"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it."
Hmm. Does the writer to the Hebrews know something we don't know, that angels can come in human form and rub shoulders with us, eat with us and sleep in our spare rooms? Evidently some angels can take their wings off and on and come in incognito.
Over the years we practiced a great deal of hospitality. Now, not so much. If we were to unknowningly invite an angel over now, they might get a whiff of our son's smelly socks and wish they hadn't come to spend the night. I don't even try to make the spare room guest-friendly anymore. But this verse has always had me thinking back over many strangers who have stayed with us, some more strange than others. Most previous guests can be accounted for as regular Joes or relatives. The closest I we came to angels are the multiple visiting missionaries and evangelists we fed and housed over the years. Now, visiting church guests stay in hotels and have the church pick up the tab for their food. Have you ever used your house as a Bed and Breakfast for unexpected guests?
Okay, one quick story. The missionary lady was very fastidious. Before coming into the supper I cooked, she laid out her and her husband's toothbrushes with the toothpaste already on them. Well, our two year old daughter wandered into her room where they were staying and thought that looked as inviting as if she was Goldilocks and that was the porrage. Unable to resist temptation, she promptly used both toothbrushes finding them "just right!" When discovered, the woman was obviously not happy though her husband thought it hilarious. We offered to go buy her new toothbrushes, but she refused as if it was one of those missional cultural adjustments she had to endure: homes with toddlers in the wild!
This verse specifically talks about showing hospitality to strangers. That's something we are a little uncomfortable about the crazier the world gets. I remember when my husband brought home a few strangers, and we made the kids sleep in our bedroom because on second thought (mine) we did not know if they were mass murderers or not. Then there's the question of how do you entertain angels? Kill the fatted calf? Do their laundry for them? Hand over the remote?
Gadspey's Tavern in Alexandria, VA
This verse is about hospitality. It is about angels. As with the rest of Scripture, we have to believe it and apply it to our lives. We don't get to skip this verse, so we must keep on our toes. Adam Clarke wrote, "In those early times, when there were scarcely any public inns or houses of entertainment, it was an office of charity and mercy to receive, lodge, and entertain travelers; and this is what the apostle particularly recommends." This was true especially in the early times of our nation. Usually, one did not travel more than thirty miles in one day, so homes as well as inns were used by travelers. One of the highlights of our trips to Virginia have been eating in one of the taverns (restaurants) in Alexandria, Virginia, where Washington frequently ate.
Reading some slavery accounts online, there is one story of a tall, not especially attractive man dressed in dirty clothes who sat in a open parked train car in one of the Southern states. The man said that he had become separated from the rest of his party and that he was hungry and thirsty. Some slaves took pity and offered to feed him and give him something to drink. Later, they found out it was Abraham Lincoln himself.
Jesus said, "I was a stranger, and ye took me in...if you did it to the least of these, you did for me." We know that another Abraham unknowingly entertained angels until he figured it out when they announced that Sarah would become pregnant in her advanced years (It makes me think twice about entertaining any strangers, angels, who have the knack of telling a woman she would become pregnant in her advanced years!) It was the angels who entertained Abraham and Sarah in that they both laughed. All that aside, the point I was really making is that some believe it was Christ Himself who was tone of the angels. After all, Jesus had a predilection to appear in places where he was least expected like with the three young Hebrews in the firey furnace.
Has anybody out there think they might have entertained angels? Any stories? Maybe the closest I've come is when an angel might have been in the car with me saving me from an accident when I cried, "Jesus, take the wheel!"