Friday, March 8, 2013

Entertaining Angels Unawares (plus a video)

Today is day five of the ninth week in our journey together, reading the Bible through in a year.  Our scriptures today are Numbers 6-7; Hebrews 13.

Virginia was hit by a snow storm that wasn't all that significant in terms of snow fall (six inches here in Scottsville), but which took out our electricity for two days.  I hope that you did your Bible reading.  I wasn't able to blog about our readings on Wednesday and Thursday, and I'm not going to try to catch up.  I do want to suggest a video for you, which is a Chuck Missler teaching about the camp of Israel, from Numbers 1-2.  Anyone who finds all the lists and numbers to be extremely boring should check out this video.  It's worth the seventeen minutes, if you can devote that much time to it.  The reward you'll find will be pretty cool!  (If you just can't watch the entire video, then fast-forward to 11:28 and watch it from there to the end.)  The video is at the bottom of this post. 

Now...for today's scripture:  

I want to focus on Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV), which says:  Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Here, the author of Hebrews is making reference to when Yahweh, along with two divine messengers, visited Abraham in his camp in Genesis 18.  The patriarch gave them a lavish feast, even though they just looked like ordinary men.  In 18:3, Abraham refers to the lead visitor as Adonai, but this usage of Adonia leaves it uncertain whether or not Abraham perceives his guest as God, The Lord,  or as a respected man--a lord. In any case, the author of Hebrews says that Abraham was unaware (at least at a certain point) that he was entertaining angels.   

Hebrews makes it clear that hospitality is one way that we can show brotherly love.  Hospitality was and is extremely important to people of the Near East.  There being no Holiday Inns or Cracker Barrels in biblical days, travel was a difficult prospect.  A traveler would reach his destination exhausted and hungry.  So hospitality became chief among virtues in biblical lands.  It was sort of a "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" thing.  You would hope that if you were traveling through the desert and you came by an oasis with someone living there, that they'd share their water and shelter with you.  So you shared what you had with strangers as well.

Even today, when hospitality seems to have gone out of style, Hebrews reminds us to welcome strangers.  "Okay, okay," you say.  "It's one thing to have my friends over--but welcome strangers into my home?"  That's what the Bible says--I don't make this stuff up.  From time to time, you may have strangers in your home--whether their car breaks down in your driveway or they're trying to sell you replacement windows, or they're that friend-of-a-friend who visits along with your friend.  The Bible says to be sure you show them hospitality.  That doesn't mean you should put your family at risk by welcoming strangers--but it does mean that you show brotherly love by the warm welcome you can give to people in your home. 

Who knows--like Abraham, you might be entertaining angels without even knowing it.


Here's the Missler video I suggested above.  It's definitely worth watching. 

(Disclaimer:  Chuck Missler's teaching can sometimes be pretty awesome, but can also sometimes be kind of wacky.  I'm not endorsing all of Missler's teaching, but want to point out the product of some of the good study that he has done.)

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