I have a favourite angel visitation story, found in Judges 13. It is the story of Manoah and his wife, who became parents of mighty Samson. An angel appeared to Mrs. Manoah, and told her she would become the mother of a son, a Nazirite (like John the Baptist), who should have no haircuts and go on to save Israel from the Philistines. She ran off to tell her husband what had happened, and Manoah prayed that the being would come back to repeat the promise. Apparently, Manoah didn’t realize this was an angel, and after a repeat of the prophecy, offered him dinner. When Manoah asked the man his name, he was told it is Wonderful, and the young goat and grain became the offering on a make-shift altar. As the flames consumed the offering, the angel of the Lord went up in the flame of the altar. Manoah was convinced he would die, because he had seen God. His wife, with a touch of humour I’m sure, assured him: “If the Lord had meant to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these”. (Judges 13:23 ESV)
The writer of Hebrews suggests that hospitality might lead to an angelic visit. “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” (Hebrews 13:1-3 ESV). The Greek word *Philadelphia* is brotherly love, a deep friendship, affection or partnership. It should always be in evidence among Christian people. Hospitality is an easy and practical way to show brotherly love, to friends and strangers. When we are hospitable to others, we really are welcoming in the Lord Himself. To those in prison, their physical needs are usually met, but we can show brotherly love with sympathy, and a willingness to share the love and hope a life with Jesus brings. We can especially pray for those imprisoned for the sake of the gospel, as they are in the body of the church with us.
You may never see an angel or entertain one, but you never know! You can be assured that welcoming others and showing brotherly love is extending God’s love to others. Even in days of social distancing, a phone call, a card in the mail, or an e-mail can encourage and entertain someone who surely needs an uplifting word today.