Tom: This is our Understanding the Scriptures segment. We’re in Acts:10:28: “And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” And, of course, this is Peter speaking. He had just had a vision while he was in a trance: A sheet was lowered down from heaven, and the sheet that was lowered from heaven—again, this is a vision that Peter had under a trance—and there were animals in it that were unclean that the Jews were not to eat. Yet, a voice from heaven said, “Rise, come and eat.” And Peter objected to that, didn’t he, Dave?
Dave: Well, he said, “No unclean thing has ever crossed my lips and my mouth. I don’t do that.” And it happened three times, and he still protested. And then he was told, same voice from heaven, “Well, there’s some men that have come. They want to see you, and go with them, doubting nothing.” So that kind of brings us up here, and he’s gone then with these men, and he’s come to a house of Cornelius, a centurion, a Roman.
Tom: And those who Cornelius invited to hear from Peter…
Dave: Yeah, because the angel said, “Go get this guy. He’ll tell you.” So I don’t know, he must have packed that house with people—maybe it was some prophet or whatever. And he’s going to fall down and worship him, and Peter will rebuke him for that—not rebuke him, but say, “No, guys, you don’t worship me. I’m just a man.” And so that kind of brings us up to where we are now. He’s telling them, “Now, look, you don’t realize what an amazing event this is. It’s not lawful for a Jew to go in among Gentiles, and here I am coming in to be with you, and something must have caused me to do this.”
Tom: Yeah. Well, it says, “God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.”
Dave: The new revelation to Peter.
Tom: Verse 29: “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?”
Dave: Well, that’s logical, Tom. It also is very interesting. Now, why couldn’t God have told him this miraculously, see? God let the sheet down; God told him to go with them. It’s the way some people want their lives to be run. They’re expecting miracles at every moment. You remember Angels on Assignment, Pastor Buck. He had angels coming and going constantly. Remember, Benny Hinn claimed that angels came into his room and just stood there watching him for a whole year, every night for a year. That’s not the way it works, okay?
Tom: Oral Roberts had a 900-foot Jesus.
Dave: Right. That is not the way it works. Now, God does intervene at times when we need that particular revelation or understanding. But He’s not laying the whole thing out. He’s not telling Peter, “Okay, here’s what they’re going to say, and this is what’s going to…”
No, “You just go with these men.” So Peter, although he’s had this miraculous vision, he still needs some basic information. And he says, “Well, okay, now I’m here because God told me to come here, but why did you send for me?”
Tom: “And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing…”
Dave: See, he doesn’t apparently have a concept of angels. I mean, how would you know it was an angel? It looked like a man. And even Daniel says, “It was a man; it looked like a man.” So I guess angels at least at times can look like men. Sometimes they must be very ferocious, probably bright and shining, but I guess they can appear as human beings.
Tom: Verse 31: “And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.”
Dave: Tom, that is so wonderful, actually. You know how big God is. We are nothing. We are not even ants. We’re not even a speck. This earth isn’t even a speck in His universe—speck of dust, and we’re just microbes on it. In fact, a cancer that is no longer following the instructions that God gave us and rebelled against Him. And yet, God not only knows everything—He knows every thought that was ever thought by every person who ever lived or who ever will live. He not only knows all that, but He has an interest in us, a compassion and love for each one of us. Tom, I just find that so amazing and so wonderful, and I think about it often. “Lord, you love me—not just some cosmic energy, some impersonal force, but a personal and, I believe, passionate love for me, for each one who is listening to our voice.”
And so he says, “Your prayers, your alms, that’s come to attention of God. Your prayers have been heard. And God has sent me,” this is the angel speaking, “sent me to tell you what to do.”
Tom: Continuing with Cornelius’—the information he got from the angel, v. 32 says: “Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee.”
Dave: Tom, here again, these are pretty good details. “Go to Joppa,” that’s a town, “go to the house of a certain man, ask for a certain person who is boarding with him, or is there temporarily.” So God could give us every detail of everything that is going to happen to us in our lives. That wouldn’t be good.
Tom: So, Dave, are you telling us this isn’t just figurative language? These aren’t spiritual ideas and concepts, and so on? No, this is historic information.
Dave: Right, and it’s very practical. But this is not something that God is going to say, “Okay, tomorrow you’re going to have an accident at 9:30 in the morning as you’re driving.” No, that is what palm readers try to do; this is what psychics try to do. That is not God’s way.
So how often does this happen in the Bible? Is He telling Peter every day about this sort of thing? No. But here we are, what God can do, and He does it according to His will as He sees the need for it.
Tom: Again, Cornelius continuing: “Immediately therefore I sent to thee; [he’s speaking to Peter] and thou hast…”
Dave: Immediately. He is a very obedient man. He’s not just a theorist, but he’s a man of action. And he is quick to obey, which we should be.
Tom: “Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come.”
Dave: “Thou hast well done that thou are come.” I like that. “Peter, I know that God told me to send for you. It’s a good thing you came, Peter.”
Tom: “Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.” Now, Dave, Peter just asked the question: “Why did you send for me?”
And the centurion says, “You must know. God sent you.” So the ball’s back in Peter’s court here, Dave.
Dave: Right. I love it.
Tom: “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” What do you have to say about that?
Dave: That’s a tough one. On the one hand it’s a tough one, on the other hand it isn’t. “Every nation, he that feareth God.”
“In every nation he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” Now, what does that mean? Well, you fear God because, as Romans 1 says, the creation proves to you that God exists, okay? And we fear God. We know He exists. Romans 2 says that He’s given us a conscience. We know when we’ve done wrong. So we’re trying—in other words, this is a person who is trying to obey God’s law. But he’s going to know that you can’t obey, and we’ve all come short. He will know that God must have some provision; there must be some way that sinners can be forgiven. And God is going to get the message to that person wherever he is and whatever time of history. And we have examples of that in the Bible and in history, as well, but we better come back to this next week.