Peter Learns a Lesson
This verse begins a sequence which brings us to an important turning point in the Book of Acts. Though Jesus commissioned the apostles to teach (make disciples of all nations, Matthew 28:19), they were not anxious to do this. Those who were scattered by the persecution after Stephen's death at first preached the gospel to Jews only, (Acts 11:19). Apparently, they interpreted 'all nations' to mean the Jews scattered among all nations. But God was already working in the hearts of Gentiles at Caesarea.
Before Cornelius could be welcomed into the Church, Peter had to learn a lesson. Strict Jews believed that God had no use for the Gentiles. Sometimes they even went saying that help must not be given to a Gentile woman in childbirth because that would only bring another Gentile into the world. Peter had to unlearn that before Cornelius could get in.
There is one point which shows that Peter was already on the way to unlearning some of the rigidness that he was taught. He was staying with Simon who was a tanner by trade. A tanner worked with the dead bodies of animals and, therefore, he was permanently unclean (Numbers 19:11-13). No rigid Jew would have dreamed of accepting hospitality from a tanner. It was his uncleanness that made it necessary for Simon to live on the seashore outside the city. No doubt this tanner was a Christian, and Peter had begun to see that Christianity abolished these petty laws.
At midday, Peter went to the roof to pray. There he had a vision of a great sheet being let down. The sheet with animals on it appeared to him, and the voice told him to kill and eat. The Jews had strict food laws as recorded in Leviticus 11. The Jews could eat only animals that chewed the cud and had cloven hoofs. All others were unclean and forbidden. Peter was shocked and protested that he had never eaten anything that was unclean. The voice told him not to call unclean what God had cleansed. This happened three times so that there could be no possible mistake. In the past, Peter would have called a Gentile unclean, but now God has prepared for him for the coming visitors.
Life Application: Have you ever had a "roof" experience? How has God directed you to adjust your lifestyle to please Him? Be quick to please God.
Praise/Prayer: Dear Father, I am so thankful for the way You anointed the different writers in the Bible. You are so careful to guide Your people in serving You. You have the answers that people need, and You supply Your people with the answers needed for our world today. Amen!