TITLE: An Angel of the Lord Appeared
By Mary Beth Hunt
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God will visit his people with angelic visitations to declare the Savior, to point people and lead them to Jesus. God did not have to visit the shepherds on the night of Christ’s birth. He allowed the angels to visit these men because they could not contain their joy at the birth of earth’s salvation.
Angel’s appeared to so many of God’s chosen people in the Word. They appeared to Abraham, Jeremiah, Moses, Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Zacherias, Mary, Joseph, Shepherds, Paul and John to name a few.
Angels are real. I know, you see, I’ve seen one. My first angelic encounter was on September 12, 2004. It was very close to midnight and I had just finished watching an episode of Tommy Tenney’s God Chasers. I was lying on my bed crying out to God to visit me and touch me because I just did not have the strength of the courage to boldly go before His throne of grace. Suddenly, in an instant, an Angel of the Lord appeared and I found myself resting upon his bosom. Never before have I felt such love, beautiful pure love, such acceptance and such comfort and trust. I wept upon the bosom of the Lord for at least 20 minutes. I cried away shame, guilt, humiliation, disgrace, regret, heartache, and failures. It was the beginning of restoration for me and for every area of my life. I had been touched. I had been held by the Angel of His Presence.
Let’s take a look at some biblical and modern day accounts of angelic visitation, okay?
1. Angels come to give us guidance and direction and to ease our distress
Hagar was discouraged. Her life was a mess. She was heartbroken and had no idea where to go or what to do. This is not the way she had envisioned her life.
She was a slave to the Hebrew woman Sarai. She was far from her country and family when she needed them most.
Several months earlier, the woman Sarai had given her over to her husband, Abram. He was an old man and Hagar did not love him. Abram took her and now Hagar was with child. This was the end of Hagar’s dream of marrying a nice Egyptian man and having a family of her own. Dare she dream of a bright future with this man, Abram? He was devoted to his wife, Sarai, and furthermore, he had used her to obtain an heir. The man Abram had been promised an heir by his God. She did not worship the same god her owners did. She worshiped many gods, yet they worshiped just this one. This God of Abram was unseen. Who worshiped a god you could not see? Another thing, this man Abram’s god spoke to him. The gods of Egypt did not speak to people. Her gods made the harvest come, the rains fall, made the Nile flow, they made men and women fertile, but they did not speak to people or make promises.
Hagar had been a maidservant to Sarai for 10 years and she had never had conflict with her, yet life was in turmoil now because of this child within her womb.
We know today that Abram should never have lain with Hagar. This was not a part of the plan, nor was it God’s will for either of their lives. This story is a prime example of the strife, conflict and great troubles we cause when we behave hastily and step out of God’s will. Oh that we could learn to be content with God’s timing. I speak to myself when I say sometimes our vision is so short-sighted and narrow that we fail to see the far reaching implications of our actions. As evidenced by the decision to take Hagar, a people, entire nations were created, that are still at enmity with God’s chosen people today, almost six thousand years later. I hope that stark reality will shine like a light in our conscience as we make decisions.
Hagar became so angry at Sarai when she discovered she had conceived. Try as she might, she could not conceal her anger. That’s when the trouble started. Sarai began treating Hagar harshly. It was at this point that Hagar decided to run away. That anger within Hagar opened the door for other ungodly emotions; pride, arrogance and seeing herself more highly than she ought, and so on.
So Hagar fled. As she rested at a spring on the way to Shur, an angel of the Lord came to her and questioned her. Notice in Genesis 16:8 that the angel addressed Hagar as Sarai’s maid. The Lord wanted her to know that being Sarai’s maid was her position. Hagar tells the angel that she is fleeing and immediately that angel tells her to return to Sarai and submit to her.
The Lord always knows where you’ve been, where you’re going and where you’re gonna be. He wants each of us to know this. He cares about your past, He is with you where you are and He is interested in your future.
After the angel gave Hagar direction, he gave her the Lord’s promise for her child, and it came to pass just as the Lord said. So Hagar returned to her mistress and remained within Abraham’s tents for seventeen years. The promise to Hagar is found in Genesis 16:11-12. “And the Angel of the Lord said to her: ‘behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has heard your affliction. He shall be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.’” (NKJV)
At this point in history, God changed Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sara. After Abraham and Sara received the promised child from God, Sara became filled with hatred toward Hagar and her son Ishmael.
Hagar did leave Abraham’s tent and settled in a distant land where the promises of God were fulfilled in Ishmael’s life.
2. Angels deliver assignments from God
Let’s take a look at Joshua’s experience with the “Commander of the Lord’s Army”. I can only imagine how strong, mighty and fierce this Angel must have appeared to Joshua. This was an angel fit and ready for battle as evidenced by the sword he carried and had drawn. At this time there were over a million men fit for battle among the Israelites so Joshua could not have possibly known all these men, yet when he saw the angel, he knew he was not of the twelve tribe of Israel. He appeared to Joshua as a man and not a heavenly being, but there must have been something different about him for Joshua to know he was not an Israelite.
Joshua bravely approached the angel and demanded to know “Are you for us or for our adversaries?”. The angel’s response is fascinating. He says, “Neither, I am not for you nor against you”. This angel came to deliver a message period. He made it clear that he is on the Lord’s side. This was the Commander of the Lord’s Armies. Who is that? I believe it was the Angel of His Presence or the pre-incarnate Christ.
After he spoke, Joshua immediately fell to the ground and worshiped him.
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