“Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.” (Psalm 115:3).
“Job replied to the Lord:
‘I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted’ ” (Job 42:1-2).
“ ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’ ” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Many a preacher has made the mistake of proclaiming, “God would NEVER allow that to happen! It says so right here in Chapter Three, Verse Eight of (Insert Book Here).”
God can and DOES change His mind. In Acts 10:10-16, God does away with the Jewish dietary laws in one fell swoop. In this passage, Peter has a vision of a sheet being lowered from heaven. The sheet contained animals of every sort (clean and unclean alike), as well as reptiles and birds. (No devout Jew in Peter’s day would be caught DEAD eating a snake or a lizard!)
A voice from heaven commands Peter to “kill and eat” (Acts 10:13) the animals that are now on the sheet that is lying before him. Peter protests, “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean” (10:14). The voice from heaven fires back, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (10:15).
God doesn’t stop there. He orders Peter to see a Roman centurion named Cornelius (10:22). Cornelius was a Gentile and one of the despised Roman oppressors. (n.b., Jews and Gentiles in Peter’s day usually had little to do with one another. Christ’s encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 was regarded in his day as being nothing short of scandalous.)
By the end of Acts 10, Cornelius and his entire household had been converted to the faith and baptized by the Holy Spirit (10:44-46).
God is still speaking today. Have we the courage to listen? In many respects, Peter is a reflection of the church today. Prior to Acts 10, long-standing “tradition” prohibited Jews from eating certain animals (Deuteronomy 14:7-8, 10, 12-18, 19, 21).
How many outdated, hateful, and unjust traditions is God calling us to discard today? Has the sun fallen out of the sky because women are preaching the Gospel and serving as priests and ministers?
It is not man’s place to dictate to God what He can and cannot do. He cannot and WILL not be hemmed in by man’s “doctrine” and/or “tradition”.
Is our church truly to be a “church universal”, one that encompasses all peoples (men AND women) in all times and in all places? Or is it to be frozen for all time in the manners and mores of the 1st Century Near East?
Are we Christians willing to yield to God’s call for the church to change …. or are we going to be like the “stiff-necked” and disobedient Israel of the Old Testament who heard God’s voice (via the prophets Malachi, Amos, Joel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, et al.) and refused to listen?
God is still speaking. Are we too arrogant to listen? Are we too full of ourselves to hear His voice? Are we willing to heed the calls of the Malachis, Isaiahs, Amoses, and Joels that are among us and speaking today?
God changed His mind once. What is to keep Him from doing so again … and again … and again?