Persisting in Faith

Key Verse: “Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”
—Matthew 15:28

Selected Scripture:
Matthew 15:21-31

GOD HAD PROMISED TO the nation of Israel seventy weeks of exclusive favor (Daniel 9:24) in which 490 years were involved, starting from 454 BC, when Nehemiah was commissioned by Artaxerxes to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem until Messiah would come (69 weeks later) in AD 29. That was when Jesus went to Jordan to be immersed, and began his ministry. The key for these calculations is given in Ezekiel 4:6, as a day for a year.

Jesus was aware of this exclusive favor and only favored Israel with his healing works, but he left Israel to go to Tyre and Sidon briefly, as recorded in Matthew 15:21-28. While he was there a woman of Canaan (a Gentile) came and asked him to heal her daughter vexed with a devil. Our Lord’s fame had gone beyond the borders of Israel. Some of these Gentiles had heard of the promises made to Israel, as apparently did this woman.

It is hard to imagine our gracious Lord ignoring this woman’s pleas, “but he answered her not a word.” (vs. 23) She was persistent and kept crying out after them, so that the disciples with Jesus begged him to send her away. Jesus tried saying, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”—vs. 24

This did not discourage the woman who knelt before Jesus, impeding his way, and asking for help. Then Jesus said that it wasn’t right to take the children’s food and to throw it unto “dogs,” in essence calling her a ‘dog,’ as Gentiles were viewed by Israel. (vs. 26) This, too, did not daunt the woman, who replied, “Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”—vs. 27

This answer by the woman could not be ignored by Jesus, as he saw her great faith and said to her, ‘Be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.’

This was one of the few exceptions by Jesus, in which a Gentile received a blessing during this time of Israel’s exclusive favor. Another exception is recorded in Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10. In each case, great and persistent faith was demonstrated that would be typical of all the Gentiles called once exclusive favor for Israel ended. This favor ended in AD 36 when Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, his family and friends were brought into the body of Christ. The bringing of Cornelius into the family of God did not mean that favor to Israel ended. Rather, the favor was no longer exclusive, as mentioned in Amos 3:2, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth.” After Cornelius, both Jews and Gentiles were being brought into the Church.

This was evident when Paul and Barnabas made their first trip to find people for God’s name. They always went to a synagogue first, because the Word of God was to be found there. Not only did the people of Israel hear Paul’s message, but Gentiles, who sat in the back of the synagogue also heard and believed. At Antioch of Pisidia. “The Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. … many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas.” (Acts 13:42,43) Only those with persistent faith, however, continued as disciples.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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