Kill and Eat

by LA UBF   01/24/2009     0 reads



Acts 10:1-23

 Key Verse 10:13 

 “Then a voice told him, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’ ” 

Read verses 1-8. What was different about Cornelius? Describe his God-fearing life. How did God want to bless him? What did the angel tell him to do? What does this show us about God?  How did he carry out God’s command?

Read verses 9-16. In the meantime, where was Peter? Describe his vision. Why did Peter revulse at the command, “Kill and eat”? Why did God show Peter ‘impure and unclean’ creatures?  What was God’s word to him?

Read verses 17-23. What was the meaning of the vision and how was it made plain to Peter? How did the men describe Cornelius and what did they ask Peter to do? How did Peter receive them? What does this show about Peter?





Acts 10:1-23   Key Verse 10:13

Then a voice told him, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’”

In today’s passage we see a major turning point in the church.  It was a historic matter.  God from the very beginning of calling Abraham, had always had in mind that all people on earth would be blessed and be restored as His children.  When God called one man, he had in mind the whole world.  When He called the Israelites to become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, God still had his mind on the day that all people would be blessed.  Unfortunately, the Jews took their chosen status and instead of being a kingdom of priests to the nations, they saw the nations as impure and unclean and so they isolated themselves and did not live up to God’s great calling on their lives.  

Even when Jesus came and established the Twelve Apostles, He charged them to make disciples of all nations, the disciples because of the growing persecution went into defense mode and tried to protect the small, but growing church.  They somehow thought that Jesus’  charge to them was again for the Jews, who lived scattered throughout all the nations and of course that occasional Gentile who converted.  But they missed the point.  In today’s passage we see that God has to make a personal intervention to help His disciples to live up to His great plan and purpose that He had been working toward from the very beginning.  As I said this is a great historical turning point for the church, no longer to remain isolated, but to fully take up God’s purpose to be a holy people to all nations and all peoples; to go from a defensive protectionist church into a kingdom of priests that marches forward and aggressively shares the Gospel with all people.  

Through this event we learn the importance of receiving Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, the importance of the Holy Spirit and finally full obedience to Him.  Basically we want to discuss the importance of having a fully committed life towards God.

Part I – Cornelius calls for Peter (1-8)

Look at verses 1-2, “At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.”  Cornelius was the commander of 100 Roman soldiers.  Cornelius was the equivalent of a captain or major in the U.S. Army.  He was an officer.  And as we all know he was part of the military forces stationed by the Roman’s in the province of Judea.  Basically the Jewish nation was an occupied power and Cornelius was part of the instrument to keep Israel under control.  As a centurion, Cornelius had great power and authority.  Humanly speaking he was in need of nothing.

When he first found out that he was going to be sent with his unit to Israel, he must have decided to learn about the people and place he was going.  So he studied about the people of Israel and their culture and surely he had to study about their religion.  So he must have begun reading the Torah and Talmud; and in doing so, he learned that the God of the Israelites was the One and True Living God.  

The Bible says that Cornelius was a God-fearing man.  The term ‘God fearing’ was used to describe someone who was not a full Jewish proselyte but who believed in one God and respected the moral and ethical teachings of the Jews.  So basically when he studied the Torah and Talmud, God’s Word rang true in his ears.  When he read the ten commandments, he could not disagree at all with them.  Of course you should not murder; of course you should honor your father and mother; of course you should not steal; of course you should not bear false witness against your neighbor.  When he read all these things and carefully studied the old testament, he could agree with the teachings in them.

Cornelius not only agreed with teachings of the old testament, he also worked hard to put them into practice in his every day life.  He was not only a man of great integrity, but a man of great generosity and cared for the needs of others.  Cornelius also prayed to God regularly.  What do you think Cornelius was praying to God regularly about?  I believe that the phrase ‘he gave generously to those in need’ gives us a good clue.  Obviously, he gave to others because of their need.  I’m sure he also prayed for those in need as well.  He also might have prayed that others might open their hearts to the teaching of the Jews.

He also was a man of good influence on those under his command and authority, including his family and soldiers.  All his family were devout and even the soldier he sent to get Peter was devout.  We can see that Cornelius was like a shepherd who looked after the care and needs of those under him.

When we look at Cornelius we really have to respect and admire him.  Even God took notice of this man’s devotion and good deeds.  Look at verses 3-4, “One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision.  He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, ‘Cornelius!”  Cornelius stared at him in fear.  ‘What is it, Lord?’ he asked.  The angel answered, ‘Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.”  Cornelius so impressed God that God sent an angel to him in a vision and told Cornelius that his prayers and gifts to the poor had come up to God as a memorial offering before Him.  When I look at him, I have to confess that Cornelius is a better man than I.  How many of us can honestly say that we are building up a memorial offering before God in what we do?  The angel said that Cornelius did.

And yet, even though Cornelius lived such an amazing life, did God come to him and only commend him on his life?  No, the angel had more to tell Cornelius.  Look at verses 5-6, “Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter.  He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”  God saw all that Cornelius had done and God was pleased with him.  And yet, even though Cornelius was a good man, he was still a sinner.  All his good works on their own were not enough.  He was definitely better than the Pharisees, because he took the teachings of the old testament and actually put them into practice by serving others, but still he did not have the forgiveness of his sins.  No one can be found righteous before God by fulfilling the Law, because no one can live up to the Law fully.  No matter how good we are, we are still sinners and need our sins to be forgiven.

So God gave him instructions to go and send for Simon Peter.  God sent Cornelius to Simon Peter.  Let us all read verses 43together, “All the prophets testify about Him (Jesus) that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His Name.”

Even though Cornelius lived a God-fearing life, God clearly saw that he needed to believe in His Son Jesus so that Cornelius could receive the forgiveness of his sins.  Jesus is the only way we can have our sins removed from us.  No matter how good we are, we cannot come before God blamelessly.  We need our sins to be removed.  Jesus did that when He died on the cross, He paid the penalty for our sin and we no longer have to.  When we receive and believe in Him, our sins can be forgiven us.

But this was not all that God had in mind for Cornelius.  God also had a gift that He wanted to give to him.  Look at verses 44-45.  “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.  The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.”  God poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit on Cornelius and all who heard Peter’s message.  This reveals the importance of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is vitally important in our lives of faith.  The Holy Spirit is the seal that we are truly sons and daughters of God.  The Holy Spirit is the presence of God in our lives.  The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey God.  The Holy Spirit is our Counselor and our shepherd.  The Holy Spirit is God’s power in our lives that enables us to live holy and pleasing and obedient lives.  Many think of the Holy Spirit as a vague, mysterious, doctrinal matter.   They cannot see the importance of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  But the Holy Spirit is Immanuel, God with us.  The Holy Spirit is holy.  We need to have the Holy Spirit to have true fellowship with God.  And for us to have true fellowship with God we must be holy.  May God grant us to help our flock to believe in Jesus and for all of us to receive the Holy Spirit, so that together we may be true sons and daughters of God.

Part II – Peter’s vision (9-23)

After the angel had left, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier and sent them to Joppa to find Simon Peter.  What was Peter doing?  Look at verses 9-10, “About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, 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.”  This reveals Peter’s character very well.  Peter was a man who learned the importance of prayer; in the past he thought he could do something in his own zeal and desire, but after making many mistakes, he learned how Jesus overcame Himself; Jesus prayed.  Peter soon realized that prayer was vitally important for himself.  But even then Peter could not deny himself fully.  When his stomach growled, he wanted something to eat.  It was not wrong that Peter wanted something to eat, nor was it wrong that he ate.  But it does tell us about Peter.

While Peter was waiting for lunch to be served, he fell into a deep trance and an amazing thing happened to him.  He saw Heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners.  In this sheet there contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air.  (Show pictures)  Then a voice told Peter, “Get up, Peter.  Kill and eat.”  When Peter saw this vision and heard these words, he must have been completely disgusted and repulsed at the thought of killing and eating any of these creatures.  So Peter immediately said, “Surely not, Lord!”  

It’s kind of funny to point out here that Peter often had a habit of telling God, “No” whenever he did not agree with what God told him.  For instance, when Jesus foretold his suffering and death at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, Peter first rebuked Jesus for saying such a thing and he told Jesus, “Never Lord!  This shall never happen to You!”  Another time, while Jesus and His disciples were eating the last supper Jesus got up and began to wash His disciples' feet.  When Jesus came to was Peter’s feet, Peter asked, “‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’  Jesus told him, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’”  And Peter’s reply to this was, “No!  You shall never wash my feet!”

This really reveals Peter’s great problem.  Peter was not disobedient to God because he was rebellious.  He thought he had good reason to disobey.  When Jesus predicted His death at the hands of the Pharisees, Peter told Him, “This will never happen!”, because he wanted to protect Jesus.  When Jesus wanted to wash his feet, Peter could not see his beloved master doing a servants task, Peter honored Jesus too much for that.  And today when God told him, “Kill and eat.”  Peter remembered what God had told the Israelites in Leviticus, to not eat any unclean animal.  This may sound strange, but Peter disobeyed because he thought he was protecting, honoring and obeying Him.  Jesus was really right when He told Peter, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”  When Peter understood what was going on Peter could easily obey.  But when Peter did not understand, he could easily tell Jesus, “No way!”; “Never Lord”; “I will never do it!”

The same is true in today’s passage.  Three times God revealed the same vision to Peter and three times Peter refused saying, “Surely not, Lord!”  Peter thought he was right in not listening to God, because in the past God had told the Israelites not to eat any unclean thing.  But he did not realize or understand at that moment what God was telling him; only later in this chapter does it become clear to Peter.  Let us read verse 34-35 together, “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.”  Peter thought God was telling him to eat unclean animals, when in reality God was telling him to welcome the Gentiles into the church.  But until then, God and Peter had this wrestling match three times.  

Finally, God had had enough and He told Peter plainly, “Peter, do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”  Peter was still wondering about the meaning of the vision, when the men that Cornelius sent arrived.  God again came to Peter and clearly told Peter what to do, “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.”

From this part of the passage we can see that Peter needed to learn full obedience to God’s direction.  God calls us to obedience, but God does not call us to obedience for the sake of obedience.  God is not a tyrant.  God calls us to obedience because he has a good plan and purpose that He is fulfilling.  In this story we can see that God’s plan was to bring the Gentiles into the family of God.  God had been working at this from the very beginning and this was the fulfillment of that plan.  It was God’s love for all people on earth.  But Peter did not understand and know what God was doing. Peter should have listened and obeyed God, instead of telling God, “Surely not, Lord!”  Today is no different.  The truth is that we don’t always know why God tells us to do the things He tells us to do.  Because we are still in these fleshly bodies we cannot really see what is going on in the Heavenly realms or why certain things are happening the way they are around us.  We don’t know a lot of things.  We may not understand fully why God calls us to obey Him.  But this is not a good enough reason to not listen or obey God’s Word.  We can be certain that God calls us to obedience for our own good and to fulfill His good plan.

Personally, I am very thankful for today’s passage because it really teaches me what I need.  I am God-fearing, but I am not fully obedient, I still want to serve God on my own terms, in my own understanding.  Yet, I know this passage is correct.  I can personally say that whenever I tried hard to obey God fully, God has always done a great work in and through me.  Last year, when I struggled hard to get up early every morning to come to daily bread and have personal prayer, it was not easy and I did not always understand why it was so important for me to do, but strangely last year I went from one victory to another and I could encourage others and God gave me His life giving Word.

But when I did not fully obey God, when I went my own way, I became like a roller coaster and became a hindrance and even bad influence to others.  I had no power to live a holy life or a pleasing life.  I became powerless.  I even became physically sick.  I really thank God for today’s passage because it reminds me what I need.  I have experienced both the Holy Spirit, the presence of God in my life and I have also experienced great blessing when I struggled to fully obey God and every time I did, I was filled with power, peace and great joy.  I could really grow more in likeness to Jesus, even though I am a long way off.  I pray God would help me to fully commit myself to Him and His calling on my life.  May God help me to meet one student to disciple over at UCLA this year.

One Word: Peter, get up.  Kill and eat!