Jesus commanded His disciples in Matthew 7:6 to 'give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
The Saviour represented the Word of God by a pearl of great price. He sent His disciples out into the world warning them not to give holy things unto the dogs nor cast their pearls before swine. They understood His meaning all too well--that He had placed in their possession truths of the highest value. Truths that were holy and precious. Truths that would transform characters. Truths that they came to know were worth more than life itself. These precious truths were not to be given to dogs or cast before swine. They were not to be given to people who would not appreciate or esteem their value any more than dogs or swine would appreciate the gems given to them at dinner time.
Today, we are to understand that God's Word is holy and of the highest value; we are to discern the nature and character of the people we work with in order to 'give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine.' In this discourse, we'll find out from the life of Jesus when and where He did not give holy things to dogs nor cast His pearls before swine. Jesus is our Example, and we are to follow in His steps.
Luke 23:8-9 - And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.
"Herod questioned Christ in many words, but throughout the Saviour maintained a profound silence. At the command of the king, the decrepit and maimed were then called in, and Christ was ordered to prove His claims by working a miracle. Men say that Thou canst heal the sick, said Herod. I am anxious to see that Thy widespread fame has not been belied. Jesus did not respond, and Herod still continued to urge: If Thou canst work miracles for others, work them now for Thine own good, and it will serve Thee a good purpose. Again he commanded, Show us a sign that Thou hast the power with which rumor hath accredited Thee. But Christ was as one who heard and saw not. The Son of God had taken upon Himself man's nature. He must do as man must do in like circumstances. Therefore He would not work a miracle to save Himself the pain and humiliation that man must endure when placed in a similar position.
"Herod was irritated by this silence. It seemed to indicate utter indifference to his authority. To the vain and pompous king, open rebuke would have been less offensive than to be thus ignored. Again he angrily threatened Jesus, who still remained unmoved and silent.
"The mission of Christ in this world was not to gratify idle curiosity. He came to heal the brokenhearted. Could He have spoken any word to heal the bruises of sin-sick souls, He would not have kept silent. But He had no words for those who would but trample the truth under their unholy feet.
"Christ might have spoken words to Herod that would have pierced the ears of the hardened king. He might have stricken him with fear and trembling by laying before him the full iniquity of his life, and the horror of his approaching doom. But Christ's silence was the severest rebuke that He could have given. Herod had rejected the truth spoken to him by the greatest of the prophets (John the Baptist), and no other message was he to receive. Not a word had the Majesty of heaven for him. That ear that had ever been open to human woe, had no room for Herod's commands. Those eyes that had ever rested upon the penitent sinner in pitying, forgiving love had no look to bestow upon Herod. Those lips that had uttered the most impressive truth, that in tones of tenderest entreaty had pleaded with the most sinful and the most degraded, were closed to the haughty king who felt no need of a Saviour." --Desire of Ages, Pages 729-730.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus spoke in parables? Many people believe that He did so to make the truths of God clear to the people so that they would know and be saved. This, however, is only partially correct.
In Matt 13:10-17, His disciples asked why He spoke to the multitude in parables but to them He spoke plainly. Let's read the account:
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
Continuing: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
"In the earlier part of His ministry, Christ had spoken to the people in words so plain that all His hearers might have grasped truths which would make them wise unto salvation. But in many hearts the truth had taken no root, and it had been quickly caught away. 'Therefore speak I to them in parables.' He said; 'because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. . . For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed.' Matt. 13:13-15. Jesus desired to awaken inquiry. He sought to arouse the careless, and impress truth upon the heart.
"Again, Christ had truths to present which the people were unprepared to accept or even to understand. For this reason also He taught them in parables. By connecting His teaching with the scenes of life, experience, or nature, He secured their attention and impressed their hearts. Afterward, as they looked upon the objects that illustrated His lessons, they recalled the words of the divine Teacher. To minds that were open to the Holy Spirit, the significance of the Saviour's teaching unfolded more and more. Mysteries grew clear, and that which had been hard to grasp became evident. --Christ's Object Lessons, Pages 20-21.
But many of Jesus' listeners were the learned of His day--the priests and rabbis, scribes and elders, Herodians and rulers, world-loving, bigoted, ambitious men. These men were not searching for truths that they might be saved. They were bent on finding some accusations against Christ. They were plotting to end His life and ministry. In parables Jesus rebuked their hypocrisy and wicked works.
'In figurative language He clothed truth of so cutting a character that had it been spoken in direct denunciation, they would not have listened to His words, and would speedily have put an end to His ministry. But while He evaded the spies, He made truth so clear that error was manifested, and the honest in heart were profited by His lessons.' --Christ's Object Lessons, Pages 20-21.
Many people today are no different from the scribes and Pharisees in Jesus' day. They want to argue, debate, discuss and tear down the messengers and advocates of truth.
"Opponents to the truth will show skill in misstating the positions of its defenders. They will make the most solemn, sacred truths the subject of ridicule. They will generally sport and deride precious, sacred truth, and place it in so false a light before the people that minds that are darkened by error and polluted by sin, do not discern the motives and objects of these designing men in thus covering up and falsifying precious and important truth. Because of the men who engage in them, there are but few discussions that it is possible to conduct upon right principles. Sharp thrusts are too frequently given by both parties, personalities are indulged in, and frequently both parties descend to sarcasm and witticism. The love of souls is lost in the greater desire for the mastery. Prejudice, deep and bitter, is often the result of discussions.
"Their object in discussing was not that they might get hold of the evidences of the truth themselves, or that the people might have a fair understanding of our true position, but that they might confuse the understanding by placing the truth in a perverted light before the people. There are men who have educated themselves as combatants. It is their policy to misstate an opponent, and to cover up clear arguments with dishonest quibbles. They have devoted their God-given powers to this dishonest work, for there is nothing in their hearts in harmony with the pure principles of truth. They seize any argument they can get with which to tear down the advocates of truth, when they themselves do not believe the things they urge against them. They bolster themselves up in their chosen position, irrespective of justice and truth. They do not consider that before them is the Judgment, and that then their ill-gotten triumph, with all its disastrous results, will appear in its true character. Error, with all its deceptive policies, its windings and twistings and turnings to change the truth into a lie, will then appear in all its deformity. No victory will stand in the day of God, except that which truth, pure, elevated, sacred truth, shall win to the glory of God." --Gospel Workers (1892), Pages 190-191.
If we are walking with God, there is no need to worry that we will be led astray by teachings unfamiliar to us. The Holy Spirit of God will guide and lead us into all truths. The minds of the Bereans were not narrowed by prejudice. They were willing to investigate the truthfulness of the doctrines preached by the apostles. So should we.
"...If a message comes that you do not understand, take pains that you may hear the reasons the messenger may give, comparing scripture with scripture, that you may know whether or not it is sustained by the word of God. If you believe that the positions taken have not the word of God for their foundation, if the position you hold on the subject cannot be controverted, then produce your strong reasons; for your position will not be shaken by coming in contact with error. There is no virtue or manliness in keeping up a continual warfare in the dark, closing your eyes lest you may see, closing your ears lest you may hear, hardening your heart in ignorance and unbelief lest you may have to humble yourselves and acknowledge that you have received light on some points of truth." --CSW 28.2.
Angels weep to see the precious truth of heavenly origin cast before swine, to be seized by them and trampled with the mire and dirt. Cast not 'your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.' These are the words of the world's Redeemer.
What about dogs and puppies and holy things? Jesus said we are to 'give not that which is holy unto the dogs. I've wondered if perhaps the Bible uses dogs in this manner because they were not as mournful-looking, cute, and adorable as they are today.
So, I looked up the word 'Dog' in the Bible dictionary. Here's what it says:
There are only two references to domesticated dogs in the Bible: Job 30:1, which mentions the dog of the flock, which probably aided the shepherd, and Matt 15:27; cf Mk 7:28, which refers to dogs under tables. Other references show that the dogs of the ancient Orient were the same wild street dogs that one finds in the Near East today.
They are described as lying lazily around during the daytime (Is 56:10,11), and with much noise and barking, seeking food during the night (Ps 59:14,15). They bark at passers-by (Ex 11:7); eat almost any kind of food (Ex 22:31; Prov 26:11; Mt 7:6), even corpses (1 Ki 14:11; 21:19,23; Jer 15:3; Ps 68:23), or lick the sores of a helpless sick man on the street (Lk 16:21).
Since the dog was despised by the ancient Semites (Ec 9:4), the word 'dog' was a term of insult when applied to human beings (1 Sa 17:43; 2 Sa 3:8; 16:9) or a term used to indicate extreme self abasement (1 Sa 24:14; 2 Sa 9:8; 2 Ki 8:13). In the New Testament opponents of the gospel are compared to dogs (Mt 7:6; Php 3:2). Mt 15:26 reflect an attitude of the Jews toward the Gentiles, whom they called dogs. Christ used the term simply to test the faith of His petitioner.
Let's review the story of the woman from Canaan and her memorable encounter with Jesus:
"'Behold, a Canaanitish woman came out from those borders, and cried, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil' (Matt. 15:22, R. V.). The people of this district were of the old Canaanite race. They were idolaters, and were despised and hated by the Jews. To this class belonged the woman who now came to Jesus. She was a heathen. . . .
"Christ did not immediately reply to the woman's request. He received this representative of a despised race as the Jews would have done. . . The woman urged her case with increased earnestness, bowing at Christ's feet, and crying, 'Lord, help me.'
"She yields at once to the divine influence of Christ, and has implicit faith in His ability to grant the favor she asks. She begs for the crumbs that fall from the Master's table. If she may have the privilege of a dog, she is willing to be regarded as a dog. She has no national or religious prejudice or pride to influence her course, and she immediately acknowledges Jesus as the Redeemer, and as being able to do all that she asks of Him.
"The Saviour is satisfied. He has tested her faith in Him. . . Turning to her with a look of pity and love, He says, 'O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.' From that hour her daughter became whole. The demon troubled her no more. . .
"In faith the woman of Phoenicia flung herself against the barriers that had been piled up between Jew and Gentile. Against discouragement, regardless of appearances that might have led her to doubt, she trusted the Saviour's love. It is thus that Christ desires us to trust in Him. The blessings of salvation are for every soul. Nothing but his own choice can prevent any man from becoming a partaker of the promise in Christ by the gospel.
"Caste is hateful to God. He ignores everything of this character. In His sight the souls of all men are of equal value." --Conflict and Courage, Page 297.
While the woman of Phoenicia was considered a 'dog', she acknowledged Jesus as the Redeemer, and her petition was granted. In God's sight, she was not a dog. The Holy Word of God was given to her which she received with heart-felt gratitude and thanksgiving.
"Those who are seeking to know the truth and to understand the will of God, who are faithful to the light and zealous in the performance of their daily duties, will surely know of the doctrine, for they will be guided into all truth. God does not promise, by the masterly acts of His providence, to irresistibly bring men to the knowledge of His truth, when they do not seek for truth and have no desire to know the truth. Men have the power to quench the Spirit of God; the power of choosing is left with them. They are allowed freedom of action. They may be obedient through the name and grace of our Redeemer, or they may be disobedient, and realize the consequences. Man is responsible for receiving or rejecting sacred and eternal truth. The Spirit of God is continually convicting, and souls are deciding for or against the truth. The deportment, the words, the actions, of the minister of Christ may balance a soul for or against the truth. How important that every act of the life be such that it need not be repented of. Especially is this important among the ambassadors of Christ, who are acting in the place of Christ." --Testimonies to the Church, Volume 3, Pages 428-427.
In conclusion, here's what we have learned from Of Puppies, Pigs, and Pearls:
The truths of God are not for show. Neither Jesus nor His disciples healed the sick to satisfy the curiosity of the mass. They did not give that which was holy to the dogs nor cast their pearls before swine but fulfilled a need for those who were truly hurting and suffering.
The lessons of Jesus have to be appreciated and taken to heart. The evils are to be put away from the life. Sins are to be repented of. This, King Herod didn't do.
The truth of God must bring transformation in the life; otherwise, people show that they do not appreciate the pearl of great price. If they are dishonest in any temporal or spiritual transaction, they show that they regard the rich mercies of God as a common thing. They can not see the value of the pearl of great price.
The Lord has a work for us all to do. And if the truth is not rooted in the heart, if the natural traits of character are not transformed by the Holy Spirit, we can never be co-laborers with Jesus Christ...We would be like the scribes and Pharisees of old to whom the truths of God were given in parables so they would not hear and they would not see and be converted.
God's laborers are to work patiently with the people; they are to discern their readiness to receive the message which is to be given in the proper order and at the right time.
When we are honest in heart and earnestly searching for truth, we will find them; God will teach us His truths. As He did with the Canaanite woman, He will answer our petitions and meet our needs.
The truths of God are not to be debated, argued, discussed for the sake of argument alone but for use in winning precious souls to the Kingdom.
Souls saved in the Kingdom of God are represented as stars in the crowns which Jesus shall place upon the heads of those who did not give that which was holy unto the dogs, neither cast their pearls before swine but gave them to those who appreciated and valued the Pearl of great price. Like imperishable luminous treasures these faithful laborers for Christ and those they brought into the Kingdom shall shine to the glory of God through ceaseless ages of eternity. 'And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever.' Daniel 12:3.
I shall reach when the sun goeth down;
When through wonderful grace by my Saviour I stand,
Will there be any stars in my crown?
Will there be any stars, any stars in my crown,
When at evening the sun goeth down?
When I wake with the blest in the mansions of rest,
Will there be any stars in my crown?
In the strength of the Lord let me labor and pray,
Let me watch as a winner of souls;
That bright stars may be mine in the glorious day,
When His praise like the sea billows rolls.
O What joy will it be when His face I behold,
Living gems at His feet to lay down;
It would sweeten my bliss in the city of gold,
Should there be any stars in my crown.
--E. E. Hewitt