Tom: This is our Understanding the Scriptures segment, and again, folks, the name of the program is Search the Scriptures Daily, and whether it be this segment or the other segments, we encourage each and every one to search the scriptures daily—what Dave says, what I say, you need to come to your own conclusions from the Word of God, and that’s our encouragement.
But it’s also our privilege to go through books of the Bible, and we’re currently in Acts 10. Dave, we left off last week with—I think we got through v. 14, but as is our way, I’m going to back up a little bit so people understand the context. Going back to v. 10, speaking about Peter, he was up on the housetop to pray, and “he became very hungry and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.” Peter, even in a trance, is giving the Lord a hard time here.
Dave: Well, he knows what the law says, and he’s been obeying it.
Tom: Testing this spirit or this voice, rather.
Dave: Right, and the voice, v. 15, “And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” Now, he’s getting a little lesson here, because he’s going to be called to go to the home of some Gentiles, and he wouldn’t enter there ordinarily. So God is teaching him something. “This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.” So three times Peter says, “Not so, Lord, I’ve never eaten anything that isn’t clean.”
Tom: Well, Dave, when v. 15 says, “What God hath cleansed,” when did this take place? If the Jews were instructed not to eat of these things, when did the cleansing come about?
Dave: Tom, I don’t think the cleansing of these unclean animals has taken place, in my opinion. Probably you would be better off to eat a kosher diet, okay? It’s not a law anymore—I mean, not for Gentiles; it’s not a law for a Christian. So the Scripture says, “Don’t judge someone in meat or drink or holy day.” If this is your conscience before God, then keep it. And i t tells us, “Don’t stumble someone.” You think you can eat anything, and then you’ve got someone who comes into your home, and he doesn’t have that freedom of conscience, well then, don’t stumble him. This has nothing to do with salvation.
Tom, I could go back in my mind and think of a few young men that we’ve led to the Lord or have come to the Lord in meetings in our home who were vegetarians, and they ate their first meat at our dining room table. I wasn’t trying to lead them astray, but suddenly they realized, you know, they had been under bondage. I’m not saying that meat is that good; we’re not saying whether you should be a vegetarian or a meat-eater for health’s sake, but not for religious reasons, okay? So…but I don’t know that that’s what it was even saying here. God is saying, “Look, Peter, if I tell you to eat this, then obviously you’re okay. You are not violating my law when I tell you, Peter, you can eat this.”
And Peter is not convinced, and three times, and he’s still not convinced, apparently. And then, while he’s doubting in himself, v/ 17, “what this vision which he had seen should mean…” You see, he stuck to his guns; he’s not going to be led astray. “…behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius,” which we read about in previous weeks—this is Cornelius, who was a God-fearing, God-seeking Roman centurion. And he’s in prayer, and seeking the Lord, and an angel comes and tells him, “You send your servants to Joppa to the house of Simon the tanner, and there’s a guy living with him also named Simon, and you send for him.”
So here they come. The men which were sent from Cornelius have made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate, and called and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there. While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, “Behold, three men seek thee.” Oh, so there’s a connection here, Peter. Now, they’ve got three guys at the door, and they have come for you. “Arise therefore, get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.” So you can see the connection between this vision. “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”
“Oh, I don’t eat unclean things.”
“Well, Peter, I’m telling you to do it.”
Tom: Right, and Dave, it’s interesting: in v. 17, which you just read, “Now while Peter doubted in himself,” yet the voice says, getting right on it, it says, “Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them doubting nothing: for I have sent them.”
Dave: Mm-hmm. Yeah, so he’s going to learn something on this trip.
Tom: Verse 21: “Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends. And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.” This was someone seeking and eager after God, even though he does something not quite right here.
Dave: He doesn’t understand, but obviously there is a fear of God. And the angel said, “Send for this man.”
Now, this man must be someone really special, and “We are all here, we want to hear what he has to say.” So he falls down and worships him, and Peter, of course, won’t allow that. He takes him by his hand, and says, “Stand up; I myself also am a man. Don’t worship me.” And we’re not to worship angels.
Tom: Right. But, Dave, it’s interesting: here’s a centurion, brings all of his friends, kinsmen, into this, yet humbles himself before this—who he knows to be a man of God. He goes a little too far, but still, he humbled himself.
Dave: Now Peter is going to explain a few things—verse 28—all related to this vision that he’s seen, and Peter says unto them, “You know that it’s unlawful for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or to come unto one of another nation; but God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” So here we get the—he doubted what this meant; he understands it now. “Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?”
Tom: Dave, can I ask you a question? The Jews never proselytized anyone, yet people converted to Judaism. How do you explain that? I mean, if they are the people of God, and they’re hearing the oracles of God, why wouldn’t they proselytize? Yet we have throughout Scripture those from other nations, Gentiles, converting to Judaism.
Dave: Yeah, it was not the purpose of God to convert everybody on this earth and make Jews out of everyone. The Jews were a special, chosen people. The purpose of Israel was to occupy a land and to be a demonstration of the relationship God wanted to have with nations, and they’re to bring the Messiah, and so forth. They were not told, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel,” but that’s what the Christian is supposed to do. Jews or Gentiles who become Christians, we go into all the world and preach the gospel. So the gospel was for everybody. Israel was a special people as a demonstration of the relationship God wanted to have with all mankind. So no, they were not out proselytizing, and they still don’t do it today.