SPECIAL NOTE: The blog posts for the next eight days are connected to Tzedakah Ministries‘ evangelistic/prayer outreach Day of Prayer for the Salvation of the Jewish People (2015) that culminates on 16 January 2015. Each of the blog posts are specially tailored to serve as a devotional guide on how to pray for the Jewish people for on each particular day leading up to January 16th and the next day. Tzedakah Ministries hopes that these blogs will assist you in praying for the Jewish people and will equip in knowing how to share Messiah Jesus with the people for whom Jesus first came … #Rom116TTJF!
Responding to Secular Judaism with the Truth of Messiah Jesus
Faranak Margolese wrote a fascinating book entitled Off the Derech about the growing number of Orthodox Jewish people who are leaving the restrictive Rabbinic environment for something else … anything else. However, it is not only the Orthodox Jewish community that is experiencing an “exodus” from the religion of Judaism. Other religious denominations within Judaism are experiencing their own migration as reflected by the 2013 Pew Research Center Survey on American Judaism.
- Conservative Judaism has lost approximately half of their membership
- Only 31% of the Jewish people in the United States belong to a synagogue
- While 22% of American Jewish adults state that they are Jewish but have no religion, 32% of young Jewish people (i.e., the Millennial Generation) have no religious ties to Judaism but identify as Jewish
- 62% of all American Jews believe that being Jewish is “mainly a matter of ancestry and culture”
- 66% of Jewish people in the United States do not believe it is necessary to believe in GOD to be Jewish
It is not just the Orthodox Jewish community that is going “Off the Derech” but also of Judaism; however, the question must be asked just what does the Derech mean? The Hebrew idea of Derech can be found in many places throughout the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament); however, Tzedakah Ministries found a fascinating example in 1 Kings 2:3 that needs to be explored in more detailed.
Before David died, he encouraged Solomon with these words,
“And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his WAYS, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself:”
The word “ways” in the KJV is the plural form of the word Derech (דֶּרֶךְ). It also can be understood as “journey” or “course” or “direction.” In modern Judaism, Derech is recognized as the prescribed and many feel burdensome restrictions of Rabbinic Judaism. This includes the 613 commandments of Torah along with the Talmud and the Mishnah and the Gemara and all the other minutae regulations that go along with “being a good Jew.” This was one of the reasons why Conservative and Reform Judaism came to the forefront in 19th century Englightened Europe. This is one of the reasons why 20th and 21st century Judaism has seen the rise of Reconstructionism and secular Judaism. Rabbinic Derech is just too heavy of a burden to bear!
However, and if one recognizes and shares with the Jewish people that Biblical Derech truly is more about the journey of faith, Christians and churches are able to lead Secular Jewish people and all Jewish people to the promise and hope of Messiah Jesus in which His words offer comfort, hope, and ultimate redemption – “Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)