May 29 2022 . . . “God’s anonymous: angels unawares” Hebrews 13:2

May 29 2022 . . . “God’s anonymous: angels unawares” Hebrews 13:2

May 29, 2022

“God’s anonymous: angels unawares”

Hebrews 13:2

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus.

One stormy night, or so the story goes, an elderly couple entered the lobby of a small hotel and asked for a room. The clerk said that they were all, unfortunately, filled, as were all the other hotels in town. “However,” he said, “I can’t send a fine couple like you out in the rain, so would you be willing to sleep in my room?”

At first, the couple hesitated, but the clerk insisted.

The next morning, when the man paid his bill, he said to the clerk, “You know, you are the kind of man who should be managing the best hotel in the United States. Someday I’ll build you one.” The clerk smiled politely.

Then a few years later, that clerk received a letter in the mail from that same elderly man, recalling that stormy night so long ago. And in that letter, he asked him to come to New York. A round-trip ticket was enclosed.

When the clerk arrived, his host took him to the corner of 5th Avenue and 34th Street, where they stood before a brand-new, magnificent building. “That,” explained the man, “is the hotel I have built for you to manage.”

The man’s name was William Waldorf Astor, the clerk was George C. Boldt and the hotel was the Waldorf-Astoria.

Who would have thought that such a seemingly plain and ordinary man could have been so important and so wealthy?

So it is in the words of our text, from the book of Hebrews chapter 13. I’ll start at verse 1: “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers…Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body…and obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls” (Hebrews 13:1-3, 17).

As you might already know, the book of Hebrews is a letter written to the Hebrews that tells of, in the words of a commentator, “the absolute supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ.” In this letter, he meant to show that every single one of the Old Testament’s promises and prophecies were all fulfilled in Him.

And what a beautiful book it is, for it’s here that we find words like these--chapter 4: “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15)...and chapter 10: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31)...and chapter 11: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)...and chapter 12: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

And as this book finally draws to a close, the author admonishes and encourages his readers to follow in the footsteps of Christ, to live like Christ. So he writes in chapter 13, “Let brotherly love continue…Remember those who are in prison…and remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the Word of God.”

And in the midst of all these words of encouragement and admonition, he also wrote in verse 2: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2).

“Angels unawares,” he wrote. Who are angels unawares?

First, let’s talk about angels. What are angels?

Simply enough, they’re powerful, spiritual beings that God created to honor and serve Him. And not only do they serve Him, they serve us! As it says in Hebrews chapter 1, angels are “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14).

And as God’s ministering spirits, they do quite a lot of things, like they praise God as in Job chapter 38, they serve God as in Psalm 103, they protect believers as in Daniel chapter 6, they rejoice over one sinner who repents as in Luke chapter 5, they observe believers as in I Corinthians 4, and they are instruments of judgment on unbelieving people and nations as in Revelation 15.

And they’re powerful! In the book of II Kings, one angel killed 185,000 men!

And while normally we can’t see them or hear them, sometimes they look like men as in Genesis 18, sometimes they shine like lightning as in Daniel chapter 10, and sometimes they’re beyond description as in Revelation chapter 4.

And there are different kinds of angels, like seraphim and cherubim, and principalities and powers. There are even archangels, (like Michal), who rule over all of them!

And if anything important ever happened in the story of our salvation, they were there. They stood guard at the entrance of the Garden of Eden, they appeared to Zechariah in the temple and Mary in Nazareth, they sang to shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem, they strengthened Jesus in the wilderness and in the Garden of Gethsemane, and they met the women at the open tomb and the disciples at His ascension.

In ways we will never see and never know, angels are always there. As Jesus said in Matthew chapter 18: “See that you do not look down on any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).

So now that you know just who they are and what they are, when do we ever “entertain them unawares”?

That’s where it gets a little more interesting!

Is there anyone who has ever entertained angels unawares?

Abraham did back in Genesis chapter 18. The Bible says that, one day, he was sitting at the door of his tent in the heat of the day when he looked up, and there, all of a sudden, three men were standing in front of him” (Genesis 18:1-2).

Lot did in Genesis chapter 19. There it says that, as he was sitting at the gate of Sodom, two angels suddenly came to visit him. Gideon did in Judges chapter 6 and Manoah did in Judges chapter 13.

So if angels came to visit them, is it possible that angels might, at any time, when we least expect it, come to visit us?


Will it be some of those bright, shining, angelic beings that God sends to serve and protect us? Maybe!

But then again, maybe this text means more than just that.

Let me explain. You see, that word “angel” doesn’t only mean angel. It also means “messenger,” as in “heavenly messenger”--someone or something God uses to send us a message or to draw us closer to Him. Those too can be “angels unawares.”

Take, for example, a man named Michael Lorenzen. Today, he’s a pitcher and a fan favorite who plays for the Los Angeles Angels. But it wasn’t always that way.

Back when he was a junior baseball star at Fullerton High School in southern California, he dreamed of the day he would play in the big leagues. And since he was such a star and had such a magnetic personality, he couldn’t care less about church or Jesus Christ. So he turned to drugs and alcohol instead.

Until one night, on a high school homecoming night, he and his friends went out to one of their favorite hangouts on the Huntington Beach Pier. And while they were talking and drinking and having a good time, they happened to notice an old man sitting there that they had never seen before.

And as they moved closer to him, they listened to what he had to say. He talked about Jesus and how He would save Michael if only he would ask. And while his friends laughed at him and even though he was high on drugs, he listened to the story of a Man who died for his sin, then rose three days later.

Later he said, “I got convicted right there. I was high, but I knew right from wrong. I knew what I was doing was wrong and I needed to change my life.”

And ever since then, he’s become an avid Christian who studies the Bible regularly and speaks of his love for God. You can check out his website, “Infected Athletes,” that says, “We’ve all been infected by sin and the cure is Christ.” He even got a tattoo that says, “1-1-Six,” to remind him of the words of Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God.”

And it was all because he entertained an angel unawares.

Or think of Roy and Dale Rogers and their daughter Robin. Among their nine children, (four from previous marriages and four they adopted), they also had one of their own--and that was a girl they named Robin.

She was born in August of 1950 with Down syndrome and a heart defect. Her doctors tried to persuade them to give her up. But Roy and Dale insisted on bringing her home. They said, “God has a purpose for allowing this, and if we put her away, we will never know it.”

So they took their little girl home, loved her fiercely and fought for her medically. And whenever her mother, Dale, cried or worried, Roy would say, “God will take care of her; she’s in His hands, and His hands are big enough to hold her. We will pray and trust Him.” And later, even Dale said she was “grateful to God for sending Robin in her handicapped condition, because she had made her walk closer to Him.”

When little Robin died two years later, Roy would always use spotlights in the center of his rodeo arena to form a cross.

If you’d like to hear more of her story, you could read their book, Angel Unaware.

So when we entertain angels unawares, it might not only be one of God’s spirit-beings sent to watch over and care for us. It might also be that homeless man you just gave money to, or that woman who asks you to pray for her. As one author wrote, “Even Wal-Mart might just be filled with angels!”

That is, after all, what Paul once wrote to the Romans. He said, “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13). And that’s just what Jesus said: “For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.” And He said, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:35-36, 40).

And how is all this possible? Because we have a Savior, Jesus, who lived and died and rose again.

We thank You, Father, for the great, great gifts You give to us each day. Use our heart, our feet, our eyes and our hands to work in this world for You, for Jesus’ sake. Amen