God doesn’t waste His breath. Like a good Father, He just expects that, if He says something, we’ll respond and do it.But on rare occasions, He said something three times. So, probably, whatever He said was important. One of those places is in Daniel chapter 8, the chapter I’m making the next video on currently. But let’s start off with what’s probably the most famous example of the Lord saying something three times.
After His resurrection, Jesus was with His disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. They’d just finished a fish supper that Jesus had prepared for them and it says in John 21:15-17, “So after they had dined, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs’ . He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My sheep’. He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things. You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep’”.
That’s an amazing passage in Scripture. Jesus told Peter three times, “Feed My sheep.” It must have been that important to the Lord that He did something that emphatic and insistent. Feeding His sheep, teaching, instructing, nourishing and guiding the Lord’s sheep, His flock of believers is obviously just as important as it gets in God’s eyes.
And strangely, another time in the Bible it says that Peter was told something three times from God, in no uncertain terms. In Acts chapter 10 Peter was in Joppa in northern Israel. Peter was the head of the growing group of believers who spread Jesus’ message and truth, after He’d ascended to heaven years before. Peter was on a house top, in prayer, when in a vision he saw a sheet let down from heaven with all kinds of “unclean” animals. The Laws of Moses gave strict rules for the Jews as to what animals were “clean” to eat, permissible, and which ones weren’t.
So Peter sees this sheet coming down with these “unclean” animals and then he hears God’s voice, “Arise, Peter! Kill and eat!” Peter, being a righteous Jew replied, “Not so Lord, for I’ve never eaten anything that’s unclean.” And the voice said to him, “What God has cleansed, you do not call common.” (Acts 10:13-15)
It says, “This happened three times” (Acts 10:16) and then the sheet was let back up to heaven. It sounds like Peter was arguing with God but this seemed so contrary to everything Peter thought was righteous.Then it says that immediately there was a knock at the door downstairs at the house Peter was at. And the Lord told Peter that there were three men there who’d come to see him and that Peter should go with them, “doubting nothing”. (Acts 10:20)
“What’s the big deal with that?” you might say. The big deal is that these men at the door were Romans, “Gentiles”. The Jews weren’t supposed to have anything to do with Gentiles and certainly not go to their house. But Peter went, as the Lord had so firmly told him. The result? Peter preached to a big gathering of Gentiles, telling them about Jesus and they all experienced the infilling of the Holy Spirit, just as the first disciples had in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2.
Nowadays it’s easy for us to not appreciate all this. But it was a very, very big deal at that time. Basically this event was when the Lord opened the door clearly to non-Jews to receive all the blessing and provision of His promises, breaking down the wall between the Jews and the Gentiles, making it possibly for anyone through Jesus to receive salvation through Him. But God had to tell Peter plainly and emphatically, three times, that this was of Him and that Peter should go and flow with it, “doubting nothing.”
In Daniel chapter 8 something similar also happened. In a vision, Daniel was by the river Ulai, in what’s now modern Iran, and the angel Gabriel was commanded to explain what Daniel had just seen, a goat and a ram clashing in battle and the goat conquering the ram. But there was more to it, much more, and Daniel tells us he just didn’t understand it. But the angel Gabriel then tells Daniel three times in two verses that “at the time of the end shall be the vision”. (Daniel 8:17-19)
Daniel chapter 8 is a somewhat difficult chapter to understand or even to teach. Prophecy teachers through the years have had some huge debates about parts of it and I’ve been in some of those debates. Some say that it’s all already been fulfilled. But then we can go back to the words of Gabriel, spoken three times to Daniel, “at the time of the end shall be the vision.” At the time of the end. And we’re not there yet. But we may be getting real close.
[Since completing this blog post, I’ve also completed the full video on Daniel chapter 8. That video in English can be seen here.]
When God says something three times, it’s important. Whether it’s to feed the flock of God, or to not call unclean what God has cleansed, or that the prophecies of God are going to have a future, endtime fulfillment, God thought those were important enough to say it three times. Lord help us to get the point , to believe it and act upon it.