In this lesson, we find a break in God’s dispensational dealings with the Jews. He heals the daughter of a Canaanite woman even though his ministry is exclusively to the lost sheep of the house of Israel [15:24]. He also heals the multitudes and feeds four thousand men miraculously.
Before we study the healing of the Canaanite woman’s daughter, we will comment briefly on the multitudes that were healed and the 4000 that were fed. We have studied similar passages in Matt 14:15-21 and Matt 12:15. They point to God’s miraculous dealings with the Jews in the latter part of the tribulation and at the Second Advent. The healing of the multitudes is connected with the new covenant in Jer 30:7-9, 17 and Ps 67:1-2, for instance. The feeding of the four thousand is connected with the miraculous feeding of the Jews in the wilderness during the tribulation [Rev 12:6, 14, for instance].
Now in studying the Canaanite woman, we notice some spiritual truths as well as doctrinal truths. Spiritually, there are three things in her request that make a good pattern for getting a prayer answered:
Earnestness – in verse 23, Jesus wouldn’t answer her; in the same verse, the disciples tried to run her off; in verse 24, Jesus told that he wasn’t here for her; and in verse 26, he referred to her as a dog. In spite of all of the rebuffs, she stayed with her request until she got it answered. We’d do well to remember this when we wear out with waiting for God to answer us.
Humility – when the Lord referred to her as a dog, she said, “Truth, Lord …” It didn’t faze her a bit. She’s not like this modern generation that’s so easily offended. We’re better off remembering that we don’t deserve anything from God and that we are thankful and content to have what we do have.
Faith – she knew Jesus could heal her daughter and she was not leaving until he did it. Now that’s real faith. She accomplished something with Jesus that even the masters of her day couldn’t do. She caught something the Lord said and used it against him [Matt 22:15] to get what she wanted.
Doctrinally, we see Gentile dogs getting in on salvation. In the Old Testament, Gentiles were recognized as strangers and they were not included in any of God’s promises to the Jews. If a gentile stranger wanted to get in on the promises God made to the Jews, he had to become a Jew. In Esther 8:17, when the Gentiles found out that the Jews could defend themselves against them, many of them became Jews. In Ex 12:43-49, if a stranger wanted to participate in the passover, he had to become a Jew and be circumcised. When the Jews had married strange wives in Ezra, they were forced to divorce them and put away their kids, Ezra 9:2-3, 12; 10:10-11
In the New Testament, however, Gentiles get in on salvation by trusting Jesus Christ and get precisely the same benefits of salvation that Jews who trust Christ get. In Eph 2:11-22, the middle wall of partition between saved Jews and saved Gentiles is broken down.
We find Gentiles getting saved in Acts 10:34-35, 44; 11:1, 15-18, to the surprise of the Jews who witnessed this and heard about it. From then on, we find Gentiles getting saved in every region and in great numbers.
Although Gentile salvation was prophesied in the Old Testament (Rom 15:8-12), the prophecies all concerned the millennium. Thus the Jews persecuted Paul as he attempted to win Gentiles (1 Thes 2:14-16). This is due in part to the fact that the nation of Israel is broken off of their olive tree and Gentiles are grafted in (Rom 11:11, 15-21). In the end, multitudes of Gentiles show up in heaven with the church age and tribulation saints (Rev 5:9; 7:9, 14).