HE TARRIED MANY DAYS
Acts 9:40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. 42 And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord. 43 And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.
The Apostle Peter was on one of the most important preaching circuits, both for himself, and for the church, and its future doctrine! In remaining rigidly legal as a Jewish believer, and thereby refusing to have Christian fellowship with Gentiles, in the words of the Apostle Paul, Peter was in danger of building again the things which (he) destroyed, and thereby making himself a transgressor. (Gal. 2:18). Peter had left Jerusalem to pass throughout all quarters in order to attend to the saints of Christ. (Acts 9:32). But the minister is always ministered unto by the Holy Spirit, as he seeks to edify others.
Peter’s problem, though seemingly unknown to him before this trip, was this prejudice against Gentiles, backed up by a legalistic attitude, which he justified by the old covenant’s dietary laws! And that is nothing less than a satanic seducing spirit, forcing doctrines of devils upon all to whom it reaches! 1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: 5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
And this was so very forceful that Peter even rebukes God himself three times, when the Lord sends him to the “Great Sheet” School! Acts 10:10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, 11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: 12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
The Lord had warned Peter that Satan had desires to sift him as wheat! (Luke 22:31,32). But Christ does not seek Peter’s deliverance FROM this sifting, but only that his faith fail not while it is occurring! For the Lord ofttimes does not desire us to be delivered FROM out tribulations, but delivered IN them! 2 Corin. 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 7:4 Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation. Be careful about promising yourself that “ejection seat” doctrine concerning the church in the end time! For no general ever removes his army from the battle field until the war is over!
And although we usually only apply Christ’s warning to Peter of Satan’s desire to sift him to just his temptation in the denial of the Lord, here we find another great and deeply entrenched satanic evil within the heart of this Apostle – his prejudice against Gentiles! And to make matters worse, these were glazed over with his rigidly maintaining Old Testament dietary laws, which are now revoked in Christ! Ephesians 2:11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
This “us and them” attitude (Acts 11:17), is a powerful working of Satan in religious flesh, causing great problems down through the ages. And it is mightily working in our realm today! A free, tolerant Christian spirit is a rare thing among the American church! For today, if you don’t wear the hat of “us,” then you must be one of “them!” 1 John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 1 Corinthians 1:13 Is Christ divided?
And it is most noteworthy that Sovereign Wisdom would not allow Peter, the apostle to the Jews, nor Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles to proceed into ministering unto their assigned groups, but that they first had to minister to the opposite groups! Galatians 2:7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) For here, Peter is sent to the Gentile, Cornelius’ house, and Paul started out ministering among the Jewish believers of Damascus! (Acts 9:19).
Peter was so given to this weakness of legalism that even the Apostle Paul had to be used of the Holy Spirit to reenforce at Antioch that which the Spirit had shown him on that roof top in Joppa! Here is that account: Galatians 2:11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13 And the other Jews dissembled (that is, to act insincerely, or hypocritically), likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation (or hypocrisy). 14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. 18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
But lest any reader think this event to be only concerning the christian menu, that is, what foods we may eat, let us read what Peter said this roof top vision was all about! Here is his statement to Cornelius and his household concerning what God meant pertaining to that which had been unclean, but that now, by Christ’s atonement, he had cleansed. Acts 10:28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Peter clearly understood that God was dealing with him concerning his sinful prejudice against men, and not just about lawful foods!
For now Peter could more fully understand his Lord’s words regarding his “other sheep!” John 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. For as previously stated, all religious partitions separating “us” from “them” have been torn down by Christ’s completed atonement!
Why Not Philip?
Peter now has to tarry many days in Joppa, not only for his “Great Sheet” School, but also as the Sovereign Lord was working on the other part of this experience in Caesarea, with Cornelius. For Caesarea was some 30 miles up the coast from Joppa.
But there was already a Spirit filled evangelist there in Caesarea! He had been sent there after baptizing a lone convert, to whom the Lord had sent him! Acts 8:39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.
And, by-the-way, that convert was an Ethiopian! So Philip was already in Cornelius’ city, and he had no problem with preaching to a Gentile! In fact, Philip had already made his home there! Acts 21:8 And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. Could it have been that Philip had passed Cornelius in the town market? Could they have passed in the streets? Was Philip one of the Jews among whom Cornelius had a good report? (Acts 10:22). We can’t know this as it is not stated in the scriptures. But the scriptures do state that both lived in this same city!
But it seems that it was the reason that Philip didn’t have any problem with Gentiles, and that Peter would be of great damage to Christianity in Christ’s new kingdom, that Philip was passed over and Peter was sent! Again! The ministry is as much about the minister as it is of those to whom he is sent to minister! For, as the Apostle Paul states, the minister can only effectually preach to others which he has believed himself! 1 Corin. 11:23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
And it is as God instructed the Prophet Ezekiel, “You cannot deliver to Israel, but only that which you have set your own heart upon!” Ezekiel 40:4 And the man said unto me, Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thine heart upon all that I shall shew thee; for to the intent that I might shew them unto thee art thou brought hither: declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel.
It is interesting that the same effectual word of command to come into a new realm of living that the Holy Spirit gave through Peter to both Aeneas and Dorcus, (Tabitha), was also given to both Saul of Tarsus by Ananias, and to Peter by the Lord! And that word was, “arise!” To Peter:Acts 10:20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.
To Saul: Acts 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
To Aeneas: Acts 9:34 And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.
To Dorcus: Acts 9:40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
It is amazing that so many ‘ministers’ in our day have the attitude of not being in need of God’s mercy for their sins, nor of any instruction from the Spirit! Pastor Gene Breed.