What did Peter's vision with the sheet of unclean animals mean?

Scripture: Acts 10:9-28
What did Peter's vision with the sheet of unclean animals mean? This is not a passage where God is telling us to eat anything. Peter knows this is not about eating unclean food. Peter tells us what the vision means to call no 'man' unclean.
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Co-Host: Next let’s talk with Marlene from Yakima, WA. Good evening, Marlene.

Caller: Good evening.

Pastor Doug: Hi. And your question?

Caller: My question is from Acts 10 where Peter has the vision of the sheet and he saw all these animals and a voice told him to ‘get up, Peter, kill and eat’. And Peter is saying that he had never eaten anything impure or unclean. But yet, God comes back and said ‘Don’t call anything impure that God has made clean’. Now is he talking about actually killing these animals in here? Or is he talking about preparing him to go to the Gentiles?

Pastor Doug: Well, I think that you’re onto it there. Some people try to use this passage to say this is where God said that we can eat anything.

Caller: Right.

Pastor Doug: Anyone who does that is not reading the whole story or they’re really twisting scriptures because the Bible is so clear. First of all, the vision happens three times. This vision takes place sometime about 36 or 34 AD. Peter says now 34 AD is 3 ½ hears after Christ died, Peter says “I have never eaten anything common or unclean”.

You mean, Jesus never condoned it during His earthly ministry? Obviously, Peter never heard Jesus do it, and three times the sheet comes down and three times this voice says ‘Arise, kill, and eat’, and three times Peter says ‘Not so, I’ve never eaten anything common or unclean’, and he never takes anything from the sheet.

Now the sheet goes back up to heaven and Peter is wondering what this vision means. He knows it does not mean to go against the clear command not to eat these abominable animals in the Bible. And so he’s wondering what it means, and Gentile men come walking up right while he’s praying for an interpretation, and they say ‘we want you to come and preach to a Gentile’.

And Peter goes to the Apostles later and he explains the vision himself and so let’s let Peter define it. Peter says, “God has shown me not to call any man’— m-a-n, not p-i-g-, not clam, not vulture, he says ‘God has shown me not to call any man common or unclean. So Peter went and preached to Cornelius and they were baptized, and then the gospel began to go to the Gentiles. That was the reason for the vision. It had nothing to do with our digestion.

It had to do with our attitude toward other groups that we think are unclean people.

Caller: That’s my theory, too. But why does He tell—why is He telling Peter to kill and eat? What does this represent?

Pastor Doug: Well, keep in mind, when Jesus called His disciples, He tells them ‘I’ve called you to be fishers of men’. One of the last things that happened in the life of Christ, the disciples gave Him fish to eat. That’s a symbol that they were satisfying the Lord by bringing souls to Him. Jesus, when He won a Samaritan woman, He brought her to the Lord—you know, the woman at the well? The disciples brought Him food. He said ‘I’ve got food you don’t know about’. What was that food?

That food was to win souls. It had nothing to do with killing physical animals. It had to do with bringing people to Jesus. And so the whole theory or the whole theme in this passage and all through the scriptures, food, for God, is a symbol of bringing Him souls.

Caller: So ‘kill and eat’ is to…?

Pastor Doug: Yeah, it means to conquer for Christ.

Caller: Conquer for Christ?

Pastor Doug: Yeah, to bring souls to Him. Matter of fact, another example of this, Marlene, would be the last miracle of Christ. He asked the disciples, in the Gospel of John, ‘Do you have anything to eat?’ and they said ‘We fished all night, Lord, and we didn’t catch anything’, and He said, ‘Cast the net toward me’. They cast the net toward Him, filled the net, and brought it to Jesus, and they ate together. And He told them, ‘I want to make you fishers of men’. That is the purpose for the vision. Good question, Marlene.

Caller: Okay. Thank you very much.

Pastor Doug: You’re welcome.

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