I’d always wondered about Peter’s vision in Acts, chapter 10. It’s the vision about a sheet being lowered down to Peter with all kinds of animals and God telling Peter, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” Peter sees the unclean animals and is appalled.
Growing up in a Sunday-keeping school until 8th grade, this story had always been used to support eating unclean meat. As a young child, this confused me. Before I go any further, I want to state upfront that being vegetarian does not have anything to do with salvation; it doesn’t make someone any better. Eating meat doesn’t make someone any less Godly, and our diets should be about health–caring for God’s temple, us. I used to be a veggie for all the wrong reasons, so I know from experience both sides of the coin. This blog is about my personal discovery that’s given me insight into a place I felt confused about before. While this may be widely known, maybe my blog can shed light to someone who is struggling to understand this concept also.
All it took to find the real answer was to read. If you take any verse in the Bible and contain it to itself, you may not get the whole picture. Well, you probably won’t. I think that’s what happens with this story in the Bible. Today, as I was doing devotions, I read farther along (something I will make a point to do from now on).
If you like, and I suggest, this is a great time to pull out your Bible.
Acts, Chapter 10, verse 15: “The voice spoke to him a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.'” Remember this verse.
If you look in verse 16, you see that this vision happened three times. Why so many? Well my thoughts could be two answers. First, you see in verse 17 and 19 that Peter was still attempting to understand what the vision meant. Maybe God needed to help him “get it”? I don’t think this is why though because, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I believe God could have shown him once and he would have understood. My second guess: three times correlates with only a couple verses later, when in verse 19 it says that three men are looking for Peter, and God tells him to go down to them. Three Gentiles. Peter’s a Jew. “Unclean.” “Clean.” Hmmm….
The three are sent on behalf of Cornelius the centurion in Caesarea. They are wanting Peter to come with them because Cornelius had a vision to get Peter and have him over to hear God’s message. Peter accepted their offer and left the next day.
Verse 28 goes on to say, “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean…”
Verse 34 goes on to say, “Then Peter began to speak, ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.'” Later, he proceeds to say that since God has given this group of Gentiles the Holy Spirit, there is no reason not to baptize them. And they did.
As you can see, the dream was a preparation for him to confront his previous belief that the Gentiles are unclean. He’s lived his whole life with this way of thinking. Only God can undue those kinds of ties we make in our minds. Another verse that helps reinforce this plan to me is what Christ mentioned in the Book of John: “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16).
I now see that the dream has nothing to do with actual eating. If it had, I think the story would have gone more along the lines of Peter being asked to eat pork at the dinner table and how he had had the revelation it was okay to do so, and takes a bite. Silly thought, huh?
In the last two years I’ve matured a lot in my walk with God. I’ve enjoyed exploring His word and finding out what I believe and why. And through this, some of my beliefs have shifted. Through all of this, I praise God that he takes the time to speak to my heart on a daily basis and reaffirm my faith in Him.