"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Hebrews 13:2
The other night our family was reading from Luke 1, where the birth of John the Baptist is foretold. The passage says that John’s parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were “righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.” Yet when Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, tells Zechariah that he will become a father, Zechariah questions him. A man who is seen as righteous in the sight of God back-talks one of God’s angels. That takes real chutzpah.
I could not get that out of my mind. A priest who was burning incense in the temple getting lippy with an angel. My first thought was that Zechariah should have known better. He had been trained to be reverent. Why would he do such a thing?
And then God moved His hand over my eyes. Things got a little bit clearer and a voice in my head said, “Haven’t you done such a thing?” What if I have been unaware of being in the presence of an angel? What if I – a woman who is surely unrighteous save for the cleansing blood of Christ – have been in the presence of one of God’s messengers and have been sarcastic, rude, snippy, indifferent, willful, or faithless? Just the thought of some my arrogant behavior made me want to crawl under the table and hide. Who has been watching this? Who have I been getting lippy with?
The thought of my past behavior in plain sight of God was quite sobering. I have a feeling that I will be much more compassionate towards Zechariah the next time I read Luke 1. I surely cannot cast the first stone.
Have you entertained an angel? If one appeared to you now, would you believe what he told you? Would you question him like Zechariah?