Caution: Angels Crossing

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.
Hebrews 13:2

Many students of the Bible are convinced we are living in the very last of the End Times. They have come to this conclusion by comparing world events to Bible prophecy. Previous generations had to interpret prophecy as highly symbolic in order to fit contemporary events into Scripture. Our generation does not need to do so. We see a literal fulfillment of these things.

From Israel being a modern nation, dwelling peacefully in their historical borders with hostile nations surrounding her, to buying and selling with numbers as opposed to cash and new technologies moving rapidly to connecting personal identification to the individual’s body. While the Bible foretold these things, previous generations had to interpret them symbolically in order to make their generation the one that would see the Return of Christ. Not only do we not need to interpret these things symbolically, to NOT see them as literally fulfilled in our time is to embrace a willful ignorance akin to the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand.

The Bible foretells that prior to the Second Coming of Christ, the world will be plunged into a time of global chaos the likes of which have never been seen. This seven year period is known as the Tribulation and will be a combination of God’s wrath expressed both passively and actively. His wrath will be passively seen in that He lets the consequences of man’s rebellion manifest themselves.[1] As the Holy Spirit withdraws His restraint of evil, in response to humanity’s desire, evil will flourish and the satanic agenda will advance under the reign of the antichrist.[2] This passive expression of God’s wrath will unfold during the first half of the Tribulation. Then, at the mid-point of the last seven years, the antichrist will exposed for who he really is. [3] His benevolent mask will come off and his wicked intention will become clear. It is at that point that God’s wrath will move from passive to active as He begins to bring overt judgment on Earth. The plagues and environmental distress that ensues is spelled out in the judgments described in the Book of Revelation.[4]

The stage has been well set for all of this to begin. The geo-political scene is ready. The technology is in place for it to commence. All we’re waiting for is the Rapture of the Saints. God will remove His people before His wrath begins.[5]

That’s what God did before His wrath fell on Sodom. And there is an important lesson to be learned from what happened at Sodom this generation needs to heed.

In Genesis 18, Abraham encounters three strangers traveling by his camp. Being the hospitable person he is, he urges them to stop for refreshment. The strangers turn out to be God and two angels on a kind of mission of discovery. Abraham’s hospitality becomes the opening by which God confirms His promise to give the aged Abraham and his wife the son they have longed for, for years. That revelation complete, the strangers indicate it is time to continue their journey. God then informs Abraham of the rest of their agenda. They are on their way to Sodom.

16 Then the men rose from there and looked toward Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them on the way. 17 And the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, 18 since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” 20 And the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”[6]

Reading on we find Abraham’s intercession with God to withhold judgment if as few as ten righteous people can be found living in Sodom. Then the two angels travel on and visit the city where they are hideously mistreated by the residents. Only Lot is found to be righteous. Even his family members have been severely tainted by Sodom’s moral corruption.

In His omniscience, God knew precisely what was happening in Sodom and its nearby cities. The angels went there to experience firsthand what God knew. Verifying the report seems to be part of the process necessary for the just administration of God’s judgment. And before the fire could fall, believing Lot had to be removed.

Let me say that again because it’s central to what I am feeling compelled by the Spirit to share: Though God knew precisely what was going on in Sodom and the other wicked cities of that region, He sent angels to investigate personally; to experience themselves the evil that was being done. If the angels were agents God used to affect His wrath, it makes sense they would experience personally the wickedness they were judging. The abuse of heaven’s agents would also justify a requirement of wrath. No one could accuse God of being too harsh if angels were ill-treated.

Combine this idea with the injunction of Hebrews 13:2 that we be careful to treat strangers hospitably, because they might in fact be angels. Why would it matter that they were angles unless their treatment counts for something more. Is there more moral weight in serving an angel than a human? No. But there may be more consequence if how the angles are treated is being used to evaluate the moral condition of a city, nation, or society.

Throughout the Mosaic Law, God called His covenant people to be careful about how they treated the strangers living among them. Strangers were to be treated with dignity and respect. There was to be no judicial variance in dealing with them. This principle of impartial justice was repeated again and again. Strangers were included with widows and orphans as those God protected and defended. Abuses suffered by them were treated as though they were delivered to God Himself.[7] Deuteronomy 10 contains a passage where this idea is made explicit.

18 He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. 19 Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

I had an encounter in a store yesterday I’m convinced was angelic. When I returned to the car to meet my wife and shared it with her, she immediately shared a similar encounter she had last week. Both of us sensed at the time these things occurred there was more going on than what appearances would suggest. While difficult to describe, there was a sense of spiritual gravity that attended our interaction with people we’re now convinced were angels. Both encounters were challenges, a test of how we would treat them, either with kind concern or rude indifference. Both individuals presented themselves in forms that many would despise or purposely overlook.

As Lynn shared her encounter, mine having happened only a few minutes before, I sensed the Holy Spirit quickening something within and several passages came to mind. The need to share my thoughts became urgent.

Since these certainly are the End Times, and God’s wrath is about to be poured out like never before, it makes sense we can expect the angels to be visiting the world to see firsthand what the conditions are. The angels went to Sodom and specifically to Lot’s home.  While the Sodomites intended to do them great harm, Lot showed them hospitality. He and his alone were delivered from the wrath of God.

Be careful how you treat others, specially strangers; specifically those who come in a form you would overlook or avoid. Be hospitable and cautious, exercising care in treating others respectfully. It may be an angel. And how you treat it could determine much both for yourself and for others.

[1] Romans 1:18[2] 2 Thess. 2:1-12
[3] Daniel 9:20-27
[4] Revelation 6-19
[5] 1 Thess 5:9
[6] Genesis 18:16-21
[7] Exodus 22:21; Leviticus 19:33, 23:22, 25:35; Deuteronomy 24:17–22, 27:19; Psalm 146:9; Jeremiah 7:5–7, 22:3; 1 Timothy 5:9–10; 3 John 5
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