Thankful!

It struck me as strange, really. This past Thanksgiving, the news was full of stories about heartless business owners who were opening on Thanksgiving—Thanksgiving!—and therefore forcing their staff to go to work—to work!—on part of Thanksgiving day. This, of course, prevented them from spending time at home with their families. Because that’s what everyone should do on Thanksgiving day, it was reasoned. They should spend time with their families.

And I thought that was strange.

Not the sentiment. That people should be able to be with their families is a lovely thought. But the outcry seemed altogether disproportionate to the actual event. Businesses were opening on part of Thanksgiving, a Thursday, so they could get a jump on the Black Friday shopping madness. And in some quarters, there were calls for legislation that would prevent businesses from opening on Thanksgiving, for the reason that Thanksgiving is sacrosanct, and nobody should be forced to work on Thanksgiving. Some media commentators felt Thanksgiving should be protected.

I understand. But I think some people were pushing it waaaay too far. And I have Biblical reasons for my concern, reasons rooted in Bible prophecy, and connected to the coming great trouble of Earth’s final days.

But first, from another perspective… People being forced to work on Thanksgiving? While it would undoubtedly be an inconvenience for some, I would imagine some people would be happy to get the extra work and therefore the extra income, right at the start of what for many is one of the costliest seasons of the year. And then there are those who don’t have family, or would be at a loose end at Thanksgiving. For some people Thanksgiving would be just another day, and some would be happy to be able to go to work.

One prominent news story involved a pizza restaurant manager who became a bit of a hero after he was fired for refusing to open on Thanksgiving. He felt his staff should be free to have the day off work. (He later got his job back.) Other businesses were lionized for their “not-open-on-Thanksgiving” stance. Oddly, one notable example actually did open on Thanksgiving a few years back, but quit the practice after they found it to be not-so-profitable. But now they don’t open on Thanksgiving and it’s all very noble of them.

I’ve worked on many of the important holidays. While working in the radio industry—where I spent my first career after college—I worked many a Christmas day and other “family” days. I recall one year when as a teenager I worked a Christmas day at a food processing plant. I had a holiday job at the plant, the food needed to be processed, and so there I was working on Christmas day, sorting peas and corn. A scandal? Hardly. A bummer? Yes it was, but a job is a job and sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

I get it. I understand the ruffled feathers. This is *Thanksgiving* people are talking about. Many people love staying home to overeat and watch football on Thanksgiving. And many others spend precious time with family. Or both. But is the idea of some businesses opening on what was actually only a part of Thanksgiving so horrendous that it’s necessary to call for legislation? Here’s where I get concerned from a Biblical point of view.

It seems to me that if I own a business and I want to open it on Thanksgiving and there’s no law against it and I have staff who are willing to work, then I should be allowed to do so. It’s hardly an outrage if a person wants to do business in the capitalism capital of the world, surely. But some would legislate against that.

When we go to the Bible and we look in the book of Revelation, we see laws being passed that in this case have to do with worship. Revelation 13:16 says, “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads.” The “he”, a “beast”, is a kingdom or nation (see that prophetic symbol explained in Daniel 7:17, 23). A nation “causes”—or forces, coerces—“all” to receive the mark of the beast. And how does a nation force people into certain behavior? By passing laws.

Laws will be passed enforcing a certain type or form of worship. Certainly many people will welcome this mark and find nothing in it to be objectionable. The mark of the beast will be offered to the world as the answer to problems, as a panacea for all that pains an ailing planet. “Here—this is good for you!” But what of those who disagree with the mark of the beast, who do not wish to accept it? What about those who from a Biblical perspective object to what it stands for? What about them?

Revelation 13:9, 10 says, “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.” It won’t be pretty for the dissenter, who in this case is actually the one who stands faithfully for Christ. And why will he or she find himself/herself in a bind? Because someone else decided for them that they should have this mark, that they’ll be better off with it, and that society would benefit from it.

Worship—how can that be bad, right? Except that when worship is enforced, and not from the heart, it is never right. And when it is enforced on people who reject it based on Scriptural grounds, it is not right, but very wrong.

Someone wants to open their business on Thanksgiving, and some in the media call for legislation to stop the practice. “We’ll prevent you from doing that, because it is in society’s best interests for you not to.”

An ominous attitude, in light of what prophecy says about the future. There are forces in the world that are more than willing to tell you how to live, how to act, and even how to worship, when in God’s eyes we are free moral agents in religious matters. God in His wisdom and kindness has given us freedom of choice, to exercise as we see fit under the guidance of His Spirit.

And for that, I’m thankful.

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