Who and What Are You Calling Unclean?
17 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 18 and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. 19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.”
21 And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” 22 And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23 So he invited them in to be his guests.
The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him.
Peter just had a vision to basically eat some of the most offensive and disgusting things he could ever imagine. At the end, God does a little wink wink joke on him and says “Don’t call anything unclean that I’ve made clean.” He might not be talking about lizards and bacon.
It’s worth a ponder.
One of the best bible study techniques I’ve ever come across is simply thinking about what you’ve read and asking God about it. If you slow this down, you can realize that Peter is confused. Leviticus 11 was one of his core lessons from 2nd grade, and it was full of “Do not eat!” Some of it was even “Do not touch!” and by the time he’s become an adult, most of it is just simply “don’t even go in a house where it might be!”
But the vision from God said to quit calling it unclean.
The three men sent by Cornelius are all Italians. They would have been as obviously ethnically different from Peter as the Ethiopian was from Phillip a few readings back. They weren’t Jewish at all. But God told Peter the unclean/clean thing, and then He told Peter to “go with them without hesitation.”
This would have been really hard. This would have been like a trust fall on your first day working at McDonald’s with a bunch of 14 year olds. One of the guys is a Roman soldier and the other two are house servants. Who knows the cleanliness status of these guys!?
We might not have a holy angel telling us things, but we have the scriptures calling us to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. It’s worth some consideration about who we think is clean or unclean and what God has made them to be. If God has made somebody clean, I don’t want to be on the other side calling them unclean.
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