God uses angels.
Have you ever seen angels? I have. It was the fall of 1981, and my college roommates had all met at my house in SW Oklahoma before driving to central OK to start the Fall Semester. I was beginning my senior year, so this driving-to-school thing wasn’t new to me. what WAS new was when my dad took us by the hand to the driveway. There, for the first and only time that I ever saw, he placed his hands on each of our cars and covered them with prayers of protection.
Later, as I led the mini caravan down I-40, I saw the angels. Janie’s car was completely pack to the roof, limiting her view. I pulled into the left lane to pass a car, and Janie stayed in the right lane. Before she could pull out to follow me, the car BEHIND her pulled out and moved so it was 3/4 beside her car.
This was in the days a before cell phones, so I had no way to warn her when she put her turn signal one and pulled into the already-filled lane. All I could do as I watched in my rear view mirror was pray, “No, no, no, no….”
Suddenly, 2 angels appeared, spreading out over the front bumpers of Janie’s car. Flowing robes and hair, semi-transparent angels! They had caring and concerned faces and faced the direction Janie was driving. That other car and hers occupied the same space that day, and she never saw it. It just drove away, but I pulled off the road to compose myself. When Janie pulled in behind me, her protection team had vanished. Oh, I firmly believe they still surrounded us, but I didn’t see them again.
Angels visit Abraham
In Genesis 18, Moses recounts the story of when angels visited Abraham. Note the specifics in verses 1-2, “The LORD appeared to Abraham…” and Abraham looked up and saw 3 men. Scholars believe that indicates ONE of the MEN was Jesus – in a take-human-form way that appears throughout Scripture as ‘THE ANGEL OF THE LORD.”
Abraham ran to meet them, had Sarah bake fresh break, and ordered servants to prepare a calf he hand-selected. They were his honored guests. Three points for Abe. He showed his faith.
During the meal, they announce that one of the will return in a year after Sarah has given birth to a son. Now Abe and his wife were both well-past child bearing age. So after hearing this statement about a child, Sarah laughs TO HERSELF. That’s minus 1 point for Sarah. Granted I’m certain she didn’t think an INTERNAL chuckle was a problem. But it showed her LACK of faith.
And the LORD asks Abe why she’s laughing. So she lies about it. Can you imagine lying to God? I’m calling that minus 10 for her!
When the neighbors aren’t neighborly
The angels leave while the LORD has a chat with Abe about how sinful the nearby cities of Sodom and Gomorrah have become. Then He leaves as well. The 2 angels show up at Sodom as Abe’s nephew Lot sits at the city gate. (Gen. 19) Lot fell at their feet and offered them a place to stay the night. After a brief discussion, they go home with Lot, and he prepares a meal for them. (2 points for Lot)
But before they go to bed, the house is surrounded by “all the men from every part of the city of Sodom – both young and old.” (Gen. 19:4) These men demand Lot send out his visitors so they can have sex with them. (Let’s call that 1,000 negative points there.)
Lot goes out to talk to them. He even offers his own daughters up to the townspeople for sex. (Wow. He’s lived there too long, right? That’s at least minus 100 points.) Living in this evil community had warped his thinking in such a powerful way, and he didn’t even realize.
Angels provide protection
The townsmen refused Lot’s offer and moved forward to break down the door. BUT the angels pulled Lot inside and struck the townsmen blind so they couldn’t find the door. Another miracle!
Once safe inside, Lot gets this warning in Gen. 19:12-13, “The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here — sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that He has sent us to destroy it.”
When Lot tells the men his daughters were pledged to marry, they thought he was joking and refused to leave. Before dawn, they told Lot to take his wife and daughters and run to the mountains without looking back. But Lot negotiated with the messengers. They agree to let Lot go into the nearby town, Zoar. What are the odds that the people of nearby Zoar had beliefs and habits similar to evil Sodom and Gomorrah? And lot wanted to continue to live in a similar environment.
God’s plan works out… of course
The angel gives Lot permission to forget the mountain and go to Zoar. He promised not to do anything until Lot and his family are safe there. Lot gets there by sunrise, and fire rains down on Sodom and Gomorrah from God. Everything was destroyed. But Lot’s wife disobeys. She looks back and is turned into a pillar of salt. Looking back showed where she longed to be. Her heart was more focused on evil than on God. (That’s minus ALL THE POINTS)
At least Abe waited until the next morning to look over the destruction. Things looked so bad that it finally got through to Lot that maybe, just maybe, he should do what God wanted. Gen. 19:30 says, “Lot and his daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave.”
What it means for me:
- I must watch carefully when I read “THE angel of the LORD” in the Old Testament to see Jesus at work even before His earthly birth.
- God’s messengers come in many forms to offer many kinds of protection. I need to be paying attention.
- I must treat God’s messengers with respect and obey God’s word.
- Fear may be a great motivator, but God would prefer I obey from a heart of love for Him.