Chances are, you’ve never been spoken to by God through a trance. I know I haven’t, and quite frankly, I’m not sure I personally know anyone who has. But in Acts 10 we have the story of Peter when God spoke to him while in a trance. While Peter isn’t the only one in Scripture to experience this, his story probably has the most colorful background.
Peter is an amazing example of someone who heard God’s voice in spite of himself! Acts 10 says Peter is at the house of Simon the Tanner, and that he is up on the rooftop. I wondered about why on earth he is on that rooftop. Well, there’s an interesting reason.
Why Might Peter Have Been on a Rooftop?
The Rabbinical supplement to the Law of Moses allowed for divorce if a woman was married to a tanner and found that it was just unbearable. The reason for that is the way a tanner did his business – he would go throughout the city and pick up all the dog droppings that were around the city. He would bring that home and put it in a vat and keep it in his house. I don’t know about you, but I just can’t imagine them having too many dinner guests.
Over a period of time the acid and all the other stuff that was in there could be used to tan the hides. You can imagine what it would be like being in that house on a hot summer day. The Rabbis thought it was unfair to expect a woman to be able to live with that so they made allowance for divorce if she found she just couldn’t handle it.
So much for Simon the Tanner. But that might explain why Peter’s on the roof top – he needed a breath of fresh air. It also could lend a little insight into why he was in a trance. But I’m not sure about that part.
Whatever was the cause, he went into a trance. He saw a sheet let down, and inside the sheet were catfish, pigs and all sorts of unclean creatures. No self-respecting Jews would have anything to do with any of that stuff. And yet, the Lord said, “Get up Peter, kill and eat!” And you know what Peter said? “No way!” And the Lord said, “Yes way!” How many times did that happen? Three times.
After the third time Peter wakes up and hears someone knocking at the door. He looks over the balcony of that roof and sees three gentiles. The Lord’s breaking through his prejudice which is indoctrinated into him through religious upbringing. No self-respecting Jew would have anything to do with pigs, cat-fish, and slimy things – or Gentiles!
Peter Goes with the Gentiles
But then we see in Acts 10:19-20, “While Peter was still thinking about the vision, 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.’”
Peter goes with them. Let’s look at this great apostle of faith. He’s walking with these three Gentiles thinking, “Man, if any of my friends see me…” And he gets over to Cornelius’s house and his opening remarks starting in verse 28 are basically, “Now, you know how it’s not normally accustomed for men of my race to be conversing with men of your race. Have we got that straight here?” He’s still carrying this stuff, he’s still doubting, still having serious misgivings about what’s going on, and yet the Spirit said, “do it.”
Halfway through what he has to say, they all start speaking in tongues. The Holy Spirit comes upon Cornelius and his household right in the middle of Peter’s sermon and suddenly Peter is faced with the fact that the same thing that happened to him, a Jew, is now happening to this guy, a Gentile, and God must not care!
We Don’t Have to Understand
Peter certainly did not understand everything that was happening, any more than you or I may understand everything as He speaks to us. The important part for Peter – as with us – is that he obeyed the next step of what God was telling him to do. Whether by trance or another means, if you understand it completely or not, are you obeying the next thing he puts before you?
We would love to be able to share your thoughts with our CPD family. If you write a blog, or do other forms of writing, we'd like to consider utilizing you as a guest blogger. Please contact us if you're interested!