Entertaining Angels?

by Pat N.

One hot, ordinary day near Hebron in the land of Canaan, a rich old man was sitting in the shade of his tent, alone with his thoughts. Swatting at flies and lulled by the lowing of cattle in his herd, he was nearly asleep when three men suddenly, unexpectedly, appeared nearby.

The rich old man was Abraham. He may have wondered who these travelers were, but the hospitality ingrained in his culture had him running to meet the men. Bowing in respect, he begged them to let him refresh them with food, water, and a good foot bath. “This is why you have passed your servant’s way,” he said. “After that, you may continue on your way.” (Genesis 18:5b)

Following years of tradition, Abraham swiftly gave orders for preparation of a magnificent meal, even personally selecting the choice calf for the main course. The three strangers relaxed and waited in anticipation of the promised meal. While Middle Eastern culture demanded the host offer food, water and safety, the same culture required the travelers to accept the hospitality with gratitude.

Scripture tells us that Abraham stood by the men as they ate, ready to serve them in any way needed. Before the three visitors left, the LORD promised to return the same time next year and that Sarah would have a son. What a great gift from that visitor to his host. In addition, as they continued their conversation, the LORD told Abraham that Sodom was going to be utterly destroyed. Boldly interceding for his nephew Lot, Abraham begged for the Lord to spare Sodom if even 10 righteous people were found there. And the Lord agreed.

The genuine welcome and acceptance I received when I first stepped into the foyer at Mt. Carmel set the tone for what I could expect from then on. While we might not know the exact needs of each person, we know the basics as shown in the Bible. Every visitor needs a welcome, a chance to rest, refresh, and communicate. The love that Mt. Carmel extends to all is a blessing, a reflection of the hospitality in Abraham’s day. Let’s be alert to the opportunities to act as agents of the Lord!

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2