Never mind that the meaning has evolved over the years to include more mercenary and secular reasons for celebrating - I'd like to give tribute to the hearty, courageous men and women that risked their lives for a chance at religious freedom and endured incredible hardships to see it come to fruition. Not quite as quaint as thinking about school children dressed up in tall black hats, long brown dresses and feather headdresses, carrying squash and re-enacting the Mayflower voyage and harvest celebration with the American Natives, but hey. It's those sacrifices that laid the groundwork for our yearly Thanksgiving celebration and daily freedoms and I am truly thankful for them.
I am not only thankful for the heritage of my country, but I am especially thankful for the heritage of my faith. If you consider yourself to be a Christian in any way, shape or form this means that we are grafted in to the Body of Christ and we are participants in a faithful remnant of people believing in The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God revealed Himself first to Jews and down through the ages consistently kept His covenants with them. My Bible was written almost entirely by Jews and was meticulously preserved for me. Not only did Jesus come as a Jew, living and ministering in the land of Israel, He died and rose again as King of The Jews and He will return as a Jewish Messiah to Jerusalem. In Romans 11, God makes it quite clear that since the Jew's rejection [of Jesus] meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. When the Jews come to faith in Messiah, it will be 'life from the dead” for the entire world! (Romans 11:15) This makes Israel and the Jews a very important part of my faith.
How then, can we take everything of our faith that was secured for us by the Jewish people and yet, turn our backs on them when they go through an hour of need? It is inconceivable that many churches are teaching exactly that, but that is NOT at all what the Bible says! When Gentiles come into the Body of Christ through faith, we don’t now usurp all the promises, we SHARE in them. The evil untruth that God no longer has any dealing with the Jews, that He has now transferred all of His promises to His "church" (meaning the Gentile believers) and that it doesn't much matter what happens to Jerusalem, it's just a spiritual place anyway, is absolute rubbish! Furthermore, not only are our churches teaching such apostasies, but they are fueled by the constant barrage of inaccuracies, bias, and out and out lies in the media against Israel. These false reports are from those opposed to the “Apple of God's eye”. Zechariah 2, specifically verse 8, warns that he who touches Jerusalem, touches the apple of God’s eye! Daily world headlines with an unfavorable slant acting as though Israel has been the one and only perpetrator in the holdup for peace in the Middle East will continue, but we MUST be accurately informed about such misinformation. It's time to set the record straight!
If you truly are a believer in Jesus, it is imperative that what is happening in Israel MATTERS TO YOU. There is no neutrality here folks, you either side WITH The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob on this one or you don't. I know there are countless evil's going on in the world that demand our attention and compassion, but lest you say that the recent escalation between Israel and Gaza is just one more worldly ill that you could not possibly devote any attention and energy to, please take a few moments this week to thoughtfully consider and be thankful for the deepest roots of our FAITH!
God is causing many voices of truth to rise up because there is a great need to have an understanding on what the Bible says about Israel, the Jewish people and God's plan for the nations. God has a desire that ALL men come into a saving knowledge of Himself. Another misguided thought process is that because God is invested in Israel and the Jews, there is no room for the Arabs or Palestinians to come into His kingdom. Again, nothing could be further from the truth! God cares deeply about all people groups! 1 Timothy 2:4 states unequivocally that God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth! The Lord has tarried in His return because of His desire for everyone. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but wanting everyone to come to repentance.”
I know this may seem like an odd Thanksgiving topic, but it is CRITICAL that Gentile believers in Jesus be thankful for ALL those that have paved the way for us and all that we enjoy in The Lord. Many Jewish people have fought and died to uphold the scriptures for us. It was a Jewish remnant that spread the Gospel to the entire known world after the ascension of Jesus. And yet, many Jews have been persecuted in the name of Jesus. It would be extremely remiss in light of these recent times to overlook and once again be a silent participant in the persecution of the Jewish people, even if only in the media. We need to be vigilant in our search for the truth of what is happening. We cannot depend on the major news stream to give us clear facts because I am sorry to report that they do not. Such headlines appear as “death toll rises in Gaza” and “women and children killed” without nearly a word of the thousands of rockets fired at Israel since the pullout in 2005, without defining the activities of terrorist groups like Hamas, operating out of heavily populated civilian areas and then using those same losses of innocent people as a finger to point at Israel. When in reality, the IDF does their utmost to protect life, even going so far as to drop leaflets into the strip, warning people to take cover.
So maybe you’re thinking, "well what can I DO about it – I mean whatever is going to happen doesn’t really affect us over here." But that is wrong thinking my friends! Sooner or later, it will affect us and the freedoms that we enjoy - as people in a free earthly nation and as citizens of a Heavenly kingdom. First, I believe that Christians have a mandate to pray for the Peace of Jerusalem. Psalm 122:8-9 says “For the sake of my brothers and friends I will say, Peace be in you! For the sake of the house of The Lord our God, I will seek your good!” This is what The Lord God Himself says about Jerusalem, “For The Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for his dwelling place. This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it.” Psalm 132:13-14.
Secondly, we must seek out TRUTH. Friends, PLEASE do your homework on this! Here are some links to check out:
Israel prayer updates from Believers living in Israel: http://gloryofzion.org/communications.php?lc=2
Hayovel makes trips to Israel several times a year to work and minster: http://www.hayovel.com/learn/faqs
Christian Broadcasting News: http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/
International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem: http://int.icej.org/media/icej-news
Lastly, let’s take time to be THANKFUL this Thanksgiving for the faithful ones who went before us – Jews and Gentiles alike – and paved a way for our wonderful heritage. The Mayflower Pilgrims believed in a "promised land" so to speak. There are still those who are believing for THE Promised Land, the one assigned to Abraham and his descendents forever according to scripture, and its total restoration when The Lord of Hosts will rule and reign in justice from Jerusalem.