For the week of December 8, 2012 / 24 Kislev  5773
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 37:1 - 40:23
Haftarah: Amos 2:6 - 3:8


Don't Give In!

How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God? (Bereshit / Genesis 39:9; CJB)

This year Hanukkah is from December 9 - 16, 2012; the first candle is lit the evening of December 8. Hanukkah retells the story of the Jewish revolt against Greco-Syrian control that occurred around 165 years before the coming of Yeshua. The emperor, Antiochus Epiphanes, sought to consolidate his rule by forcing his subjects, Jewish ones included, to adopt Greek customs. Many in Israel submitted to these pagan practices, until a cohen (English: priest) by the name of Mattityahu refused. A small Jewish army, known as the Maccabees, led by Mattityahu's son Judah, eventually defeated the large and heavily armed Greco-Syrian force.

People who seek to please God often face pressure to conform to the dominant culture in which they live. In this week's Torah portion we see how Joseph, one of Abraham's great grandchildren, also stood against great pressure. Even though in this case, the pressure didn't come from the culture, but from a particular individual, the principles of resistance are similar.

Joseph knew that his master's wife's advances put him in a no-win situation. To give in may have provided temporary relief from the pressure but would have most likely cost him his life. Yet resisting her, apart from being a difficult thing to do, would most likely get him into great trouble, which is in fact what happened. She eventually falsely accused him of the very thing she was tempting him to do. She managed to successfully frame him and Joseph spent years unjustly imprisoned. In the end God used him for great things, which would not have happened had he given into the evil he faced.

Joseph's predicament is a graphic illustration of what it is like to stand against the pressure of a culture that constantly nags us into submission. But unless we, like Joseph, are motivated by a deep desire to please God above everything else, we will not be able to resist.

For some, it's too late. Just like in the days of the Maccabees, when many Jewish people gave into the pressure of assimilation, so today many who claim to be part of God's people have embraced the ungodly values and practices of the dominant culture. Here are some examples: The Bible teaches that there is only one God and one way to God, the Messiah Yeshua. Yet many today are ashamed of the exclusive nature of biblical faith. Less and less people regard the Bible's view of family, and children in particular, as God's intentional model for living, thinking that people have improved upon the teaching of Scripture. Many have exchanged God's version of love and sexuality for that of the world's, disregarding the sacredness of the marriage covenant, while pursuing relationships with selfish motives.

The only way to effectively resist the pressure to adopt unbiblical principles such as these, is to not give in. Resistance can be difficult and painful, but following God isn't always easy. Yeshua's dying on our behalf was not so that we would not have to resist cultural pressure, but by conquering death through his resurrection, he proves that we can resist no matter how difficult it gets.

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