The Gospel According to Pigs
In the Bible Jesus wants to talk to us about pigs. The word “pigs” is not mentioned in the King James Version of the Bible but in KJV pigs are referred to as swine. Swine are those creatures that Jesus created to take care of the clean up work in the earth, especially after sin entered the world. (Counsels on Diet and Foods page 392) The job of swine is to eat that which we would not eat in order to clean the earth and remove the foul smelling things that would harm human beings. This was a blessing from Jesus for His children, as are all gifts from Jesus. Jesus’ gifts have a special role in life and when left to perform their functions it is a blessing to mankind.
This is the testimony of the gospel, that Jesus has provided all things for our blessing to help us grow in grace and truth. The focus of this article is to discuss one of the many blessings of Jesus’ plan to bless and keep His children and to avoid those things which would harm us and bring us into a relationship with Jesus that would produce antagonism and difficulty with Him and with us.
As we know sin has brought all kinds of difficulties to this world and one of them is that of taking something that God has designed for one purpose and using it in a way that God has not designed it to be used, and in fact when not used the way that Jesus wants it to be use it becomes “dangerous” for mankind. The focus of this paper will be the use of swine God’s way and the way that people have decided to use swine.
In the beginning, as we have already stated, swine had their role and that was to clean up anything rotting or dead. This role was decided by God to be identified by the concept of unclean. We also know that the clean up idea did not fully come into effect until after sin came in for before that nothing was harmed or killed in any part of God’s holy mountain. (Isaiah 11:9) We know that some animals that went into the
After the flood the first thing that Noah did was to sacrifice one of each of the clean animals to God as a testimony of His sustaining grace and His ability to provide for all things. One of the questions that should be asked is whether Noah sacrificed a swine to Jesus after the flood. Again we are not told specifically whether a swine was sacrificed to Jesus, our Creator, but Jesus’ attitude toward swine in the future is a clear testimony of His attitude toward swine in the past.
When Jesus brought
“And the swine, though he divide the hood, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud, He is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; he is unclean to you.”
In Deuteronomy 14:8 Jesus says the following:
“And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase.”
So now that we know that Jesus does not want us to eat the flesh of swine, nor touch their dead carcase we know His will and His will has not changed over history from the creation to this day. But because of the perverse nature of mankind, and their continual rebellion against the express will of Jesus, Jesus has in His kindness given us even more instruction on what He thinks of swine and the spirit of those who choose to eat swine even after knowing His holy will. In Isaiah 65:2-5 Jesus describes the attitude of those who rebel against Him and how they testify to this rebellion. He says:
“I have spread out My hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts: A people that provoketh Me to anger continually to My face; that sacrificeth in gardens and burneth incense upon altars of brick; which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels; which say, stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in My nostrils, a fire that burneth all the day.”
In the above Scripture Jesus describes some of the things that those who rebel against Him actually do. They love to celebrate amongst the dead (Psalms 106:28), they love to eat the flesh of swine, and they love to claim to be holier than anyone else while doing exactly what God has said not to do. These activities testify to their rebellion against the counsel of Jesus and yet they feel satisfied that somehow they are holy in their rebellion. This is a testimony of their claim that doing wrong is good, and doing right is bad. (Isaiah 5:20-23)
But God says in II Corinthians 13:1 that every truth must be verified by 2-3 witnesses. So in Isaiah 66:3-4, 17 Jesus testifies again about what He thinks about swine and those who consume it, while knowing what Jesus thinks about it. He says:
“He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol, yea they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear; but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not….They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord.”
In the above Scripture Jesus again tells us about rebellion and how it is displayed. The people who claim Him as Lord and Saviour decide to do what they want and not what Jesus wants. One of the primary ways of displaying rebellion against Jesus is to eat swine’s flesh. So now let’s see if we can find an example of what obedience looks like in this gospel story of swine.
In the book of Daniel chapter one Jesus tells us about His man Daniel, and his friends. He declares that Daniel loved him and wanted to obey Him. So when it came to the issue of eating food Daniel wanted to stay in harmony with Jesus and the instructions that Jesus has granted him. Jesus declares of Daniel the following:
“But Daniel purposed in His heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.” Daniel 1:8-9.
In the above Scripture we are not told what the king’s food was, but we are told that Daniel was very serious about not eating it for Daniel recognized things in the food that would defile him according to the words of Jesus. To protect Daniel Jesus had brought conviction upon His heart and had given him a way out through the love relationship he had with the prince of the eunuchs. We know that perfect love casts out all fear and Daniel explored the avenue of deliverance that Jesus has opened (I Corinthians 10:13). Most of us know the rest of the story and after a short investigative judgment deliverance was granted to Daniel and his friends and the outcome is that because they put Jesus first they were granted special gifts and found ten times wiser than the others around them.
In Counsels on Diets and Foods pages 29-32, Jesus’ prophet Ellen G. White states that the king’s food was not the kind of food that He could bless. She expresses Daniel’s experience as follows:
“The youth (Daniel and his friends) in this school of training were not only to be admitted to the royal palace, but it was provided that they should eat of the meat, and drink of the wine, which came from the kings’ table. In all this the king considered that he was not only bestowing great honour upon them, but securing for them the best physical and mental development that could be attained.
Among the viands placed before the king were swine’s flesh and other meat which were declared unclean by the law of Moses, and which the Hebrews had been expressly forbidden to eat. Here Daniel was brought to a severe test. Should he adhere to the teachings of his fathers concerning meats and drinks, and offend the king, probably losing not only his position but his life, or should he disregard the commandment of the Lord, and retain the favour of the king, thus securing great intellectually advantages and the most flattering worldly long prospects?
Daniel did not hesitate. He decided to stand firmly for his integrity, let the result be what it might. He “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank.”
There are many among professed Christians today who would decide that Daniel was too particular, and would pronounce him narrow and bigoted. They consider the matter of eating and drinking of too little consequence to require such a decided stand, -- one involving the probable sacrifice of every earthly advantage. But those who reason thus will find in the Day of Judgment that they turned from God’s express requirements, and set up their own opinion as a standard of right and wrong. They will find that what seemed to them unimportant was not so regarded of God. His requirements should be sacredly obeyed. Those who accept and obey one of His precepts because it is convenient to do so, while they reject another because its observance would require a sacrifice, lower the standard of right, and by their example lead others to lightly regard the holy law of God. “Thus saith the Lord” is to be our rule in all things….
The character of Daniel is presented to the world as a striking example of what God’s grace can make of men fallen by nature and corrupted by sin. The record of his noble, self-denying life is an encouragement to our common humanity. From it we may gather strength to nobly resist temptation, and firmly, and in the grace of meekness, stand for the right under the severest trial.
Daniel might have found a plausible excuse to depart from his strictly temperate habits; but the approbation of God was dearer to him than the favour of the most powerful earthly potentate, --dearer even than life itself. Having by his courteous conduct obtained favour with Melzar, the officer in charge of the Hebrews youth, Daniel mad a request that they might not eat of the king’s meat, or drink of his wine Melzar feared that should he comply with this request, he might incur the displeasure of the king, and thus endanger his own life. Like many at the present day, he thought that an abstemious diet would render these youth pale and sickly in appearance and deficient in muscular strength, while the luxurious food from the king’s table would make them ruddy and beautiful, and would impart superior physical activity.
Daniel requested that the matter be decided by a ten day’s trial,--the Hebrew youth during this brief period being permitted to eat of simple food, while their companions partook of the king’s dainties. The request was finally granted, and then Daniel felt assured that he had gained his case. Although but a youth, he had seen the injurious effects of wine and luxurious living upon physical and mental health.
At the end of the ten days the result was found to be quite the opposite of Melzar’s expectations. Not only in personal appearance, but in physical activity and mental vigour, those who had been temperate in their habits exhibited a marked superiority over t heir companions who had indulged appetite. As a result of this trial, Daniel and his associates were permitted to continue their simple diet during the whole course of their training for the duties of the kingdom.
The Lord regarded with approval the firmness and self-denial of these Hebrew youth, and His blessing attended them. He “gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” At the expiration of the three years of training, when their ability and acquirements were tested by the king, he “found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding that the king required of them he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers, that were in all his realm.”
Here is a lesson for all, but especially for the young. A strict compliance with the requirements of God is beneficial to the health of the body and mind. In order to reach the highest standard of moral and intellectual attainments, it is necessary to seek wisdom and strength from God, and to observe strict temperance in all the habits of life. In the experience of Daniel and his companions we have an instance of the triumph of principle over temptation to indulge the appetite. It shows us that through religious principle young men may triumph over the lusts of the flesh, and remain true to God’s requirements, even though it cost them a great sacrifice.”
To further the gospel testimony of Jesus, we have more Bible evidence of what Jesus thinks of swine. In Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-40 Jesus tells the story of two men who were possessed by demons. Jesus cast out the demons from the men. The story tells that the demons expressly asked that they may be cast into a herd of swine that were nearby. Jesus granted them permission to have the unclean demons go into the unclean animals thus furthering the testimony that Jesus perceived swine as a perfect habitation for demons but not for His people because the swine were unclean. This harmonizes with the testimony of Isaiah 65-66 and all of Jesus’ testimony up to this point. This is the gospel of Jesus - that He delivers His suffering captive children and delivers them from all sufferings including that of demon possession. It is interesting that when Jesus delivered the men, the demons chose to go into swine. We know from the rest of the story that the owners of the herd of swine were more concerned about their money than about the people. (Mark 5:14-17).
But Jesus also had a further gospel message for these owners. He knew that they loved money more than they loved Jesus and thus loved their herds of swine more than God’s people. Desire of Ages 338 states the following:
“Now these men were clothed and in their right mind, sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to His words, and glorifying the name of Him who had made them whole. But the people who beheld this wonderful scene did not rejoice. The loss of the wine seemed to them of greater moment than the deliverance of these captives of Satan.
It was in mercy to the owners of the swine that this loss had been permitted to come upon them. They were absorbed in earthly things and cared not for the great interests of spiritual life. Jesus desired to break the spell of selfish indifference, that they might accept His grace. But regret and indignation for their temporal loss (love of money) blinded their eyes to the Saviour’s mercy.”
Thus when Jesus delivers His people we need to study all of the different things that occur in the story and have spiritual discernment that we can grasp His gospel of love and mercy and deliverance fully.
In Luke 5:11-32 Jesus tells the story of the prodigal son – a testimony of one who left his position as a son, attempted to live life on his own, his crushing failure, and his return home to his father. In the story Jesus tells us as to how low this young man had to go in order to see his need of help. The ultimate disgrace for this young man was that he ran out of resources and had to go to the point of herding swine, and then he even went to the point of wanting to eat what swine ate – the dead and the decayed and the foul. No son, in right standing with God, would want to eat what this unclean animal loved to eat. So again Jesus testified to His thinking of how His people should relate to swine. Jesus encouraged the young man to go home where even servants eat good food. So when he “came to his senses” he abandoned the swine and went back to his father to receive the many gifts of grace. Thus again Jesus compares and contrasts His gospel with the slavery and degradation that is associated with swine.
In a final bit of instruction Jesus tells His people to “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. In this parable Jesus is speaking of interacting with non-believers. We are to be discrete in how we speak to people. Jesus always spoke in parables (Matthew 13:34) with the people for He knew that if He said too many things too clearly He would be killed before the time of His crucifixion. They, the spiritual swine, would trample Him under their feet. So Jesus spoke to them in parables knowing that those who had the gift of spiritual discernment would understand Him and they would be converted. (Matthew 13:10-17)
I pray that this little study will be helpful for you as you ponder the ways of Jesus. Jesus did not have to spend much time speaking about swine, but He did share just enough for us to know His will and to understand what He is trying to say, especially about swine/pigs. Swine were a gift from Him to be the figurative vacuum cleaners of earth, along with the dogs, and the vultures. But God wants His people to stay in harmony with Him and wants us to use His gifts the way He wanted us to use them – just the way He has instructed us. This is the gospel of Jesus to receive His blessings for we are empowered by Him to come into harmony with His thoughts and His ways. May God bless and keep you in your walk with Him and rejoice in His precious gospel truths.