When Jacob saw them (the angels of God), he said, "This is the camp of God!" So he named that place Mahanaim.
What is it like to struggle with others?
What is it like to struggle with yourself?
What is it like to struggle with God?
This morning’s sermon is based partly on the life of Jacob, the conniver whose name was changed to Israel (the contender with God). Following his intention to return home after 20 years of absence, Jacob had to contend with a number of issues surrounding him. He had left home in a hurry after cheating his brother Esau of his birth-right and the blessing on the first-born. He set up home with his uncle Laban and worked for 14 years for the hands of his two daughters in marriage. Then he worked another 6 years to increase his uncle’s flocks. His wages were changed 10 times. Jacob felt cheated by his uncle while he himself was also a cheater!
He was full of fear and distress while waiting to meet up with his brother, Esau. He had no idea how this meeting might turn out. The worst scenario would be the slaughter of his family whom he loved and wanted to protect. He prayed for protection. God had encouraged and strengthened Jacob by first giving him a spiritual experience of seeing the angels of God. At the place where he saw the angels he proclaimed these words, “This is the camp of God!” and named the place Mahanaim (two camps-one God’s and the other Jacob’s).
On the eve of his meeting with Esau, Jacob had a divine encounter with God. He would not give up his wrestling with God and was determined to be blessed by Him. This earned him a change of name to Israel for God said “you (Jacob) had struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” (Gen 32:28). Jacob felt strengthened for he saw God face to face and God had spared his life!
The next day, the meeting of the two brothers was described in a unique way…Jacob bowed his head seven times to the ground as he approached his brother. But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him. He threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept. (Gen 33:2-4)
Walking with God does not preclude us from struggling with our past, however He also provides us with a better way into the future simply because He is faithful. In spite of our sinfulness and the guilt that we carry, God wants to help us and to give us a better future. The bottom line is reconciliation with others, God and self.
2014 is fast coming to an end. Let us all continue to pray for 2015 and to seek His will for the forth-coming year.