God Says, "All Animals Are Clean."

But He really means "people."

Acts 10:1-18 (ESV)

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.

Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon's house, stood at the gate and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there.

It’s no surprise that Peter is inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean. Peter’s vision is puzzling in many ways. First off, he had no clue that the animals in the sheet had been made clean. Yet, the voice said, “What God has made clean, do not call common,” after he said, “I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” Was he supposed to recognize their cleanness?

Then the vision is repeated two more times. This is surely for emphasis, but it’s also scary. Peter would have been simply surprised by the first repeat, but after that he would wonder when it would stop.

Then, right in the middle of his puzzling this out, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius show up. Peter’s spiritually mature enough to realize he’s just been hit by the holy clue bat.

When he learns that they’ve been sent by a gentile, he’ll connect the dots.

Where do you pray? Peter went up on the roof, presumably to get away from distractions. Jesus also got away from distractions to pray. If even He needed to do that, we do too.

Do you have a place or a way to isolate yourself for prayer? Since you’re reading this on a computer, you’re right in front of public enemy #1. But you don’t need to build a prayer cave; just turning off the monitor (and the sound?) should do the trick.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.