SPECIAL NOTE: The blog posts for the next five days, and the previous three 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!
What is Birkat HaMinim and What Does it Mean?
A few years ago, I sat in a conference room at a local Jewish Community Center listening to the national director of Jews for Judaism harangue a friend of mine for being a Jewish believer in Jesus. And while I usually keep my mouth closed when I am at events “on traditional Jewish territory,” I could keep my opinion no longer to myself. I had to speak up for he was calling my friend a traitor and slanderer to the Jewish people.
I raised my hand and with all due respect asked the rabbi what was my eternal destiny given that I believed as a Christian that Jesus was not only Messiah but also God if Jesus was not who He professed to be. He hedged. He hemmed and hawed and so I answered the question for him – I told this rabbi that I would be destined for an eternity in hell if Jesus was not Messiah because I would be following the testimony of a heretic and liar. The audience was shocked and there were audible gasps heard. Then I followed up and asked what would happen if Jesus WAS/IS who He professes to be? Incidentally, I had Jewish individuals come up to me and share confidentially that I had given them something to think about … something to consider.
This story leads us into today’s devotional/thought to consider. For you see, Jesus is the “elephant in the room” for most if not all Jewish people … for they have all asked themselves the SECOND question I asked the rabbi. One historical Jewish response was to create a prayer called the Birkat HaMinim incorporated into a larger Jewish prayer called the Amidah. The Birkat HaMinim was composed by the rabbis at Yavneh after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD/CE and included a “desire” for those “slanderers” (HaMinim) to be doomed and be cut down. The question to be asked and answer; therefore, is just who are the HaMinim?
The HaMinim are not Christians, contrary to Medieval arguments. The HaMinim were and are Jewish believers in Jesus. They are considered the “slanderers” because they have abandoned traditional and Rabbinic Judaism. This prayer also indicates a tremendous amount of fear.
Fear within the Jewish community because of what it means – what if they are wrong about Jesus? Now … they will never verbalize this fear but you can see this fear in the eyes when they think no one is looking. You can hear this fear in the quiet whispers as they speak about so-and-so who has become a Christians. You can sense the fear in the body language they exhibit when they encounter a Jewish believer in Jesus. You can read the fear when Tzedakah Ministries receives the emails and Facebook messages from anti-missionaries that alternate between threats and guilt-mongering and pleas to stop sharing Jesus with the Jewish community.
The Birkat HaMinim is truly a tragic prayer because it indicates a loss of hope, a loss of joy, a loss of eternity with God the Father. Christians and churches must introduce the Jewish people to a new prayer, a prayer that is full of hope, a prayer that is full of joy, a prayer that is full of the opportunity to live with Messiah Jesus in the Olam Haba (“world to come”). A prayer that is found in one of the most Jewish chapters of the Bible – Romans 10:9-10, 13.
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.