Jacob and Laban finally part ways and Jacob continues on his journey. The very first verse tells us that “…the angels of God met him.” We don’t get more details than that but verse 2 says that he saw them and because of that he named the place Mahanaim which means “two camps”. However this encounter happened, Jacob felt that God was with him.
Jacob decided to send messengers to his brother Esau. Although he doesn’t have to pass directly through Esau’s land, he will be going near enough that perhaps he felt he should pay his respects. The message he sends is full of humility and respect, putting himself in a lower position to his brother. There is no mention of the birthright or the blessing that caused so much hurt and strife in the past.
When Jacob’s messengers return, they tell him that his brother Esau is coming and he’s bringing 400 men with him. Jacob is seized by fear of what this could mean to him and his family. In his distress, he divides up his family into two groups, hoping that some of them may be able to escape and be spared. His next step was to pray, pouring his fears and his heart out to God and asking for His protection.
I see so much of myself in Jacob. When I’m afraid, I often move into action first and prayer second. Just like Jacob, my instinct is to try to handle things on my own first and only then do I recognize that Jesus’ involvement will be way more effective than anything I could do on my own! The phrase “God helps those who help themselves” is often quoted as being from the Bible, but it’s not. The reality is that God helps those that ask for it. He may not always answer in the way that we want, but He always hears and always responds.
Kim Feld Director of Small Group Ministry