When to say ‘no’

But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

Acts 10:14 (KJV)

Not so, Lord – If the Lord came and commanded something of you, or showed you a vision, would you tell Him, “Sorry Lord, I aint doing it.”? Well Peter did. But then again, Peter was well versed in Torah, and he knew when to say “no”. He had never eaten anything unclean, and he wasn’t about to start now. Sure, we know now that the Lord was using a metaphor for Peter which represented the Gentiles (unclean). We can jump down to verse 28 and grasp the full meaning of the divine instruction, but Peter can’t. He’s living in the moment, and this vision seriously perplexes him. Why?

Peter knows Deuteronomy 13. All Jews do. Even the Bereans did as they tested Paul’s word against the Torah (Acts 17:11). So what does Deuteronomy 13 have to do with Peter refusing the Lord’s command? Why would Peter be so bold in his response to the Lord?

Deuteronomy 13 is about discerning messages from God. Whether these messages come from another person, a vision, or a dream, there’s always a way to test them. Does it line up with Torah? This is why Peter is so ready to reject the Lord’s command, it didn’t line up with Torah. The commandment says not to eat unclean meats, so this message (at face value) must be false according to God’s own words. Deuteronomy 13:5 explains that if the prophet/message deters one from God’s Word (which is Torah), then it is false. And this is why Peter is so perplexed. Surely a message from God would never contradict Torah. So Peter thinks… and thinks.

What a relief for Peter when he realizes the vision was a metaphor! In fact, since the metaphor from God wasn’t received correctly by Peter, the Lord made sure to followup with a real-life example – the story of Cornelius. It wasn’t until Peter walked through the steps that he realized the message didn’t have anything to do with unclean food, but rather unclean people. Ah, so the vision and message were true! Praise the Lord.

So what about us? Where is our discernment? How do we know if messages and visions are from God or not? Is it based solely on ‘feeling’, or personal experiences? I’ve seen and heard plenty of messages from people claiming to be in the “Spirit”, but those messages didn’t align with Torah. And I’m all too familiar with the common mainstream Christian teaching that the Torah isn’t relevant anymore – another message that doesn’t align with God’s word. There’s a reason God calls us to be “on guard”. He knows what’s being taught among His people, He sees the turning away from obedience.

Be confident in the Word of YHWH. You don’t need to be an elder or prominent figure in the community to know truth and discern prophetic messages. You just need to know Torah. You need to know God’s way of life and His instructions for us. This comes quite simply from reading the Word of God. What have you read today?

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