God creates every person as channel for his interactions with others. He can interact with a person directly but often chooses to channel his interaction through other people. We discuss Peter-Cornelius meeting to draw examples of direct interaction with God and the Parable of the Good Samaritan as an illustration of God directing human assistance through another person to a person in need. He creates every person with opportunities and capabilities to function as his representative among other people, will call a person to represent him at a point of need, and another person if a call recipient declines.
God can interact directly with a person: through a vision, through the Holy Spirit, or through other manifestations of his presence. Also, he can and often interacts with a person indirectly through other people. He chooses any person as channel for his interactions with others. He often offers the opportunity to a person by placing a need in his/her path. If the person declines, like the priest and Levite in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, God offers the opportunity to another person he chooses. We discuss examples from Peter-Cornelius interactions where God shows he has several options to interact directly with a person. Furthermore, we discuss the Parable of the Good Samaritan as an illustration of God choosing a person to care for another person on his behalf.
Through his covenant with Abraham and elaboration of the covenant in the gospel according to John, God establishes a uniform criterion for the status of every person before him, irrespective of race. He explained the criterion further in interactions between Peter and Cornelius, where he poured out the Holy Spirit without regard to racial, national, cultural, or other differences among the people. He mandates every person to accept and interact with others the same way he would: without regard to race, nationality, geographical extraction, physical features, gender, or any other categorization. Therefore, racism or racial discrimination is a human failure and has no place among people that believe in God.
We digress somewhat from our scheduled study in order to participate in the on-going discussion of race relations occasioned by events in the United States of America. We focus our contribution on understanding God’s purpose for multiracial interactions and relationships based on accounts in the bible. God creates people into categories based on race, nationality, geographical location, physical features, gender, and others. However, none of these categorizations has any effect on a person’s status before God. Instead, his covenant with Abraham and explanation of the covenant in the gospel according to John establish the equality of all people under God, irrespective of race or any other categorization.
Furthermore, interactions between Peter and Cornelius clearly explain God’s purpose for race relations. During Peter-Cornelius meeting in Caesarea, God poured out the Holy Spirit on Cornelius and his relations and friends the same way that he did on Jewish followers of Jesus at Pentecost. Racial, national, cultural, or other differences between Jews and Gentiles did not matter to God and should not matter among his people.
Also, as we discuss in Following God Schedule by Living in His Image, God creates every person to represent him in interactions among people: to convey his presence and impact as if he was there physically in human form. Therefore, he mandates every person to accept and interact with others the same way he would, without regard to race, nationality, geographical extraction, physical features, gender, or any other categorization. Racism or racial discrimination is a human failure before God. Any person that rejects, demeans, or in any way discriminates against another person on the basis of race has failed in God’s purpose of Let Us make man in Our image… [Genesis 1:26].
God terminated Saul as king of Israel because he departed from God’s command in executing judgment against Amalek. Instead of destroying all as he was commanded, he spared “everything that was good” for special treatment while selecting the “despised and worthless” for total destruction. Based on the swift termination of Saul’s kingship following the incident, we learn that God will not condone discriminatory application of the law. The principle of equality under the law is part of God’s mandate and means the law of a people must apply equally to all, irrespective of race, status in the society, or any other categorization.
First, we discuss God’s covenant with Abraham and elaboration of the covenant in the gospel according to John to understand the status of a person before God is determined based on a uniform criterion and choice available to every person. Second, we discuss Peter-Cornelius interactions to understand God accepts every person that believes in him and wants us to do the same without regard to race or any other categorization. Third, we discuss the termination of Saul as king of Israel following his interaction with Amalekites to understand equality under the law as God’s mandate.
Responding to Adversity—
Base Burnt, Flocks and Families in Captivity
We discuss a biblical event to illustrate that God could use adversity to guide a person to greater purpose. The adversity of follower families taken captive from his base led David to an opportunity to enunciate principles of basic civil rights and responsibilities. To respond to the adversity, he sought and received direction from God, pursued and caught up with the raiders, defeated them in a battle, and recovered everything and people taken from his base. Also, as he worked toward the rescue, he evaluated and disposed of issues as they arose; such as letting two hundred of his men that were exhausted return to base while four hundred continued in the pursuit. By so doing, he set the stage for resolving a dispute on sharing battle proceeds, which led to his ruling on civil rights and responsibilities.
An adversity could present opportunities for greater accomplishment. We discuss an example in David’s rescue of follower families captured from his base by a raiding party. The rescue led him to define basis for civil rights and responsibilities while settling a dispute on sharing battle proceeds among his people.
David and his men had left their base in Philistine territory to present themselves to fight alongside their Philistine host. However, the Philistines refused their offer and asked them to return to their base. On their return, they found their base raided, burnt, and plundered and their families taken captive by the raiders. David sought and received God’s direction, pursued and caught up with the raiders, defeated them in a fierce battle, recovered all that was taken from his base including family members, and took additional plunder. Subsequently, the plunder opened an opportunity for David. To settle a dispute among his people on sharing the plunder, he made a ruling that became a lasting foundation for the interpretation of basic civil rights and responsibilities.
The study provides opportunity for increased understanding that God may use an adversity to guide a person toward greater purpose. Therefore, seek his direction in every adversity. He establishes a way to communicate with every person and will respond to guide you if you seek his direction. Recognizing potential opportunities in an adversity will motivate a person to respond positively by seeking direction from God to defeat the adversity and any temptation that it might represent.
This bible study focuses on the interaction between Peter and Cornelius, based on Acts 10 and 11. Their meeting marked the first time of taking the gospel to non-Jews (i.e., Gentiles). God prepared Cornelius for the meeting by sending an angel in human form through a vision to advise him to send for Peter. He prepared Peter also.
First, he told Peter through a vision that he should not reject any person that God has accepted. Second, the Holy Spirit told Peter to accept Cornelius’s invitation. During the meeting, witnessed by several friends and relatives of Cornelius and a few Jewish believers that accompanied Peter, the Holy Spirit came on all that heard Peter’s message, just like on the apostles at Pentecost.
Peter later returned to Jerusalem and faced criticism for interacting with uncircumcised men. He justified his actions in detail and explained that Jewish believers could not reject non-Jews that God accepted, because God had shown through his meeting with Cornelius that salvation through Christ is for all people—Jews and non-Jews alike. His explanations were satisfactory as the believers praised God for granting salvation to non-Jews.