Archive for April, 2012

Matthew 7:6 – “JESUS IS SO INSULTING?”

Pig-Dog

Why does the Bible appear to be so JUDGMENTAL, INSULTING and ANTAGONISTIC in it’s imagery at times. Even Jesus calls people dogs and hogs. How can He be so INSULTING? Although this association with being part of the animal kingdom may appeal to the Evolutionists, not everyone likes the idea of being called a WILD DOG, FERAL PIG, GOAT or even a SHEEP.

GOLIATH said to David “Am I a DOG that you come at me with a stick?” (1 Samuel 17:43 NLT). He is obviously insulted by having David as an opponent. Mephibosheth, who has a physical disability, speaks of himself as a DEAD DOG  which doesn’t say much about his self-esteem (2 Samuel 9:8). Shimei, who threw stones at King David is also called a DEAD DOG by Abishai (2 Samuel 16:9) as a term of derision and contempt (with the obvious emphasis on desiring him to be dead). ENEMIES of Israel are called DOGS (Psalm 59:6). Deuteronomy 23:18 calls HOMOSEXUALS (male prostitutes) DOGS. Revelation 22:15 (NLT) includes a host of dogs. It says “Outside the city are the DOGS—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.” FOOLS (those who don’t acknowledge God or obey Him) are called DOGS in Proverbs 26:11.

Those who go HALF-WAY in believing are called DOGS AND PIGS? 2 Peter 2:20-22 (NLT) says “And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life. They prove the truth of this proverb: “A dog returns to its vomit.” And another says, “A washed pig returns to the mud.”” If you want to insult someone it seems calling them a “DOG” or a “PIG” will do it every time!

Jesus calls a person who is ANTAGONISTIC towards God’s Truth a DOG AND A PIG. Jesus says in Matthew 7:6 (NIV) “Do not give DOGS what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to PIGS. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” Someone said followers of Christ “… are not to be judges, but, also, they are not to be fools.” Proverbs 9:8 (NLT) says “So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you. But correct the wise, and they will love you.” Sunshine can hard-bake the earth or melt ice. Discernment seeks an open, receptive heart and not a cynical, antagonistic one.

Jesus refers to a Samaritan woman as a GENTILE “DOG”. Jews in this ancient time did not eat pigs and they despised dogs. He says in Matthew 15:24-26 (NLT) ““I was sent only to help GOD’S LOST SHEEP—THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.” But she came and worshiped Him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the DOGS”” He eventually heals her daughter but today He would be HOUNDED by the press for such a comment and rejected by a large section of the population. He did not apologise.

Is He saying that Christianity is exclusively for Jews? Back in Matthew 10:5 “Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but ONLY TO THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL—GOD’S LOST SHEEP.” There it is again. ONLY ISRAEL! Israelis are likened to SHEEP. Gentiles were seen as PIGS and DOGS! You would think that JESUS IS A RACIST – only concerned for His own nation. No Gentiles. No Samaritans. No Romans. ONLY JEWS.

But then, just when you think you have Jesus pegged as a RACIST, He says in Acts 1:8 (NLT) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me EVERYWHERE—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ENDS OF THE EARTH.” That’s about as inclusive as you can get. John 3:16 certainly isn’t racist – “For God loved the world so much that He gave His One and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

Galatians 3:26-29 (NLT) echoes with all-inclusiveness when it speaks about faith in Christ – “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on the character of Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are His heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.”

So what’s with the seemingly “RACIST” comments as opposed to the inclusive ones? Gentiles change their PIG-DOG status for SHEEP enfolded in God’s flock, when we believe and receive what Christ has done for us when He died on the Cross for our sins. When I was an ENEMY (opposed) to God’s purposes (a DOG and a PIG), He didn’t give up on me.

The invitation is to be a friend not an enemy of God and His purposes, to be enfolded into His flock not savaging them. For followers of Christ it is to share your faith intentionally with those who will receive it and show some discernment with those who don’t.

Pastor Ross

PS If this post has helped you apply the lifechanging truths of the Bible, you are invited to subscribe by clicking the follow button, to make comments and to share these thoughts with your friends. It would be a privilege to share these conversations with people like you and others all around the world.

Matthew 7:6 – PIGSLOP OR PEARLS?

Pig-Slop or Pearls?

Atheist Richard Dawkins was in Australia recently for the GLOBAL ATHEIST CONVENTION which started in Melbourne on Good Friday. Dawkins is well-known for encouraging his fellow atheists to ridicule those who claim to be Christians. “Mock them, ridicule them in public,” he urged in one brief address. “Don’t fall for the convention that we’re all too polite to talk about religion.” The so-called “Reason Rally” coincides with Easter Celebrations. Christians turned up to a “Reason for Faith Rally” in Australia, challenging Dawkins and his Atheist friends.

On Easter Monday night Dawkins participated in a televised debate with Catholic Archbishop Pell on faith and religion. Journalist Tony Jones who moderated the debate, described it as “a remarkable match-up – a title fight of belief,” according to the Canberra Times. The television program conducted a poll beforehand, in which 76 percent of the 20,000 Australian respondents voted that religious belief does not make the world a better place.

Jesus says in Matthew 7:6 (NIV) “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your PEARLS TO PIGS. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” Being likened to Dogs (a term used for Gentiles whom they despised) and Pigs (an unclean black-market animal, a demonic hiding place) is not exactly flattering, but it does get the point across.

The unmistakable, musty, matted smell of DOGS, mongrels who scavenge among the refuse of the city, savage and hungry, is present on the same breeze that carries the aroma of burnt offerings.

Wild dogs lope in the side shadows, irresistibly drawn by their hunger, looking for opportunities to snatch scraps or attack if they can. They snarl at the vigilance of the temple guards, and resist their efforts to dissuade them. Jesus appears to be including the Pharisees as He speaks of dogs and pigs. The Pharisees of today still seek to devour Jesus and attack His followers. 1 Peter 5:8-9 (NLT) says “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith…”

So I bring my sacrifice to the temple, so to speak, to be presented to the Lord, amidst the crowds and noise of the city. A part of it will be burnt on the altar, part of it will be eaten by the priest, and part of it I will take home for my family. How vile it would be to desecrate the choicest pieces of my sacrificial offering by throwing it to dogs. No, I will freely lay it on the altar to God. I will not waste that which is sacred on those who would consume it’s benefits without a thought of its significance, then savage the hand that feeds them. My life of faith is not to be devoured by those who want to play games, mocking and ridiculing Christ.

Pigs will eat just about anything and a lot of it, so pretending to feed wild pigs is stupid. It gets them annoyed and they are liable to get vicious. A pig doesn’t want pearls. It wants slop not Salvation, grain not Grace, corn not Christ, muck-raking not Miracles.

Jesus says to His disciples in Matthew 10:14 (NLT) “If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave.” A pearl is priceless, but not to a pig. I need to discern who I speak to about Christ and who I allow to speak into my life. Those who make judgments which are critical and petty and derogatory concerning faith in Christ are the hogs and the dogs, false teachers who flatter the ears of the world and revile Christ with their course language, deceitful religious systems or self-willed lifestyles, those who parade reason as their motto but are unwilling to look beyond themselves.

In John 8:43-45 (NLT) Jesus says to those who reject and revile Him, “Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me!”

Obviously it is no good wasting time on people who are not going to be receptive. No use trying to heal someone who wants to remain sick. No use casting out demons from someone who actively invites them in. No use casting pearls before pigs. No use preaching the gospel of “peace with God” to someone who is not receptive. No use speaking Words of Life to those who have committed spiritual suicide. Receptivity is important. 

The disciples shake the very dust from their feet. Nothing given, nothing received. It’s as if the footprints in that place indicating your presence have disappeared in the dust. There is nothing to say that you have been there, and the influence and impact of God’s message is withdrawn …

… Yet the Father waits, knowing it is better to leave them, prodigal-son-like, hungry and wallowing in a purposeless pig-slop life in the hope that one day they will turn back home.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 7:1-2 – BOOMERANGS, MIRRORS AND GLASS HOUSES

Boomerangs, Mirrors and Glass Houses

He turns right slightly, his sinewed muscles and black skin responding to the direction of the wind. Standing sideways with his feet-apart, his left foot forward, he points with his left hand in the direction of intended flight, just above the horizon. He holds the tip of a strange curved wooden object, his thumb on top and three fingers below. Cocking it back to ensure a good spin and stepping sharply forward with his left foot, he thrusts this carved, curled, curious object overhand as if he were throwing a spear, giving it a whip-like flick with his index finger just before it is released. With a smooth breathlike whoosh, the BOOMERANG takes a spectacular flight in a distinct curve to the left, climbing gently, levelling out and arcing back around toward him as if it is being summoned back to the origin of it’s journey and to the presence of the thrower. As it hovers for a moment he reaches out, deftly catching it. He is already aware of the prey that has been disturbed by it’s flight, and his spear is at hand.

Jesus says “Do not JUDGE others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged” (Matthew 7:1-2 NLT). Judgment boomerangs!

I launch judgments everyday on appearance, behaviour, speech, attitudes, promises, guilt or innocence, who I believe and who I don’t. When Jesus says “Do not JUDGE others…” He does not mean that I never use my DISCERNMENT! The word He uses and the context of this passage suggests judgment which is harsh and petty, given with loveless intention. The invitation He gives to avoid such judgment returning, boomerang-like, is for us to look at ourselves first. MIRROR, MIRROR on the wall, who is the guiltiest of them all? Are the faults I see reflected simply those that I’ve detected in the people I’ve rejected since they look too much like me? Projected judgments return with a vengeance.

So how do we address the sins we see in another person’s life? Jesus isn’t sweet and gentle when He calls the Pharisees “Hypocrites! Whitewashed tombstones! Brood of Snakes!” The Pharisees judge others in all the wrong ways. They are critical, negative, sharp-tongued slanderers whose standards are twisted and distorted by their black hearts. Jesus condemns them for being conceited, spiritually blind, showing a real lack of love, and for being hypocrites. And as He speaks to them, He also speaks to me about this issue. He is looking me directly in the eye and saying, “Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye” (Matthew 7:5 NLT).

People in GLASS HOUSES shouldn’t throw boomerangs! Luke 6:38 (NASB) says “… For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” Haman discovered this when he prepared a gallows for Mordecai (Esther 7:9-10). Kent Hughes says “Very few of us dare to pray, “God, judge me as I judge my fellow men and women.””

Judgments become transformed from weapons of offence to instruments of healing when they are based on a relationship with Christ and a desire to show God’s MERCY and FORGIVENESS, not to condemn. James 2:11-13 (NLT) says “… There will be no MERCY for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when He judges you.” Even the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:12-15 (NLT) says “FORGIVE us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” …“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” When Mercy and forgiveness take flight they return, boomerang-like with a healing touch to our own souls.

The invitation is to look in the mirror, remove the impediments to discernment concerning others, and to see them through the eyes of the Cross. Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT) says “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behaviour. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

Pastor Ross