Kevin Cowan - Dogs - Airdrie, Alberta, Canada - 2006

Revelation 22:14-15, “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.  For without are dogs…”  We’re just looking today for things that will keep us out of that city.

 

John is speaking of that city New Jerusalem, or shall we say heaven in that first verse — who will enter in and who will not enter in.  That 14th verse begins with the word Blessed, which simply means rich — “Rich are they that do His commandments…” The Bible is filled with the commandments of God and we are to do them.  Jesus was the Word made flesh.  Everything in His life lined up with God.  His example then is a commandment that we must follow. 


John 15:26, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me.”  The Holy Spirit was promised by Jesus when He returned to heaven and it’s that Holy Spirit, which speaks to us each day, prompting us to do His will.  These promptings of the Spirit are so gentle that they don’t seem like commandments but they are, for they tell us what we must do and what we must not do, where we can go and where we cannot go — they help cast out every wrong thought we have. If we are faithful in doing His commandments, we can be assured that we will enter into this New Jerusalem or heaven.


Verse 1 says, “For without are dogs…” etc. That verse speaks of those who will not enter into this city, or into heaven or into His Kingdom.  I’m not going to speak about those others things mentioned in this verse because they wouldn’t be very profitable, but today I am going to speak about just dogs.

 

This past year, I have had the privilege of spending three months overseas in Japan and the Philippines and have appreciated my experience so much.  In the Philippines, I learned a lot about dogs — because dogs are everywhere. The people that own the convention grounds have five dogs, all sisters and brothers to each other and one is the mother of them all.  Sometimes a sixth dog appeared but it was the neighbor’s dog.  One night when we were sleeping in our quarters, I was awakened by a dog fight outside of those thin walls.  One of those dogs was getting badly hurt. I wondered what could have made those sisters and brothers and mother get all stirred up with each other in the middle of the night.  The fight lasted only  half a minute but afterwards, I lay there awake for another couple of hours thinking about those dogs and what had stirred them up.  It could have been just another dog stepping on someone else’s toes and  I wondered, could there be anything in your family, some fighting between brothers and sisters that have gotten you all stirred up…some things have been said, some things done that caused fighting.

 

Have you ever seen a sign that says, “No Trespassing?”  Things that are said against the family or done against the family — that’s trespassing!  I Corinthians 13:4, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind…” and it suffers and suffers and suffers…and is still kind.  It’s when we become irritated and upset with each other that we must be kind. Do we have charity that suffereth long or are we like someone with a guard dog on duty?


A way off in the distance, I heard another dog bark in response to the dogs on the convention grounds, and then another joined in and another. That’s like spreading gossip — it’s like a talebearer telling secrets.   Proverbs 11:13, “A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.” Sometimes the best advice is: mind your own business!  Do you fulfill the marks of a talebearer spreading secrets?  Conceal the matter! It’s a test of your love and faithfulness.


In Japan, they have a subway that runs in-between terminals and stops to let people on and off at each station. At the end of the line the terminal is called a terminus.  Nothing goes any further than the terminus.  Are we like a terminal or a terminus?  When something is said, does it go no further?  We’d like to be like that.  We just want to talk about the things that keep us out of the city.

 

There is a dog named Jordan that lives on the convention grounds in the Philippines. Jordan is a little white dog that was always wagging his tail.  He was always there to greet you and everyone liked friendly, old Jordan. When we woke in the mornings, Jordan was there by our bedside, his tail just a wagging. Jordan liked to talk to us, too, when we’d talk to him. He had a little whimper, a little bark that he’d speak back to us. In the brothers’ sleeping quarters was a cement floor, and often we’d go in there during the daytime and find Jordan all curled up on the cool cement floor sleeping. Jordan got his name from Michael Jordan, the basketball star, and the reason for this was he liked to jump.  If you weren’t careful, Jordan would get you on the chin. He was always happy for the attention we gave him. One morning, I noticed a little scar beside Jordan’s eye and thought, here is friendly old Jordan, who everyone likes, and he’s a fighter and a scrapper when he gets back home amongst his family.  How are we when we are out amongst others?  Are we like friendly old Jordan, well liked by everyone, but a scrapper and fighter amongst our brothers and sisters?  Our testimony will be tested when we are alone.

 

One day, we were riding in a jeepny and passed by a goat and a young dog beside the road.  The goat was tied up and was calmly eating grass, while the dog crouched down in front of it, barking and wanting to play. The goat never paid the dog any attention — he just kept calmly eating grass.  That little dog was trying to take that goat away from its feeding ground to play and partake in pleasure.  Does the world beckon to you to come and participate in its fun and pleasure? Does it try to take you from your feeding place?

 

I want to ask you a question:  What does Saturday evening mean to you as a child of God?  Saturday evening is when the world comes alive.  I thought of that verse in Matthew 27:1, “When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put Him to death.”  In chapter 28, it speaks of Mary Magdalene and the other Mary coming to the sepulchre with spices for Jesus’ body.  Those ladies’ thoughts had already turned to the body of Christ.  I’m glad I was brought up in a home where Saturday night we were encouraged to train our thoughts toward the body of Christ.  We were taught by my parents that Sunday morning began at 9:00 p.m. Saturday night.  It was time to get quiet, to get a little ointment, to get some spices for the body of Christ.

 

There’s another sign too, that we’ve seen before — it’s “Beware of Dog!”  People put this sign up because they want others to be aware that a dog has been trained to protect their interests.  Do we have a guard dog on duty? As an individual, do we have a sign up that says, “guard dog on duty”?  If you get too close, if you cross the line, there will be a reaction and a guard dog will attack.  In other words, don’t get too close to me because I’ll bite you.  Have you ever spoken words or done things to a brother or a sister that leaves them hurting?  Jesus never had a guard dog.  I Peter 2:23, “Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.”  We’re just looking for things that will keep us out of that city.

 

In Exodus 28:1-4, it says, “And take thou unto thee Aaron, thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons. And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron, thy brother, for glory and for beauty.  And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.  And these are the garments which they shall make:  a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle; and they shall make holy garments for Aaron, thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office”.  Aaron’s first appointment was to be a high priest.  It speaks of the many colours of that garment:  the gold, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and I don’t really know the significance of those colours, but they were to be worn just once a year.  We also read of the precious stones on the shoulders of that garment and on the breastplate, with the names engraven of the twelve tribes of Israel.  These garments were part of the office of the high priest, an intercessor, a man of mercy.  How would you feel if you could see Aaron?  You’d feel great respect for him, wouldn’t you?  He was the one who took the children of Israel’s names before God each year just like Jesus does for us.


In Luke 16:19, it says, “There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day.”  This is just a little picture of the high priest, a man of mercy, an intercessor, who wore the same clothes of gold and purple.  In verse 20, it says, “And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.”  Lazarus was full of sores, he was a beggar who waited each day at the gate, wanting to get as close to that man of mercy as he could, but the intercessor went right on by, day after day.  During the days of Jesus, packs of wild dogs roamed the countryside, and they were vicious and hated by every one. But it says here that the dogs came and licked Lazarus’ sores. Those dogs had more compassion and mercy then the high priest had, and show us how far the office of the high priest had deteriorated by then. 


Matthew 26:57, “And they that had laid hold on Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.”  Jesus was taken right into the counsel of the high priest that day and still, they were looking for a false witness against him. And Jesus was the High Priest Himself, a man of mercy and compassion. 


Romans 8:34, “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Jesus takes your name, your troubles, and your situation today and brings them before the God of Heaven on our behalf. I can hardly comprehend this, that Jesus takes my name before God as my intercessor.  No one needs to be stirring up things amongst their brothers or sisters when Jesus, our High Priest takes our troubles, our circumstance before the King of Heaven on our behalf every day. I’m deeply thankful for this — that Jesus, my great High Priest does this for me.  He wants me to gain entrance into that city, but there are things that hold us back.  How rich we will be if we will only follow His commandments.