If there’s one place I’d just as soon never end up it’s “in God’s way.”
Fortunately for Peter, he had no interest in being there either.
We pick up the story in Acts 10…
God is continuing to blow like a mighty rushing wind throughout the Middle East, establishing His church among not only the Jews, but everyone else as well. Luke records, “Even as Peter was [preaching the gospel], the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles (anyone not a Jew), too.”
In a word, all heaven was breaking loose.
Salvation now, in Christ, offered to all (not only Jews) was exciting to be sure – but not popular among the Jews. They had yet to understand what the Cross had represented: freedom to all who would trust Christ, Jew and Gentile, alike.
The story continues in chapter 11. When Peter returned to Jerusalem to report what God was doing among the Gentiles the Jews criticized him. “But Peter began and explained (everything)…”, stating, “And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?” (vss, 4, 17)
Peter was a wise man. No doubt, he knew passages such as Job 42:2, “I know that You can do anything, and no one can stop You.” And Proverbs 21:30, “No human wisdom or understanding or plan can stand against the Lord.”
Moreover, Peter was acting on personal experience. He’d gottten squarely “in God’s way” before. We pick it up in Matthew 16:
From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.
But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”
Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” (vss. 21-23)
Translation: “Getting in the way of what I’m doing,’ says the Lord, ‘is not a good idea, placing yourself under My immediate judgment.”
There are times in our lives when, like the Jews, we witness God’s hand – and we don’t like it. It’s at this time we come to a moment of truth. Do we humbly accept God’s way? Or do we complain, criticize, yell & scream, dig our heels in and strongly suggest to God that He has no idea what He’s doing?”
God, please help me to choose the former.
By the way, Peter’s listeners also made the right decision. Luke records, “ When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God. They said, “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.” (vs. 18)
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick