6 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. (Matthew 7:6)
What does this prohibition mean and what is its application? And why did the Lord need to impose it?
As the Lord begins to conclude the fundamental doctrines contained in His ‘sermon on the mount’ for the remnant of Israel’s edification, He does so by first instructing them in verse 6 about the issue of not dealing with two certain groups of people. Even though the climactic stage in God’s program with Israel was underway, (with the kingdom of heaven being preached as “at hand” and the remnant being educated in that which is ‘holy’ and that which is ‘precious’), they needed to understand that it was not yet time for them to deal with anyone but “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” They, therefore, at this time were not to take what they were learning and go give it to either the “dogs” or the “swine”; with the “dogs” being a reference to the Gentiles and the “swine” being a reference to the Samaritans.
Now as the climactic stage in Israel’s program moved on, the time would eventually come when both the Samaritans and the Gentiles would be dealt with; when they both would hear “the gospel of the kingdom,” along with that which is ‘holy’ and ‘precious,’ from the mouths of the remnant. However that proper time was not in existence when the climactic stage in the program was just underway. Hence the Lord prohibited the remnant from dealing with them as yet by what He says in verse 6; which He enforced again when He first commissioned His apostles later on in Matthew 10:5–7.
5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not.
6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 10:5-7)
Now as the Lord also points out in Matthew 7:6, the reason for not yet dealing with either the Gentiles or the Samaritans is because neither of them was ready at this time for being able to receive either what was ‘holy’ or ‘precious.’ Their response at this time would be negative, both to what the remnant had to say and to the remnant itself. This is because there was some preparatory work, so to speak, that needed to be done during the climactic stage in the program before the remnant could effectually deal with either the Samaritans or the Gentiles. And this preparatory work would not be occurring until the program had proceeded on and certain things within it had taken place. Once those things had taken place, then it would be the appropriate time to deal with both the Samaritans and the Gentiles. Then both groups would be in the position to be effectually dealt with and ready to receive what the remnant has to say to them.
The basic issues that pertain to this ‘preparatory work,’ (along with the reality of there being an appropriate time during the climactic stage in Israel’s program for dealing with the Samaritans and Gentiles), are set forth back in the prophets. Hence, for example, the nations are spoken about as having the “time of their visitation” in the final aspect of the program. This “time of their visitation,” though, was not in existence when the Lord was speaking to His remnant in Matthew 7:6. Hence the prohibition.
[Note: The following question and answer provides some further information regarding the issue of how Gentiles are dealt with in God’s program with Israel.]
– K.R. Blades