Columbus, Thanksgiving and Jerusalem

America will celebrate Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. It is a special holiday because it draws our focus to all we have to be thankful for as Americans. Indeed, God has blessed our land and we owe Him all thanks.

The past couple of days we’ve talked about America’s place in Bible prophecy. No, we’re not mentioned in the Bible, and the US will not play a significant role in end times. But, oh what a role we have played in God’s mighty plan!

Today, let’s go on an adventure together to discover what Columbus, Thanksgiving and Jerusalem have to do with one another!

Now, before we dive deep, let’s admit that Christopher Columbus was obviously not the first person to “discover” America. There are lots of claims as to who really discovered America, but that’s not the point of today’s adventure. Let it suffice to say, we look to Christopher Columbus as the one who opened the door for further discovery and, ultimately, colonization of America.

But, who was this guy? Well, we know he sailed from Spain, but otherwise he was apparently somewhat secretive about his life. At times, he has taken a bad rap, and is often viewed as tainted, rather than heroic. Yet, interesting bits and pieces about him do exist. For example, some scholars believe his historic voyage was financed, at least in significant part, by Jewish financiers. Furthermore, the very day Columbus “received authorization to equip his fleet,” the edict to expel all Jews from Spain was said to have been made public. (The exact date is disputed, but it is widely believed to be during this time frame.)

In his ship’s logs, Columbus notes the expulsion of Jews and refers to the Hebrew Bible, the Second Temple in Jerusalem, King David, Moses, Abraham, Isaac and other clearly Jewish references. Most strikingly, he wrote to his sons in Hebrew, and according to one scholar (Pauline Moffitt Watts), in his personal writings, Columbus focused on two key themes: the conversion of all people to the Christian faith, and the re-conquest of Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem and Mount Sion are to be rebuilt by the hand of a Christian; who this is to be God declares by the mouth of His prophet in the fourteenth psalm. Abbot Joachin said that he was to come from Spain.”

~Columbus’ Ultimate Goal: Jerusalem, page 266

Was Columbus Jewish? If so, was he Messianic (Jewish believer in Christ)? We don’t know for certain, but he surely had Jewish tendencies, and he seemed to think a Christian would rebuild Jerusalem and Mount Zion! Was he referencing himself in that quote, knowing salvation would come out of Zion!?! (Read Psalm 14, which he referenced in the quote above!)

If so, Columbus did not realize his dream of restoring Jerusalem, but he opened a gateway for Puritans to lay claim to a “New Jerusalem” in New England. It is upon that foundation that colonists began to shape their vision of this new land, ultimately called America! It was within America that appreciation for God’s grace, mercy and lovingkindness were kindled.

It was in America and her fight for freedom from religious tyranny that new life was birthed, then exported around the globe! America also became a safe haven for millions of Jews, who, throughout generations, would not have survived the inquisitions, crusades and Holocaust of Europe.

One for Israel goes on to say:

More than just blessing Israel, the US has been a blessing to all the nations of the earth with the gospel. It’s impossible to calculate the resources generously given by American Christians to advance the kingdom of God throughout the whole world. As a global center for missions, a staggering number of people have been sent out from the US. Many dedicated Americans have gone to the far corners of the earth and even sacrificed their lives for the sake of the gospel.

~Columbus and Jerusalem, accessed 11/23/2020

So, this thanksgiving, we give thanks to God for the oft-maligned Christopher Columbus, following whose adventures Thanksgiving had its beginning. We also give thanks for the privilege of being Americans. Yet, I challenge us as Christians, to be as committed to our “cause” as Columbus was. So far, we have not been relieved of our call to bless Israel, and to shine the light of the Gospel far and wide.

As you give thanks this weekend, will you also seek the One who called us by His Name and dare to become “Columbus-like” in commitment?

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