Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” — Hebrews 13:2
Soon after coming to the United States, my Dad was holding a service on a Saturday night in a little church near Bellingham, Washington. After the meeting, he had planned to head for Coulee City, a couple of hundred miles east, expecting to get there in time for the Sunday morning service. It was late fall, and very cold. The quickest route seemed to be Highway 2, through Steven’s Pass. At an elevation of a little more than 4,000 feet, it is one of the highest in the state.
Too tired to drive, he decided to wait until early morning. Before dawn, Dad was on his way. Streaks of light were penetrating the horizon as he threaded his way into the mountains alone. Up ahead, walking along side the road was a hitchhiker. Father had been warned against picking up strangers, but it was starting to snow, so Dad decided to give the man a ride.
Soon he was talking to him about the Lord. But the stranger said nothing. Obviously the man didn’t understand German, Dad reasoned, changing to the few words he knew in English: “God, Jesus… died for us.” The man smiled.
They rode along in silence for awhile as snowflakes dotted the windshield. Even with the wipers going, it was becoming more difficult to see. Father could understand very little of what was said on the radio, but he had it on anyway, listening to the music. Had he been able to know what the announcer was saying periodically, I doubt if he would have ventured into the mountains. Storm warnings were in effect. Signs had been posted along the way which read, “Pass closed.” It didn’t occur to Dad that he hadn’t seen any other cars on the highway; and the hitchhiker didn’t say a word.
As they approached the pass, the snowfall came heavier and faster then whipped into a blizzard. It wasn’t long before the car reached the top, but without chains they were sliding this way and that, unable too control it. Suddenly the car skidded onto the shoulder of the road. It slit to a stop precariously near the edge of the mountain.
A new driver, Dad didn’t know what to do. “Here, let me help you,” the hitchhiker finally broke the silence, speaking in
flawless German. “I have plenty of experience at this sort of thing.” His voice was happy, as though he were bubbling with laughter inside.
Once the car was safely on the road again, the mysterious stranger guided Dad over the pass. As my father fastened his eyes upon the winding road, the hitchhiker began to tell him about his past life, ministry and of things that would come to pass if Dad would only obey the Lord.
“How can you know all this about me?” Dad quizzed. At that instant, the hitchhiker vanished. The car had not stopped and the door was still shut. Astonished, Dad continued the short distance to his destination completely out of danger!
What would you do if a being from another world unexpectedly appeared in front of you? Unaccustomed to such phenomena, most of us would be frightened. During the captivity of Israel in Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar made a golden image of himself and ordered everyone to worship it. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused. For punishment, the king had them thrown into a furnace heated seven times hotter than usual.
Their hands bound behind them, they were tossed into the inferno. Those who threw them in died from the blast of heat. But the three Hebrew youths were unharmed, and another stood with them in the fire.
Nebuchadnezzar sprang to his feet. “Didn’t we throw three men bound into the fire?” he gasped. “I see four men loose, walking in the middle of the furnace; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God!” Upon their release, the fourth man disappeared.
Many other angelic encounters are recorded in the Old Testament. In New Testament days, angels appeared to Joseph, Mary, Zechariah, the shepherds, Jesus, the Women at the tomb, the disciples, Peter, John, Philip, Cornelius and Paul. Taken together, however, few in the Bible days were privileged to see an angel. Nevertheless, the influence of angels upon the development of mankind in the past, present and future is significant and amazing. Whether seen or unseen, millions of God’s messengers are in the world today working on your behalf!