Over the last several weeks we’ve seen the angel Gabriel at work delivering God’s message to His chosen servants, which is fitting because the term angel in the Greek actually means “messenger.” Although we find Gabriel speaking to Zachariah, Mary, and Daniel it would be a mistake to simply think of angels as God’s messenger service! They are also used to:
- Carry out some of God’s judgments. They bring a plague upon Israel (2 Samuel 24:16–17), smite the leaders of the Assyrian army (2 Chronicles 32:21), strike King Herod dead because he did not give God glory (Acts 12:23), and pour out bowls of God’s wrath on the earth (Revelation 16:1). John also records that an angel “seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit . . .” (Revelation 20:1–3).
- Accompany Christ when He returns (Matthew 16:27, Luke 9:26, 2 Thessalonians 1:7).
- Patrol the earth (Zechariah 1:10–11).
- Carry out war against demonic forces (Daniel 10:13; Revelation 12:7–8).
- Proclaim the return of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:16, see also Revelation 18:1–2, 21, 19:17–18, and other passages).
- Give glory to God. The seraphim continually praise God for his holiness (Isaiah 6:2–3), and so do the four living creatures (Revelation 4:8).
The author of Hebrews also reminds us that we should “not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2). He is alluding to the fact that Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 18:1–3), Lot (Gen. 19:1, 2), Gideon (Judg. 6:11–24), and Manoah (Judg. 13:6–20) all entertained angels in the Old Testament. I don’t believe that the main point of this passage is that angels are always running around and that we need to be on the lookout for them! We really only see that happening a few times in the Old Testament. The passage is emphasizing the hospitality and compassion that we should show to all people, and that we should treat everyone as though they are representatives of God.
We have a wonderful opportunity to do just that this fall. Our church will be reviving a Northern Door tradition: the Community Thanksgiving Dinner! You will be hearing more and more about this as we get closer to the event, and I assume that there will be opportunities for many to volunteer. But even if you can’t volunteer for one reason or another, I would ask that you pray for the event, the volunteers, and the participants. We don’t just want to have a meal together, but we want this to be a wonderful time of worship and thanksgiving as we show hospitality to those around us, and perhaps even “entertain angels unaware!”