“Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared he fell into a trance.” Acts 10:9b-10.
Peter was in Joppa, staying at the home of Simon, who was a tanner,. It was about mealtime, so he relaxes and ends up in a “trance.” He sees something like a large sheet coming from the sky, with the four corners held up. Inside he saw all kinds of four-footed animals, reptiles and birds. A voice told him to, “Get up Peter. Kill and eat.” He says, “No way Lord! I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” This happens three times. Does anybody notice that Peter refused a direct command from the Lord? If he had been obedient, what would he have killed and fried? It said all kinds of animals etc., so there must have been a clean one or two. Yet seeing them all mixed in together caused Peter to see them all as unclean and disobeys a direct command.
Of course, we could say the sheet and its contents were just a trance thing, not real. But in the trance, Peter is confronted with a real issue. An issue that may have been growing inside him for some time, who and what is clean and unclean before God? With whom would Peter have lunch?
The Roman soldiers arrive from Cornelius, who stop at the gate. Perhaps, because they were asking for a favor, they are sure to show respect by not entering without being invited. When Peter comes down and hears their request for him to go see Cornelius, he invites them in to be his guests. Which is a little weird, because it wasn’t his house, it was Simon’s
It seems the Romans spent the night there, and the next day Peter and some of the “brothers” from Joppa accompany the soldiers to Caesarea. Peter enters this gentile house filled with a bunch of gentiles, and says that they know a Jew, under the law, should not be in a gentile home, or even associate with them. However, God had told him not to call any man (person) impure or unclean.
Now, the thrust of the story is to get to the inclusion of the gentiles in the gospel. But let’s ask a question: How hard was it for him to actually go? What we do know, from his comment to Cornelius, he was stepping outside of Jewish law in so doing. Regardless of his quick response, he had reservations, based more on the interpretation of the law, than the law itself. Peter readily admits that he is doing something he was taught not to do, and from how he says it, he had something in the law to back it up. Yet he sidesteps all that. Why? Well, there’s the trance. How did he know it wasn’t just a bad dream? The arrival of the Roman soldiers helped with that.
Peter’s dilemma was not near as great as was Paul’s. For Peter, the relationship between Jews and gentiles was historically vague. For Paul, when he declared that circumcision was nothing he was in violation of a centuries-old God- ordained, covenant. In Genesis 17, after saying that circumcision was an “everlasting covenant” to be kept for all generations to come, it says in v. 13, “My covenant in your flesh (circumcision) is to be an everlasting covenant.” When did God or Jesus change that? Where in scripture is the authority for that change? Paul was commissioned to be the apostle to the gentiles. Fine with the Jews, as long as they kept God’s covenant of circumcision. It was in the Law, said the Judaizing Christians.
Both Peter and Paul were dealing with the “unclean”, the outsider, the ones not “God-approved.” We may say that the change they made in their attitude and teaching came, somehow, directly from God, but history has not limited such events to trances and a blinding light. It happens every time someone says “Do not call unclean what God has made clean.”
In our own time we’ve seen it. Africans were seen a slaves, and not equal (unclean like a gentile) and scripture was used to prove that. I remember a man back in the early 60s, a good Christian man, who said he could share the Lord’s Supper with blacks, but not at the table in his home. Where did he get that? From his understanding of the Bible.
When did God send a sheet or a blinding light to tell significant people that this view of the unclean (blacks) was wrong? I believe such people were as inspired by God as was Peter and Paul. “Do not call unclean what God has made clean.”
In I Timothy 2:15, after several statements about women, Paul clearly says, “But women will be saved through childbearing…” The statement by Paul would seem to carry a literal interpretation.
In Titus 2:4 women are told to “be busy at home…” It was taught from that passage that a woman should not work outside the home or have a career, especially in fields held by men. Did it take a sheet from heaven or a blinding light to reveal that was an unGodly view? No.
In I Cor. 7:40 Paul gives advice to widows about remarriage, and he says, “I think that I too have the Spirit of God,” relating to his advice. In the seventh Chapter he says v25 he says he has “no command from the Lord” but says he feels his judgement is “trustworthy.” Why does he say that? Because, under the current situation (v26) he believes, it is the right thing to do.
When did Isaiah (who was under the Law) have a trance or see a blinding light when he subverted the Law of Moses concerning eunuchs? (Isaiah 56:1-8)
In II Cor. 3:6 Paul he is a “minister of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” The “letter” is seen as referring to the Old Law. But the New Testament can be used as a “killer” when it does not include those “unclean” that God has made clean.
It is the Spirit of God that moves anyone to seek justice and mercy, regardless of a scripture that says otherwise in its historical or cultural context. Otherwise, we “quench” the Spirit of God. I Thess 5:19
CONCERNS: Richard Crites had a broken arm set on Monday. He is still in Raleigh Court Rehab, room 118. Judy Hall will have surgery on her throat on Wednesday. Roger Fisher’s brother, Woody, is in frail health. Jim Hunter is having some nausea from recent tests. Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas has leukemia. Former member, Betty Shepherd, will need a kidney transplant. Remember Sue Huels, Sandra Anderson, il Richardson, Deana McRoy, Jenni Cullum, Stephanie Ridney, Marge Greenwood, Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder and AC and Jake Fuller as they work in Lebanon with refugees.
OUR DAILY BREAD: AUGUST 17-22
Monday: Genesis 15:1-22
Tuesday: Psalm 2:1-11
Wednesday: Mark 5:1-20
Thursday: Hebrews 9:6-14
Friday: I Thess.4:1-12
Saturday: Psalm 112:1-10
OUR DAILY BREAD: AUGUST 24-29
Monday: Psalm 119:1-24
Tuesday: Matthew 12:22-37
Wednesday: Revelation 3:14-22
Thursday: Galatians 2:11-21
Friday: John 15:1-11
Saturday: Psalm 19:1-14
We extend our thoughts and sympathy with regard to the death of Larry Foy’s brother, Charles, who died on Saturday, August 8th. In Maryland.
THE NEW DIRECTORY
Several copies of the new directory have been completed and are available. Please check your page and see if everything is correct. It is difficult to develop a perfect directory. Just look at your local phone book. If you will note any needed changes and let Keith know, either via e-mail or a note, there will be a page printed so corrections can be made by you.
Thanks to Erma Williams for taking on this project and giving us a color cover picture of the building.
BACK FROM GUATEMALA
Susan Jordan has returned home from her week with the clinic in Guatemala. We look forward to hearing from her next Sunday if she is ready with her report.
THE LABOR DAY WEEKEND BAR B QUE
Things are shaping up for our annual Labor Day Weekend Bar B Que. There is a sign-up sheet on the table in the foyer. Please feel free to invite family and friends. We always have enough and more. The date will be Saturday, September 5th. Plan to enjoy the day together.
Beginning soon, the bulletin will be sent to everyone via e-mail who has that service. Because of the transfer of the Roanoke mail sorting service being sent to Greensboro, NC and after sorting, then back to Roanoke, it is almost impossible to get a printed bulletin to you before Sunday. The only way would be to print it before Wednesday, which would cause a number of items to be missed until the next week. However, if you do not have e-mail a hard copy will still be sent to you.
There will always be copies available in the foyer for those who would want a printed copy. Please let Keith know if you change e-mail providers so we can keep the mailing up to date.