1 Kings 14:1-31; Acts 10:9-23; Psalms 133:1-2; Proverbs 28:17-18
NT: “The next day, as they were traveling and nearing the city, Peter went up to pray on the roof about noon… He saw heaven opened and an object that resembled a large sheet coming down, being lowered by its four corners to the earth. In it were all the four-footed animals and reptiles of the earth, and the birds of the sky. A voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” “No, Lord!” Peter said. “For I have never eaten anything impure and ritually unclean.” Again, a second time, the voice said to him, “What God has made clean, do not call impure.” This happened three times, and suddenly the object was taken up into heaven.” (Acts 10:9, 11-16 CSB)
Up until this point, the disciples of Jesus had only taken the gospel of the kingdom to the Jews and Samaritans – but Christ had commissioned them to take the gospel to the entire world. Standing as a wall of separation between Jew and gentile was the exclusive law of Moses. Jews, because they followed the laws and restrictions given by Moses, saw themselves as clean and gentiles as unclean heathens that should not be associated with. Jesus did not want His church being an exclusive society, but an inclusive family that was open to any and all who would believe. Before that could happen, the wall of division between Jew and gentile had to be broken down. One afternoon, when Peter was hungry and awaiting lunch, the Lord gave him a vision. In the vision, the Lord Himself offered Peter food to eat – the only problem was that there were unclean animals in the offering. Dietary restrictions were one of a number of things that divided Jew and gentile. When the Lord told Peter to eat the “unclean” food, Peter (like any good Jew) refused. Then the Lord said something very key: “What God has made clean, do not call impure.” Just as Peter had been made clean through the blood of Christ, God could also cleanse gentiles. Isaiah 64:6 says that all of us have become like something unclean, and all of our righteous acts are like a polluted garment. Following the Mosaic law does not make people clean – only faith in Christ can make people clean. In terms of spiritual purity, the Jew and gentile were on level ground: both needed saving, and both could be saved and cleansed through faith in Christ. Whomever Christ has saved and made clean, we should never regard as impure or less-than. This wasn’t just a message for Peter. This is a message for us in our day as well. Jesus desires a unified and inclusive church… not inclusive of sin, but inclusive of anyone, from any background, who will repent of their sin, place complete faith in Christ, and be raised to a new and holy life in Him. We should never consider a believer from a different denomination as inferior… we should never consider anyone as beyond saving. Whom God has cleansed through the blood of His Son Jesus Christ, we should never call impure.
Psalms: “How delightfully good when brothers live together in harmony! It is like fine oil on the head, running down on the beard, running down Aaron’s beard onto his robes.” (Psalms 133:1-2 CSB)
This is a song of ascents written by David. It was under David’s reign as king that all the tribes of Israel united together as one nation. It was under David’s reign that Jerusalem was established as the spiritual and governmental center of the nation – and all peoples, from every tribe, would assemble to conduct their affairs. To David, unity and harmony was a beautiful and desirable thing. How wonderful it was for people from every tribe in all their varying uniquenesses, to come together as one united kingdom, where all were considered equal. He equated unity to the anointing of the High Priest. Oil is a biblical symbol of the Holy Spirit. When the High Priest’s head was anointed with oil, His entire body became anointed as the oil flowed down from his head to his feet. That’s what unity allows: it allows all who are in unity to share in one corporate anointing of the Holy Spirit. All who come together and position themselves under the head are able to share in the poured-out anointing. Those who choose not to unite with the body are excluded from the top-down flow. This applies in micro and macro form. In our families… in our church congregations… in our businesses – if we live together in unity, we share in all that God pours out. As the national and global church unites together under the headship of Christ… as we see each other as equals in the Lord, then we all get to share equally in the poured-out Holy Spirit that flows from the top down through Christ’s line of delegated authority. Oh, to see Christ’s church live together in united harmony. Jesus said that it would be through our unity and love for one another that people would know that we are His… and how delightfully good that would be.