I. THE INSTRUCTIONS TO CORNELIUS.
A. Send men to Joppa and call for Simon whose surname is Peter.
1. He is lodging with Simon the tanner whose house is by the seaside.
2. He will tell you what you are to do.
B. Note how specific the orders are.
1. No ambiguity.
2. No riddles to figure out.
3. No need for interpretation.
4. Many times people will describe a vision and there seems to be many ways by which it might be interpreted. I see a rock, it is south of here and the waves seem to splash against it. I smell a terrible stench. Someone is picking up that rock and it is speaking words of wisdom to them.
C. He will tell you what you are to do. Could not the angel have told him?
1. Why bring Peter into it? Perhaps two reasons.
a. God has chosen to use human instruments to do His work here on earth.
b. God is getting ready to break down the racial barriers in the church. Because Peter is recognized as one of the leaders of the early church, He will use him as the instrument to do it. Any person less than Peter might be tossed out of the church when it was discovered that they went to the Gentiles with the gospel.
II. THE OBEDIENCE OF CORNELIUS.
And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually;
And when he had declared all [these] things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.
III. WE NOW MOVE TO THE NEXT DAY ABOUT NOON. THE SERVANTS OF CORNELIUS ARE APPROACHING JOPPA.
A. Peter goes up to the roof top to pray around noon.
1. He was very hungry, so they were fixing lunch for him, and while they were preparing the food, he fell into a trance.
a. The Greek word is ekstasis. We get our English words ecstasy or ecstatic from this Greek word.
b. This same word is translated amazement and astonished.
c. In the case of the healing of the daughter of Jarius.
And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.
And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.
d. On the day the ladies found the empty tomb and met the angels we read,
And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.
e. When the man who had the palsy and had been brought by his friends to Jesus, and they had climbed to the roof to let him down in front of Jesus, as he took his cot and walked we read.
And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.
f. When the lame man who sought alms from Peter and John was healed and went into the temple walking and leaping we read:
And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.
g. Finally Paul speaks of returning to Jerusalem after his conversion and while praying in the temple he said that he was in a trance. Acts 22:17
B. In this trance state Peter saw this vessel come down from heaven, toward him, it looked something like a sheet knitted at the four corners.
1. Perhaps this was to represent the world, the term four corners of the heavens are used in figure of speech to represent the the whole world. North, East, South, West.
2. It is interesting that when speaking now to Peter, unlike Cornelius the Lord uses figures that must be interpreted.
3. The Book of Hebrews tells us that at different times, and in various ways God spoke through the prophets to our Fathers.
4. God is a God of variety, He does always do things the same way.
a. I feel that He does not want us to expect an experience like someone else.
b. It is so easy for us to seek to create a formula. There are always those who are looking for a formula. What is your secret?
c. We want a guide book of ten steps to an overcoming life.
C. On this sheet that came down from heaven, Peter saw all manner of fourfooted beasts, and wild animals, and creeping things and fowls of the air.
1. God had given strict dietary laws to the Jews. The orthodox Jew to this day still follows these laws. The Rabbis certify the foods as Kosher. They watch how it is butchered to make certain that is thoroughly bled. They will not eat pork.
2. They even go beyond the law of God, in a foolish interpretation of the law to not boil a baby goat in its mother's milk, they have prohibited any mixing of meat with dairy products at the same meal.
3. Many even nonbelieving Jews practice these dietary laws.
4. The animals that were allowed to be eaten were known as clean while the animals that were forbidden were known as unclean.
5. On this sheet that Peter saw were probably some rabbits and pigs, and so Peter recoiled at the commandment to kill and eat.
a. "Not so, Lord." What an inconsistent statement.
b. It sounds like so many today who call Him "Lord," yet never do what He commands.
c. Not all who say "Lord, Lord" are going to enter the Kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of the Father.
6. Peter objected that he had never eaten anything that was unclean. To which the Lord replied, "Do not call that common which I have cleansed."
7. This was repeated three times.
8. Peter was left wondering what it was all about. Up till now the Lord had spoken to him in a riddle, the meaning was not fully clear to Peter. It needed to be interpreted.
9. While Peter is confused and questioning in his mind what this is all about, the men from Cornelius were at the front gate inquiring if there was a man named Peter staying there.
10. It is now that the Holy Spirit begins to instruct Peter as to what this is all about. The Spirit said to him, "Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them."
D. It is important to note that the Lord works on both sides.
1. He was working in the heart of Cornelius on the one side.
2. He is working in the heart of Peter on the other side.
3. He is preparing Cornelius to receive Peter.
4. He is preparing Peter to go to the house of Cornelius.
E. I always treat with caution the person who declares that God told me to tell you.
1. I would never follow those kind of directions unless God had also spoken to me directly about it.
2. We have the case of the young prophet in the Old Testament. By the word of the LORD a man of God came from Judah to Bethel, as Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make an offering. He cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD: "O altar, altar! This is what the LORD says: A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who now make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you. That same day the man of God gave a sign: "This is the sign the LORD has declared: The altar will be split apart and the ashes on it will be poured out." When King Jeroboam heard what the man of God cried out against the altar at Bethel, he stretched out his hand from the altar and said, "Seize him!" But the hand he stretched out toward the man shriveled up, so that he could not pull it back. Also, the altar was split apart and its ashes poured out according to the sign given by the man of God by the word of the LORD.
Then the king said to the man of God, "Intercede with the LORD your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored." So the man of God interceded with the LORD, and the king's hand was restored and became as it was before. The king said to the man of God, "Come home with me and have something to eat, and I will give you a gift." But the man of God answered the king, "Even if you were to give me half your possessions, I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water here. For I was commanded by the word of the LORD: 'You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came.' So he took another road and did not return by the way he had come to Bethel. Now there was a certain old prophet living in Bethel, whose sons came and told him all that the man of God had done there that day. They also told their father what he had said to the king. Their father asked them, "Which way did he go?" And his sons showed him which road the man of
God from Judah had taken. So he said to his sons, "Saddle the donkey for me." And when they had saddled the donkey for him, he mounted it and rode after the man of God. He found him sitting under an oak tree and asked, "Are you the man of God who came from Judah?" "I am," he replied. So the prophet said to him, "Come home with me and eat." The man of God said, "I cannot turn back and go with you, nor can I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. I have been told by the word of the LORD: 'You must not eat bread or drink water there or return by the way you came.'" The old prophet answered, "I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD: 'Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.'" (But he was lying to him.) So the man of God returned with him and ate and drank in his house. While they were sitting at the table, the word of the LORD came to the old
prophet who had brought him back. He cried out to the man of God who had come from Judah, "This is what the LORD says: 'You have defied the word of the LORD and have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you. You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore your body will not be buried in the tomb of your fathers.'" When the man of God had finished eating and drinking, the prophet who had brought him back saddled his donkey for him. As he went on his way, a lion met him on the road and killed him, and his body was thrown down on the road, with both the donkey and the lion standing beside it. Some people who passed by saw the body thrown down there, with the lion standing beside the body, and they went and reported it in the city where the old prophet lived. When the prophet who had brought him back from his journey heard of it, he said, "It is the man of God who defied the word of the LORD. The LORD has given him
over to the lion, which has mauled him and killed him, as the word of the LORD had warned him." The prophet said to his sons, "Saddle the donkey for me," and they did so. Then he went out and found the body thrown down on the road, with the donkey and the lion standing beside it. The lion had neither eaten the body nor mauled the donkey. So the prophet picked up the body of the man of God, laid it on the donkey, and brought it back to his own city to mourn for him and bury him. Then he laid the body in his own tomb, and they mourned over him and said, "Oh, my brother!" After burying him, he said to his sons, "When I die, bury me in the grave where the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones. 1 Kings 13:1-31
(NIV) It is truly a beautiful thing when God is working on both ends.