Sunday, May 27, 2012

From Acts to Revelation: Part 28 - Peter's Vision

From Acts to Revelation
Part 28 – Peter's Vision
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |


Last week we spoke about Cornelius, a God-fearing Centurion who was a Gentile, seeking God with all his heart, mind and soul.

God seeing this, gave Cornelius a vision, speaking to him about a man named Peter living in Joppa.  The Lord told Cornelius to seek him out and speak with him.

Cornelius, seeking a relationship with God, was being led to the Gospel message of Salvation.

Acts 10:9-23 Peter's Vision
About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. 18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.
19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”
21 Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?”
22 The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” 23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.

a.      He prayed alone at noon on a rooftop

i.       Jesus often went off to pray alone as well
a.      Mark 1:35 “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

b.     Luke 5:16 “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

b.     He fell into a trance
i.       This was not of his own doing, but the Holy Spirit opening Peter's eyes

ii.    vs 11 “...and Heaven opened up...”
a.      Heaven is now “open” because of Christ and the Cross

iii. This meditative state of mind is a connection between our world, and the dimension in which God and His Kingdom resides.

c.      The vision came
i.       Peter sees a table cloth with all sorts of forbidden animals come down from heaven. The list of these can be found in Leviticus 11.

ii.    How do we know they are the forbidden animals of Leviticus?
a.      Because Peter tells us so in verse 14 when he specifically says, “Lord, I have never eaten anything that is unclean.”

iii. Three times the Lord shows this table cloth full of “unclean” animals, and tells Peter, “Kill and eat. Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

a.      “Surely not Lord!”
i.       Peter had observed the Jewish laws, and had never eaten anything impure.

b.     “Do not call anything impure...”
i.       This list of impure foods includes;
a.      vs 4 ‘There are some that only chew the cud or only have a divided hoof, but you must not eat them. The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is ceremonially unclean for you. The hyrax, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is unclean for you. The rabbit, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is unclean for you. And the pig, though it has a divided hoof, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.

b.     10 But all creatures in the seas or streams that do not have fins and scales—whether among all the swarming things or among all the other living creatures in the water—you are to regard as unclean. 11 And since you are to regard them as unclean, you must not eat their meat; you must regard their carcasses as unclean. 12 Anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales is to be regarded as unclean by you.

c.      13 “‘These are the birds you are to regard as unclean and not eat because they are unclean: the eagle,[a] the vulture, the black vulture, 14 the red kite, any kind of black kite, 15 any kind of raven, 16 the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, 17 the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, 18 the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, 19 the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat.

d.      20 “‘All flying insects that walk on all fours are to be regarded as unclean by you. 21 There are, however, some flying insects that walk on all fours that you may eat: those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground. 22 Of these you may eat any kind of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper. 23 But all other flying insects that have four legs you are to regard as unclean. 24 “‘You will make yourselves unclean by these; whoever touches their carcasses will be unclean till evening. 25 Whoever picks up one of their carcasses must wash their clothes, and they will be unclean till evening.

c.      Dietary laws and the Cross
i.       These laws were given to the Levites, they were the priesthood. These laws were not only a test of obedience, and a loving provision for the health and happiness of the people, but they give a humbling picture of the weakness and corruption of the fallen human nature.

ii.    These laws were given, as were all the laws, to show our need for a savior, and just as the holidays, commandments and all other things given to us by God, they all point to the need and purpose for Christ, as well as what His atoning sacrifice has accomplished.

iii. To say we “must” still obey the Kosher laws of foods, is to say we “must” still sacrifice animals for the covering of our sins, or to say Christ has not accomplished what He set out to do.

iv.   The Lord is telling Peter in this vision, “Do not call impure or unclean what God has MADE clean.”
a.      How has God made these things clean? Christ and the Cross.

b.     What does the impure food made clean by God represent? The Gentiles.

a.      Peter did not know what the vision meant
i.       We see from scripture Peter was not sure exactly what the vision meant.

ii.    But God was preparing Peter for his work with the Gentiles.

iii. Peter's mind needed to be opened, and his understanding of God's plan expanded if he was to understand that what was once impure (the Gentiles), was now “Made clean” by Christ and the Cross!

b.     God speaks again
i.       The Lord reveals to Peter that there are men wanting to speak with him.

ii.    So he comes down from the roof to speak with them.

c.      Peter obeys, although he does not fully understand
i.       They are the men that Cornelius the Centurion sent

ii.    Cornelius had a vision, and the Lord revealed to him that he needed to speak with Peter, who could be found in Joppa, staying with Simon.

iii. Cornelius sent men to fetch Peter.

So what was the purpose of the vision?

To open Peter's mind, so that he would understand that what God has made clean, no man can call impure.

Christ's atoning sacrifice on the Cross was not just for the Jew, but also the gentile.

Peter begins to understand when the Centurion's men show up and request Peter to speak with Cornelius. These men, although God-fearing, were Gentiles.

And although they were God-fearing, they were NOT saved, because they had not yet heard the message of the Cross.

Cornelius, being a faithful man, was truly seeking the Lord, and God made a way for him to receive the message that would put him in a right relationship with God.

Seek, and ye shall find...