Greatly perplexed in mind as to the vision
Acts 10:1-23 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Now there was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in and said to him, “Cornelius!” 4 And fixing his gaze on him and being much alarmed, he said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5 Now dispatch some men to Joppa and send for a man named Simon, who is also called Peter; 6 he is staying with a tanner named Simon, whose house is by the sea.” 7 When the angel who was speaking to him had left, he summoned two of his servants and a devout soldier of those who were his personal attendants, 8 and after he had explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.
9 On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; 11 and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, 12 and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. 13 A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” 15 Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” 16 This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky.
17 Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be, behold, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions for Simon’s house, appeared at the gate; 18 and calling out, they were asking whether Simon, who was also called Peter, was staying there. 19 While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 But get up, go downstairs and accompany them [r]without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself.” 21 Peter went down to the men and said, “Behold, I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for which you have come?” 22 They said, “Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was divinely directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear a message from you.” 23 So he invited them in and gave them lodging.
And on the next day he got up and went away with them, and some of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
In today’s text it says: Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky. Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be, behold, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions for Simon’s house, appeared at the gate. I wonder what would have happened if the men sent by Cornelius had not come until much later. Peter was greatly perplexed by the vision and its meaning. If the men had not come when they did, what might have Peter determined that the vision meant? Would he have focused on the food rather than on what God has cleansed and called holy? Often when God gives us dreams or visions we are so focused on figuring out what they mean that we miss what God really wants us to see and know. In this way, what God reveals through dreams and visions may be different than what He reveals through His word. When we interpret God’s word, scripture, it is always good to first look at what it means literally. With scripture too often people tend to seek a deeper revelation and they miss what God has said. We try to change and update the unchangeable eternal word of God. When we seek to understand what God is saying through dreams and visions, it is often not what is literal that we need to understand. Still, even with the vision Peter saw, it can be concluded that God did also give permission to eat those things which were formerly forbidden or He would not have used that to demonstrate what He was saying. That just was not all that God wanted Peter, and us to know and understand.
In today’s text, from Peter’s vision, God wants us to know that we should not call anything or even more so anyone that He has cleansed unholy. Just a side note though, conversely God also says that we should not call good what He has called evil. Jesus died for the sins of everyone. John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” May we never judge as unholy, those Jesus died to save. What else though does God want to show us and reveal to us today? What spiritual things does He want to reveal to us in the natural things we see? In John 4:24 Jesus says: “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The same can be said of our understanding God. If we would know and understand the truth of God, we must do it by the Spirit of God. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus says: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Whether through natural things or spiritual things, when we desire to know and understand what God is saying we should focus first on what it means in the kingdom. We should not rush to figure out for or by ourselves all that God is showing us. We should allow Him, in His timing to give us the fullness of the revelation. It could be for us that unlike the men sent to Peter in today’s text, those who God sends to us might not come until long after He has revealed what He wants us to know and understand. God’s time is not like our time. Eternity is past, present and future. A day is as one thousand years and one thousand years as a day. We don’t know when God will want us to apply the things He reveals to us today. In John 14:26 Jesus says: “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” What we can know for sure is that if we will yield to, live and walk by the Spirit, we will know and understand what God has said, what He is saying and what he wants us to do, today, tomorrow and forever. The text says: he got up and went away with them. Jesus has called us too to go to all the people and places He has prepared for us and prepared us for. May we go in the wisdom, the understanding and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You that You use all things, both the good things and the difficult things; both natural things and supernatural things to teach us, to guide us and to conform us to Your image, that we might do the things You’ve called and prepared us to do. Amen.