A most fascinating and overlooked fact is that angels appear among us as humans, typically unrecognized as such.
The writer of Hebrews reminds us of this "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares" (13:2). If "some have entertained angels unawares," then some must have entertained them aware of who they were.
Angels who appear as humans are not without biblical precedent. For example, two angels came to Sodom to warn Lot before they destroyed the city (Genesis 19). They visited Lot's home, ate with him, and even spent the night! They appeared as such "real people" that Sodom's homosexuals tried to accost them and have sex with them, but the angels struck them blind. The next day, because of its blatant wickedness, God destroyed the city by fire (an act that would be considered "homophobic" and not "politically correct" in the world today).
Just because we are supposed to not worship them (Colossians 2:18) does not mean we have to ignore their reality and ministry. I have read several books of documented instances of angel encounters, mostly in some rescue situation, and I don't mean any of the many New Age books about the devil's fallen angels. Apparently, both God's angels and demons can materialize and appear as humans as God allows. I suspect we have all passed them in the mall or otherwise encountered them somewhere. Weird, huh? So is reality.
I am reminded of one of the incidents I discovered, investigated, and documented in about 1994, below, which some of you but not all may have seen before. Note the wording, "very, very soon." It hasn't been soon enough for me, but God's perspective is different from mine.
It happened just past midnight on March 26, 1993, to Vincent Tan, an analytical chemist who works in Chattanooga. I spent weeks personally tracing this incident and have confirmed it with two reputable Christian leaders, his pastor and, finally, even Vincent himself. The following is a precisely recorded account.
Vincent was born Tan Ban Soon in Singapore of Chinese, Buddhist parents. A few years ago as a young boy in Singapore, he was in the library reading a book on nuclear physics and discovered an offer for a Bible course stuck between some pages. He ordered the course and later became a Christian. He came to the U.S. to attend a Christian college, then gave himself the western name of Vincent. After four years, he graduated with a major in science. He has been very active in his church and in sharing his faith.
On the night of Thursday, March 25, 1993, Vincent was working late in his laboratory to complete tests due on Friday. During the evening he moved his car close to the front door of the building, since there had recently been criminal activity in the area. From time to time he looked out the window into the almost empty parking lot to check on his car. At 1:30 a.m. he finished working in his lab. As he was preparing to lock the door, he saw a person standing by the passenger side of his car. Vincent assumed the man was trying to steal his car. He noted that the stranger was of medium build with clean cut, straight hair and had on a T shirt, blue jeans and white tennis shoes.
Unsure what to do, he went back into the lab and prayed, "Lord, help me to do what I have to do. Do I have to use chi sao?" Chi sao (pronounced "chee'-sow-o") is a form of martial art in which Vincent is proficient. To be extra safe, he looked around the lab and picked up an 18 inch metal rod, held it behind him and stuck his head out the door. He said, "Hi, can I help you?"
The stranger answered, "Hi, Vincent."
Startled, Vincent asked, "Do I know you?"
The stranger replied, "Not really."
"What is your name? Who are you?" Vincent probed.
The stranger said, "I have the name of your primary and secondary school." He added, "I'm a friend. You don't have to use chi sao or the rod on me." His voice had unusual authority, and it seemed he knew the question before it was asked.
Now Vincent was really startled. No one, not even his best friend in this country, was familiar with chi sao, nor did anyone even know that he knew it. Also, there was no way the stranger could have seen the rod behind his back. Vincent later reflected that the stranger had used terminology ("primary and secondary school") of Singapore and not the U.S., and that name of his school back in Singapore was St. Gabriel. The stranger was saying that his name was Gabriel!
"How do you know that?" Vincent asked.
"I know," the stranger replied. "By the way, Mum is fine." Vincent was startled again. Just the week before, his sister had called from Singapore saying that his mother had heart complications, and Vincent had been quite worried about her.
Gabriel continued, "You love the Lord very much, don't you?"
"That's right," Vincent replied.
"He loves you very much, too," Gabriel said. Then he added, "He is coming very, very soon." He seemed to emphasize the "very soon."
Vincent answered, "That's great!"
Gabriel then asked, "Can I have a cup of water?"
Vincent said, "Sure," and turned momentarily to get him the water. Then he decided to invite the stranger inside to drink from the water fountain. He turned back to invite him inside but Gabriel was not there. He had suddenly and unexplainably vanished! Vincent had not turned his head for more than three seconds. There was no place for the stranger to have gone.
Puzzled, and not wanting to go back into the lab, Vincent laid the metal rod down by the front door and headed to his home outside of Chattanooga. When he came back to work later that morning, he wondered if he had dreamed the whole experience. As a scientist, he wanted to prove whether it had really happened. When he got to the building, he found the metal rod lying by the door just where he had left it. He knew he had not been dreaming.
Upon entering the lab, the first thing he did was to lock himself in the rest room and kneel in prayer. "Show me what to do, Lord. I know what I remember. If I'm supposed to share it, I must believe it myself," Vincent pleaded. He then sat down at his computer and recorded every word said and everything that had happened.
That night, March 26, 1993, in a dream Vincent relived the whole experience, seeing himself, and word for word hearing the whole conversation. He awoke at about 3:30 a.m. and wrote down every word in the dream and the description of the stranger. What he wrote from the dream confirmed every detail he had written earlier. Also, a week after the experience, he learned that his mother had received needed surgery and was recuperating nicely -- and that the medical decision about her improved condition came a week earlier at about the very same hour as he was talking with Gabriel!
On July 29, 1993 I asked Vincent what effect this experience has had on him. He said he believes more strongly now that we should be ready every day for the Lord's coming, and not worry about which day He will come. He said the experience has intensified his dedication, causing him to spend more devotional time than before, wanting to know more about God and be closer to Him. For some time, even before that experience, Vincent said he had been asking God, "Am I ready, right now?"
Now, more meaningfully than ever, this writer is asking that same question.
This and other incidents are recorded at http://choicesforliving.com/spirit/part3/angels.htm