Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision [mutilation].”

While visiting with a dear saint after service last Sunday, I had mentioned that the morning had been challenging. There are always a million things to think about and take care of; frustrations seem inevitable. She smiled, “Well at least you have a puppy to come home to!” It was good to be reminded of our blessings and privileges, simple things that make life interesting and enjoyable. It is also good to see there are other “crazy animal lovers” in our midst! For those of us who love our pets, it can be surprising to see the Bible speaking of dogs in a mostly pejorative sense. Often the Bible sees dogs as unclean creatures, roving around in packs without a home, without an owner, eating garbage, attacking other creatures and biting one another. Little wonder that Jews in Old Covenant times routinely referred themselves as the sheep of God’s pasture (Psalms 95:7; 100:3), but to the Gentiles as dogs. “For dogs have compassed me,” wrote the psalmist, looking ahead ultimately to the Gentiles gathered around Christ’s cross, “the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet” (Psalm 22:16). Our Lord declared openly that His earthly mission was to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24), not to Gentile “dogs” who were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise” (Ephesians 2:12). He commanded His disciples to do likewise. “Go not into the way of the Gentiles,” said the Lord, “and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:5-6). On another occasion He warned His disciples not to give “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” (Matthew 7:6). Our Lord’s exchange with the Syro-Phoenican woman is instructive. When she asked for His help in freeing her daughter from demonic possession, he declared, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” The woman was humble and yet undaunted. “Truth, Lord,” she said, “yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Accepting the Lord’s designation as a dog, the woman brilliantly pressed the analogy to her advantage. For her humility and tenacious faith, the Lord Jesus responded, “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour” (Matthew 15:24-28). At this moment, we may be sure, this believing Gentile was transformed from a dog into a sheep. How surprising it is to see the church in the present dispensation filled mostly with Gentiles now considered the Lord’s sheep (John 10:16)! And how shocking it is to see in today’s verse passage, apostate Jews referred to by the pejorative epithet once reserved for Gentiles! May the Lord use us mightily in turning multitudes of dogs into redeemed sheep, for His glory and the good of those He loves.

God bless,

pastor john