I’m a fan of the show “Duck Dynasty,” and a while back, my family bought me a “Duck Commander” hat that has these worded stitched on the back: “ARISE. KILL. EAT.”
I want to share that story with you, but before I do, it’s helpful to know that in the Old Testament (in Leviticus 11), God told the Israelites that they shouldn’t eat certain animals — such as rabbits, pigs, catfish, lobster, etc. These animals were considered “unclean.”
But when Jesus came along, things changed. “Jesus declared all foods clean” (Mark 7:19 NIV).
With that background in mind, let me share with you that story about Peter.
I like the humorous way that Jonathan Storment presented it in his book, “How to Start a Riot.” He said, “Peter is chilling out on a friend’s flat-roof patio, and he has a dream. It’s a strange vision from God about all sorts of animals that were blacklisted as unclean to the Jewish people. In the vision, the menagerie of forbidden critters come down in a sheet. Side note: Is this where we got the idea for Pigs in a Blanket? Just wondering.”
It’s at this point in the story where those words on my “Duck Commander” hat come into play. The Lord tells Peter, “Arise, Peter, kill, and eat!” (Acts 10:13 NASB). But Peter objects, saying, “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean” — to which the Lord replies, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:14-15 NIV).
As it turns out, the Lord wasn’t only teaching Peter about food. He was teaching him about people. Peter lived in a time and place when segregation was practiced — segregation between Jews and Gentiles (i.e., non-Jews).
Gareth L. Reese wrote, “The strict Jew would not enter a Gentile’s house, nor sit on the same couch, nor eat or drink out of the same vessel.”
But after his vision of the animals, Peter (a Jew) went to the house of Cornelius (a Gentile), saying, “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean” (Acts 10:28 NIV).
And Peter went on to say, “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him” (Acts 10:34-35 NASB).
Isn’t that good news? God loves every nation. John 3:16 doesn’t say, “God so loved the Jews,” or, “God so loved Americans,” or “God so loved this nation,” or “God so loved that nation.”
It says, “God so loved the world.” No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, God is eager to welcome you to Him!
(Jake King is the preacher at Seneca Church of Christ. He can be reached at (417) 776-3077.)