The story of Hanukkah reminds us that when we do the right thing and refuse to compromise with the ungodly culture of this world, God will bless us and provide for us. After Alexander and the Greeks conquered the world in 333 BC, their goal was to ‘Hellenize” the entire world, to make Greek culture THE only culture. For a time, the Jewish people were allowed to keep their customs and faith, but in 169 BCE, Antiochus Ephiphanes basically forbid everything of God, and forced Hellenism on them. This meant that the Jewish people had to accept Greek language, worship of their gods, government, dress, worldview of humanism and relativism, names, and sports (which were done naked and events began by contestants offering sacrifices to Greek gods). Many Jews compromised their faith. I’m sure it wasn’t an overnight decision or occurrence. A culture would almost never choose to all of a sudden abandon everything it believes and completely accept an opposing worldview. Usually it is a slow process of assimilation and desensitization, little by little beliefs and ideals are compromised, bits of the opposing world view are slowly blended in, until one day it has become THE culture.
I believe that we are in a very similar situation right now in our culture. Twenty or thirty years ago, we would never have accepted the messages that come across through today’s television, movies, games, music, and internet. We would have been appalled and protested vehemently. However, it’s been a very slow process of assimilation and desensitization which actually started back in the 60s but has rapidly accelerated over the past 10 years or so. Our culture is no longer one that is based on Judeo-Christian beliefs and ethics.
The messages that we receive from our modern culture undeniably oppose a biblical worldview. I could easily list many pages of messages that our culture blasts at us telling us how we should view sex, marriage, sin, the sanctity of life, moral relativism, God, the family, relationships of all kinds, parents, children, respect, heroes, the occult, government, integrity, wisdom, possessions, etc.
To demonstrate this process of assimilation, I often use a visual which includes drops of food coloring, a clear glass of water and a light behind it. One small drop of food coloring may give the water a slight tint, but the light can still get through. Each drop in itself is not enough to pollute the water. Over time however, after a series of one drop after another, the colors begin to blend together until eventually the water is black and the light is completely blocked. That’s a picture of us and of our culture. None of us would choose to look like the black water, but slowly over time, drop by drop by drop – each time we compromise and accept the messages of today’s culture — eventually all of God’s light within us and within our culture is blocked. When God’s light and truth is blocked, then what results are the school shootings, the recent election results, etc. etc. WIthout the light and truth of God in this world, evil prevails.
Now the Maccabees on the other hand, chose to obey God’s Word, stand up for their beliefs, risk their lives, and in God’s power and might, they miraculously defeated the mighty Greek/Syrian army. That should give us hope and courage, that when we obey God’s Word and do the right thing, when we stand up for what we believe no matter what, and say NO to assimilation (Titus 2:12), God is faithful, He will provide for us, fight for us, and bless us.
Many times throughout the book of Deuteronomy, God tells us that He will bless us when we obey His Word (Deut 8:1; 28:1-2; 30:16, 20); but if we disobey and follow after other gods, then we will be destroyed – individually and as a culture (Deut 8:19-20; 28:15; 30:17-18). He has given us free will to choose life or death, blessings or curses (Deut 30:15,19).
Some of the reasons why we may find it challenging to say NO to the messages of our ungodly culture include fear, fear of rejection, fear of criticism, lack of knowledge of God’s Word, lack of awareness of Satan’s deceptions and schemes (1 Pet 5:8), and a less obvious one that I would like to focus on here which I call “misperceptions of God.”
Satan continually tries to deceive us into thinking that God is trying to withhold something good from us. This is nothing new, he tried this with Eve in the garden thousands of years ago, it worked, and so he’s still using this same tactic today.
Consequently, we believe that if we follow God’s way, we will somehow be deprived of something good, something that we need to be happy. We forget however, that it was God who created us, He designed us and therefore only He knows exactly what we need. His plans for us are for GOOD and not for evil, to give us a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11); ALL of His ways are GOOD (Ps. 25:10)!
These misperceptions of God come from various places — they can come from the culture through media, magazines, books, advertising, movies, internet, etc. and they can also come from our strongholds. When we have false beliefs about ourselves in our hearts (such as: I’m not wanted, I’m unlovable, I don’t exist, I deserve to be rejected, I’m not worth your time, I’m on my own, I’m always to blame, I have to be perfect, I have to hold all things together, I don’t matter, I’m bad, I’m not worth protecting, etc.) they will tend to distort how we see God, and result in misperceptions of Him (such as: God just wants to use me too; He’s not there when I need Him, He’s disappointed or angry with me, He sees me as a failure, He wants me to feel guilty, He wants me to be miserable, I have to be perfect for Him to love and accept me, I’m not worth His time, He heals and answers others’ prayers but not mine, etc.) that will impact how we see Him and how we think He sees us!
Satan loves to get us to blame God for what he is doing. He wants us to believe and blame God for trying to rip us off from something good, when it’s really the enemy who is trying to rip us off from everything good. He is the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10); God comes that we might have life (John 10:10).
God gives us His laws and commandments out of His deep, incredible love for us because He wants us to be protected from harm, death, evil, and destruction. He doesn’t want us to experience the pain and separation from Him that sin brings. He wants us to be protected, full of joy and love, healthy, secure, fulfilled, have purpose and meaning, experience love in relationships, and not to be isolated and alone. He wants everything for us that we want deep down in our hearts, because He is the one who put those desires there in the first place. Satan deceives us into thinking just the opposite –that God wants to deprive us or rip us off from those desires in our heart to be loved, fulfilled, have meaning and purpose, joy, happiness, etc.
Ask God to show you what lies you are believing about Him deep down in your heart that make it difficult for you to say NO to the messages of this world. Ask Him to show you whose face you are putting on Him; how you believe He’s seeing you; what you believe He’s saying to you; and where you believe He is in the picture of your circumstances. Confess the lies that He shows you as sin (Rom. 14:23). Ask Him to speak to your heart and show you the truth about who He is, how He sees you and who you are in Him.
In what ways have you compromised with the non-biblical worldviews of this current culture? What messages relating to sex, marriage, sin, the sanctity of life, moral relativism, God, the family, relationships of all kinds, parents, children, respect, heroes, the occult, government, integrity, wisdom, possessions, etc. have you taken into your heart and life as acceptable? Confess believing the lies of these messages as sin, ask God to show you His truth and to give you the courage to stand up for what is right and true. When you do the right thing and refuse to compromise with the ungodly culture of this world, God will bless you and provide for you. He has set before you today life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you may truly live (Deut 30:19).
This is the last of eight blogs covering the themes of Hanukkah including: Why Celebrate Hanukkah, The Hope of Hanukkah, Hope for Israel, A Light in the Darkness, The Temple: God Redefined, Let God Fight for You, Great Miracles Still Happen Today, and Do the Right Thing. If you’ve missed any, you can find them all on my website at www.jeannenigro.com/blog. I pray they have been a blessing to you! If you’d like to share an example of how God has used these blogs in your life, please drop me a line. I’d love to know. May you continue to draw closer to Him and experience more of His love, wisdom and power in your life each and every day!
Titus 2:12 – It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.
Deut 8:1 – Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers.
Deut 28:1-2 – If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God.
Deut 30:16 – For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
Deut 30:20 – and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Deut 8:19 – 20 -If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the LORD destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God.
Deut 28:15 – However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:
Deut 30:17 – But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them,
Deut 30:18 – I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
Deut 30:15 – See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.
Deut 30:19 – This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.
1 Pet 5:8 – Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Jer 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Ps 25:10 – All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant.
John 10:10 – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
Rom 14:23 – everything that does not come from faith is sin.