When in Serendip ∙
Don’t forget to show strangers hospitality; some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! – Hebrews 13:2
1 The LORD appeared again to Abraham near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. One day Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest part of the day.
2 He looked up and noticed three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran to meet them and welcomed them, bowing low to the ground.
3 “My lord,” he said, “if it pleases you, stop here for a while.”
4 “Rest in the shade of this tree while water is brought to wash your feet.”
5 “And since you’ve honored your servant with this visit, let me prepare some food to refresh you before you continue on your journey.” “All right,” they said. “Do as you have said.”
The microwave oven was invented by accident, not as a result of research and trying to find a better, faster way to cook. During World War II, scientists developed the magnetron, which produces microwaves. Installing magnetrons in Britain’s radar system, the microwaves could spot Nazi warplanes on their way to bomb the British Isles.
Years later, Percy L. Spencer, a Raytheon engineer, walked through a radar test room with a peanut cluster bar in his pocket. He got too close to a running magnetron tube, and the candy melted. Later he reached into his pocket and found a gooey, sticky mess. Never underestimate the power of serendipitous candy [even if it is not chocolate].
Experiments showed that microwave heating could raise the internal temperature of many foods far more rapidly than a conventional oven. Microwaves do not detach charged particles; therefore, they safely produce heat without causing food to become radioactive.
The idea of using microwave energy to cook food had arrived. The first Raytheon commercial microwave came on the market in 1954. It was so large and expensive that it was practical only for restaurant and institutional use. In 1967 Amana introduced the $500 countertop Amana Radarange.
Spencer was inventive and curious. Although his formal education ended in grade school, he turned a melted candy mess into the vanguard of high-speed food preparation by just bumbling along.
Serendipity is the phenomenon of making desirable discoveries unexpectedly. Where does the term serendipity come from? It is from a Persian fairy tale: The Three Princes of Serendip. As the princes traveled, they repeatedly made important discoveries they were not searching for by accident and sagacity. Serendip is the Classical Persian name for Sri Lanka.
Sometimes things happen; you just never know. So, when in Serendip, be serendipitous.
It is better to err on the high road and treat all strangers well and possibly be surprised by an angel than to treat strangers poorly and be even more surprised by an angel. It is probably an awful move to make messengers of the King, His personal servants, angry. You do not want to be Hulkified
Children of the King should be concerned for the needs of others. They should show both “brotherly love” (philadelphia) and “hospitality” (philoxenia) (Hebrews 13:1,2). Why? Because in times past, hospitable people welcomed angels without knowing they were angels. Yet, the Scriptures are not advocating hospitality because of angels, but instead because of the Father. It pleases The Father when His children are hospitable.
REFLECT & PRAY
Potential guests might be undercover angels.
Father being loving to total strangers does not seem normal. But You never asked me to live a natural, everyday life. Encourage me to live by Your high standards.
Showing hospitality and unwittingly entertaining angels occurs but rarely. It happened to Abraham (Genesis 18) and Lot (Genesis 19). The angel of the Lord also appeared to Gideon (Judges 6:11-24) and to Manoah and his wife, the parents of Samson (Judges 13:3-24). The author of Hebrews assumes that his audience has knowledge of Old Testament history and knows what he is referring to.
Hebrews 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.
The English words “show hospitality to strangers” are translated from one word in Greek, philoxenia. Philoxenia comes from philos – love and xenos – stranger, foreigner, alien. It means strictly love for strangers or foreigners, hence hospitality. It could also be translated as “Be sure to welcome strangers in your homes,” “Be certain that you receive strangers into your homes,” or “… receive people from far away …,” or simply “Be sure to be hospitable” (UBS).
The impact and significance of this passage are better understood in light of the historical context. Only a small remnant of the nation of Israel believed that the Lord Jesus Christ was their Messiah during the first century A.D. The book of Hebrews was written to these Jews for Jesus. Doing so brought about a great deal of persecution and ostracism.
Jesus predicted that Jewish people who believed in Him would be expelled from synagogues.
John 16:2 For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God.
The Greek word translated as expelled from synagogues is aposunagogos. Aposunagogos means to be separated from the synagogue, that is, excommunicated. Aposunagogos comes from apó – from and sunagoge – synagogue.
“There were three degrees of ex-communication or banishment among the Jews. The first was only a temporary exclusion from the congregation and a restriction against communication with others for thirty days. The second step was an exclusion from the congregation and all communication with others for an indefinite period or forever. . . .. The third was a perpetual exclusion from all rights and privileges of the Jewish people, both civil and religious. Thus aposunagogos denotes one who has been excommunicated from the commonwealth of the people of God and is given over to the curse” (Zodhiates).
Thus, many early Jews for Jesus had been rejected by their friends and families. They were not only driven out of the synagogue but also their homes and communities. For Jewish people, believing in Christ as Messiah carried a great deal of personal risk. Hospitality was a way for the early believers to serve one another.
The book of Hebrews exhorts the children of the King to practice hospitality. Hospitality is a personal, tangible way to express the Father’s love to those who offer nothing in return. Inviting strangers into your home or offering them a meal is to provide friendship and fellowship to them. It is also an opportunity to share the Father’s love with others in word and deed. Hospitality is the practical outworking of the spiritual reality within those who are children of the King. “Where there is true Christian love, there will also be hospitality” (Wiersbe).
In the first century, the pagan world was startled by the compassion and hospitality of the children of the King. It was a source of amazement.
Twenty centuries have come and gone. Has anything changed in the 21st century? Have you entertained any angels lately?
© Dr. H 2022