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Redemption: Languages, Cultures, and God’s Plan


The only known example of an individual creating an entirely new system of writing is Sequoyah’s invention of written Cherokee in the early nineteenth century. Inspired by the way he saw white settlers using writing, he devised 85 symbols that correspond with sounds in Cherokee. Soon the Cherokees were highly literate in the new script and were even printing their own newspaper.

As we see throughout Scripture, and especially in yesterday’s reading, God’s plan for the world involves many cultures and many languages. This wasn’t immediately obvious to the early church, however, as the Jewish Christians had been conditioned to think of Israel as the “chosen people” and Gentiles as “outsiders.” But the coming of Christ had turned a page in history, and today’s narrative is part of how God worked to start overcoming that old way of thinking. He had sent an angel to Cornelius and now He sent a vision to Peter. In the vision, a sheet full of unclean animals was lowered and offered as food, a thought repugnant to a Jew. It meant that spiritual categories were changing, the ritual aspects of the Law were ending, and God was revealing more of His plan (v. 15).

Peter understood, for he immediately extended hospitality to the (Gentile) men sent by Cornelius (v. 23), and the next day he accepted hospitality in the centurion’s (Gentile) home (vv. 27–29). These were enormous steps of faith across cultural boundaries for Peter, who expressed amazement at the broad scope of God’s love (vv. 34–35). God confirmed this insight by sending the Holy Spirit in a kind of mini-Pentecost (vv. 44–48). “There is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him” (Rom. 10:12).

Apply the Word

These events were key at the Jerusalem Council, at which Peter sided with Paul about the Gentile controversy (Acts 15:6–11). Yet apparently Peter temporarily forgot this lesson from God, and Paul had to rebuke him (Gal. 2:11–21). We, too, learn lessons on the mountaintop that we forget later in the valleys. Thank God for His patience with us!

BY Brad Baurain

Dr. Brad Baurain has worked as a writer and editor for Today in the Word since 1993. Currently, he serves as associate professor and TESOL program head at Moody Bible Institute. Brad has the unique privilege of holding a degree from four different universities (including Moody). He has also taught in China, Vietnam, the United States, and Canada. Brad and his wife, Julia, have four children and reside in Munster, Indiana.

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