside each year on a certain date. In the midst of the civil war, with its battles, destruction, and division, President Lincoln proclaimed a time of thanksgiving. Rather than only looking at the destructive forces raging through the war-torn areas of the nation, he chose to look upward in acknowledgment of the “ever-watchful providence of almighty God” and lead the nation in that same upward look.

The proclamation opened with a declaration of the source of the nations blessings- Almighty God.

“The year that is drawing towards its close has been filled with blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.”

With the view of biblical reality, the author pointed out several important truths:

“No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, has nevertheless remembered us in mercy.”

First, the blessings of the United States had experienced had not come from human counsel or mortal hand; they were gracious gifts of the Most High God. Second, Seward’s words expressed, his awareness of God’s anger for the sins of the nation as well as the sins of the individual , while at the same tie acknowledging God’s mercy. God’s anger for the nation’s sins was a certainty, but his mercy was a vital part of its continuance.

In reference to the acknowledgment  of God’s abundant blessings, Seward showed an understanding of the power of unity as he wrote:

“It  has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly , reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people.”

There is a divine blessing to be had when brethren dwell together in unity (Pslams 133:1). The unity of the disciples at the upper room on the Day of Pentecost brought about the outpouring of the Holy Ghost and the birth of the church. When people come together in thanksgiving, the blessings of the Almighty can be experienced.

President Lincoln’s Proclamation was not one of commandment but of invitation. Thanksgiving emerges not from coercion but from a willing attitude of gratitude.

“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 as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”

The closing sentence of Proclamation 106 was most direct in stating that thanksgiving for God’s blessings must be accompanied by repentance for our disobedience and a prayer for those people hurt by it. Again, the author chose not to use words with a force of a commandment, but of recommendation. In addition to giving thanks, Seward’s words called the nation to “humble penitence for our national perverseness.”

“And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”

There is a portion of Lincoln’s Proclamation that stands out, perhaps especially so in our nation today, expressing an understanding of how the timing of God’s restoration of a nations congruent with the manner in which that nation merges with God’s purposes. Seward wrote to the nation,, recommending that individuals seek God’s intervention to heal the wounds of the United States and to restore it, ” as soon as may be congruent with the Divine purposes.” The blessings of God cannot be restored on a nation set on perverseness and disobedience, but when the nation humbles itself, prays, seek God’s face, and turns from its wicked ways, God will the hear from Heaven, forgive its sins, and heal its land (II Chronicles 7:14). The wise man’s words are true still today. “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” . (Proverbs 14:34).

Article by: Daniel Buford



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