Scripture: Judges 13:9 God listened to Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the (his wife) as she sat in the field; but her husband Manoah was not with her. 10 So the woman ran quickly and told her husband, “The man who came to me the other day has appeared to me.” 11 Manoah got up and followed his wife, and came to the man and said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to this woman?” And he said, “I am.” 12 Then Manoah said, “Now when your words come true, what is to be the boy’s rule of life; what is he to do?” 13 The angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Let the woman give heed to all that I said to her. 14 She may not eat of anything that comes from the vine. She is not to drink wine or strong drink, or eat any unclean thing. She is to observe everything that I commanded her.”
15 Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “Allow us to detain you, and prepare a kid for you.” 16 The angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “If you detain me, I will not eat your food; but if you want to prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the Lord.” (For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the Lord.) 17 Then Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “What is your name, so that we may honor you when your words come true?” 18 But the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why do you ask my name? It is too wonderful.”
19 So Manoah took the kid with the grain offering, and offered it on the rock to the Lord, to him who works wonders. 20 When the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar while Manoah and his wife looked on; and they fell on their faces to the ground. 21 The angel of the Lord did not appear again to Manoah and his wife. Then Manoah realized that it was the angel of the Lord.
Observation: The story indicates that the angel of the Lord looked like a normal man, not an angel. Manoah is genuinely surprised when the angel ascends to the heavens. There are several places in scripture when angels come to earth to visit people, usually to bring a message to them. Then disappear.
Application: This might sound crazy, but I honestly believe this has happened to me before. Hear me out. When I was my last semester of undergraduate study in college I met a guy I’ll never forget. I met him… at the student union playing pool. I’ve always enjoyed playing pool and my course-load that semester was fairly light so I’d take a break many afternoons shooting a little pool with a few other guys. And, in case you don’t know this about me, I’m a fairly competitive guy. I’m not a sore loser, mind you. I don’t ruin the fun if I don’t win, but I definitely enjoy the competition. But this particular guy was REALLY good. And, after a while, he got into my head. I’d start over-thinking things and I’d choke at crunch time. He, on the other hand, was cool as a cucumber.
I don’t know how many times we played but I never beat him. Not once! One afternoon he sat down next to me while I was having lunch. We made some small talk. I said something like, “I will beat you one day if it’s the last thing I do.” We laughed together, but I was only half joking. He asked me, “You want to know how I beat you every time?” I said “Of course! What’s your secret?” Then, to my complete surprise, he pulled out… his bible. Seriously! I did not expect that.
He read me a few verses. To this day I can’t remember which ones. He told me the Lord had a plan for my future and not to worry. Then he got up and left. I remember it because it seemed so random at the time. When I looked for him the next day, he was nowhere to be found. In fact, I never saw him again. It took a few years but it finally occurred to me this man was an angel of the Lord. He appeared, gave me the message, then disappeared. It happens. I wonder – have you ever been visited by an angel? It happens more than you think.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for your messengers – the ones we can angels. Give us grace to recognize them when they visit, and to heed their words for us, which come from you. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.