I so love dogs. But typically, in Scripture, they represent something unclean. I’m sure the Hebrews loved their pets. “Unclean” meant you didn’t eat it, you didn’t offer it as a sacrifice, stuff like that. Needless to say, the dogs were likely relieved to find themselves on the “unclean” list, as opposed to on the altar.
THAT SAID – the verses in Isaiah 66 that refer to breaking a dog’s neck are not offering forth a pro-animal-cruelty doctrine. To the contrary, they are a pictorialization as to how worthless their “worship” and religiosity had become. Because they were not living by the Word of God, nor trembling at its specific accuracy and eternal potency, even all of their acceptable and prescribed acts of worship – offering a bull or submitting a grain offering – were being regarded by holy God as both unclean and unacceptable – likened to acts of unclean sacrifice. We cannot serve God and play religion at the same time.
The people of God, at all times, are invited to tremble at the Word of God. That is a good thing.
2 “But on this one will I look:
On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.
3 “He who kills a bull is as if he slays a man;
He who sacrifices a lamb, as if he breaks a dog’s neck;
He who offers a grain offering, as if he offers swine’s blood;
He who burns incense, as if he blesses an idol.
Just as they have chosen their own ways,
And their soul delights in their abominations,
4 So will I choose their delusions, And bring their fears on them;
Because, when I called, no one answered, When I spoke they did not hear;
But they did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight.
(Isaiah 66:2-4 NKJVS)
It comes down to relationship and holy living, in the fear of the Lord, according to His standards, and never ours. To the contrary, God actively despises and resists the “updating” or lax interpretation, or purposed ignoring, of His Word so that it might fit more comfortably into society’s ever-changing vision or fleshly wisdom. It has always proven to be a design for guaranteed failure, inside the church/synagogue, or outside.
God was saying, through Isaiah, if you choose by My grace to adhere to My Word in its entirety, I will look upon you for your blessings.
If not, then you might as well kill the unclean dog and offer it as holy. Your religion becomes putrid.
We need to be so careful, in these purposely turbulent days, that we are accurately dividing the word of God (as Paul admonished Timothy). We must be in it, and we must allow the Bible to interpret itself. Commentaries are dandy, and can be most helpful. But unless a doctrine fits the entire Word of God, reject it. No fresh revelation from the Throne of Eternal God (and there surely will be fresh revelation as He continues to speak to His people) will ever contradict that which He has already revealed to us in the canon of scripture. Got that?
Deut 8 (reaffirmed by Jesus) says that man lives by every word that proceeds (ongoing, active state) from the mouth of God. And we are accountable to know the Word of God, so that we have a standard by which to discern what is of the Lord, and what is not.
I’ve recently been studying backwards, time-wise, from the Babylonian captivity, to gain more insight into the failure of leadership (as well as followership) prior to those terrible 70 years, and the years directly preceding them. There were never times without warnings from our gracious God.
Good king Josiah provided a temporary reprieve in that he went about righting some serious wrongs. There is hope in our recollection of his ministry and reign.
The people, from the top down, sobered up when they went back to the word of God and stopped toying around with the doctrines-du-jour. Sound familiar?
PRE-BIRTH PROPHECY OF JOSIAH’S BIRTH AND MISSION (by an unnamed yet mighty man of God). Note the intensity of the judgment prescribed for ungodly leadership, who would have the people sacrifice to false gods:
2 Then he cried out against the altar by the word of the Lord, and said, “O altar, altar! Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men’s bones shall be burned on you. ’”
(1 Kings 13:2 NKJVS)
JOSIAH COMES TO THE THRONE, AND CALLING A SPADE A SPADE, HE CHOOSES TO FULFILL HIS PROPHESIED DESTINY:
13 “ Go, inquire of the Lord for me, for the people and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us
(2 Kings 22:13 NKJVS)
JOSIAH GETS BLESSED BY GOD, AND WHY:
18 But as for the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, in this manner you shall speak to him, “ Thus says the Lord God of Israel:‘ Concerning the words which you have heard —
19 because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the Lord.
(2 Kings 22:18-19 NKJVS)
He will always look with favor upon those who tremble at His Word.
That is the invitation. Therein lies the blessing of intimacy, and true knowing. Yada.
8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 NKJVS)