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CBN.com Historically, throughout Scripture, there are numerous occasions when God appeared to people in various guises and was not recognized. The theological term for this is "theophany," a manifestation of God. Often, when reporting these encounters, the Scriptures do not distinguish between an "angel of God," and the Lord Himself.
To cite a few instances:
In the book of Genesis an angel of the Lord appeared to Sarah, Abraham's wife, and told her she was going to have a child. Subsequently, in a separate event, three men appeared to Abraham, and they are described in the Scriptures as "the Lord and two angels." They ate with Abraham and confirmed the earlier message that Abraham and Sarah would have a son, then they pronounced judgment on Sodom. It all came to pass.
A bit later, in the book of Exodus, Moses saw a burning bush, and the voice of the Lord spoke to him saying, "I am the Lord..."
When Moses' successor, Joshua, was preparing to enter into battle at Jericho, just after crossing the Jordan River, he encountered a Man with a sword in His hand who identified Himself as the "Commander of the army of the Lord." Joshua fell on his face and worshipped the Man, and calls Him "his Lord." In both instances the message from the Lord to both men is the same: "Take your shoes off your feet, for the place you are standing is holy ground."
Many years later in the succeeding history of Israel, three young men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, refused to bow down and worship King Nebuchadnezzar's golden image. The consequence of their disobedience was to be thrown into "a burning fiery furnace," which in this case was heated seven times more than it was usually heated. However, as they were bound and cast into the raging inferno, the king looked into the fire, and exclaimed in astonishment to his associates, "Look! I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."
These manifestations do not end with the Old Testament. The New Testament is replete with numerous appearances of Jesus as the "great unknown."
Jesus had an encounter with a Samaritan woman at a well. The conversation included theology, history, prophecy and a personal word of knowledge. The woman did not know she was talking to the Messiah until the Lord said, "I who am talking to you, am He."
In another instance, the disciples were caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee in the middle of the night when "the Lord walked out to them on the water. He started past them, but when they saw something walking beside them they screamed in terror, thinking it was a ghost....they didn't realize who He was."
Following the resurrection, Mary Magdalene saw the risen Lord outside the tomb and "she saw Jesus standing there and did not know it was Jesus."
Shortly thereafter, two men were walking on the road to Emmaus, when Jesus joined them. He explained the Scriptures to them and, later as they sat down to eat , " He took bread and blessed it, when suddenly it was as though their eyes were opened and they recognized Him! And at that moment, He disappeared!"
Later, as the two men were attempting to explain these events to the disciples, "Jesus Himself was suddenly standing there among them and greeted them. But the whole group was terribly frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost!" However, this was no vapor-like "ghost." For when He said to them, Have you any food here?,' they gave Him a piece of broiled fish and some honeycomb, and He took it and ate it in front of them."
Jesus' Other Self
Before His death and resurrection, Jesus told His disciples that all these events would transpire. However, He also told them He wouldn't leave them orphans but that "He would ask the Father and He will give you another Comforter, and He will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who leads into all truth. The world at large cannot receive Him, for it isn't looking for Him and doesn't recognize Him."
When Jesus spoke of "another Comforter," He was speaking of One who was equal to Him, and just like Him. He would do in Jesus' absence, what Jesus would do if He were physically present. "And for those who know Him, He will dwell with you and be in you."
Jesus had previously established a principle with His disciples that "He who welcomes whom I send, welcomes Me, and he who welcomes Me, welcomes the One who sent Me". This is truly a divine welcoming committee, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. However this principle can also work in reverse: "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day."
Jesus subsequently said that of this precept would be exhibited in our actions toward other people, in very specific and practical ways. "For I was hungry and you fed Me; I was thirsty and you gave Me water; I was a stranger and you invited Me into your homes; naked and you clothed Me; sick and in prison, and you visited Me."
Of course the question was "when did we ever do or not do these things?"
Jesus answered: "When you did it to these My brothers you were doing it to Me!....When you refused to help the least of these, My brothers, you were refusing to help Me."
Our actions have dire consequences. Those who did receive Jesus in disguise "enter into everlasting, eternal life." However, those who refuse to receive Him in others "shall go away into everlasting punishment."
It's interesting to note that these people who are consigned to "everlasting punishment," are not dirty, lowdown thieves, murderers, child abusers, and mother loathers; these are people who call Jesus, "LORD", and possibly go to church every Sunday, carry Bibles and quote Bible verses, sing hymns, watch TV preachers and give money for somebody else to take care of the poor. This is the sin of omission, not commission. It's not what they did; it's what they didn't do. It's neglect, neglect for simple, basic, everyday people. And it's giving without getting. There's no publicity. Nobody knows but the recipient. And God, Who "will judge us for everything we do, including every hidden, secret thing, good or bad."
The historical story is told of Martin of Tours, who was a Roman soldier and Christian. One cold winter day, as he was entering a city, a beggar stopped him and asked him for alms. Martin had no money; but the beggar was blue and shivering with cold. So Martin gave what he had. He took off his soldier's coat worn and frayed as it was; he cut it in two and gave half of it to the beggar.
That night Martin had a dream. In it he saw the heavenly places, all the angels, and Jesus in the midst of them. And Jesus was wearing half of a Roman soldier's cloak. One of the angels said to Him, "Master, why are you wearing that battered old cloak? Who gave it to You?" And Jesus answered softly, "My servant Martin gave it to Me."
"Don't forget to be kind to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it."
In other words, check out any "ghosts" you encounter, you don't always know who you are talking to.
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