Peter and the Floating Pig

Most Christians have heard the story (in Acts chapter 10) about Peter having a vision of a large sheet being lowered from heaven; it being full of all sorts of animals and birds; and he being told to ‘rise and eat.’  And most Christians have heard that the vision was given to show Peter that he could eat anything, including pork.  And that is the end of the discussion.

But is that what the vision is really about?  Let’s look at the whole story.  (By the way, the vision itself is in Acts 10:9-16).

First, note that the story of Peter’s vision is given in the middle of the story about the Roman centurion Cornelius, and his vision.   In Biblical literature, this is a clue that the two stories have something to do with one another.

Next, take a look at Peter’s initial reaction to the vision.  Peter exclaimed, “By no means, Lord: for I have never eaten anything this is common or unclean.” Acts 10:14 (ESV).   Apparently, Peter was either never told he could eat anything, or he never understood that he had been told.

And what was Peter’s immediate reaction after the vision was over.  It’s written, “Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision … might mean.” Acts 10:17 (ESV).  In other words, he wasn’t immediately thinking that the vision had anything to do with food.

The Biblical narrative then relates that the servants sent by Cornelius are at the door.  This is another hint that the two stories are interrelated.

Then Peter, in talking with Cornelius and the people with him, states,

“You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.”  Acts 10:28 (ESV)

When did God show Peter this?  The whole context of the story points to Peter’s vision.  Add to that the realization that the ‘law’ Peter is referring to is not one of God’s laws!

Lastly, take a look at Acts 11:1-18.  The other apostles and brothers in Christ had heard what had happened, that Peter had visited with, and even eaten with, Gentiles, and they asked Peter about it.  Peter then related the vision he had seen.

And what happens next?  Acts 11:18 states,

“When they heard these things they fell silent.  And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.’ “

Not one of them thought the vision had anything to do with calling unclean animals now fit to be eaten.  It didn’t even occur to them that the vision had anything to do with food!

So why did God use all manner of unclean animals to show Peter that no person is to be called unclean?  I don’t know. Why does God so often compare people to sheep, or even sheep and goats?

Perhaps it is a subtle reminder that He is the one that has created all things, and He is the one who dictates which things are to be considered clean and which are to be considered unclean.

It is also a strong reminder to not put words in God’s mouth.   God said clearly,

“You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it…” Deuteronomy 4:2 (ESV)

God gave Peter a very graphic reminder through this vision.   God never called gentiles (as a whole group) unclean!

Shalom.  – Yosef

 

Abraham and the Sanctity of Marriage; Genesis 12

Many of us know or have heard the stories of Abraham and Sarah coming to a new town, and Abraham having Sarah say that she is his sister, not his wife.  And there is a plethora of good teaching around these incidences.  However, I’d like to point something out that is coming from a different perspective, and has a rather interesting and deep commentary about our cultures today.

Abraham has Sarah say that she is his sister, not his wife.  Why?  Because he doesn’t want the people to kill him and then take Sarah to themselves.

Why would would they kill Abraham if Sarah were his wife?  Why was he safe if she were his sister?

Apparently, the ancient world held marriage so sacred that they wouldn’t even dream of taking another man’s wife!  [Now before you start thinking that this shows very high morals on the part of the ancients, remember that, though they wouldn’t break the sanctity of marriage, they apparently had no qualms about killing the husband and then taking the now unmarried woman!]

Most (or all) of the western cultures today hold marriage in such a low regard that it is considered a ‘normal’ part of life to break the sanctity of marriage.  Doing so is even considered entertainment!  The whole entertainment industry (movies and such) treats marriage with low regard and treats adultery as something good – and Christians don’t think twice about watching such stuff!  This should not be!

I had a good friend of mine point out to me that the story about Abraham and Sarah showed that holding up a marriage was (is) a cultural responsibility It takes more then just the husband and wife to keep a marriage going.  Ancient civilizations apparently knew and practiced this.  Well, to some extent.

Today, though we may hear sermons and have seminars about the importance of marriage, it is a sad fact that the culture supports the opposite.  Just look at how many (the majority) movies disregard the preciousness of marriage.  And when was the last time you heard a preacher call the people to quit watching such tripe; such stuff that is displeasing to Yehovah (the LORD)?

Why has watching sinful behavior become an acceptable form of entertainment?

Okay, so I’ll quit ranting.  In closing consider this:

“…hold fast to what is good.  Abstain from every form of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 (ESV)

It would be good if we (myself included) would take these words to heart, even to including the entertainment we watch.

Shalom!  – Yosef

Bride or Child

[Author: Bruce]

In the last blog I posted, I posed the question of whether God takes anyone back.  I truly appreciated the comments and feedback in your responses. I really love to have my mind changed by the scriptures, and as we discuss differing opinions and interpretations, our horizons are broadened and if we are listening the Spirit guides us into deeper truth that brings us closer to God and shapes us more into the image of his son. 

The comments seemed to focus on sovereign choice vs free will. While this debate has kept churches divided for centuries and has been the topic of many volumes of literature, it was not my heart question.  In my wondering I was not as concerned with how we come to God in Messiah, but rather who we are when we get there. This leads to my next question. 

As we come to God, do we come as a bride (wife) or a son?  

I believe this has great bearing on how we respond to redemption. If I understand my relationship with God as one of a wife, then when I return to sin, I am an adulterous woman. In my continued cycle of sin and repentance I wonder how many times God will take me back. I wonder where the line is of final divorce. God would be totally justified to send me away forever for my adulteries. 

On the other hand if we come into relationship to God as a son,  I no longer have to worry about the certificate of divorce. As a son, when I wander off in some wayward fashion, I  simply need to remember who I am and return.  Like Yeshua’s story of the “prodigal,” we simply return to the Father and he recognizes our repentance and celebrates. As a son I recognize my need for the instructions and discipline of my father. I know I am intended to mess up and not get it right, yet God still loves me and I continue to grow. 

Thinking along this line brought me peace and assurance in my salvation, but then I thought, “who is the Bride of Christ?” And “isn’t Israel the one in Ezekiel 16:6-8 that LORD God marries?”  The relationship of marriage is throughout the Scripture as an image of God and his people and also as Yeshua and his people. 

Praying through these things I believe God revealed to me the difference in the way God relates to his people and to a person. Together we become something we are not by ourselves.  It is where two or more are gathered together that Yeshua is  in our midst. Paul went to great lengths to describe the body we become as we share our gifts and live out our callings in community.  Scripture continues to reveal to me these differences as I try and differentiate between what I am in messiah and what we are in messiah. 

I am a child of God, a brother to Yeshua. 

We are the bride of Christ. Awaiting his return. 

Maybe you agree, maybe you don’t. I really look forward to hearing what you think and why.  Change my mind with the word of Hashem. 

Shalom      – Bruce

How many pigs were on Noah’s ark? Genesis 6 – 8

So how many pigs were there?  If you said “two”, then you were….  right!  There were two.  One male.  One female.  Now to the next question.

How many sheep were on the ark?  There were two of every animal, right?  Wrong.

Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate…” Genesis 7:2 (ESV)

Okay, ignoring that there is a bit of uncertainty in the Hebrew as to whether the number is 7 pairs or 7 total, the point is that there was a category of animal known as ‘clean’!  Long before Yehovah (the LORD) gave the ‘Law’ through Moses, there was a distinction between ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ animals.  And, it seems, that Noah knew the distinction even before this as God does not need to explain it to him (in my opinion).

You may say, “So what?  Just a bit further on God says, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.” Genesis 9:3 (ESV).  Doesn’t this show that we can eat anything?”  Many people take it to mean just that, but I wonder.

First off, God also said that “As I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” Genesis 9:3 (ESV)  And yet there are many poisonous plants that should not be eaten (or not eaten raw).  There has always been exceptions to what can be eaten.  In the garden of Eden, the exception was the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Today, just about any animal can be eaten (and are eaten).   But does that mean that we, as followers of Yehovah (the LORD) through Yeshua (Jesus), are to eat anything?

To me, the issue between clean and unclean animals is just another test.  Will we, or will we not, follow what God wants?   Will we (well, Adam and Eve) or will we not eat from the forbidden tree (in the garden of Eden) even though it is good to eat?  The question is the same today, will we or will we not eat only those things God has called clean?

So, instead of just accepting the doctrine that says ‘Christians can eat whatever they want; Jesus nullified the dietary laws,’ check it out for yourself.  If you have questions, send them in (see the ‘questions‘ page) and I (or a guest author) will address them soon.

To me, following God’s dietary law is an opportunity to honor Him everyday, and serve Him with all parts of my body.

Shalom!   – Yosef

The ‘Questions‘ page is new.  Check it out!

 

10 Commandments Series – 5: “Honor Your Father and Mother” Exodus 20:12

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 (ESV)

This we are commanded to do.  It also makes a lot of sense.  But do we follow it?

The first thing to realize is that the command isn’t targeted at children.  Sure, they are included, but it is targeted at adults!  And if I were to rate our society as a whole (Christians included), I’d have to say that we fail miserably.  There is little respect for age anymore in our western culture.  The older one is, the more one is seen as a ‘burden’ on society and the family.  This backwards view of how to treat people as they get older can be shown to be one of the root causes of many of the ills in our society (but I’m not going to do so here.)  And these problems start with how we treat our own parents.

We are commanded to ‘honor’ our parents.  Interesting that the command isn’t to ‘love’ them.  Yeshua (Jesus) made two good illustrations of what it means to honor your parents.

In Matthew 15:4-8, Yeshua (Jesus) shows that honoring includes financial support.

In John 19:26-27, Yeshua (Jesus) made sure that his mother, Mary, would be taken care of after he was gone.

And there is something interesting to learn from the Hebrew word used for ‘honor.’

“We are not commanded to love our parents, or even to like them.  The Hebrew” word used is ‘kabed’.  “The word ‘kabed’ is an imperative verb, and it is related to the noun kaved, or heavy.  There should be some heft to the way we feel about our parents.”  “The Grammar of God” by Aviya Kushner, pg. 134.

Here are a couple more verses that are relevant:

“You shall rise up before the gray-headed and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the LORD.” Leveticus 19:32 (ESV)

“…and they [the parents] shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.” Deuteronomy 21:20 (ESV)

To sum up, we should have our parents’ wellbeing in our mind, and be doing what we can for them.  We should be listening to their advice, and honoring them and all older folk around us!  (Did you notice that the verse in Deuteronomy 21 is talking about a grown son?  One wouldn’t be accusing a child of being a drunkard.)

We should take honoring our parents as a serious duty in our lives.

Our lives, and the culture, will be better for it.

  • Yosef

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