In Gen 32:1-21 Jacob prepares to meet his brother Esau after years apart. All this time apart Jacob has lived in fear of his brother’s wrath for deceiving his father to obtain the blessing. As Esau draws near Jacob is afraid. He takes secret action to preserve at least part of all he possesses while at the same time overtly trying appeasement.
32:1-2 Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them he said, “This is God’s camp!” So he called the name of that place Mahanaim. At this point Jacob just left his uncle’s household with his wives, children, servants and animals. When confronted by his uncle, though fearful at first, Jacob faithfully defended the Lord and was respectable. In the end peace was secured. After this Jacob encounters the angels sent by God at this place Jacob called Mahanaim. My bible indicates “Mahanaim” literally means two camps. This would prove an apt name when Jacob soon after divides his camp. Regardless, Jacob credits God with blessing him by sending His angels. We don’t know what the angels discussed with Jacob, but we do know they met here.
Testing the Water
Gen 32:3-5 And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, instructing them, “Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob, ‘I have sojourned with Laban and stayed until now. I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, male servants, and female servants. I have sent to tell my lord, in order that I may find favor in your sight.’” Jacob wanted to find out where he stood with his brother. As an excuse to reconnoiter, Jacob sent a messenger ahead to deliver good tidings.
Gen 32:6-8 And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and there are four hundred men with him.” Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. He divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps, thinking, “If Esau comes to the one camp and attacks it, then the camp that is left will escape.” The news of a large group coming with Esau scares Jacob even more. He acts immediately to protect and preserve at least a portion of his assets by splitting his people and things into two camps.
Gen 32:9-11 And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,’ I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children. Jacob must have surely felt a heavy burden on his conscious to fear his brother so much. In spite of his fear, in spite of taking action wise in his own mind, Jacob still remembered to bring his burden to God. He humbled himself to the Lord, asking for protection for not just himself, but also for those he loved.
The Good News of Gen 32
Gen 32:12 But you said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’” The Lord made a promise. Jacob remembered the Lord’s promise and the Lord remembered Jacob. Since before Moses came with the Law, since before the Judges, the kingdoms, the prophets, the exiles, and before the coming of Christ there was a promise given.
Gal 3:26-29 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. God promised Abraham to make countless offspring from him. Paul understood Jesus was the heir. He also understood that those who put their faith in Jesus, much as Jacob demonstrated in Gen 32:12, share in the promise to be part of Jesus Christ. This is done by accepting Jesus’ promise, trusting in His redemptive power in the resurrection, and receiving the Holy Spirit as the binding force. Christ, the offspring of Abraham, inherited eternal life by resurrection. By becoming one with Christ, no matter our origin, through simple faith we too inherit this life.