The Story of Thanksgiving and Why it Matters, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, November 10, 2015 1 comments

by Bill Seng

"Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and homes." Nehemiah 4:13-14

As a preface to what will follow, I have had difficulty piecing the events that led to this triumph together as neatly as I had hoped. Regardless, after critical analysis of the facts, this is what I have deduced.

The pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. It was a treacherous season in their history because they had arrived at a new land beyond civilization that entailed new challenges. A native of America, and once former slave in England known as Squanto, helped the Pilgrims communicate with a nearby tribe known as the Wampanoag. The Wampanoag provided food for the pilgrims through the winter. It was in 1621 that the pilgrims made their first successful harvest and thus celebrated their first thanksgiving. 50 pilgrims attended, and 90 natives attended as guests. The feast lasted 3 days.

What is not as common knowledge was that the pilgrims would face even greater challenges following the first thanksgiving. The Plymouth colony nearly starved to death from famine. What the source of famine was stirs controversy.

During the first years, the pilgrims implemented a system that resembled what we call communism. Each family was only allowed to keep what would sustain them and were to give away whatever abundance remained. The results were devastating.

Men did not want to produce for the sake of everyone else's family and women felt it unfit for them to be tending to the needs of other women's husbands. Those that worked hard were only rewarded as much as those who were lazy. This injustice created an atmosphere where abundance was avoided. The result was that everyone was scraping to survive.

In 1623, Bradford noted that this communal system was not only a failure, but it went against man's nature as was designed by God. These communist principles were abandoned and a new system was devised. Each family would be allowed to produce as much as they wanted and keep whatever they desired. If they wanted to give a portion of their abundance to charity, they were free to do that as well. This yielded remarkable results.

Families started over producing because they were granted permission to thrive. If things progressed naturally they would produce an incredible abundance at harvest. But a drought struck the land and almost decimated all of the work they put forth. The pilgrims fell to their knees and fasted and prayed. God heard their prayer and blessed them with rain for fourteen days. The harvest dwarfed that of the first thanksgiving, and so the pilgrims had yet another thanksgiving feast to thank God for his incredible provision.

Our country is founded on the free market principles that the pilgrims stumbled upon. These are often recognized in Nehemiah as the author ordered that each working man who was constructing the wall would construct the segment that protected his own family's home. It is only natural and right that we care for the well being of our own families. Because of this new system, the pilgrims could provide for those in need out of their own abundance. Without the blessing of God, their settlement would have been a failure even after they abandoned their former governing system. It is to God that all thanks and glory should be attributed.

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Steve said...

Interesting history here Bill. Free enterprise is most definitely a sound form of government. Neat correlation with Nehemiah too!