This story is similar to the story of Saul who hears Jesus audibly speak to him and than Ananias has a vision telling him where to go to find Saul.
What strikes me today is that God spoke to people in multiple ways: audibly, through visions and through angels. Were they unusual - and so they were recorded? Were they just for certain leaders? Were they occurring to many people, but these were recorded because of their notable outcomes?
It is hard to know for sure. These means of communication were not unique to the time of the apostles because we see them throughout the Old Testament also. And since the time of the apostles there have been people throughout the history of Christianity who heard an audible voice or saw visions or had significant dreams. The records exist of what they heard and saw.
But who is Cornelius that he should see an angel? in this Cornelius is not a Jew, not a believer (yet) in Jesus. He is an officer in the Roman army occupying Israel. However, he is a God-fearing man who prays and gives generously to those in need. This story is told, we eventually discover, because of the lesson Peter and the others learned through it (the story continues through Acts 11:18).
For reflection: Do I think visions, angels and audibly hearing God were unusual in the time of the apostles? What about now? Have I or someone I know experienced one of these? Would I be open to God speaking to me in one of these ways?
Let us pray. Lord Jesus, author of the universe, I want to be open to whatever means you use to speak to me. I would rather you speak to me through some unusual means, than that you not speak to me at all. I want to know you in all the ways you can be known.
(Comments are open. Do you have a story to tell of how God has spoken to you? If you don't want to post it publicly, you can send a private email through the prayer request form on the home page or call 301.760.7744 to talk.)