What did you think of the first sentence of our reading today? “Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him. When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is the camp of God! So he named the place Mahandim.” (32:1-2)
What was that? Angels in the camp?….Well, I have a theory! I think God was giving Jacob proof he made the right decision.
We just got finished reading in the chapter before, that Laban (who owned little gods) made his oath to Jacob on the name of the God of Abraham, Nahor and Terah (31:53). Laban had an idea of who the true God was. It had had been passed on from his father and grandfather, but…he was getting off on his theology, as evidenced by the little gods.
Jacob on the other hand is starting to show some clarity in his thinking. He took his oath in the ‘name of the Fear of his father Isaac.” (31:53). He is realizing who the true God is and how God had been with him during the difficult 20 years with Laban.
So now, Laban and Jacob are parting ways at Jerar/Galeed/Mizpah (depending who you ask). The two had barely parted when Jacob sees the angels and calls the area Mahanaim (which means two camps). “Two camps”. That’s an interesting name.
So, let’s get this picture straight. Jacob makes his pledge to the true God, and then sees angels in his side of the two camps. To me, this is absolute confirmation that God was pleased with Jacob’s pledge and He was present in Jacob’s side of the camp. The heart change is happening for Jacob. (Especially in light of vs. 10!)
This reminds me of the same decision the Jews needed to make after they entered the Promise land. Joshua told the people to “throw away the foreign gods that (were) among them and yield (their) hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.” (Joshua 24:23)
Today, individually, we need to make the same choice; will we serve “gods” or the true God. I can almost hear Jacob say, as he sees those angels (what Joshua said around 500 years after him, and what I have said personally), “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh 24:15)