God always goes before us. It is His work we are joining. We join God’s work, as workers of the “harvest,” (Matt 9:37; Luke 10:2) when we position and posture ourselves to hear the Spirit’s whisper, allow Him to minister to us, that we might, in cooperation with the Spirit, join Him in ministry (in the church) and mission (to the lost) to others.
1Sam 3:1-11 Samuel learning to hear God’s whisper, same as us
What is truly amazing is how these following events all occurred without each involved knowing the other was happening - God working all over the place - and our being a part, not only in that moment, but, how God’s working in this moment is intricately interwoven with all the other moments, and that we’re all a part by His Spirit!
Acts 8 Philip had no clue what was God was actually doing when He set him on his journey, he heard the Spirit’s whisper, responded to His prompting and went. Philip did not see Gentile or Jew, he was made aware of an opportunity and took advantage of it and went on his way. He didn’t ask any questions, he just went…
But, meanwhile, down on the farm...
Acts 9 Saul, a Jew and Pharisee, and persecutor of the church, would become Paul, now saved and commissioned to be the “apostle to the gentiles”. Even he, would go to Jews first, but would be chosen and commissioned by God to reach into the gentile world (Rom 11:13) - where God was already working.
Acts 10 Peter, the Apostle to the Jews (Gal 2:8) - (the Jews, those) who still believed that salvation through Jesus, the Christ, or Messiah, was for the Jew - is sent by God, to “officially” open the way to the Way for the gentiles to be accepted into the church (by the Jewish church) as the come believe in Christ.
Act 11 Peter is confronted and called to explain to the Jewish church in Jerusalem his actions regarding his having gone into a gentile home.
Acts 11:19-21 without Peter and the other Jewish leaders of the church being aware, the Holy Spirit had already lead believers (after the scattering) into Greek communities to share the gospel and were bearing fruit.
Acts 10 Peter on the other hand…
● Leader and spokesman of the Jewish church, Peter was Jewish through and through and maintained his purity and ceremonial cleanliness his entire life. Jewish Christians would continue to struggle with their ceremonial cleanliness and the role of the Law (of Moses, though now fulfilled in Christ) in their salvation and later the sanctification of gentile believers – including, even after this, Peter (Galatians 2:11-21)
This would be a pivotal moment for the young Jewish church as Peter would be given a vision of God declaring all food “clean” symbolizing God’s love and intentions for the Gentile world and their inclusion in the Kingdom of God and the Church.
● Mark 7:19; Matthew 15:1; Colossians 2:16 “For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)
● 1Tim 4:3-5 “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.”
● Ephesians 2:14 Jesus breaking down the wall between Jew and Gentile “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…”
Why is this important? Jesus had declared food clean before, but the disciples had not understood the underlying meaning of the declaration - as Jesus was softening the hearts and consciences of the Jews to receive “unclean” or “sinner” gentiles as believers (Isaiah (the nations/peoples)).
● Psalm 67
● Isaiah 11:10; 49:22; 62
● Luke 2:32
● John 3:15-18
● Romans 15:12
Why is this important for us to note? Because, it is in the midst of everyday life and circumstances that God works and that although each work is significant in itself, it reveals to us that each and every circumstance is woven into God’s omniscient and sovereign tapestry and that each circumstance, each event, has an affect not only those in that moment, but on every each and all this moment touches.
This is as true today as it was in Peter’s day and we need to see this story of God’s moving, working, inviting and prompting in this mundane context because it IS how God works, it is in and through the everyday stuff of life that God invites us in. And, just as important, this truth should relieve us of the pressure of thinking that we “have to do” and help us recognize that it is God’s “to do” and that we have the privilege of being invited to be a part. That is God’s work and He delights in our joining Him in it.
May we then delight in our being invited, being an instrument of God’s love expressed in mercy and grace, hope and joy.
May we delight in God’s truth, Jesus – the Way, the Truth, and the Life and in the Spirit’s whisper – calling, inviting, prompting, working.
May we delight in joining God in His work done throughout the course of the day in the context of the stuff of the day, using us and our everyday circumstances and events to speak His love into the hearts of those with whom we trod, those, in whose hearts He, our Father, is already working, there before us.
May we delight, in God, our Father; Brother – friend, Savior, Lord; and Holy Spirit – advocate, counselor, encourager and intercessor.
And in fact, in 70AD God would allow the Temple to be destroyed keeping believers from coming back to their “mecca” as Jesus had declared “true worshipers will no longer come to this mountain nor Jerusalem…” to find God and worship, “...but a time is coming and has now come when true worshipers will worship in Spirit and Truth.” (John 4:21-24) In this, Jesus was now, in every way, establishing the dwelling of God in the hearts of people, removing any possibility for anyone to be tempted to not let go of the “old way” (for the Jews in particular) as to return to what was known.