The Gospel to the Gentiles: Acts 10 (2)
Pray Psalm 147.12-14.
Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
For He has strengthened the bars of your gates;
He has blessed your children within you.
He makes peace in your borders,
And fills you with the finest wheat.
Sing Psalm 147.12-14
(St. Ann: Our God, Our Help in Ages Past)
O praise your God, Jerusalem, O Zion, praise the Lord!
He strengthens those who trust in Him with blessings from His Word.
Around us He has spread His peace; our borders are secure.
His bounty daily shall increase; His grace to us is sure!
Read Acts 10.1-16; meditate on verses 9-16.
1. Where was Peter? How was he feeling?
2. What did God show him?
The day after Cornelius had his vision in Caesarea, Peter was on the roof of Simon’s house in Joppa, probably observing the sixth hour of prayer (at noon), and he was getting hungry. God really knows how to get through to us.
A sheet was let down before Peter, teeming with all kinds of unclean animals, and he was instructed to eat of them (vv. 9-13). But he demurred, good Law-keeping believer that he was (v. 14).
Then the Lord gave His approval and explanation of what He has commanded, repeating the whole episode three times (vv. 15, 16). The experience left Peter wondering within himself about the meaning of it all (v. 17).
Why didn’t God just give a verbal explanation to Peter like He did to Cornelius? Why all this drama? Throughout Scripture, God often used artistic forms to declare His will and manifest His glory – even to prepare His people for new stages of His relationship with them. If we have no place in our lives for the arts, for poetry, fine music, novels and stories, painting and sculpture, plays and operas, or for contemplating the creation, we’re cutting ourselves off from areas of divine self-disclosure that God routinely loves to employ. Not all arts, of course; however, especially those wrought under the skilled hands of believing artists, God can use to make Himself and His glory known.
In this story God can be seen doing something He did frequently in the Old Testament and the teaching of Jesus. He employed a form of art in the service of the Gospel. God is the King of all the arts. He used them, and so should we.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Henrik Ibsen, the Norwegian playwright and theatre director said, “A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed.” Which has, over the years, morphed into “A picture is worth a thousand words.” So true.
C. S. Lewis maintains that a good writer “shows” instead of “tells”.
And God, the Supreme Author (Heb. 12.2), knew how to convey a completely new thought to Peter. God didn’t “tell this fact slant”, as Emily Dickinson promotes. No. He used every means possible to show Peter that nothing, and particularly no one, is common or unclean. All have the potential to be His children. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3.16). Whoever believes.
Peter was really hungry. And the menu of potential luncheon meats was extensive: all kinds of four-footed animals, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.
God could have told Peter the truth of the new way. But it was so contrary to what he had been brought up to believe that it needed all these methods of conveyance. Hunger. A trance. A sheet full of animals. A voice from heaven. Repeated three times.
Luke, in the beginning of his gospel, writes about the importance of extensively documented information used to convey truth. “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and minsters of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account…that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed” (Lk. 1.1-4).
That we might know the certainty of the truth of the Gospel.
That Peter might know the certainty of the truth of a new focus for the Gospel. God, through His Word, has given us an “orderly account” of the way, the truth, and the life (Jn. 14.6). And the ultimate show not tell?
“But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”
1. Why was it so important that God communicate to Peter in this vision?
2. How did this vision support what Jesus taught about the Kingdom?
3. How should Peter’s vision encourage us in working our Personal Mission Field?
Clearly Peter, the all-holy leader of the apostles, needed the divine revelation concerning the nations. He did not know that there is no distinction between circumcised and uncircumcised with respect to the faith. Furthermore, he did not clearly know that the Lord called for the nations to be made into disciples… Didymus the Blind (313-398), Catena on the Acts of the Apostles 10.10
Pray Psalm 147.19, 20.
Pray that God will move in you, and within all His people, to make us bolder and more consistent witnesses for the Lord.
Sing Psalm 147.19, 20.
(St. Ann: Our God, Our Help in Ages Past)
His Word He to His Church bestows – His promises and Law.
No other nation God thus knows: praise Him with songs of awe!
T. M. and Susie Moore
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.