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Salvation for Every Nation #3


Peter’s Vision and Response

Acts 10:9-19 

In our previous study in Acts, we saw something of the man called Cornelius. We seen Cornelius characterised and described, his locality, his rank. his religion and his family life. We saw how he was called and directed. How the Lord spoke to him, and how he was concerned and directed. led by the Lord to put his concern into action by obeying the Lord. Now we see how God prepared Peter to receive the messengers that Cornelius, in obedience had sent to him! This had to happen. Peter would have had old prejudices based on his Judaism. He would have had no time for Gentiles, (Some Rabbis taught that if a Gentile woman was in distress in childbirth. a pious Jew should not give assistance, for to bring another Gentile into the world would be a great shame on a Jew),  yet God was going to bring a huge harvest of Gentiles into the church. Peter was not quite ready for this! But GOD WAS READY. and Peter was about to learn this important lesson.  

It is an interesting story. Just as the men were approaching the gates of the city, Peter was in prayer. As he prayed, a deep hunger came upon him, and he went to seek some .food. While the food was being prepared, the Bible tells us that a deep sleep came upon him. and as he slept, he saw a great platter being let down from heaven and the platter was so huge that it appeared like a white sheet. In the platter was a selection of all sorts of animals, all of them unclean as far as the Jews were concerned. A voice said. “Peter. kill and eat.” Peter was horrified! “Not so Lord, for I have never eaten anything common or unclean! When the voice replied, it said. “What God has cleansed, you must not call common.” This was repeated twice more before the object was taken hack up to heaven 


1. Peter’s Personal Devotion.  v9

  • The Place of Peter’s Prayer. 
    • In a seaside house! 10:6. This in itself is significant. The tanner’s house was at the seaside. Why? It was outside the city because the tannery was ceremonially unclean! Yet Peter was lodging there. God had already begun to work. 
    • In a quiet place! 10:9. Peter prayed on the roof. This is because the houses were often quite small and were quite crowded. It would be common to seek quietness on the roof, where a man could find peace to pray. That is where we need to be also if we want to hear the voice of God. We need to spend time alone with God. If we want to know real blessing upon our Christian lives, let us find it in the quietness of solitude with the Lord! The Hymnwriter said,- THERE IS A PLACE OF QUIET REST, NEAR TO THE HEART OF GOD! A PLACE WHERE SIN CANNOT MOLEST, NEAR TO THE HEART OF GOD. 0 JESUS LORD AND SAVIOUR, SENT FROM THE HEART OF GOD. HOLD US WHO WAIT BEFORE —THEE. NEAR TO THE HEART OF GOD. In a prescribed way. Being on the roof was also common among the Jews for another reason. On the roof of a building they could locate Jerusalem and pray toward the temple! And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest. forgive. I Kings 8:30 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God as he did aforetime. Daniel 6:10. Now, the temple is a type of Christ, and it is only through Him, and looking unto Him that we must offer our prayers to God! 
  • The Period of Peter’s Prayer. 
    • It was the Hour of Prayer. It was noon. That was one of the three hours of prayer which a righteous Jew would observe. We have already seen that Cornelius was spoken to by God at the time of prayer, now so was Peter. Does that not suggest something to us? Is it not the case that God rewards regular and disciplined prayer? Consistency in prayer is important. And it ought to remind us that times for prayer have been laid aside for us. Let us attend to the Lord’s house to pray at the appointed time. Look, and see how far our practice of our saving faith falls short of the righteousness of these Jews. Is it because our salvation has been given to us as a free gift that we are so careless in our religion? Look at devout Roman Catholics whom we pity so much, going to their daily masses and their novenas and their confessions. Look at the JW’s, so caught up in false belief, spending hours going from door to door to spread their religion. Look at the young Mormon missionaries from USA, leaving home and family and spending perhaps years away from their native land, spreading their false beliefs. And look at us who have the truth. Born again Christians, with all the blessing of God, and the wonderful free gift of salvation. And we are at ease. They put us to shame. It was the hour of prayer, and Peter was in the place where prayer was wont to be made. 
    • It was God’s Appointed Hour! And is it not a good job that he was! God was going to do something utterly amazing in the life of Peter. The Bible records the details of the timing. On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: Acts 10:9 The timing was perfect. God’s timing always is! 
  • The Point of Peter’s Prayer. Peter needed to pray! What is the point of prayer? Some people seem to think that prayer is unimportant. It is not! I thank God that Peter is included in the Scripture record, and that the Bible shows him just as he is! It never paints a false picture of any man. Peter was a mere man, and comes over to us as very human indeed. He was the leader of the disciples, the man who was the appointed apostle to the Jews, a great servant of the Lord. But he was still a man, and he was subject to like passions as we are. He became hungry, he thirsted, he ached and he hurt. He was weak and frail, he was deeply prejudiced, and too often he got things completely wrong. Being saved and called to be an apostle and to serve God did not make Peter perfect. It did not free him from sin or need. He was still a human, sinful man! God had to continually work in Peter’s life to make him what he wanted him to be!  

That’s great news for us! How often do we make mistakes, fall down, get it all wrong? Far too often! But Peter prayed, and later wrote, …the end of all things is at hand: he ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 1 Peter 4:7 And like Peter we can go to the Lord in prayer, and the Lord will bring us a step further with him. He will use stepping-stones to perfection! (Perfect man – Under Construction!) But only if we bring them before him, place of prayer! 


2. Peter’s Perception of Purity 

  • The Trance-like Experience.  v10
    • Greek εκσταςις simply means an ecstasy, not to be confused with the trances of the mediums and necromancers and new age people. Nor must it be confused with the trances induced by the Charismatics during the Toronto meetings. During the ‘trance’ Peter was fully aware of what he was doing. He was able to say know to a diet of unclean foods. He was able to remember exactly what he had previously eaten. He was not unconscious or ‘zapped.’ This was simply an elevated height of awareness of the presence of God during an act of prayer., It occurred when Peter was very hungry, -but that does not mean that it was induced by hunger. Rather that God used Peter’s own hunger to emphasis the point about cleanliness, which he was about to demonstrate. 
    • The ‘trance’ then, was from heaven. It came from heaven and it was returned to heaven. It had to be, Peter had to know that this was the Lord speaking to him. (Remember that this was in the apostolic age, when the Scripture record was not yet complete, and God communicated directly with the apostles in this way. Now, we have the complete Bible to show us the ways of the Lord) 
  • The Object like a Sheet.  v11 It is not a sheet; it is something that resembled a sheet. The Greek word is the same word, which can be translated a linen cloth or even a sail. It would have been a huge sheet, billowing out, held (bound) at the four corners and containing the animals. The exact description does not really matter. What matters is what it contained! 
  • The Animals that were Contained.   v12
    • Why did God use a variety of animals to convince Peter that He was going to bring Gentiles into the church? It was because of the Jewish food laws! The Jews believed that there were certain foods that were ceremonially unclean. It was partly because the Gentiles indulged in eating these foods that the Jews considered the Gentiles to be unclean. 
    • Was God then contradicting the Law? No! The Law and especially the food laws were given to Israel to make her a distinctive nation, to separate her from ungodly nations, to guide her and to protect her people from illness. But the law has been fulfilled in Christ! No-one could fully satisfy the law. All fell short, except Jesus, who was sinless. He fulfilled the law for us, and when we trust in Him,. And become partakers of His sacrifice upon the Cross, we too are free from the demands of the law! Jesus has satisfied the demands of the law on our behalf. So Peter could eat what God had given him, with a clear conscience. God never contradicts His word! 
  • The Command to Eat. v13 Peter refused to obey the Lord, relying instead upon the religion that he had been taught. God corrected hi e voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed. that call not thou common. Acts 10:15  
  • The Repetition of the Vision. V14-16 The event occurred three times. God wanted to emphasis that what He said was true and that Peter needed to believe and obey.  But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. Matthew 13:16 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. Psalm 25:5 Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. Psalm 143:10 


3. Peter Perplexed but Prepared. Verse 17-19.  

Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold. the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate, Acts 10:17 Peter was left deeply perplexed by this vision. What did it mean? At that moment the men from Cornelius arrived, and suddenly Peter begins to demonstrate a very acute awareness of the leading of the Holy Spirit.  

  1. The Holy Spirit told him that the men were waiting. While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him. Behold, three men seek thee. Acts 10:19 
  2. The Holy Spirit told him to go with them. Verse 20. 
  3. The Holy Spirit told him to doubt nothing, Verse 20 
  4. The Holy Spirit told him that He had sent the men to Peter! Verse 20. Peter did not know these men. He did not know that they were Gentiles. But the Holy Spirit had prepared the way and had told Peter exactly what to do! All Peter had to do was to listen for the voice of God and to obey.


Application. The Gospel always breaks down barriers! The Bible tells us that “There is neither Jew nor Greek there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28. Notice that the men from Cornelius stood outside the door of Peter’s house! (17). That is significant. What is more significant is that Peter invited them in! (Verse 23) A strict Jew would never have allowed a lax Jew to lodge within his home, never mind a Gentile! Yet Peter brought them in and had fellowship with them! Later, when Peter arrived at the town of Caesarea, Cornelius went out to meet him, probably knowing that a Jew would never enter in to the home of a Gentile. But the Gospel breaks down such barriers, and people who are truly saved should have no barriers between them. They should be able to witness together, and to worship together, all other things, like doctrine and morality being equal. 

From → Acts, Bible Study

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