"Assimilation poses a greater danger to the people of God than persecution" FirstFruits of Zion
Jordan Valley - & mountains of Moav
Dictionary definition of assimilation
2. Physiology The conversion of nutriments into living tissue; constructive metabolism.
3. Linguistics The process by which a sound is modified so that it becomes similar or identical to an adjacent or nearby sound. For example, the prefix in- becomes im- in impossible by assimilation to the labial p of possible.
4. The process whereby a minority group gradually adopts the customs and attitudes of the prevailing culture.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Toynbee regards assimilation and intermarriage as beneficial and a natural process. By assimilating, a Jew is "deserting the Diaspora individually in order to lose himself in the ranks of a modern, Western, gentile, urban bourgeoisie."
Assimilation is of concern to Jewish communities who fear that when members marry outside the faith that they will be lost to the Jewish community, leading eventually to its disappearance. While this particular form of assimilation is a Jewish concern, Assimilation is also dangerous to Christians.
From the Torah portion Exodus (Shemot) 1:1-6:1 - A study from First Fruits of Zion
Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. (Exodus 1:6)
When Jacob first went down to Egypt, he went only to sojourn there until the famine had passed. It was supposed to be temporary. But the temporary stay turned into what looked like permanent residence. They settled, and they prospered. They might have remained in Egypt, happy and well fed. Life in Egypt was good. Perhaps it was too good.
Happy, well-fed and prosperous, the children of Israel could have easily forgotten about their great spiritual heritage. Content with the comforts and luxuries of Egypt, they might have abandoned their aspirations of inheriting Canaan. Who would want Canaan when he already had Egypt?
The children of Israel found their situation in Egypt suddenly reversed when the Egyptian government forced the Hebrews into servitude. A person becomes accustomed to privileges and luxuries and begins to think of those things as necessities. Things that, at one time, he could not afford, and therefore did not worry about, become indispensable needs as he prospers. His own wealth and success become "golden handcuffs" from which he cannot escape. While we are in the service of materialism, our spiritual health inevitably suffers. Yeshua warned us, saying, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth" (Matthew 6:24).
While in Egypt, Israel was lured by the attractions of Egyptian society. They began to assimilate into the larger culture. Assimilation poses a greater danger to the people of God than persecution. When we are persecuted, we band closely together and firm up our convictions. We remember that we are not part of the greater culture. When we are received into the culture, though, we lose those distinctions, and we begin to lose our identity. We fall sway under the powerful spell of social allure.
The rabbis speculated that something like this was happening in Egypt. One Jewish collection of commentary on the book of Exodus suggests that the Israelites went so far as to quit circumcising their sons so that their children would fit in better with Egyptians:
When Joseph died, the Children of Israel abrogated the ritual of circumcision. They said, "Let's be like the Egyptians." Because they quit circumcising themselves, the Holy One, Blessed be He, reversed the Egyptians' friendly attitude toward them. (Shemot Rabbah 1:8)
Instead of settling down and trying to fit into Egyptian culture, the children of Israel ought to have been looking toward the return to Canaan. By remaining in Egypt, they made themselves (and especially their children) vulnerable to Egyptian culture. They were already entering spiritual enslavement long before their physical enslavement began.
Whether it is the trappings of wealth or the pressures of socialization, we must beware of allowing ourselves to become spiritually enslaved. The children of Israel may have fallen victim to both. Real, physical enslavement followed quickly.
At first sight, the Christian may read this study as a Jewish problem that could not affect us, or as a lecture about wealth. But it points to the heart of the problem, to the much more insidious danger of cultural assimilation. If you believe that we live in Christendom (in a Christian country) assimilation could not logically be possible. However, Jesus and the apostles taught us that we who have been born again will be living in a world hostile to us and all we stand for.
Lessons from History
For the Jews of twentieth century Europe, cultural assimilation led to the tragedy of the Holocaust. Although God send prophets like Zeev Jabotinsky to warn the Jews of the Diaspora of what was coming, most Jews in Germany and elsewhere, believed that they were fully integrated citizens of the nations where they were living. Indeed, many were prominent members of society and the intellectual elite. Very few could think of leaving all that behind in order to make the long trek to live in the impoverished British Mandate Palestine.
The assimilation of Europe's Jews was not so much a case of losing members due to marrying out as losing their own identity as Jews and viewing themselves as Germans, Poles, etc. They adopted the social conventions and outlook of their Gentile neighbours.
David Pawson @ 2013 ICEJ Conference in Billinge
While speaking about the Jewish perspective on the Holocaust, he discussed, "Did the Jews deserve the Holocaust." This sounds very hard, but it must be addressed. We desire that the lesson of the Holocaust should be learned, that it "never happens again," but what is the lesson?
The Jews are God's chosen - covenant people, to be God's light to the Gentiles; to show the world what God is like. They were to be different. The 613 mitzvot (commandments) ruled every part of life and demonstrate God's concern with purity; even down to not making garments from mixed fibres.
God's covenant carried sanctions. He promised to bless them more than any nation if they complied but to curse them more than any nation if they failed, and he gave them a choice whether to accept or reject the conditions of being chosen. They said "we will"; like in a wedding.
The Bible records Israel's failure to live up to the promise far more honestly than any other nation's history. Why? Because we need to learn the lesson that it has for us all; unless you hold to replacement theology and believe that Christians inherit the blessings but Jews inherit the curses.
Sadly, the Jews of the Diaspora deserved the Holocaust because they had assimilated and become just like their neighbours. They kept the Jewish rituals like Shabbat, circumcision etc, but they were living as good Germans.
God does not punish without first sending warnings through prophets, and he sent Jabotinsky with the message, "Liquidate the Diaspora before it liquidates you." Hertzl organised the Zionist movement to call Jews to make Aliyah to their homeland because he saw the Dreyfus affair in France and realised that Jews were no longer safe in the Diaspora. But his message was rejected and the Jews of Germany forced the cancellation of his conference in Munich so that it had to be held in Basel, Switzerland. When God's warnings are ignored, he will withdraw his hand of protection, as he did, resulting in the Babylonian exile.
Through Ezekiel God said, "You say we want to be like the nations, but it will never happen. YHVH said, "I will rule over you" The problem was, there was nothing distinctive about them.
Theodore Hertzl called the Jews to return home (50 years in advance of the creation of the Jewish state) but many Jews still refuse to listen and continue to live in the Diaspora because they are more comfortable there and have businesses there.
Israel is assimilated into the democratic world and shares in its sins. Wildolive stands up against demonization of Israel because Israel is not an evil nation, but Israel was not called to be merely as good as the nations, but to be an outstanding light to the nations. Bible prophecy suggests that Israel will suffer one last time for being like the nations (end of Zechariah)
The Jews still need to learn this lesson from the Holocaust.
So what must Christians learn from this?
There is a challenging parallel in that Christians living are in exile from their spiritual homeland.
Are we really different in our lifestyle, pursuits and ambitions or are we the same as those around us apart from the trimmings of religion?
Paul warned us, in his olive tree parable, Rom 11:20
"because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee."God will deal with the Church if we are not different from the world.
As discussed elsewhere, many Christians have a world-view on many topics that they have picked up without thinking from the world's sources all around us.
The world is not God's kingdom at present; he is allowing Satan to rule it for the time being. Eph_6:12
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Our media is not God's mouthpiece, whatever pious slogans may adorn their headquarters.
Many Christians have trouble believing that our God really created the heavens and the earth in six days, as he tells us, because they have absorbed the media explanation that science is rational while religion is irrational. Unbelief looks at several areas in which a majority appear to share the beliefs of their secular neighbours and sneer at Christians who take the Bible at face value.
What will these assimilated Christians do when persecution or indeed The Tribulation comes upon them? Will they be prepared to trust in God for their very survival, or will they be overwhelmed when the people to whom they belonged and with whom they identified turn out to be implacable enemies?
Jesus / Yeshua warned of being taken unawares - Matthew 24:38
For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be"Our readiness and faithfulness will become crucial, as it was for the wise and foolish virgins of Matthew 25.
How can you say this to the Church?
Look at the statistics for marriage breakup and infidelity within churches - the statistics are difficult to distinguish from those in the world outside.
Look at many of the pronouncements from churchmen who clearly follow the philosophy and thinking of the world rather than the Bible, and seek to spiritualise away the clear sense of important Bible teachings.
The Church appears to be in serious trouble. Why? - Read more
How many of us form our world-view from the TV and explain our Bible in the terms used by the broadcasters?
Perhaps it is easier for the Jew who wants to hold on to his Jewish identity. Although the Jew would probably say that life is much harder if he chooses to hold on to his identity in terms of religious identifying marks like a kippah or a Magen David. Some European police forces are warning Jews against any such identification to avoid abuse and assault. (Anti-Semitism)
While a Jew is a Jew racially, a Christian will be, racially British, American, Dutch or whatever.
Christians in some lands can be identified by their customary appearance and are indeed persecuted for it (even if they are culturally Christians) Christians in so called "Christian countries" do not automatically stand out,
Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, gained headlines for his message that "Christians 'feel cowed into silence'" in modern Britain, and he accuses the government of failing to defend Christianity. He also said that the government's failure to confront the targeting of members of the faith is "Strange and inexplicable."
It is good that he also drew attention to how Christians are suffering in the Middle East, but it highlighted the contrast that we Christians in the UK are not suffering anything significant. We should be able to live with a bit of scorn or discrimination. Jesus told us to expect persecution in the world, and said, "Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you." He also said, Matthew 5:10
"How blessed are those who are persecuted because they pursue righteousness! for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
Our persecution should come because of righteousness and spiritual fruit; not for being irritating religious nutcases.
Our only sure way of avoiding sticking out and attracting hostility is to assimilate and be like all those around us, and as we have seen above, this is not what God requires of us.
Lord Carey spoke to Christians, saying that the name of Jesus can allow churches "in all their weakness" to become strong once more.
See also persecution
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