February 6, 1994
This is the seventh and shortest
division of the Lord's sermon on the mount. Though this verse
appears to stand alone, it does not.
There are three contexts which we should examine in order to understand our Lord's words here: 1) the context of the OT law; 2) the context of the sermon itself, 3) the context of the verse itself.
1) The first context is the context of the OT law.
We mentioned that the Lord's sermon simply takes the Mosaic law and gives it the understanding that the Lord meant for it to have when He gave that law. The law is found in:
Ex 22:31 And ye shall be holy men unto me: neither shall ye eat [any] flesh [that is] torn of beasts in the field; ye shall cast it to the dogs.
We will not check the references, but the law required that eatable animals be killed in such a manner as to allow them to be properly bled. By eatable meat, we mean meat approved by Scripture which excludes dogs and pigs. The slaughter practices of our nation have abided by this law. In fact, we hear a lot about Kosher meat; actually, all of our beef and muttonKosher. But, from what I understand, Kosher actually today goes far beyond the Biblical requirements; Kosher removes the blood vessels from the meat.
Ex 22:31, obviously refers to meat that was not properly bled. The beasthad been found dead in the field. It had been either killed by a wild animal or maybe had died on its own. Regardless of its manner of death, because the meat was not properly bled, it was to be considered unclean. I might mention also, this includes deer found killed along the road. Unless the deer is still alive and can be properly bled, it should not be eaten.
By the way, this law is not unreasonable at all: good health practice alone requires meat to be properly bled.
The unbled meat was unclean, and was not to be eaten by the Lord's people, for they were holy. The meat, however, could be given to dogs.
Who or what were these dogs? Again, this question must be answered by the Word of God. We find the unbled meat referred to again in Deut 14:21,and this time we are told what God permits to be done with it:
Deut 14:21 Ye shall not eat [of] any thing that dieth of itself: thou shalt give it unto the stranger that [is] in thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou [art] an holy people unto the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.
Thus when we put Ex 22:31 together with Deut 14:21, we see that dogsrefer to any people other than His people. Though the Israelite was not to eat anything that was not bled properly, he could give or sell it to strangers.
Lev 17:15 connects that which died of itself with that which was torn with beasts...
(And every soul that eateth that which died [of itself], or that which was torn [with beasts, whether it be] one of your own country, or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes, and bathe [himself] in water, and be unclean until the even: then shall he be clean.)
Thus we see that The Law referred to those other than of God's people as dogs and wild beasts. The torn meat was to be cast to the dogs.
There is a stronger usage of the word dog:
De 23:18 Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these [are] abomination unto the LORD thy God.
The Word of God refers to sodomites as dogs. Here God forbids the giving to Himself any part of the wages of unrighteousness. In other words, the male or female prostitute could not bring any portion of his or her wage of whoredoms to the Lord.
Thus the so called "Sin taxes" cannot be used to finance the work of God or good works of any kind. We might mention that this alone forbids any gambling to finance the church, e.g., BINGO. (ill, two soldiers in fox hole, pray, b i n g o.)
Dogs, therefore, were not literal dogs. It was a figure of speech used in the law to describe those other than of God's people.
2) the second context of Mat 7:6 is the context of the sermon itself.
We must remember that the entire message, chs. 5, 6, 7, is directed primarily to the disciples, 5:1, 2. Therefore, this verse is directed primarily to the new preachers who will be presenting the mew message of the King and His Kingdom. But, of course, it applies to all of God's messengers since.
Furthermore, 7:6 follows vv. 1-5. 1-5 referred to correcting the faults in others. The purpose of preaching and teaching the word of God is to instruct and correct the hearers according to the truths found in the Word of God. 1-5 told the new preachers that their lives must be above reproach before they can preach to others.
Moreover, 1-5 tell preachers of all ages the same thing: their lives must always be above reproach.
There are a great many passages telling preachers that their first responsibility is to keep their own lives and families straight according to the word of God. In fact, if the pastor/teacher does not, he is disqualified to preach and teach the word of God. One such passage is found in
1 Co 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
When Paul gave the qualifications of church leadership to Timothy and Titus, he said the same thing as our Lord did in vv. 1-5. The preacher/teacher must be clean.
3) the third context is the context of the verse itself.
We see from that context that the ones being compared to unclean dogs and swine are dangerous: they are antagonistic toward the word of God because they rend the teacher that tries to instruct them.
I know professed Christians who do the same thing. Rather than receive instruction from the word of God and God's teachers, they turn and rend the teacher.
The key to understanding the Lord's meaning is His words, Give not that which is holy unto the dogs... Those to whom the Lord was speaking, His disciples, well knew what He meant when He used the term, dogs. Of course, we cannot identify its meaning from our society because our society is far different from the society of His day. The Lord was speaking to a basically Hebrew, Israelite society well versed in the Law of Moses. Thus when He used the term dog, His hearers immediately knew what He said.
It is obvious, then, that Mat 7:6, dogs, is not referring to a small animal; rather, it is referring to those other than the people of God, and who are hostile toward the Word and work of God. It is a metaphor that refers to a person with an impure, hostile mind against the word of God.
7:6, they trample them (pearls, or the words of life) under their feet.
The Lord Jesus is pretty plain spoken here: in this short statement, He tells these preachers that they are not to give the gospel to those who will mock it or who will spue their contempt upon it.
The Lord further explained what He meant when He made the statement we have recorded in
Mt 10:14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
The disciples obeyed the Lord's instruction in Ac 13:51 But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.
The Lord dealt with Peter's aversion against going to the non-Israelites by showing him that they could no longer be considered wild beasts and dogs which had to be avoided. But the Lord also said that those being presented with the gospel must be receptive, or the preacher is wasting his time.
Actually, this is a command for our day that forbids taking the gospel to campuses' of institutions where the student body mocks and ridicules the message of Christ.
The Lord here tells His disciples that they are not to go out of their way to take the Holy Gospel to those who are antagonistic toward the Word of God. If the hearer is antagonistic toward the word of God, if the hearer is a hater of Christ and the Gospel of Christ, he is to be left alone. The gospel to him will only harden him farther against Christ. Furthermore, his hardness will discourage the preacher.
If you will follow the spread of the Gospel in the NT, you will find that the Lord and the messengers He left behind never presented the gospel or the laws of the Kingdom to any who did not express an interest in hearing about King and His kingdom.
The Lord and the disciples may have worked to spark that interest, viz.,woman at the well, but as far as just indiscriminately spreading the gospel, they did not.
Even though the multitudes followed Christ, it was primarily for the food He provided. He refused to commit Himself to the crowd that followed Him because He knew what was in the heart of man. The basic thrust of His messages, even when He preached to the multitudes, was for the benefit of His disciples.
Notice to whom the gospel went: 10 points,
1) Jn 1:41, Andrew brought his brother Simon to the Lord. 2) Jn 1:43ff, Philip brought his brother Nathanael to the Lord. 3) Mark 2:4, the roof was broken up by friends for a friend.
4) Acts 25:22, Paul spoke very boldly to King Agrippa, but the king asked him about the gospel. The apostles spoke boldly in the temple and synagogues without necessarily being invited, but those present expressed an interest in the God of Israel and were looking for the Messiah.
5) when asked by the high priest about his faith, Philip preached, Acts 7. But the dogs ("Jews" in that case) turned and rent him to pieces anyway.
6) The first sermon in the NT preached after Christ left, was to those who gathered together to find out what was going on, Acts 2:4-6.
7) Peter's second sermon was in the Temple where folks were gathered, interested in the promised Messiah.
8) Peter's third sermon to the high priest, Acts 4, was because the high priest asked him about the situation, v. 7. Then in fulfillment of the promise that the Spirit would give the answer, Peter spoke, v. 8ff.
9) In Acts 5:12ff, we find that the multitudes came to the first preachers to hear what was being said.
10) Acts 17:16, Paul's spirit was stirred when he saw the city given to idolatry, but he did not stand on the street corner and preach. He traced the root of the problem to the synagogue: in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
Thus Paul's message of Christ was restricted to only those who expressed an interest in the message by being in the synagogue, and then latter on the street. Maybe their interest on the street was only ridicule, but it was an interest nevertheless. Paul's message on Mars Hill was delivered by invitation of mocking philosophers, superstitious Athenians and strangers.(v. 18)
We will find it totally consistent throughout the NT, even in the travels of Paul: the apostles always went first to the synagogues where those assembled were looking for the Messiah, the Jewish hope, Acts 17:2...
One more point from v. 6:
The ministers of God's word must not give false comfort to their hearers. The churches that are growing today, as a rule, are the ones that are giving holy things to dogs and casting pearls to swine. In other words, they are saying peace, peace when there is no peace; they are quieting when they should be disquieting their hearers.
We must pray that the Lord will make hearts receptive. We must pray that the Lord will lead us to those in whom He has and is working. We must pray that our own heart will be sensitive to His leading and that we will not miss an opportunity to speak up for Him.
I have heard people brag about their spirituality because they witnessed to the hardest person in town. They exalted themselves because the dogs rent them and the swine trample the gospel.
How many have been discouraged because they insisted on pressing the gospel on those who not only did not want to hear but were antagonistic against the words of Life? Then the dogs turned and the swine trampled...
As we search the Scriptures, we will find that the gospel went to those who gathered to hear it; it went to those friends and acquaintance who expressed an interest.
Thus we must conclude that the major spread of the gospel is to those you know. It is the life and words of the Christian that influences his friends and neighbors for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Yes, we must go to every creature with the gospel because we are commanded to go, but the ones who are antagonistic are to be left alone. There are many who want to hear what the Spirit has to say.
Let's go find them.
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