Many times people have asked me, “Why don’t we see angels anymore? They talk about Angels coming to share a message from the Lord with someone often in the Bible. Do they still come?” As I read through Judges, something struck me about the visits from the angels of the Lord. When they arrived to speak to the people, they had no idea until sometime later that they were even angels. Let’s look at two specific angel appearances.
First, let’s take a look at the angel that comes to visit Gideon who I wrote about last week. He was chosen by God to free the Israelites from Midian after being under their control for 7 years.
The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” 13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” 14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” Judges 6:11-14
I love how the Angel of the Lord just takes a seat under the oak tree and waits for Gideon to come by. No bright lights or fancy entry here. In fact, what’s amazing is that is isn’t until after a conversation and when he returns to bring an offering of meat and bread that the realization he has been speaking to an angel hits him. Then . . .
the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. 22 When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!” Judges 6:20-22
Later in Judges, we meet Manoah and his wife who learn from a “man of God” that after years of not being able to conceive she finally will. The angel gives her very specific instructions (Judges 13:3-5) including they are to never cut the child’s hair and he (Sampson) will have favor with God and save Israel from the Philistines. She tells her husband and he prays God will send the man again so he can hear the news for himself. God answers and Manoah prayers, he meets the man, hears the news of a coming baby with his own ears and in gratitude he offers to prepare a young goat for him.
16 The angel of the Lord replied, “Even though you detain me, I will not eat any of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the Lord.” (Manoah did not realize that it was the angel of the Lord.) 17 Then Manoah inquired of the angel of the Lord, “What is your name, so that we may honor you when your word comes true?”18 He replied, “Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding.” 19 Then Manoah took a young goat, together with the grain offering, and sacrificed it on a rock to the Lord. And the Lord did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched: 20 As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame. Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground. Judges 13:16-20
Yes, both angel encounters ended with an amazing feat that made it very clear the angels were sent from the Lord. However, until that occurred (in both cases) Gideon, Manoah and his wife had no idea they were in the presence of angels. It makes me think: they must have looked very normal, average and humanlike for them not to suspect anything until that miraculous moment of realization. If that’s the case then couldn’t we still be in the presence of angels now, just as God’s people were then? Just because we don’t get the miraculous signs doesn’t mean they don’t walk among us. With all the noise and business of this world, I can see how we would even miss the miraculous if it was there. I would like to think the angels do walk among us daily. Either way, we have the Holy Spirit within each of us when we accept Christ. We are never without our God of Angel armies.