Jacobs Struggles Continues As He Enters The Land
The narrative of Jacob’s struggles continues as he enters the land, depicting his fear of Esau, his fight with God and ultimately his restoration with Esau.
Jacob went on his way as well. As he went, messengers of God met him along the way. When Jacob saw them, he acknowledged that this was God’s camp, so he named that place Mahanaim, which means “two camps.”
Genesis 32:1-2 (VOICE)
This is an amazing verse and an amazing chapter of the Bible. Many scriptures teach and reveal the ministry of angels to us, but it’s not often that they appear visibly. Many angels appear in this instance, and later in this chapter Jacob wrestles with an angel.
It isn’t explained why these angels manifested. Some have suggested it was a fitting welcome back to the Promised Land for the blessed of the Lord after being gone for 20 years. I’m sure part of this appearance was to encourage and strengthen Jacob for the trials he was about to face with his brother, Esau. The Lord often prepares us, if we are paying attention, before we encounter great trials.
The name Mahanaim means “two hosts or two camps” (Smith’s Bible Dictionary). There was the host of Jacob’s house in the physical and then the host of angels that existed for their benefit (Hebrews 1:14) in the spiritual world. It’s the same with us. There are the things we can see with our physical eyes, but there are always the angels of God round about us (2 Kings 6:17-20).
One day in heaven we’ll find out how much they’ve helped the family of God in times of difficulty and danger. Meanwhile, however, we’ll have to let God tell His heavenly hosts what to do.
Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my lord Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, male and female servants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.’”
Genesis 32:3-5 (NIV)
“A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city” (Prov. 18:19). Anticipating a difficult reunion with Esau, Jacob took the wise approach and sent messengers ahead to inform his brother that he was coming.
But instead of committing the whole matter to the Lord, who had protected him from Laban, Jacob adopted a condescending attitude that wasn’t befitting to the man God had chosen to carry on the Abrahamic covenant.
Sending the messengers was a good idea, but calling Esau “my lord” and himself “your servant,” and trying to impress Esau with his wealth, was only evidence that Jacob wasn’t trusting God to care for him.
When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”
In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape.”
Genesis 32:6-8 (NIV)
By the time Jacob reached the Jabbock, a tributary of the Jordan, the messengers had returned with an ominous message: Esau and four hundred men were coming to meet Jacob.
Expecting the worst, Jacob jumped to the conclusion that his brother had come to take vengeance on him and his family. A guilty conscience often makes us see the darkest possible picture.
When faith is crowded out by fear, we’re prone to start scheming and trusting our own resources. A lady said to evangelist D.L. Moody, “I’ve found a wonderful verse to help me overcome fear”; and she quoted Psalm 56:3: “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You“. “I can give you a better promise,” said Moody, and he quoted Isaiah 12:2: “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid“.
Believers who are walking by faith need not fear the enemy or whatever bad news may come their way. “He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.“ (Ps. 112:7). But Jacob was “greatly afraid and distressed” (Gen. 32:7) and therefore reverted to his old policy of scheming.
Instead of remembering the encouraging vision of God’s angelic army, Jacob divided his camp into two camps so that if one group was attacked, the other group could escape. It was a poor strategy against four hundred men, and Jacob would have been better off to maintain the original two camps—his company and God’s army of angels—and trust the Lord to see him through.
Andrew Wommack’s Living Commentary
|Be Authentic (Genesis 25-50)
By Warren W. Wiersbe
Life is full of imitations. Which is why today’s culture genuine, transparent people of God; believers who crave real spiritual growth. But what does that look like? The book of Genesis provides the answer, where we find 3 men who experienced an authentic life: Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Be Authentic: Genesis 25-50 shows the vital need shows the vital need for authenticity in an artificial world. Through this commentary you will discover how to pursue authentic relationships with others and God and how to live out your faith in an irresistible, compelling way.