So Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2 When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is God’s camp.” And he called the name of that place Mahanaim.[a]
3 Then Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4 And he commanded them, saying, “Speak thus to my lord Esau, ‘Thus your servant Jacob says: “I have dwelt with Laban and stayed there until now. 5 I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, and male and female servants; and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find favor in your sight.”’”
6 Then the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he also is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” 7 So Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people that were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two companies. 8 And he said, “If Esau comes to the one company and attacks it, then the other company which is left will escape.”
9 Then Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you’: 10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies. 11 Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children. 12 For You said, ‘I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’”
13 So he lodged there that same night, and took what came to his hand as a present for Esau his brother: 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty milk camels with their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten foals. 16 Then he delivered them to the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass over before me, and put some distance between successive droves.” 17 And he commanded the first one, saying, “When Esau my brother meets you and asks you, saying, ‘To whom do you belong, and where are you going? Whose are these in front of you?’ 18 then you shall say, ‘They are your servant Jacob’s. It is a present sent to my lord Esau; and behold, he also isbehind us.’” 19 So he commanded the second, the third, and all who followed the droves, saying, “In this manner you shall speak to Esau when you find him; 20 and also say, ‘Behold, your servant Jacob is behind us.’” For he said, “I will appease him with the present that goes before me, and afterward I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me.” 21 So the present went on over before him, but he himself lodged that night in the camp.
Jacob is headed back home and on his journey meets with angels from God. This is pretty much all that we know about this encounter other than what is recorded in folklore and legend which tells us that God sent a host of angels to meet Esau, who was headed to meet his brother and presumably kill him. This host of angels, decked out with armour and sword, was enough to make Esau think twice according to legend, but Jacob didn’t know that. Scripture shows us that Jacob acts just the way we act when we are faced with something drastic and dreadful. He prays to God for protection but he also relies on his own motives, just in case. He sends presents to Esau in droves, while separating his family and his servants in hopes that some will survive their encounter with his brother. \
How many times have we lost out on a miracle from God when we believe with our lips but not with our heart? We pray to the Lord for help but we plan and scheme for what will happen say if He doesn’t work on our behalf and like Jacob, we essentially state with our actions that we don’t quite trust the promises of God. He had promised Jacob many times that He would be with him and that He would not abandon him but Jacob, as we all do, wasn’t ready or didn’t realize that he felt he had more control over his life than the Lord.
Jacob had just left the presence of a very angry Laban, who had eventually been on the losing end of a battle of wits with Jacob, and now he was about to meet his brother, who had a bone to pick with Jacob as well. Jacob had been the victor in both episodes, but at what cost; especially now that he was with his family and in a very defenseless state. All this must have affected Jacob’s self-confidence. As with our own, we know the promise from God just as he did, but at some point we feel like we either don’t deserve the Lord’s protection, or we feel that our current situation is something that we have brought upon ourselves and that it must be out of God’s realm for some reason and we come to the conclusion that God can’t help us until we help ourselves. This is something that is easy to recognize but very hard to reconcile in our lives and the only answer is to give oneself completely to God. But this also means that we give away control and that is where the problem comes up. God allows us to paint ourselves in these corners though because it seems that we must reach the end of ourselves before we will ever give ourselves completely to Him. What also helps is when someone else who is completely innocent will eventually face hardship beause of our past sins and actions. This too allows us to come to rock bottom and cause us to look upward in total denial of what we can do anymore and total reliance on God.
We can finally experience what many call repentance in the true sense; that complete turn around from who we once were and toward what God wants us to be. In Jacob’s life, as with our own, he is about to come to that point in his life, where he will not be the same, walk the same, nor think the same. God in His wonderous wisom and mercy is about to save our brother Jacob.