Jacob and the Angels

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” (Gen. 32:1-2).

- Genesis 32:1-5

Whenever we face trouble, we usually look for others to support us. Regardless of who these others may be, things seem much easier when we know that someone is on our side.

If human allies give us confidence, think of how much more we should have knowing that God Almighty is on our side? Ever since He spoke to Adam and Eve after the fall, repentant sinners have known the Lord is with them in their war against the world, the flesh, and the Devil. God has dictated the terms of the confrontation between the woman’s seed and the serpent’s offspring, and the guarantee of victory for the woman’s seed means He will be with His people to vanquish Satan (Gen. 3:15). In the days of unbridled wickedness, the Lord was with Noah, guarding his family from wholesale destruction (6:1–9:17). Despite their sins, the Creator maintained fellowship with Abraham, furthering His purpose to save His people through him (18:1–8; 22:1–19). Today we are assured of Christ’s presence with us until the end of the age (Matt. 28:20b).

As we return to Genesis, recall how the Lord has been with Jacob. God used Laban to discipline Jacob harshly; nevertheless, the Lord kept His promise to be with him and prospered Jacob in Paddan-aram (28:10–22; 31:4–13, 42). In today’s passage, God again reassures Jacob of His faithfulness. Having left Laban behind, Jacob knows he must face the threat of his brother Esau in Canaan (27:41). Like anyone in his shoes, Jacob approaches Esau with fear and trepidation; he is most deferential in his message to his brother (32:3–5) and needs to know the Lord is on his side in his peril.

God gives this assurance to him even before Jacob sends messengers to Esau (vv. 1–2). Jacob is again granted a vision of the angelic host (see 28:10–22), and seeing the encampment of the Lord’s army encourages Jacob to press on and meet Esau. As well it should, for we know angels are powerful servants “for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:13–14). No matter our situation, we who are the true sons of Abraham (Gal. 3:29), and thus, of Jacob, can be sure God has sent His angels for our benefit as well (Ps. 91:11–12).

Coram Deo

We must never forget that the host of heaven fights for the people of God in their war against the principalities and powers who enslave the human race (Eph. 6:12). In accordance with the Lord’s sovereign will, they keep watch over us to help promote our final good. Though sometimes God permits them to let danger and trouble come our way for the sake of His good plan, we can nonetheless be assured we have powerful allies in the fight against the enemy.

Passages for Further Study

Num. 20:16
2 Kings 6:8–23
Isa. 63:7–9
Rev. 12:7–12

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