Serpents and Dogs
by Pastor J. C. O'Hair
Whom did the Lord Jesus call “dogs”? Whom did the Lord Jesus call “serpents”? Whom did He call “a generation of vipers”? If you had to be called a “dog” or a “serpent” by the Lord, which would be your choice? Most people rather like dogs, although they would resent being called “dogs”. But most people hate “serpents” and would feel injured and very much insulted if they should be called “serpents”.
In Mark 7:26 to 28 we read that the Lord Jesus called Greeks, “dogs”. In Matthew 23:32 to 39 we read that two years later, the Lord Jesus called His own people, the Jews, “serpents”. At the time He called the Greeks, “dogs”, He called the Jews, “children”. He said to the Greek, “let the children first be filled”. Mark 7:27. The “children” of Mark 7:27 are the “serpents” of Matthew 23:33. They again became the “children” of Acts 3:25. How strange; “children” changed to “serpents” and then back to “children”. Herein is a most interesting study.
If a preacher should use for his text Romans 1:16, “for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, to the Jew first and also to the Greek”, and should paraphrase the last phrase to read “to the serpent first and also to the “dog”, he would be accused of being sensational. But be most assuredly would be using the language of the Lord Jesus, whose gospel he would be preaching. If the preacher should thus call the Jews, “serpents”, and the Greeks, “dogs”, as the Lord Jesus did, and say, “to the serpents first”, and also “to the dogs”, he would raise the question in his own mind and in the minds of his hearers; “why should “serpents” have preference over “dogs”?
After the Lord Jesus Christ called Israel “serpents” and a “generation of vipers”, because they hated Him without a cause and would not receive Him as King, they added to all of their offenses their greatest crime: they desired a murderer and they killed the Prince of Life: Acts 3:14 to 18. If they were “serpents” before the murder of their Messiah, what were they after that terrible crime? Were they worse than serpents? No indeed, they were “children” again. Acts 3:25. How strange! What grace! What mercy! How we have misinterpreted the Word of God!
Surely the study of these verses will convince us that Israel was not set aside, as the nation of God, when the Lord Jesus said unto them, “your house is left unto you desolate”. This study will instruct us as to why Peter said to the whole house of Israel, “unto you first”; why Paul said unto the Jews, “is was necessary that the Word be spoken unto you first”; why “unto the Jew first and also to the Greek”.
Acts 3:26—Acts 13:46—Romans 1:16. This comparative study will also tell us why Paul, until Israel was finally set aside, said, “unto the Jews I became a Jew”. I Corinthians 9:20. By it we should also learn why the Twelve Apostles, for years after the death of Israel’s Messiah, remained in Jerusalem; and why the Jerusalem temple remained standing for the worship of the Jews. Acts 8:1—Acts 21:18 to 28—Acts 22:17 to 21. And why the Son of man in heaven was standing in Acts 7:51 to 58.
Now for the several verses from which we have quoted and another very important verse, Luke 23:34.
MARK 7:26 TO 28 (year 32 A.D.)
The woman was a GREEK, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought Him that He would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.
But Jesus said unto her, LET THE CHILDREN FIRST BE FILLED; for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the DOGS.
And she answered and said unto Him, Yea, Lord; yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs”.
MATTHEW 23:24—MATTHEW 23:33—MATTHEW 23:38 (33 A.D.)
“Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.”
“Ye SERPENTS, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”
“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”
“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ”.
Acts 3:17—Acts 3:25—Acts 3:26 (33 A.D.)
“And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers”.
“Ye are the CHILDREN of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with our fathers saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed”.
“Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities”.
ACTS 13:46 (year 46 A.D.)
“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you; but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles”.
Now after we have carefully read these verses, let us study them together with several other Scriptures which we quote
ROMANS 10:12 (year 60 A.D.)
“For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him”.
ROMANS 11:6 TO 8—ROMANS 11:11—ROMANS 11:17—ROMANS 11:30
“What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.
(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day”.
“I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid; but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy”.
“And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, were graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree”.
“For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief”.
Acts 28:25 TO 28 (year 62 A.D.)
“And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Spirit by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,
Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive;
For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it”.
By carefully studying these Scriptures, which we have quoted, we learn several facts. First: Let us compare Mark 7:27, the words spoken by Jesus to the Greek woman, about 32 A.D. with Romans 10:12, the statement of the Apostle Paul, about 60 A.D. According to Paul’s statement, “there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek.” According to the statement of Jesus, there was quite a difference. The Jews were called “children” and the Greeks were called “dogs”.
Again we learn, in the year 32 A.D. the Lord called the Jews “children”, and in the year 33 A.D. He called them “serpents”. Then after His death and resurrection He instructed the Apostle Peter to again address them as “children”. Surely the question must arise in the mind of any thinking student of the Word of God, why the Jews were called “serpents”; and then, after they had added to their other sins, “killing the Prince of Life”, why they should be called “children”. The explanation is found in the words of Peter in Acts 3:17, “God wot that ye did it through ignorance”. Surely we have overlooked the importance and significance of the prayer of Christ on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”. That prayer was answered. This is why those who killed the “Prince of Life” are again called “children”. As long as they are addressed as “children” they are first. Therefore, in Acts 3:26, Peter said “Unto you first”. That was late in 33 A.D. About 46 A.D. Paul said to the Jews, “Unto you first”. Acts 13:46.
The third fact that we learn from the Scriptures quoted is, that God did not leave the house of Israel desolate until after He pronounced the judgment of blindness upon them. This judgment is recorded in Romans 11:25 and 26. But the blindness was not sent until the year 62 A. D. according to Acts 28:25 to 28. Then Israel was set aside.
Thus we can see the great blunder of those who teach that the words of Jesus, “your house is left unto you desolate” meant that the judgment fell when Christ died, and that Israel was then and there set aside as a nation. If that were true, they would have remained “serpents” and they would not have been addressed as “children” in Acts 3:25. Neither would they have continued to enjoy priority rights, during the Book of Acts period, over the Gentiles; for “dogs” would have had equal rights with “serpents”.
Although the Lord Jesus pronounced the judgment in Matthew 23:33 to 39, it was 27 years later that the Lord stated in Romans 11:17 that some of the branches were broken off. As long as God delayed the judgment pronounced by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 22:7, 23:38 and 21:43, as long as He permitted the Nation to remain in Jerusalem and have daily access to their temple there, as long as He witnessed to them by the Twelve Apostles in the land and permitted Paul to become a Jew to them as He witnessed out of the land, just so long was God dealing with the Nation Israel. Their house was not left unto them desolate when the Lord Jesus died; but some years later.
The “children of the kingdom” were to be cast into outer darkness, according to Matthew 8:12. The children of the kingdom were not cast into darkness in 33 A.D., but about 63 A.D. Romans 11:8, Acts 28:25 to 27. As long as the Jews were called “children of the kingdom”, God was dealing with them as a nation. To that nation Christ had announced, “the kingdom is at hand”, Mark 1:15; Matthew 4:17. He had also said, “the kingdom shall be taken away from you.” Matthew 21:43. As long as God was dealing with Israel as a nation He was offering them the same kingdom that Christ announced “at hand” in Matthew, Mark and Luke. That kingdom was not the Body of Christ. The kingdom was not finally taken away from the nation until the nation was set aside. When we take the kingdom away from Israel on the day of Pentecost and begin the Body of Christ then, we do greatly err, not knowing the Scripture.