The Truth About Angelic Visitations…

Hi-Ho readers!

kermit_the_frog

 

As you know, Fred Butler and I have been re-working our responses to Michael Brown’s book Authentic Fire and and preparing them to become a book.  Being the somewhat perfectionist Bible-geek that I am, I’ve re-tooled all the posts from which this book has spawned and have added over 50 pages of new material.  Most of it is in rather obsessively copious endnotes (it’s going to be released on Kindle, so footnotes aren’t an option), but I just finished working on a footnote that turned into quite the study project.  Knowing that the book Authentic Fire is somewhat “old news” but questions about Charismatic issues are not, I’ve added a whole lot of content to the upcoming book that will hopefully make it a far more valuable resource than just a book critique.  I promise you that if you pick up a copy, the endnotes will be more than worth the price alone.

Today I was writing and was responding to Steve Alt’s appendix in Authentic Fire.  Alt suggests that God still communicates with believers via angelic messengers (among other things).  I started responding to the point, but then I fell into my rut: I realized that I hadn’t ever really dug into what the Bible says on that specific issue and I don’t like not knowing.  So I decided to set aside a few hours for study.  After all my study, I came to a conclusion that actually surprised me.  When I get surprised I’m guessing that I learned something that other people probably might be interested in as well (and possibly don’t know), so I figured that I would share my findings with all my wonderful readers here.

So what does the Bible say about angelic visitations?

Trout

Here’s the fruit of a few hours of study that will end up as an endnote that few will likely read:

Here’s a list of every single non-theophany angelic visitation in scripture: Gen. 18:1-19:22, 32:1; 1 Kings 13:18; Dan. 3:24-28, 6:21; Zech. 1-6, Matt. 1:20, 2:13, 2:19, 4:11, 28:1-7, Mark 1:13; Luke 1:18-19, Luke 1:26-38, Luke 2:8-15, 24:23; John 20:12, Acts 5:19, 8:26, 10:3, 12:7-10, 12:23, 27:23, Revelation 1-22 (The whole book is essentially a singular vision involving angelic communication). I don’t include theophanies (i.e. “the angel of the Lord/angel of God”) in the Old Testament since he was Jesus Christ. When Jesus comes back to earth to visit, I dare suggest that people are not going to miss it.

Processing all that data, there are a few things to notice:

1. In all 4,000+ years of Biblical history, Abraham, Lot, Jacob, the Old prophet at Bethel, Daniel, the prophet Zechariah, Joseph, Mary, Mary’s cousin Zechariah, Jesus, the Shepherds, Mary Magdalene, “the other Mary”, Herod, Peter, Philip, Cornelius, and Paul all experienced angelic visitations from God. The old prophet at Bethel was lying (1 Kin. 13:18) and Herod got killed by his visiting angel (Acts 12:23).

Angel Gun

That leaves fifteen people in all biblical history.

2. Of those fifteen people, two were patriarchs.  One was the relative/companion of a patriarch.  Two were Old Testament prophets. Two were the parents of the Messiah. One was a parent of John the Baptist; forerunner to the Messiah. One was the Messiah. The shepherd’s were witnesses of the birth of the Messiah. Mary and Mary were witnesses of the resurrection of the Messiah. Three were apostles of the Messiah.

That leave one guy: Cornelius. That’s one guy who wasn’t a patriarch, a relative/companion of a patriarch, prophet, apostle, or directly involved in the birth or resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.  Still, Cornelius was part of the foundation of the church (namely the inclusion of the Gentiles).

3. Historically speaking, the patriarchs were involved with the initial establishment of the nation of Israel.  Daniel and Zechariah were involved in the captivity and return from the captivity (another highly significant time in Israel’s history).  The rest of the people were involved in the birth and resurrection of Jesus or the establishing of his church.

Anyone else seeing a pattern?

Just to cover my bases and anticipate complainers, I recognize that Hebrews 13:2 suggests more people than the ones I’ve listed have received angelic visitations. The problem is that Hebrews suggests that the people who get angelic visitors are unaware of who’s visiting them.  Contemporary people who fall into that category aren’t going to be talking about their visitations since they don’t know it happened.

Angel

So, on the basis of the Biblical data alone, I wouldn’t say that angelic visitations are incredibly rare. Actually, I’d say that they’re over until the tribulation. I have rather compelling Biblical grounds to suggest that anyone who claims to have been visited by an angel is lying.

I hope that helps sort through some debates that you may find yourself involved with in days to come!

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “The Weeping Theologian” Unger

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19 thoughts on “The Truth About Angelic Visitations…

  1. Dude, those graphics are amazing. I bet I’m your only reader who gets the penultimate one. (Unless this comment provokes an epiphany.) That gives us a special bond. I don’t say a good one; I just say a special one.

    • Ha! I’m glad you caught the reference Dan! That show was idiotic and I didn’t even watch it, but I thought it was a good example of an “angel” about to take someone out.

    • I believe the penultimate one is David Boreanaz from the T.V. series Bones, which is still being produced. However the same actor was in the series Angel from 1999-2004. Is that the special bond?
      Is the ultimate in the series of photos one of the angel from the 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, or 2013 episode of Weeping Angels in Doctor Who from the BBC? Steven Moffat wrote then to be “the deadliest, most powerful, most malevolent life-form ever produced. I wonder if Steven Moffat read Acts 12:23 before he wrote the Weeping Angels? Steven Moffat’s math might be a little off, I think Herod was only the 134th time an individual was struck down in the Biblical account, hardly the deadliest. Leave that to the guys catching crabs in the Arctic for a living.

  2. Thanks for this, especially since I’ve got Hebrews 1 on the sermon docket this Lord’s Day. Just another editorial comment: You haven’t got Herod on your list of visitees, although you include him as getting wormed out by the angel.

  3. Pingback: Weekender | Guarding the Deposit

  4. Doctor Who was obvious enough. I did have to do a double take to see if that were Booth or Angel. The ‘Cocky’ belt buckle is a give away. I’ve never watched Angel beyond the first episode, anyway.

    In regards to the actual topic, I must admit I found this article highly anti-climactic. You suggested angels only bring news of a high level of importance. Fair enough. Hebrews 13:2 does refer to accidental hosting; well done for picking up on the exact verse I had on mind. However, it felt like a bit of a hop, step and a leap to the claims that followed…
    Are you intending to write more on this? It seems to end so abruptly and inconclusively that I assume you must be, but I don’t see an indication of this being ‘Part 1’ or something. I don’t know your blog at all; it just seems odd.

    In relation to Hebrews 13:2, I think there’s a lot more to consider about these serendipitous hostings than ‘the host isn’t aware at the time so they mustn’t be able to talk about it’, or however you want to put it.
    Firstly, the writer is aware of this happening, so he must have heard testimony bearing witness to such events. If not, and this was simply something God told the author directly, then why mention it at all?
    In my view this indicates that the people in question probably realised in hind sight that they had encountered angels. That may not be the same as a glowing visage declaring ‘do not be afraid’, but the passage doesn’t actually say that they were never able to identify the nature of their guest; only that they served the angel unwittingly. I’m only using a Lexicon tool; I’m not a Greek expert, but it certainly doesn’t seem to suggest ‘without ever knowing’ as a possible translation.
    Furthermore, why are these angels going around visiting people? Surely they wouldn’t come in and eat a believers food(when they don’t even need to) for nothing. Doesn’t the logical answer seem to be that this is meant as an encouragement and acknowledgement of hospitality? Or is this just some random interval reward system without us ever knowing? The only point of that would be to render Hebrews 13:2 accurate, and even if that was all the incentive concept sounds pretty odd. Shouldn’t the incentive be to express love to others? Nobody needs angels to play at tea parties when there are plenty of people in need in this world and even our own neighbourhoods. So, logically speaking, they must be serving a different role then mere candidates for hospitality.
    The point, as far as I can conclude, seem to be that angels – who presumably have plenty of other amazing things to be doing – are taking time to honour and fellowship with humans. However, if we reject guests of any sort we might be rejecting angels. When we are serving diligently, as God’s children ought, we allow the possibility and privilege of spending time with angels; a platonic bonding of sorts, you could say. What a great testament to the value of serving humbly and openly.
    I’m not saying anyone who interacts with an angel will necessarily realise this has happened, even with the benefit of hindsight, but I don’t see any basis to assume this isn’t possible. The mere recording of Hebrews 13:2 possibly suggests that this did happen for some.

  5. Great article. I once fell for ANGELS ON ASSIGNMENT as a young believer (struggling in the quicksand of Charismaticism). Angelic visitations abound at present among the false prophets of the NAR (who venerate William Branham, who denied the Trinity, spouted much heresy and “did many miracles” via an angel, not unlike Todd Bentley.), Oprah and other new agers are also big on angelic encounters. Would it be more accurate to say that people claiming to have had angelic encounters in these last days of great deception are either lying or were lied to (ie. being deceived by Satan, who comes often as an “angel of light” to the gullible)?

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