As he lived in Simon the tanner’s house Peter discovered that God was working behind the scenes, not only in Peter’s immediate vicinity, but several miles away in a family that he had never heard about and which he was going to help in a spiritually dramatic manner. Peter only discovered this was the case because he engaged in regular spiritual disciplines.
What was God doing? The day before, he had informed a devout Gentile soldier called Cornelius through an angel that he should send men to Peter in Joppa. Peter was totally unaware of this divine agenda, yet he was part of it. The reason from his perspective why he was able to be part of it was that he was faithful in his discipleship.
Are there lessons from this situation for us? I would mention two. One is that God will not ask you to do something big until you are willing to do the same thing in a small way. The big thing was to speak to Cornelius the Gentile centurion and the small thing was to go and stay in the house of Simon the tanner. Peter had done the little thing and adapted himself to make it possible for others to see that he was not controlled by the ceremonial law.
Perhaps he wondered if any benefit would come from his decision to go and stay with Simon. We are not told that anything happened until Cornelius’ men arrived. So for day after day for several weeks, perhaps months, Peter was tested on the little thing until the time came when the big activity arrived. Maybe Peter would not have gone to Cornelius if he had not stayed in the tanner’s house. Because he did so, a little step for Peter led eventually to a giant stride forward for the church.
The other lesson is that God usually gives hints from his Word that he is about to lead us in a certain manner. He did this with Peter and the vision. We will not be able to identify exactly what God has in mind until it happens. But we will be able to look back and see that God prepared us for what was coming. And when we see that such things have taken place, we will be strengthened in our faith, as no doubt Peter was.