“Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2 When Jacob saw them, he said, ‘This is the camp of God!’ So he named that place Mahanaim.3 Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4 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. 5 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 favour in your eyes.”’6 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.’7 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. 8 He thought, ‘If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape.’”NIV
And you know what thought did… But I can’t condemn Jacob. I have stood (and, sad to admit, I all too frequently do stand) in his shoes. I take what I know – or what I think I know – and I fill in the gaps. I allow my fears and anxieties to lie to me. I don’t have to believe them, but I do! I am capable of constructing all kinds of scenarios, imagining things that 99.9% of the time will never happen.
Of course, Jacob’s fears were logical; they were, to an extent, understandable. He had every reason to fear the brother he had wronged; this volcanic brother who had wanted to spew deadly lava all over him (27:42-44). But look at how this chapter begins (1,2). ‘’Mahanaim’’ means ‘double camp’. What a powerful manifestation of angels Jacob had to sustain him. Wiersbe also points out that if he had recalled his experience with God at Bethel (28:13-15) he would not have been afraid. Maybe so, but fear can overwhelm a person like a flood, and cause them to temporarily lose their grip on the promises of God.
F.B.Meyer notes that this world is full if angel help. There are more for us than there are against us.
PRAYER: Lord God, help us to increasingly live with this ‘double-camp’ understanding. Give us eyes to see things that naturally we are unable to perceive. Although we are prone to fears, help us to live without them, knowing you are with us.