Peter the Eater
[Acts 10]

 

Peter saw a vision in Joppa: a linen cloth was lowered from heaven, and every kind of animal on Earth was in it, including those considered “unclean”.  Wow, how enormous the cloth must have been! Then a voice told him: “Kill and eat” the animals. If Peter was seeing a vision, why did he not see the speaker, but only heard his voice? When he replied, “By no means, Lord” did he use the word “Lord [kurie]”  generally, to mean “Sir”? Or did he not need to see the speaker because he recognized the voice?  And whose voice from Heaven would he recognize immediately?  But we really have no conclusive evidence that it was Jesus. 

When the vision ended, three men sent by the centurion Cornelius arrived at the house of Simon the tanner, where Peter was. Now, when Peter met these men from Caesarea, didn’t he do something unthinkable for a Jew of his time?  Yes, he invited them into the house as his guests.  Was the Roman soldier a Gentile?  Hey, weren’t Jews prohibited from associating with Gentiles [10:28]?  Moreover, it was not even Peter’s house!  Even worse, these Gentile guests shared a meal with Jews; wasn’t that strictly taboo?

But God had just told Peter he should eat even those animals forbidden to Jews but these were eaten by Gentiles.  Hadn’t God broken the food barrier between Peter and the Gentiles, opening the way for Peter to invite the trio into the house, and for Peter later to enter the house of Cornelius, a Gentile?

Three men came from Caesarea to fetch Peter.  How many of them accompanied Peter from Joppa to Caesarea?  In addition to the three, six or more Christians accompanied Peter [Acts 11:11].  These Christians went out of their way to help and support Peter, and put their lives in danger to protect him along the way and in Caesarea.  No wonder Peter called them “brothers”.  How far are we prepared to go, to support our Christian brothers and sisters?

In those days, people in Israel thought nothing of walking 100 kilometres: 50 kilometres one way, and another 50 back.  A fisherman like Peter was more used to travelling by boat, but hadn’t Jesus trained him to walk for hundreds of kilometers all over Israel?

Cornelius’ men took 20 hours to walk from Caesarea to Joppa.  How long did the walk from Joppa to Caesarea take?  If they left around dawn, say 6 a.m., and arrived at 3 p.m. the next day [when Peter arrived, Cornelius said, “Four days ago, at this very hour, 3 p.m.”] isn’t that 33 hours?  That’s 13 hours more, over the same distance!  What do the figures suggest?  That the Three Walkers set a slower pace in deference to Peter?  That they stopped to rest overnight, so that Peter would not arrive exhausted at Cornelius’ house?  Or did they do both?

Peter was the apostle to the Jews, but didn’t he also evangelize Gentiles: Cornelius, together with his relatives and close friends?  Mission work need not be confined to one race only and may freely include other races as God in His goodness sends these along our way.

Would Peter, as head of the early Church, have allowed the evangelization of Gentiles if he had not had a personal experience of evangelizing Gentiles and seeing the Holy Spirit falling upon them, with the same speaking in tongues that Jewish converts manifested when they received the Holy Spirit?  How many Gentiles like us have been saved since then?

Who is the central figure in Acts 10?  Cornelius?  Peter?  Well, who sent an angel to Cornelius in Caesarea, a vision to Peter in Joppa, the Holy Spirit to speak to Peter, and the Holy Spirit to fall upon the people in Cornelius’ house?  Who arranged everything? 

CHAPEL

Dr. Satterthwaite led Chapel on 1st October, and spoke on Job 3, Job’s first response to the terrible
things that have happened to him (chs. 1–2). Job 3 begins ‘Job… cursed the day of his birth’ (v.1), and really the rest of the chapter simply expands on that statement. in extravagant language. Does he really expect the day of his birth to without dawn or stars (v. 9)? Would he really rather have been abandoned at birth (v. 12)? But what Job means is that he hates his life as it has now become, so much so that death would be a release for him. It is an extraordinarily vehement, but honest statement of how he feels.

Was Job right to say these things? If one curses one’s birthday, isn’t that close to questioning God the giver of life? Has Job lost his sense of proportion, let his present misery affect the way he looks at the entire course of his life? Yet this, after all, is how he feels at present. His friends have come to help him. Does he not owe it to them to tell them how he really feels? Remember, too, God’s verdict at the end of the book: ‘Job has spoken of me what is right’ (42:7, 8).

For us too, if God brings sorrows into our lives, should we not grieve? Are we obliged to hide our feelings, even from God? Isn’t such a response actually dishonouring to God in the end? Here Job has a lesson for us, not to whitewash things, either for ourselves or for others. We are not called to be God’s ‘spin-doctors’.

Chapel on 15 October was taken by Dr Ng Peh Cheng and on 22 October Dr Philip Satterthwaite is scheduled to speak.

NEWS BITS

  1. A New Home for BGST.  Our search for our new home started way back in 1999. In view of our need to move out of the current premise at Bishan by Oct 2004, we intensified our search from the beginning of this year. We were limited by two main constraints in our search: floor loading requirements for the Library and the approved use for a religious institution. Initially we considered the rental option. However, with the downturn in economy and the reduction in prices of properties, the Council felt that it would put the resources given to us to better use if we buy rather than rent.  
    (To be continued  in coming issues).

  2. There will be an important Extraordinary General Meeting on Oct 24 to decide on the purchase of the property for BGST. Please pray for the mind of God in the decision that needs to be made. .

  3. Condolences. The Faculty and Staff of BGST would like to express their condolence to Elder Teoh Chong Tatt on the demise of his beloved wife, Mdm Lee Sam Chin, who went home to be with the Lord on 10 October.

  4. Congratulations to Pastor Lim Kee Oon and Soo Fong for their second child, Shauna Lim Song Ern. She weighed 2.59kg at birth.

 BLESSED BIRTHDAY TO ... 

 Ms Linda Ang  6/10
Ms Godiva Ysip  8/10
Ms Caroline Lee  8/10
Ms Christina Goh  9/10
Mr Adrian Ang  9/10
Ms Lois Teo Ling En  9/10
Ms Chan Kah Mei  11/10
Ms Low Yan Lin  11/10
Mr Samuel Ratnam  11/10
Mdm Susan Yap  11/10
Mr Vincent Yu  11/10
Ms Cerintha Chia  11/10
Mrs Dorcas Tan  11/10
Ms Jessene Lim  11/10
Mr Tan Chee Leong  12/10
Mr Steven Lee  12/10
Mr Tan Wei Lieh  12/10

flower pot

Rev Daniel Chua  13/10
Mr Amos Gan  13/10
Mr Pan Seng Tai  13/10
Rev Pang Hee Hung  13/10
Assoc. Prof. Quek Ser Aik  15/10
Pastor Jeffrey Tay  15/10
Ms Susan Goh  15/10
Mrs Jess Goh  16/10
Mr Michael Goh  16/10
Ms Chan Meng Choo  16/10
Ms Janice Koh  16/10
Ms Theresa Tan Lee  17/10
Mrs Ng Soh May  18/10
Mr Kevin Teo  18/10
Ms Lee Siew Lan  19/10
Ms Dorcas Lee  19/10
Dr Tan Poh Kiang  19/10
Mdm Sharlene Yeo  19/10

Top | Home | Library | Archives | Email
This page is updated on 17 Oct 2003.
© Oct 2003