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Re-Thinking Your Witness

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(5/5) How many of you have dogs as pets? What kind are they? Does anyone have dogs just for hunting? We always did; that is, my dad always did. We had fox hounds, beagles, and coon hounds. My dad loved to hunt with dogs and so did I. Before I had my driverís license and when my chores were caught up, and there was no one to throw a ball with, I often would release the hounds and look for a good fox chase or rabbit chase. I loved to rabbit hunt with good beagles.

How about pet pigs? Anyone have a pet pig? Remember a few years ago, it was popular to have those pot-bellied pigs as pets. I never understood that. Do you remember Arnold the pig that the Ziffelís had, from the TV show Green Acres?

When I think of pigs, I donít think of pets, nor Miss Piggy, nor Wilbur from Charlotteís Web. I think of pork chops, ham, bacon and sausage. How about you?

Our text today is one about dogs and pigs and is one of the toughest verses to understand in the Bible and, in fact, it appears to be out of place. But if we take our time and think about it, it is perfectly in place and is very relevant for us today. Before we dive into it letís focus on:

I. The Context (Matt. 5-7). The larger context is our Lordís sermon about the character and conditions of those who will or want to be part of His kingdom. Many have called this the Constitution of the Kingdom of God. Kingdom citizens must be different from the world they live in because our Lord wants us to be salt and light; that is, to preserve the world from total decay and darkness. The world needs to see an authentic difference in God followers. To do that, they have to be different from the religious leaders of their day who were self-righteous and condemned everyone else. They also must be people whose priority in life is seeking to honor the kingdom and do what is right, as they trust their Father in Heaven to care for them.

Last week we noticed that in our effort to be salt and light we must not develop a critical judgmental spirit that seeks to elevate ourselves by putting everyone else down and criticizing them for their appearance and assuming to know their motives. Remember what our Lord told Samuel when he saw Jessieís older sons. "Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart." (1 Sam. 16:7). We arenít told that all judgment is wrong, Jesus told us to stop judging by appearance but to judge righteous judgment. (John 7:24). Self-righteousness in Godís people is equivalent to the blind leading the blind. If we are going to help people change their lives, our own lives must have changed and we must be growing in Christlikeness; not smug in our self-righteousness. Did anyone take my challenge and ask someone who has the courage to be honest to tell you how you are doing in your growth towards Christlikeness? And that brings us to this command.

II. The Command (7:6) "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine." Listen, this is a command and requires some discernment and some discretion. Itís as if He is saying, donít be judgmental but you must be discerning of certain people. So, letís take a few moments and consider the following:

III. The Consideration (7:6) Exactly what is He talking about? What is the Holy thing? What are the pearls? Who are dogs? And, who are the swine?

A. What is the Holy? The Greek has a definite article with holy meaning, ĎThe Holy Thing.í Because the dogs were not household pets as we will see in a moment, most Jews who heard Jesus speak would have probably have thought of the sacrifices offered on the altar, in the temple. Both the altar and the sacrifice made on the altar were called Most Holy (Lev. 2:3). After the animal was offered, some of the meat was often given to the family to be eaten, some was given to the priest, or it was burned completely on the altar as an offering to God. Absolutely no one would have thought of taking such a holy sacrifice and give it to the dogs. Such would have been outrageously sacrilegious. But I donít think he is referring to meat from the altar. I believe that is just a word picture. The Holy thing is that which is sacred or set apart to God, or from God to us, as special. Since Jesus is the Holy One of God (Acts 3:14), it must be that which pertains to Him, and I suspect that it includes the righteousness that He credits to those who follow Him. It could refer to the blood that he shed as He gave His life on Calvaryís cross to redeem us. "Whether it be the truth of His gospel, or the teachings concerning Him from the Scriptures, or the things God does to lead us to worshiping Him and serving Him, or even the desire to lovingly remove a speck from a brother's eye in Christ's name. It is ALL to be treated as a very sacred and honored thing to be entrusted with. It is all to be, as it were, engraved with the title, "HOLINESS TO THE LORD" (Zech. 14:20)," [Bethany Bible Church]. Then:

B. What are the Pearls? Pearls were simply considered some of the most rare and precious of all the jewels. Our Lord even told a parable using a pearl as an illustration of how valuable and precious the Kingdom of Heaven is (Matt. 13:45). The gates of the Holy City of God are said to be made of Pearl (Rev. 21:21). Our Lord gave this command much like a proverb in what is called a Chiasmic form; that is the Holy Thing and the Pearls are equal, as are the dogs and swine. Pause for a moment. What are the Holy and Precious things to you? Things given to you as special from God, yet things God has given to you to share. Things that you want your family, friends, community, perhaps your country and even the world to experience or have as well? How about things like:

1. John 3:16 and the message of the cross for you and everyone.

2. Forgiveness and grace that is always available to us.

3. Adoption and personal knowledge of God as your Father.

4. The Holy Spiritís permanent presence in your life and the fruit He produces when we trust and obey His leading.

5. The Scriptures that make us wise and show us how to honor God and how to be free of sinís power, and the glorious future that awaits us. These are the Holy Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:14-16)

6. All the Promises of the New Covenant that the cup we just shared assures us of. The Blood of Jesus is more precious than gold or silver, Peter tells us. (1 Peter 1:18-19) These things are not to be taken lightly or treated as common, ordinary things. These are special gifts from God that have been entrusted to us to manage for Him. We are to guard them and share them wisely.

C. Who are the Dogs? There are two Greek words translated "dogs" in the New Testament. One (kunarion) refers to a household pet - such as the "little dogs" that are permitted to eat the children's bread crumbs that fall from the table (Matt. 15:26-27). But that's not the word Jesus uses in this verse. The kind of dog He speaks of here (kutn) would not be the kind you would let anywhere near the table or little children! This speaks of the of wild, mean, "junk-yard" kind of dog that ran around in packs and growled when you approached it. Jim Croce sang about, "bad Leroy BrownÖ was bad-der than Old King Kong and meaner than a junk yard dog." These are the ones that literally ate the dead body of Jezebel (2 Kings 9:10; 36). A dog of this kind was used as a metaphor for an utterly despicable person (Deut. 23:17-18; 2 Kings 8:13); someone who is utterly reprobate. Revelation 22:15 speaks of our heavenly home, and says, "But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever love and practices a lie." This kind of dog was also used to describe those who were viciously opposed to God's call for holy living, and who made themselves the enemies of God's people. The Psalms speak of them as if they were gathered together in hostile packs against the godly, and especially against our Lord as He was on the cross: "The dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me . . ." (Psalm 22:16); and again, "At evening they return, they growl like a dog, and go all around the city" (Psalm 59:6). Even the apostle Paul used this word to describe those who proved to be dangerous opponents to the ministry of the gospel. He told the Philippian believers, "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!" (Phil. 3:2). These were people who were under-mining the gospel message and telling Gentile believers that they werenít right with God until they were circumcised and kept the Law of Moses. Paul called them, "dogs."

D. Who are the Swine (the hogs)? Pigs were forbidden to the Jewish people as very unclean, and could not be eaten as food (Lev. 11:7; Deut. 14:8). To eat "swine's flesh" was, in scripture, considered an act of great idolatry (Isa. 65:4; 66:17). Antiochus Epiphanies desecrated the temple by intentionally offering pigs on the altar and making Jews eat it or die. It's interesting that, when Jesus was about to cast a host of demons out of a man, they requested to be allowed to enter a heard of pigs that were feeding nearby (Matt. 8:30-32). And when the Prodigal son had hit the absolute rock bottom and was reduced to feeding pigs, he became so hungry that he wanted to eat pig food-slop (Luke 15:15-16).

A characteristic of pigs is that they are as undiscriminating as a creature can be. Pigs will eat anything good or rotten and people will feed them some of the most spoiled and rotten food there is. And I suspect that that's why Jesus used them as a metaphor. They give us a picture of someone who doesn't have the spiritual ability to recognize the value of something that is given to them, and can't discriminate between what is good and what is bad. And, swine werenít always domesticated farm animals. Many like in the southern U.S.A, were of the wild hog or wild boar variety with extremely dangerous razor sharp tusks that can tear you up.

E. These two metaphors Ė dogs and hogs Ė picture for us people who are hardened in their sin and hostile and vicious towards anyone who would seek to change them or call them out about sin. Many of these are actually religious people. Some can be church people who sometimes refuse to yield to the Word of God. The people that surrounded the cross of Jesus are referred to as dogs in Psalm 22, as are the Jewish people challenging the message of grace in Phil. 3:2. The only other place in the Bible where the two terms are used together is in 2 Peter 2:22 to describe the character of false teachers that will eventually show their true colors. "But it has happened to them according to the true proverb, A dog returns to his own vomit, and a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire" This is not talking about people who are saved and lose their salvation but people who have perverted Godís truth for their own gain and eventually reveal their true unregenerate nature. So, now that we understand the elements of this verse, letís look at the Caution.

IV. The Caution. "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces." Listen carefully, I know that we are supposed to go in to all the world and preach the gospel to every person, but here Jesus tells us to be discriminate. We are not to throw the truths that we hold to be precious to us, to people who are hostile to it. In a picture form, our Lord tells us that they will not like it and will trample them under their feet and then tear you up. Are you listening? Say, "Amen!" Most of the time, you donít know who the dogs and hogs are until you try to share the holy jewels of grace with them. Dogs and hogs could be your spouse, your gay neighbor, the people you work with, the person involved in a cult, the people of a church that donít believe the whole Bible is Godís word, or they could be a hostile government who forbids the spread of Christianity.

Jesus was discriminate and so was Paul. Jesus did not talk to Herod when Herod wanted a sign, but Jesus did answer Pilateís questions. Jesus told the disciples that when they went to preach and the people did not receive their word, they were to shake the dust off their feet and go to another place (Matt. 10:14-15). Jesus didnít preach as much or do many miracles in some places because of the hardness of peopleís hearts and their un-willingness to believe. Jesus was once informed that the Pharisees were offended at His teaching. Imagine that; offended at the teaching of the Son of God! And yet, Jesus said, "Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch" (Matthew 15:14). Jesus' solution was not to try to correct them for being offended, but to leave them alone in their offense. He also tells us that some would much rather have darkness than light because their deeds are evil (John 3:18-21). Proverbs 9:7-9 says, "He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, and he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself. Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning." In Acts 13:46, Paul said this to the Jews in Antioch who were jealous of the crowds that came to hear Paul and Barnabas teach, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles" and again in Acts 18:6 Paul was in Corinth and the Jews there opposed his teaching, it says, "When they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said, Ďyour blood be upon you and your own heads, I am clean. From now on I go to the gentiles." He didnít go far, however, he left the synagogue and went to the house next door and began to teach the gentiles. Itís not always wrong to go next door.

Dogs and hogs killed the prophets, and murdered the Holy Son of God, and most of the apostles. Dogs and swine stoned Stephan in (Acts 7:54-60) and Antipas in Pergamos (Rev. 2:13). They have persecuted the church for centuries. Every year in this world, a quarter of a million people are killed because of their faith in Jesus. Dogs and hogs in churches resist the whole council of God, opting for only those things that support their desires or lifestyle. And preaching truth only hardens their hearts and makes them angry. Someone once said, "That the same sun that melts the ice hardens the clay." So how do you know who the dogs and hogs are? How do you know when and with whom and how to share truth? Well that, I believe is why verses 7-12 are given to us and we will look at them next week. But for just a few moments, we are going to stop our exposition and consider some application.

V. The Care Ė Dogs and hogs are everywhere. Our job is not to condemn them, or to label them, thatís Godís job. Our job, also, is to not ignore them and write them off completely. Our job is to care. Some dogs and hogs have become some of the greatest Christians in history as Paul, himself demonstrates (1 Tim. 1:12-15; cp. Acts 22). You must not write a person off as a dog or hog unless they have demonstrated a hardness to the truth of Godís Word; that is, you have told them truth and they spurned it. What then are we to do? I have a few ideas. I believe this is what we are to do.

A. Realize persecution is inevitable if you live Holy to God and share His grace; you will be persecuted. You will find dogs and hogs or they will find you. (5:10-12; 10:16-42; John 15:18-27)

B. Do Not Argue with dogs and hogs. Iíve been there and done that. I have the T-shirt. Arguing just makes dogs and hogs angrier. When a conversation gets tense, stop, and exit. Walk away.

C. Pray for wisdom. What do I say? What do I do? (Cp. 7-11 with James 1:5). I believe that is why He gave us, the ask, seek, and knock challenge.

D. Pray for the dogs and hogs (5:44) Pray the Lordís Prayer over them regularly. Pray because God desires all men to be saved (1 Tim 2:4).

E. Say very little, but love a whole lot (v. 12). This is next weekís life lesson, but try to imagine you are them; that is, lost, but not knowing it. How would you want someone to witness to you? Letís look for a few moments at 1 Pet. 2:9-15 and again 3:13-17 and cp. with Matt. 5:13-16.

F. We must begin to look for needs in the community of dogs and hogs and meet those needs. That might be with a Celebrate Recovery ministry, a jail ministry, a nursing home ministry, a grief support group, a single again ministry for divorced people, a crisis pregnancy ministry, an after school program to mentor kids, or a host of other things that are only limited by your imaginations. I canít do all of these things, but you can. If we want to shake the world, or our community for Christ, we often have to earn the right to be heard. And that takes more than just going to church on Sunday and pronouncing judgment on immoral and sinful people. Letís never forget that God so loved the world that He did something to help condemned and lost, and perishing people like you and me. The first church used whatever resources they had to help people. Some wise sage once said, "People wonít care how much you know, until they know how much you care." Letís show the dogs and hogs of this world, not just what we are against but what we are for; healing hurts and finding hope in Christ.

In the fourth century the Roman Emperor, Julian the Apostate failed in his efforts to suppress Christianity, largely due to the distinctive lives of the Christians. He told his officials, "We ought to be ashamed. Not a beggar is to be found among the Jews, and those godless Galileans (or Christians), feed not only their own people but ours as well, whereas our people receive no assistance whatever from us."

1. Invite to salvation.

2. Invite to repent for judging and doing nothing

3. Invite to committing to love the dogs and hogs in a demonstrative way

Benediction Ė Romans 16:24-27

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began 26 but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faithó 27 to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.

If this has spoken to your heart, write to me and tell me, or ask me whatever you want about knowing God or having a relationship with Him. pastorgarybuchman@gmail.com

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman