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O3. Preaching the Word of God to Those Who Are Closed to It.    [Make a Comment]

We are not to preach the Word of God to those who are closed to it.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed be He):

Key Scriptures

Matthew 10:11-14
When you come to a town or village, look for someone trustworthy and stay with him until you leave. When you enter someone's household, say, 'Shalom aleikhem!' If the home deserves it, let your shalom rest on it; if not, let your shalom return to you. But if the people of a house or town will not welcome you or listen to you, leave it and shake its dust from your feet!

Matthew 15:12-14
The talmidim came to him [Yeshua] and said, "Do you know that the P'rushim were offended by what you said?" He replied, "Every plant that my Father in heaven has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Let them be. They are blind guides. When a blind man guides another blind man, both will fall in a pit."

Supportive Scriptures

Proverbs 2:1-5
My son, if you will receive my words and store my commands inside you, paying attention to wisdom inclining your mind toward understanding - yes, if you will call for insight and raise your voice for discernment, if you seek it as you would silver and search for it as for hidden treasure - then you will understand the fear of ADONAI and find knowledge of God.

Matthew 7:6
Don't give to dogs what is holy, and don't throw your pearls to the pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, then turn and attack you.

Matthew 10:16-17
Pay attention! I am sending you out like sheep among wolves, so be as prudent as snakes and as harmless as doves. Be on guard, for there will be people who will hand you over to the local Sanhedrins and flog you in their synagogues.

Matthew 13:12-14
Then the talmidim came and asked Yeshua, "Why are you speaking to them in parables?" He answered, "Because it has been given to you to know the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but it has not been given to them. For anyone who has something will be given more, so that he will have plenty; but from anyone who has nothing, even what he does have will be taken away. Here is why I speak to them in parables: they look without seeing and listen without hearing or understanding. That is, in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Yesha'yahu which says, 'You will keep on hearing but never understand, and keep on seeing but never perceive, because the heart of this people has become dull - with their ears they barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, so as not to see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and do t'shuvah, so that I could heal them.' But you, how blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear! Yes indeed! I tell you that many a prophet and many a tzaddik longed to see the things you are seeing but did not see them, and to hear the things you are hearing but did not hear them.

Matthew 13:19-23
Whoever hears the message about the Kingdom, but doesn't understand it, is like the seed sown along the path - the Evil One comes and seizes what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground is like a person who hears the message and accepts it with joy at once, but has no root in himself. So he stays on for a while; but as soon as some trouble or persecution arises on account of the message, he immediately falls away. Now the seed sown among thorns stands for someone who hears the message, but it is choked by the worries of the world and the deceitful glamor of wealth, so that it produces nothing. However, what was sown on rich soil is the one who hears the message and understands it; such a person will surely bear fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirty times what was sown.

Matthew 15:22-28
A woman from Kena'an who was living there came to him, pleading, "Sir, have pity on me. Son of David! My daughter is cruelly held under the power of demons!" But Yeshua did not say a word to her. Then his talmidim came to him and urged him, "Send her away, because she is following us and keeps pestering us with her crying." He said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Isra'el." But she came, fell at his feet and said, "Sir, help me!" He answered, "It is not right to take the children's food and toss it to their pet dogs." She said, "That is true, sir, but even the dogs eat the leftovers that fall from their master's table." Then Yeshua answered her, "Lady, you are a person of great trust. Let your desire be granted." And her daughter was healed at that very moment.

Luke 8:4-14
After a large crowd had gathered from the people who kept coming to him from town after town, Yeshua told this parable: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he sowed, some fell along the path and was stepped on, and the birds flying around ate it up. Some fell on rock; and after it sprouted, it dried up from lack of moisture. Some fell in the midst of thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. But some fell into rich soil, and grew, and produced a hundred times as much as had been sown." After saying this, he called out, "Whoever has ears to hear with, let him hear!" His talmidim asked him what this parable might mean, and he said, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of God; but the rest are taught in parables, so that they may look but not see, and listen but not understand. The parable is this: the seed is God's message. The ones along the path are those who hear, but then the Adversary comes and takes the message out of their hearts, in order to keep them from being saved by trusting it. The ones on rock are those who, when they hear the word, accept it with joy; but these have no root - they go on trusting for awhile; but when a time of testing comes, they apostatize. As for what fell in the midst of thorns these are the ones who hear; but as they go along, worries and wealth and life's gratifications crowd in and choke them, so that their fruit never matures. But what fell in rich soil - these are the ones who, when they hear the message, hold onto it with a good, receptive heart; and by persevering, they bring forth a harvest."


One assumes that preaching holiness to persons closed to it is a waste of time, but Scripture goes beyond that and commands us not to do it because it is actually dangerous (Matthew 7:6 & 10:16-17). That does not mean that we should refrain from preaching the Word of God to groups and individuals in the hope that some who hear it are open. It does however mean that we are to exercise discernment regarding the response we get, and not pursue those whom it is clear are closed because the Holy Spirit has not prepared them.

Matthew 15:22-28 illustrates that Yeshua himself abided by the principle of this Mitzvah by at first ignoring the pleas of the Gentile woman from Canaan whom Yeshua assumed was begging him to heal her daughter out of desperation and not out of godly conviction. That would have been the case of most Gentiles in those days and Yeshua, having divested himself of his powers of deity, did not have insight beyond that of other men. However, when the woman responded to his rebuff with godly wisdom, Yeshua realized that, despite her being a Gentile she was a woman of faith, and he granted her request.

Yeshua's assumption that most Gentiles in those days were not yet ready to receive the things of God was why at first, Yeshua sent his disciples only to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" with the following instruction:

Matthew 10:7-14:&nbps; As you go, proclaim, 'The Kingdom of Heaven is near,' heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those afflicted with tzara'at, expel demons. You have received without paying, so give without asking payment. Don't take money in your belts, no gold, no silver, no copper; and for the trip don't take a pack, an extra shirt, shoes or a walking stick- a worker should be given what he needs. When you come to a town or village, look for someone trustworthy and stay with him until you leave. When you enter someone's household, say, 'Shalom aleikhem!' If the home deserves it, let your shalom rest on it; if not, let your shalom return to you. But if the people of a house or town will not welcome you or listen to you, leave it and shake its dust from your feet!

Later on, closer to the time when Yeshua would be returning to the Father and sending back the Holy Spirit, he broadened his instruction to his disciples to include the Gentiles:

Matthew 10:18b-20:  All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make people from all nations into talmidim, immersing them into the reality of the Father, the Son and the Ruach HaKodesh, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember! I will be with you always, yes, even until the end of the age.

That notwithstanding, Yeshua's instruction in verse 14 "But if the people of a house or town will not welcome you or listen to you, leave it and shake its dust from your feet!" applied to the Gentiles as well.

Classical Commentators

This Mitzvah is not addressed by any of the classical commentators.


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