The time had now come in this section of the scripture where the next set of old prophecies concerning the new covenant were about to commence being fulfilled.
While Simon Peter was lodging with Simon the tanner in Joppa, the roman centurion Cornelius was having a vision. An angel appeared to him at about 3:00 pm telling him to send to Joppa and bring Peter. At the time he was unaware why but like all good mysteries, all would be revealed! So Cornelius related all that the angel had spoken to him to the rest of his,household and then sent servants with a devout soldier, that is, a soldier who was a believer, to go and fetch Peter.
In the mean time Peter too was having visions from The Lord about the arrival of these servants and he too did not know what was about to happen either. But it was about to be a momentous occasion and a cause for great rejoicing among all Christianity both then and now. For The Lord was about to throw open the floodgates and call all of mankind to himself by unlocking the promises of God to the Gentiles.
A Taste of Things to Come
The Gentile nations were never part of the chosen people of The Lord under the old covenant. The laws of Moses and the teachings of the prophets of The Lord came to the people of Israel, but for the most part the Gentiles were excluded from the favour of God.
However although this was the general rule, there were always exceptions to the rule.
In the time of Joshua when the people first crossed the Jordan to take possession of the land, the first city they had to take and overthrow was the city of Jericho. And it was by the hand of The Lord that the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. But we see in that story that the spies sent into Jericho to spy out a way to overthrow the city were given safe harbour by Rahab the harlot. She was shown to have faith and so in return she gained her life along with all who were with her when the Israelites came and sacked the city.
Then again in the time of Elisha the prophet we saw Naaman, who was commander of the Syrian armies, receive healing of his leprosy by the word of God when he had faith to wash himself seven times in the river Jordan.
In Jesus day we see the story of the Canaanite woman pleading for the healing for her daughter. The Lord said, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and give it to the dogs.” But she responded not by walking away in dejection, but by saying, “Yes Lord, but even the dogs feed on the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.” And Jesus seeing her faith was great gave her the healing for her daughter she had begged for.
Again Jesus healed the servant of the centurion when He saw the faith the Roman centurion had. The centurion recognised the power and authority vested in Jesus and knew it was from God and so did not even see the need for Jesus to come to him but just say the word and he would be healed. Again it was great faith that The Lord recognised.
So we see in all of these instances that those of the Gentiles who had faith received the mercy and compassion of The Lord that they could not receive under the law of Moses for they were specifically excluded by the law from receiving the good things of God.
But all of that was about to change beginning with the visitation to Cornelius by Peter. It had been prophesied at the birth of Jesus that are would be a light of revelation to the Gentiles. (see Luke 2:32) In addition when Paul and Barnabas preached the word to the people in Antioch of Pisidia, it was rejected by the Jews and the Gentiles were greatly comforted by the words of Paul when he said,
45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him.
46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.
47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'”
These words Paul and Barnabas spoke were repeating old prophecies for it was through the rejection of the truth by the Jews that it became possible for the Gentiles to receive the salvation of The Lord. That is what they were saying and this process of the full inclusion of the Gentiles was about to begin with the visitation of Peter to Cornelius.
What was about to happen was going to be truly astounding and even the Jews who came with Peter were amazed and astounded at the events about to occur. But more of that in the next couple of posts as we see this astonishing event unfold as The Lord threw open the floodgates by unlocking the promises of God to the Gentiles so that they were then equal with the Jews by faith.
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The Promise To Jesus Followers
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