A couple days ago, I published an article about three potential responses that Christians could have to angels. Based on what I saw in Scripture, I laid out a simple argument against two of them, and for the remaining third option.
But I completely neglected this fourth option.
I missed it because I didn’t see any basis for it in the Bible, but is still a potential response. But the lack of it being there also says something interesting.
There is always the option of ignoring an angel. No one is forcing you to listen to them. No one is threatening to kill you if you don’t do as they say. They are merely acting as messengers, relaying what they were told to you.
So, if you don’t want to hear it, if you don’t care, you have every opportunity to ignore it.
But, and this is what is interesting, that never happens in Scripture. Every time an angel shows up and delievers a message, the recipients were receptive (on some level).
Some people may argue that Balaam ignored the angel in the book of Numbers, but upon careful reading, once Balaam’s eyes were opened,
“and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn…he bowed low and fell facedown.” – Numbers 22:31
A few verses later, Balaam declares that he didn’t realize that the angel was standing in the road to oppose him, and he had sinned in previous actions. That is not a case of ignoring the angel, rather a case of spiritual blindness.
Others may think of stories like Sarah, the wife of Abraham, laughing at the three visitors (Genesis 18:10-15) or Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, questioning Gabriel’s announcement of John’s birth (Luke 1:18).
In both of these cases, there is a degree of disbelief or doubt, not ignorance. Sarah didn’t believe that she could be giving birth to a child at her age. This is why the Hagar/Ishmael problem started in the first place. Zechariah, too, feels that he and his wife are well along in years and that children is out of the question.
We can condemn them for their disbelief, though we should be quick to remember how often we cast doubt on the words God has spoken to us. Perhaps not by an angel, but by His Spirit.
Disbelief or doubt is not ignorance. As much as Sarah and Zechariah did not know how God would give them children, both individuals did act on what the angels said. They knew their spouse, in the most biblical sense of the term.
Abraham and Sarah would have the child of promise, not Abraham and Hagar. Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, would have their own child of promise, and not with the help of another woman.
They may have doubted, but they did not ignore what the angels said. If they did, they may have never “known” their spouse again. (Remember, there were not contraceptives to reduce the change of pregnancy, except abstinence.)
Now, the interesting part.
In all the accounts in Scripture that involve angels, even the few mentioned above, it is astonishing the value that people put into the messages of these heavenly hosts. They believed. Some doubted, but all of them acted in ways that displayed their faith.
Abraham and Sarah knew each other. Zechariah and Elizabeth did the same. Balaam changed his actions and attitudes when he finally saw the angel. They believed that these angels spoke on behalf of God Almighty, and that the words that they shared came from the lips of the LORD.
It’s hard to ignore something like that. So while this is a potential response to angels, it isn’t a biblical response. Such as reaction would display a disrespect for God and his Word if you did.