Death of Conference
In Acts, the antagonists are always the Jews. Who does the early Church turn to for protection? Rome.
The Roman Empire is now the great protector of God’s people, just as Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece were before her.
When the Philippians accuse Paul and Silas because of their exorcisms, they say “these men are Jews.” Jews have gained a bad reputation for stirring up dissention.
Over and over, we see Jews in places of counseling in the pagan nations. This is as it should be: Israel was always supposed to counsel the nations in the way they should go. However, all of these Jews we see in Acts are bad counselors, not good ones. They have to be replaced.
The story of Sergius Paulus illustrates this. He is a Roman proconsul and thus is God’s representative in this age. His wise man is Elymus bar-Jesus, who is a bad Jew. Paul rebukes Elymus, and the passage is a parallel of the road to Damascus and Paul’s own conversion (this story is where we get Saul’s name change to Paul). Paul sends a curse of blindness “for a time” (exact same phrase) upon Elymus, and he had to be “led by the hand” (also as Paul did). Paul, the true counselor, essentially replaces Elymus to Sergius Paulus. Also, the story is left open. It’s very possible that Elymus repented as Paul did and went on to become a counselor of truth as he was intended to be, just as Paul was. In fact, given the obvious connection to Paul’s conversion, this is heavily implied. It’s almost as if Paul says, “I know what you need, because I was once like you,” even through his strong words of rebuke.
The Night Visions of Zechariah are a (chiastic) movement from the myrtle grove (garden) to a Temple war camp.
1. Grove / angel army 2. Altar worship in grove 3. "Super city" and its King 4. Temple built / great light in darkness 5. Old houses destroyed 6. Separation of evil / Ark and Temple 7. Grove Temple / Human army rides forth
Whenever the “four winds of heaven” are spoken of, that is a reference to the people of God. We are told that His people have been “spread abroad like the four winds of heaven.” This is usually translated “scattered” and thus interpreted as a judgment. But it’s not a bad thing: it’s a sending forth (an apostolic/angelic mission) that has been established. Once they are dispersed, they bring the Spirit (symbolized by wind) to the four corners of the earth.
In the 6th vision, we see images of false worship. There is a mirror image of the Ark of the Covenant, but it is perverted. Also, it comes out of the same place as the (good) angels just came from: the Temple of YHVH. There is a lead (not gold) box with a woman called Wickedness (not the Ten Words of righteousness) inside it. Women with the wings of storks (unclean animals) carry this box instead of cherubim. They fly it to Shinar, which is Babylon, and there a false temple is set up to it. This woman is the woman in Revelation who rides the Beast. The Beast is Rome, and not a bad thing in itself (in Acts, it’s God’s appointed protector of the faith). But this woman called Wickedness is steering it against the Church.
It is false worship that causes nations to fall. As long as they are worshiping, the enemy is powerless. But when false worship enters, so does the enemy. Worship is shown in these passages to be absolutely essential to the wellbeing of a nation.
Rome is first the protector of Israel, and when they fall, the Church. Then it becomes a Rod of Judgment (in Revelation) against the Jews, just like Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece. And like them, it is destroyed after its work is done.