Whatever our view on angels, we have to admit they get a lot of mentions in the Bible.
Announcing glad tidings to God’s chosen heirs
Never ceasing their praises, Heaven’s glories are theirs
Guarding us, ministering, hearing our prayers
Emissaries of God in our worldly affairs
Leading us through life’s darkest thoroughfares
Sometimes we entertain them unawares.
Apparently there are over 350 references to angels in the Bible. They appear in different guises for different purposes. They have numerous roles, notably bearing messages and carrying out God’s purposes on earth. Commentators dispute whether or not we have guardian angels.
When Abraham encounters three angels he treats them with uncommon hospitality (Genesis 18:1-8). To Abraham, it was immediately obvious that these strange men were angels, and in in most cases the supernatural appearance of angels is not in dispute.
But they may not always so obvious – according to the writer of Hebrews we may entertain them unawares (Hebrews 13:2). This possibility has long interested me. Some angels, as they go to and fro across the earth (Zechariah 1:10), may just blend in with society.
In Genesis 28, Jacob has a dream of a ladder ascending to heaven (angels again are key figures in the narrative), and when he wakes he says, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” Sometimes I think to myself, “perhaps there was an angel in this place, and I was not aware of it.” Perhaps it was someone I snubbed, a homeless person I passed by, someone who was feeling lonely…
Hospitality and acts of kindness never go amiss. The first church in Jerusalem went out of its way to practise hospitality and spread kingdom values. I strongly suspect they often entertained angels unawares.
(The Angels acrostic appears on my Old Testament: History, Law and Poetry page).