Saturday, August 25, 2012

Shake Off the Dust

Matthew 10:1 & 5-6 ... "And when He had called unto him his twelve disciples, He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.  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: But rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

Now why wouldn't Jesus want the Gentiles or the Samaritans ministered to?  Aren't they also God's children even if only by creation?  So why was it at first only to be preached to the Jews?

The Jews were the ancient covenant people of God, the people whom the Messiah was born into.  All others were considered heathen.  The time for preaching the gospel to the Gentiles had not yet come.  But their time would come.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 7 ... "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven ... a time to keep silence, and a time to speak ..."

Solomon's words are true ... there is a time for all things under the sun ... and this was not the time.  So Jesus sends them out along with this added command ...

Matthew 10:14 ... "And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet."

Who was this speaking what sounds like, if not hateful words, then at the very least judgmental words?  Does this sound like the Lamb of God, the Savior; the kind, merciful and caring Son of God who was preparing to give His life for others?  So what's the problem here?

It was simply ... Jewish tradition.  This act was part of their culture, an act of national pride.

John Wesley commented on this tradition ... "The Jews thought the land of Israel so peculiarly holy, that when they came home from any heathen country, they stopped at the borders and shook or wiped off the dust of it from their feet, that the holy land might not be polluted with it.  Therefore the action here enjoined was a lively intimation, that those Jews who had rejected the Gospel were holy no longer, but were on a level with heathens and idolaters."

The Jews believed that even the dust of the Gentiles was impure and believed they would be defiled by that dust, so it was to be shaken off one's clothing and feet.  But here, dealing with their own people, Jesus was instructing them to shake off the dust as a symbolic action against any house or city inside Israel who would not hear their words.  By doing so, those who rejected the Gospel would be regarded as impure pagans, and would not have any further connection with them, placing them on a level with the heathen cities outside of Israel.

The shaking off ... was a rather violent gesture of disfavor.  The Jews had violent prejudices against the smallest particles of Gentile dust because it was regarded the same as the rotting of death, or as becoming putrid.  If any heathen dust touched an offering, the offering must be burnt at once.

I'm not aware of when this tradition started but even Paul and Barnabas observed this same symbolic act at Antioch.  Acts 13:50-51 ... "But the Jews stirred up the devout and honorable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.  But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium."

Evidently this was something that was very common in the Jewish way of life.  God was a Holy God and to them Israel was a Holy Land and they intended to keep it that way.  The old Jewish traditions were hard for the new Christian Jews to put aside.  Even living by "faith alone" in Jesus ... a totally new concept to them ... instead of by the keeping of the Law must have been a scary proposition for them.

This is why at the first counsel of Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-24) there was a discussion concerning what some Jewish converts were teaching others, mainly ... "Except ye be circumcised, and keep the law, ye cannot be saved."  Paul and Barnabas argued they gave no such command.

So, is dust, dirt or any pollutants the real problem?  Remember the accusations brought to Jesus about the washing of hands?

In Matthew 15:1-11, some of the dialogue on this subject goes like this ... "Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?  They wash not their hands when they eat bread.  But Jesus answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?  Thus ye have made the commandment of God of none effect ... by your tradition."

Then Jesus continued ... "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man."

The conclusion then must be ... the smallest particles of dust, the material things of this world that may get on us are not the problem.  The main problems are the religious observances and traditions of men ... false teachings flowing out of the mouth ... that may make the Word of God of no effect unto you as it did them.

This is why you need to hide the Word of God away in your heart.  You will never know God any better than you know His Word.  So instead of shaking the dust off our feet, some of us may need to shake the dust off our Bibles and open them up.

Comments welcome.


in the vanguard said...

You say (about me and my extended family),
"The Jews were the ancient covenant people of God ... ".
Can you not see before your eyes that we ARE the same covenant people of the One Almighty and Only God!? Mark Twain, smart as he was, couldn't figure out why.
(See here:
But maybe, just maybe, you can.

Following Him said...

Vanguard ... By saying "The Jews were the ancient covenant people of God, the people whom the Messiah was born into" ... in no way says that the Hebrew people, the Nation of Israel today are not still the covenant people of God. God's covenant was forever.

The Christian's belief that Jesus is the Messiah does not and will not hinder God from fulfilling His covenant with the Jewish believers.

When your Messiah comes, and He will ... God's covenant people will find Him to be Jesus at His second coming. It's then that God will finally fulfill His promise to His people.

I have no problem with what you believe. But may I say as kindly as I can ... you just don't believe the whole counsel of the Word of God.

I am glad you visit my little blog, and God bless.

in the vanguard said...

Glad you haven't yet deleted my comments, as many who I argue with, in fact, end up doing.

You say to me, "You just don't believe the whole counsel of the Word of God".

I beg to differ. It is you who does not believe the whole counsel, for you redefine the whole with new boundaries. The WHOLE counsel of God IS THE TORAH! From Genesis 1:1 through Deut. 34:12.

Perhaps you need to be reminded of God's - I said GOD's - warning (Deut. 13:1): "Do not add thereto or diminish from it!"

This demand of God is meant to safeguard those boundaries of the WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD.

May I suggest you learn about the Noahide laws and how they apply to ALL Gentiles.

May God bless all righteous Gentiles!

Following Him said...

Vanguard ...

Since the later Middle Ages, Jews have acknowledged Christians as Noahides.

The false doctrine of merited righteousness through observance of the Noahide Laws is an affront to the grace of God, who imputes Christ's righteousness to sinful men on the basis of faith alone.

Galatians 2:16 ... "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."

Jeremiah 31:31 ... "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah."

Oh, and by the way ... I am simply stating my personal belief as a Christian as you are doing as someone living under the Law of Moses ... I do not intend to argue with anyone, for nothing good will come from that.

Blessings ...

in the vanguard said...

Your point about a "new Torah" is a very good point. We understand it to mean that in the future, when the Era of Ultimate Redemption for the Jewish people manifests, that era will transform the world by elevating the senses of people so those living in that new utopic era will no longer be as mundanely experiential as it now is. The "new Torah" refers to the new insights into Torah that Moshiach will teach us. But the Torah, God's product to the Jewish nation, remains as it is - unchanged.

I did not get what you meant, concerning Noahides, imputing righteousness "by faith alone". The Noahide laws are laws of action. Only the first law has to do with faith in God, which is analogous to the 10 commandments.

Following Him said...

Vanguard ... my point about Christians and righteousness concerning so-called Noahides is this. If a Christian is a Noahide, he is no longer a Christian. Christians only become righteous through what Jesus did on the cross. We have no righteousness of ourselves ... it is a gift of God when one believes on God's Son. It is by "faith alone" not by the works of keeping the Law ... which goes back to my second sentence. You can't be both.

That's why I shared Galatians 2:16 ... "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."

May I suggest that you pull up from my blog archive, March of 2011, a post entitled ... "A Better Covenant, parts I and II." This may offer you more understanding of the Christian belief that is based on "faith alone" that Jesus alone paid the full price for our sins.

I hope you read what I was trying to say the best that I know how. I'm just a simple man who believes in Jesus as the Son of God. Sorry ... but that's all I know.

Thank you for your passion for Godliness. Again blessings ...