By Pastor Lee Hemen
April 11, 2008
Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (Hebrews 13:1-3)
I apologize that I will go astray a tad bit today, but a very nice young man made a statement to me about my devotional from yesterday concerning angels. He related that “Angels can also be people in need of assistance, something to keep in mind when deciding whether to stop to help someone you find injured on the side of a road (most people don’t). The Bible tells us that we sometimes entertain angels unaware.” That got me to thinking, Bible reading, praying about it, and to Today’s Thoughts!
Just a thought: Where in the Biblical narrative were angels ever in need of assistance by a human being? Certainly we find that Lot tried to kind of “help” out of desperation but in reality it was his family that needed a good kick in the rump from God’s messengers to get out of Dodge! I mean, do you think God really wanted him to give his daughters to the ungodly crowd? They were more than capable of thwarting any perverted pack outside Lot’s portal.
I discovered that the closest anyone could possibly come to this conclusion is when Abraham gave food and water to some angelic guests that show up at his tent, which he was supposed to do anyway to anyone who came to his camp! It was kind of the “Code of the East,” you know, kind of like the “Code of the West!” These “angels” did not ask for assistance or sustenance. Abraham provided provisions out of his personal politeness. Thus, we get to the advice given from the writer of Hebrews quoted by the young man (above) to me: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)
We have to go to the context of the text. The writer here was admonishing his readers to welcome fellow Christian “strangers” who could be “angels” or rather “messengers” (Greek – aggelos) of the gospel and help them on their way by feeding and housing them. It is kind of a teaching double entendre here. He knew that Abraham did this out of courtesy and wanted his readers to do the same because they could be helping out God’s people, Jesus’ gospel “messengers,” in doing so. In fact, he already told them to “Keep on loving each other as brothers,” and later would tell them “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” We discover therefore he is referring to fellow Christians and not heavenly beings. He is also, by way of poetic illustration, equating their message as a heavenly one and as important as the message given by God’s messengers to Abraham so long ago!
Therefore, I found in no other place in the Bible angelic beings being helped or assisted by human beings. Entertained, once, yes as a courtesy, but not helped as in the sense of stopping for someone with a flat tire on the side of the road or such. As believers we are to help those in need as God sends them our way and as He directs. Never forget Jesus did not help all who came to Him and later the Apostles did not help all those who hung around them either, they helped those whom they were directed to or those who were directed to them by God.
Sadly, we have taken on a theology of helping strangers as a means of helping angelic beings who are supposedly in disguise testing us. I find this is kind of odd. The idea being that we do it just in case they might be angels of the Lord! So, in a sense, it is kind of out of a personal guilt trip or is it out of unknowing fear that we help people? Which? This is, I am sorry to say, rather absurd. (I apologize right now if I offend anyone in writing this, but I too have sat through sermons and studies that have taught this concept. It is not really biblical.) Folks, read your Bible. If you are walking with the Lord, you will know whom you are to help and how. God never ever sends people our way to maliciously “test” us or to make us feel guilty. God works through those whom He already loves and has called according to His purposes. You, His chosen. God works effectively through those who are walking with Him and not in sin. That’s why Jesus established His body, the church, in this sin-fallen world. Christians are His means and messengers of the good news, not angelic beings.
So, today, dear “angel” of the Lord be someone’s messenger and give them the good news of Jesus along the way. You never know whom you might assist, probably someone God is drawing to Himself!
NOTE: This article is copyrighted by Pastor Lee Hemen © 2008 and the property of Pastor Lee Hemen. You are welcome to copy it, email it, or use it but please if you copy it, email it, or use it you must do so in its entirety.