Acts 10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,
Remember that after Philip left the Eunuch that he ended up in Ceasarea, so the gospel had reached this city and perhaps even Cornelius had heard the gospel message. The Roman army was despised by most Hebrews. He was the captain over a band of a thousand soldiers. A legion contains 5000. Jesus spoke of 12 legions of angels, that's a lot.
Mat 26:53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
Acts 10:2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.
He was a God fearing man who was also teaching his household the same, he showed love towards the poor, and prayed to God always. We are told to do this as well.
Mat 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Mat 22:38 This is the first and great commandment. Mat 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
1 Th 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
But had Cornelius been received by Jesus? The prayer of faith always gets the attention of God.
Psa 33:13 The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.
Psa 33:14 From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.
Psa 33:18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;
A lady on the Internet spoke to me in a chat room, she was totally discouraged and said she had lost all hope. Someone in a Christian chat had told her that God does not hear her prayers, because she was not a Christian. She had spent many years in guilt searching for her sister that she had left in a perilous place, now she had no hope that God would hear her prayers, her hope was gone, she was completely emptied. At this point God worked a miracle, I knew of the one she was seeking, her journey that had ended in discouragement turned to joy and release from the powers of darkness and that night the Lord received her as his own. He is still working on her, but she knows without a doubt that God hears the prayers of those who seek.
Acts 10:3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
Acts 10:4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.
Perhaps in a time of prayer, at about 3pm, Cornelius saw an angel in a vision. A vision is as a dream but a dream from God. An angel is God's messenger. An angel came to Mary announcing that she would be the mother of Jesus the Messiah; "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35) They often send others to speak the plan of salvation and the receiving of the Holy Ghost (Spirit), I don't believe that angels are appointed to explain the gospel. This is the message we are to preach by the Holy Ghost.
1 Pet 1:12 ... which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
His prayers were as a memorial to God. I think of the 12 tribes of Israel crossing the parted waters of the Jordan River. Each tribe was to take a stone from the river bottom and make a pile for a memorial of this miracle crossing. (Josh 4:4-7) I have a special place at the river where I toss in white stones with prayers for people. This is my memorial to God for these people. Cornelius being in constant prayer, had stacked up a pile of prayers as a memorial to God. God honored these prayers with a vision to complete the journey of faith that the man had begun.
When we do not give up, God will answer our prayers. If we are asking for wisdom and direction, he will give his vision to us.
Acts 10:5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:
Acts 10:6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.
This tells me that God is well aware of the whereabouts of his children. We are not lost or forgotten, he has his angels around us and we are always in his hand.
John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
John 10:29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
John 10:30 I and my Father are one.
Eternal life and we shall never perish; blessed assurance, Jesus is mine and I am his. We are one with the Father.
The angel commanded the Centurion to send two men to Simon, he has the message for you that angels inquire into, he shall tell you what to do. Two men, two is the confirmation of a testimony. Two angels confirmed that Jesus had indeed risen from the grave. Jesus spoke earlier of the witness of two;
Mat 18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
Acts 10:7 And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually;
Acts 10:8 And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.
He declared his vision to others, this is what we should do, receive support from others when we receive a vision from God. Receiving support and encouragement. Cornelius shared with those he trusted including a devout soldier. He could trust them to carry forth his message to Joppa and to Peter. As Philip responded to the angel, now the Centurion obeys. Angels get peoples attention when they appear. God's angels are good, and minister to God's people.
Acts 10:9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:
Acts 10:10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
The next day even as the messengers approached Joppa to speak to Peter, it was about noon, lunch time when Peter went upon the housetop of Simon the Tanner to pray. The housetops were flat decks. I remember being on such a housetop when I was a college student in Mexico City. The open tiled roof gave privacy and a view of the city. It was a place to hang the wash up to dry, and a place for some to bathe. On such a roof top David was tempted when he saw Bathsheba bathing.
Peter at lunch time was praying on the rooftop, when he fell into a trance, perhaps a daydream as we call it, or a vision. The same thing that happened with Cornelius the day before. The vision was not the same as the Centurions vision, but it was connected to it.
When Saul was given a vision, an identical vision was given to Ananias. I believe that God gives confirmation to a vision. A vision should be confirmed in some way that it is of God.
Peter saw a vision descending from heaven;
Acts 10:11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:
Acts 10:12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
Peter saw all kinds of living things.
Acts 10:13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
Acts 10:14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
As a Jew, the ceremonial laws forbade the eating of certain kinds of living things. These laws were very specific. Daniel the prophet was loyal to these laws when in captivity in Babylon and God honored him for this. So what is this? What is this vision that goes against the Old Testament laws?
Acts 10:15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
What has happened to cleanse the unclean? Is it about Jesus? Jesus whose blood was shed to remove sins? Had he changed Gods ways, had the New Covenant changed things for those who receive Jesus?
Acts 10:16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
Three times, three is the number for the resurrection and newness of life. Three is also the number of the Godhead: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. God must be in this new thing.
Acts 10:17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate,
Acts 10:18 And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.
Acts 10:19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.
Acts 10:20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.
As Peter thought in himself the meaning of the vision, the Spirit guided him to do something. If we inquire of God, his Spirit will give us the next step of our vision. We must obey his voice. "Go with him, doubting nothing: for I have sent them." Peter had asked, now he has received, now he must not doubt the Spirit as he obeys. This is important, as James wrote;
James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
James 1:7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
James 1:8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
2 Cor 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
Acts 10:21 Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? Peter greets the men, taking the next step of faith. Often God will reveal to us what is ahead, we are not walking blind. We have the word of God and the Holy Spirit, visions and dreams, and even those with the word of knowledge.
Acts 10:22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.
The messenger servants speak of the honor and character of their master and also that he was warned of God by a holy angel to send for you and to hear from you. Note that the angel was a "holy" angel. That is very important. Too many are infatuated with angels and are hearing from them all manner of new ways. Angels are not appointed to speak the gospel, Paul warned in Galatians;
Gal 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
Acts 10:23 Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
After lodging them, Peter went with them not knowing what to expect. He was to tell them something important and both had received visions. The Holy Ghost would tell Peter at the appointed time what to say.
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
John 16:14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.
John 16:15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.
Visions are from the Lord for some new purpose.
Abraham received a vision from the LORD and received a covenant. Fear comes from the presence of the Lord, but not a dark fear of torment, as from a dark dream.
Gen 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
Prophets hear from God in dreams and in visions, but Moses spoke with God face to face.
Num 12:6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.
Num 12:7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.
Num 12:8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
Peter spoke at Pentecost of the fulfillment of Joel's prophecy;
Acts 2:16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
Acts 2:17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
Acts 2:18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
As people who are received in Christ and Spirit filled, we may hear from God when we come to him. We go to him in prayer and he speaks to us through his Spirit.
Heb 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Be expectant people of faith, for he will show you his vision for you in His time, if you seek his face.
Prov 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
Prov 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.