Authors of the Bible received divine inspiration to convince and encourage them to write a specific book. In the case of Acts, Luke was given direct access to the apostle Paul. This enabled Luke to highlight amazing encounters with apostles and some of Jesus’ disciples. In the passage below, Peter reflects upon an unusual experience while praying. Luke compares this to a trance as if Peter is day dreaming in a half-conscious state. Before this spiritual trance concluded, Peter found himself in a hypnotic state with an element of suspended animation.
The next day, as they were on their way and were approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof of the house about the sixth hour (noon) to pray, 10 but he became hungry and wanted something to eat. While the meal was being prepared he fell into a trance; Acts 10:9-10.
My initial response to this event pondered, “do spiritual trances still exist today?” When God speaks to individuals through a still small voice, people are left to wonder where did that come from. When awkward, bizarre or strange feelings fade away, there has to be a rationale explanation. Since Peter was about to pray, Luke focuses on the spiritual element of this trance. God is teaching Peter that Moses laws on ceremonial cleanness no longer applies in the New Testament. This was the last stumbling block remaining that prevented Peter from sharing the good news about Jesus Christ to Gentiles, non Jews. Thus, this trance sets the stage for the rest of the book of Acts as the apostle Paul travels beyond Judea and Samaria to share the gospel.
And he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet descending, lowered by its four corners to the earth, 12 and it contained all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. 13 A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” 14 But Peter said, “Not at all, Lord, for I have never eaten anything that is common (unholy) and [ceremonially] unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed and pronounced clean, no longer consider common (unholy).” 16 This happened three times, and then immediately the object was taken up into heaven, Acts 10:11-16.
The closest I have come to a spiritual trance is a vision I received in college. At this time, I attended a weekly accountable group for high school and college students. These people all experienced a Chrysalis weekend, a three day retreat which compares the Christian life to a caterpillar that undergoes a transformation into a butterfly. During consecutive weeks of inaction, one of my friends continued to fail in his faith. After encouraging Eric toward the most logical course of action, I had the same dream two nights in a row. While walking through a Christian bookstore, I turned the corner seeing the title of this book. This was the exact topic Eric needed to strengthen his faith. One day later, this dream became reality as I found the book in my dream and brought it for my friend. In my mind, this true story proves spiritual trances still exit.
by Jay Mankus