Acts 10:9-20 :
Now on the next day as they were on their journey, and got close to the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray at about noon. He became hungry and desired to eat, but while they were preparing, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and a certain container descending to him, like a great sheet let down by four corners on the earth, in which were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, reptiles, and birds of the sky. A voice came to him, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat!”
But Peter said, “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”
A voice came to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed, you must not call unclean.” This was done three times, and immediately the vessel was received up into heaven. Now while Peter was very perplexed in himself what the vision which he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood before the gate, and called and asked whether Simon, who was surnamed Peter, was lodging there. While Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men seek you. But arise, get down, and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”
It is an important thing to realize that God is capable of cleaning something that is unclean, even a person. From the time the Jews were given the law through Moses, they were required to follow very careful rules about what to eat. Peter was raised well and hadn’t eaten anything that a Jew was not supposed to. Then, while he was hungry, he saw this vision in which God was asking him to eat things that he wasn’t supposed to eat. This was God’s training seminar for Peter on some of the differences between Christianity and Judaism and it came right before he needed to use it as we shall see.
What he was learning is also important for us to consider. How is it that we can now do things that are not permitted in the Old Testament? Here we see that God is able to make things clean that He once said were dirty. This passage also suggests that at least one reason why the Jews weren’t allowed to eat things that were “unclean” was to maintain an important spiritual metaphor that illustrated the Jews separation from sinners and their dedication to a holy God. This separation had changed, so it makes sense that the rules would change too.
The cross changed how God viewed mankind and as a result, the rules changed about how He dealt with humanity. God had cleaned all of mankind through Jesus Christ and that is how Christians are supposed to see things too. The Jews still had much to discover about how this change made the rules change. Unfortunately, many still struggle with this issue to this very day. As we read the Bible passages written to Christians, God shows us more insight about what God’s rules are for Christians, and how they are different than they were for the Jews before the cross.
I really like how the Holy Spirit told Peter to “go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.” God clearly knew that this would be difficult for a Jew to accept and He was careful to guide Peter every step of the way. I am very glad to have a God who cares for each one of us like that.