Genesis 32:1
The pilgrim on his way is met by the angels of God. They are two hosts - "Mahanaim," that is, twofold defense, before and behind. There was fear in the man, but there was trust and prayer. He saw the objective vision, but the inward preparation of heart enabled him to see it. On our way we may reckon on supernatural protection - protection for ourselves, protection for those who are Divinely appointed to be with us. The double host is an emblem of that angelic guardianship which we are told (Psalm 34, and 91.) "encampeth round about them that fear the Lord, and delivereth them," "keepeth them in all their ways." - R.







And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim.
I. THE ANGELS THEMSELVES.

1. Their number is very great.

2. They are swift as the flames of fire.

3. They are strong.

4. They seem to be all young.

5. They are evidently endowed with corresponding moral excellences.

II. THE MINISTRY OF ANGELS HAS THESE CHARACTERISTICS. It is a ministry of —

1. Guardianship.

2. Cheerfulness.

3. Animation.

4. Consolation.

5. Fellowship and convoy through death to life, and from earth to heaven.

III. THE WHOLE SUBJECT SHOWS IN A VERY STRIKING MANNER —

1. The exceeding greatness of the glory of Christ.

2. The value and greatness of salvation.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

Every man has two lives — an outward and an inward. The one is that denoted here: "Jacob went on his way," &c. The other is denoted in verse Genesis 32:24: "Jacob was left alone," &c. In either state God dealt with him.

I. THE ANGELS OF GOD MET HIM, We do not know in what form they appeared, or by what sign Jacob recognized them. In its simplicity the angelic office is a doctrine of revelation. There exists even now a society and a fellowship between the sinless and the fallen. As man goes on his way, the angels of God meet him.

II. ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL WAYS IN WHICH WE MAY RECOGNIZE AND USE THIS SYMPATHY?

1. The angelic office is sometimes discharged in human form. We may entertain angels unawares. Let us count common life a ministry; let us be on the look-out for angels.

2. We must exercise a vigorous self-control lest we harm or tempt. Our Saviour has warned us of the presence of the angels as a reason for not offending His little ones. Their angels He calls them, as though to express the closeness of the tie that binds together the unfallen and the struggling. We may gather from the story two practical lessons.(1) The day and the night mutually act and react. A day of meeting with angels may well be followed by a night of wrestling with God.(2) Earnestness is the condition of success. Jacob had to wrestle a whole night for his change of name, for his knowledge of God. Never will you say, from the world that shall be, that you laboured here too long or too earnestly to win it.

(Dean Vaughan.)

I. The angels of God meet us on THE DUSTY ROAD OF COMMON LIFE.

II. God's angels meet us PUNCTUALLY at the hour of need.

III. The angels of God come IN THE SHAPE WHICH WE NEED. Jacob's want was protection; therefore the angels appear in warlike guise, and present before the defenceless man another camp. God's gifts to us change their character; as the Rabbis fabled that manna tasted to each man what each most desired. In that great fulness each of us may have the thing we need.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. JACOB'S VISIBLE WORLD. He had just escaped the persecutions of his father-in-law, and was now expecting to meet with a fiercer enemy in his brother. All was dread and anxiety.

II. JACOB'S INVISIBLE WORLD. What a different scene is presented to him when his spiritual eye is opened, and God permits him to see those invisible forces which were engaged on his side. We are told that "the angels of God met him." He was weak to all human appearance; but he was really strong, for God's host had come to deliver him from any host of men that might oppose. The host of God is described as parting into two bands, as if to protect him behind and before; or to assure him that as he had been delivered from one enemy, so he would be delivered from another enemy, which was coming forth to meet him. Thus Jacob was taught —

1. To whom he owed his late mercies.

2. The true source of his protection.

3. His faith is confirmed. It is justified for the past, and placed upon a firmer basis for the future.

(T. H. Leale.)

1. God has a multitude of servants, and all these are on the side of believers. "His camp is very great," and all the hosts in that camp are our allies. Some of these are visible agents, and many more are invisible, but none the less real and powerful.

2. We know that a guard of angels always surrounds every believer. "Omnipotence has servants everywhere." These servants of the strong God are all filled with power; there is not one that fainteth among them all, they run like mighty men, they prevail as men of war. We know that they "excel in strength," as they "do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word." Rejoice, O children of God! There are vast armies upon your side, and each one of the warriors is clothed with the strength of God.

3. All these agents work in order, for it is God's host, and the host is made up of beings which march or fly, according to the order of command. "Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path." All the forces of nature are loyal to their Lord. They are perfectly happy, because consecrated; full of delight, because completely absorbed in doing the will of the Most High. Oh that we could do His will on earth as that will is done in heaven by all the heavenly ones!

4. Observe that in this great host they were all punctual to the Divine command. Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. The patriarch is no sooner astir than the hosts of God are on the wing. They did not linger till Jacob had crossed the frontier, nor did they keep him waiting when he came to the appointed rendezvous; but they were there to the moment. When God means to deliver you, beloved, in the hour of danger, you will find the appointed force ready for your succour. God's messengers are neither behind nor before their time; they will meet us to the inch and to the second in the time of need; therefore let us proceed without fear, like Jacob, going on our way even though an Esau with a band of desperadoes should block up the road.

5. Those forces of God, too, were all engaged personally to attend upon Jacob. I like to set forth this thought: "Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him"; he did not chance to fall in with them. They did not happen to be on the march, and so crossed the patriarch's track; no, no; he went on his way, and the angels of God met him with design and purpose. They came on purpose to meet him: they had no other appointment. Squadrons of angels marched to meet that one lone man He was a saint, but by no means a perfect one; we cannot help seeing many flaws in him, even upon a superficial glance at his life, and yet the angels of God met him. All came to wait upon Jacob, on that one man: "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him"; but in this case it was to one man with his family of children that a host was sent. The man himself, the lone man who abode in covenant with God when all the rest of the world was given up to idols, was favoured by this mark of Divine favour. One delights to think that the angels should be willing, and even eager, troops of them, to meet one man. Are ye not well cared for, oh ye sons of the Most High!

6. Those forces, though in themselves invisible to the natural senses, are manifest to faith at certain times. There are times when the child of God is able to cry, like Jacob, "The angels of God have met me." When do such seasons occur? Our Mahanaims occur at much the same time as that in which Jacob beheld this great sight. Jacob was entering upon a more separated life. He was leaving Laban and the school of all those tricks of bargaining and bartering which belong to the ungodly world. By a desperate stroke he cut himself clear of entanglements; but he must have felt lonely, and as one cast adrift. He missed all the associations of the old house of Mesopotamia, which, despite its annoyances, was his home. The angels come to congratulate him. Their presence said, "You are come to this land to be a stranger and sojourner with God, as all your fathers were. We have, some of us, talked with Abraham, again and again, and we are now coming to smile on you. You recollect how we bade you good-bye that night, when you had a stone for your pillow at Bethel; now you have come back to the reserved inheritance, over which we are set as guardians, and we have come to salute you. Take up the nonconforming life without fear, for we are with you. Welcome I welcome I we are glad to receive you under our special care." Again, the reason why the angels met Jacob at that time was, doubtless, because he was surrounded with great cares. He had a large family of little children; and great flocks and herds and many servants were with him. Again, the Lord's host appeared when Jacob felt a great dread. His brother Esau was coming to meet him armed to the teeth, and, as he feared, thirsty for his blood. In times when our danger is greatest, if we are real believers, we shall be specially under the Divine protection, and we shall know that it is so. This shall be our comfort in the hour of distress. And, once again, when you and I, like Jacob, shall be near Jordan, when we shall just be passing into the better land, then is the time when we may expect to come to Mahanaim. The angels of God and the God of angels, both come to meet the spirits of the blessed in the solemn article of death.

7. Thus I have mentioned the time when these invisible forces become visible to faith; and there is no doubt whatever that they are sent for a purpose. Why were they sent to Jacob at this time? Perhaps the purpose was first to revive an ancient memory which had well-nigh slipped from him. I am afraid he had almost forgotten Bethel. Surely it must have brought his vow at Bethel to mind, the vow which he made unto the Lord when he saw the ladder, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon it. Here they were; they had left heaven and come down that they might hold communion with him. Mahanaim was granted to Jacob, not only to refresh his memory, but to lift him out of the ordinary low level of his life. Jacob, you know, the father of all the Jews, was great at huckstering: it was the very nature of him to drive bargains. Jacob had all his wits about him, and rather more than he should have had, well answering to his name of "supplanter." He would let no one deceive him, and he was ready at all times to take advantage of those with whom he had any dealings. Here the Lord seems to say to him, "O Jacob, My servant, rise out of this miserable way of dealing with Me, and be of a princely mind." Oh for grace to live according to our true position and character, not as poor dependents upon our own wits or upon the help of man, but as grandly independent of things seen, because our entire reliance is fixed upon the unseen and eternal. Believe as much in the invisible as in the visible, and act upon your faith. This seems to me to be God's object in giving to any of His servants a clearer view of the powers which are engaged on their behalf. If such a special vision be granted to us, let us keep it in memory. Jacob called the name of that place Mahanaim. I wish we had some way in this western world, in these modern times, of naming places, and children, too, more sensibly. We must needs either borrow some antiquated title, as if we were too short of sense to make one for ourselves, or else our names are sheer non. sense, and mean nothing. Why not choose names which should commemorate our mercies?

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE PATH OF COMMON DUTIES IN DAILY LIFE IS THE BEST AND SUREST WAY TO HEAVENLY VISIONS. Jacob's track lay downward to the deep valley, and through its shadows to the fords of Jordan. So, if our life is led downward, through toil and care and sorrow, heaven may open as freely above it as on the hill-tops. All know how the proof of a soldier is given on the march as much as in battle; and it is so in common life. But in spiritual application there is a difference: the rewards of men are won only on the field; but our Divine Commander observes and honours equally those equally faithful in the daily march, in farm, or shop, or household, or in the shut-in camp of sickness those "faithful in that which is least."

II. GOD'S CARE OVER THOSE THAT FEAR HIM.

III. GOD'S WAY OF APPEARING FOR MAN'S HELP.

(W. H. Randall.)

1. Laban's departure and Jacob's progress are adjoining. Oppressors retreat and saints advance.

2. God's servants are careful to move in their own way enjoined by God.

3. In their way commanded, God appoints His angels to meet them (Psalm 91:2, 4). God with His angels appears to comfort His, after conflicts with their adversaries (ver. 1).

5. God sometimes affords His visible helps unto visible troubles for His saints' support.

6. God's angels are God's mighty host indeed, and that in the judgment of the saints.

7. Not single angels but troops God appoints for the guard of single saints.

8. God's saints desire to call mercies by their right names. God's angels are called God's hosts.

9. It is proper to God's saved ones, to leave memorials of God's strength in saving them (ver. 2).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

I cannot tell, for Scripture says not, in what form they appeared, or by what sign Jacob recognized them. It is perhaps in the most general view of the passage that its truest comfort lies. It matters not to us what the Patriarchs thought or knew of the ministry of angels, so long as we ourselves recognize the true place of that ministry in the economy of God. In its simplicity, the angelic office is a doctrine of revelation. There are beings beside and (for the present) above man; beings, like him, intelligent, rational, spiritual; beings capable, like him, of knowing, loving, and communing with God; beings, unlike him, pure from the stain of sin — tried once, as all moral natures must be tried, by the alternative of loyalty or self-pleasing — yet faithful among the faithless through that great ordeal, and now for ever secured by the seal of that holiness which they have chosen. Man is not yet, save in one single aspect, the head and the chief of all God's creation. In the person of the God-Man he has the pledge indeed that one day he shall be so. But as yet, when the eye of faith looks upward through the infinite space, it discerns essences in all things equal to the human, and in their sinlessness superior; it sees those who in heaven's primeval warfare sided with God and conquered — left not their original estate, nor despised their first habitation. The existence of a nature purer than man's, more refined in its enjoyments and more elevated in its converse, presents no practical difficulty to the thoughtful. We find nothing but refreshment and nothing but encouragement in the belief that above as well as beneath us are beings performing perfectly the law of their creation; spirits that see God's face, as well as animals instinctively true to God's order. Man only mars the sweet accord: higher existences have not fallen, lower existences could not fall. If for man God has provided a redemption, then may there be in the end a restoration of that original perfection in which God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good. That contrast which shames shall also comfort. But how much more when we read in the sure word of revelation that there exists even now a society and a fellowship between the sinless and the fallen! As man goes on his way, the angels of God meet him. In all his ways they have charge of him, that he dash not his foot against a stone. That which God has done for man, angels desire to look into. Angels are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to the heirs of salvation. Angels spend not their immortal age in abject prostration, or in delicious dreamy contemplation: rather do they excel in strength, doing God's commandments, hearkening (for obedience sake) to the voice of God's Word. When God spake to man from a material mountain, His holy ones were around Him: "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels; and the Lord is among them, as in the holy place of Sinai." Theirs were those wondrous utterances, which Israel took for the voice of the trumpet, sounding long, and waxing louder and louder; theirs those fearful manifestations of blinding smoke and consuming fire, amidst which the Lord descended, while all the people that was in the camp trembled; theirs, it may be, the hewing and the graving of those tables of stone, on which were written, as by God's finger, the words of His first testimony. The law was ordained by angels; the law was given by the disposition of angels; the word spoken by angels was steadfast. And if even that temporary, that parenthetical dispensation was thus introduced by the ministry of angels; if man's recovery was dear to them, even in its earlier and more imperfect stages, while he was but learning his lesson of weakness, and heaving his first sighs after forgiveness and sanctification — well can we understand how they might herald a Saviour's birth, and soothe a Saviour's sorrows; strengthen Him in His agony, and minister in His tomb; proclaim His resurrection, predict His advent, and greet at the everlasting doors the return of the King of glory. Not even there, nor then, did their ministry terminate. He Himself has told us how in heaven, in the presence of the angels of God, there is joy still over each sinner that repenteth; how His little ones below, His weak and tempted disciples, have their angels ever in heaven, beholding the face of His Father; how angels carry dying saints into Abraham's bosom; and how, in the last great crisis of the world's harvest, it is they who shall execute the reapers' office, gather together His elect from the four winds, and gather also out of His kingdom all things that offend. Wheresoever there is a work to be done as between God and man, there is the great ladder still reared, and the angels of God are ascending and descending by it. Ministering spirits are they still; and man's best wish for himself is that he may at last be enabled to do as well as to suffer God's will, even as they, the inmates of heaven, have from the beginning borne and done it. Thy will be done, he prays, as in heaven, so on earth. Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. We know not how extensive, and we know not how minute, may be that ministration even in the things that are seen. We know not what angelic workings may be concealed behind the phenomena of nature, or latent in the accidents and the escapes of human life. We know not how, in seasons of mortal weakness or of fiendish temptation, we may be indebted to their instrumentality for the reviving courage or the resisting strength. We dare not say but that even the indwelling Spirit may avail Himself of their ministry to assist or to protect, to invigorate or to reanimate. This we know — for the Word of God has told us — that one portion of that holy communion and fellowship to which the citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem has come, not only in hope, but in present union and incorporation, is an innumerable company of angels. I read not these words as glimpses only of a glorious future, but as expressive of a present trust and a practical help and aid. The sympathy of angels is one of the Christian's privileges. Are there any special ways in which we may recognize and use this sympathy? As we go on our way, can we in any special manner hope to meet the angels?

1. An apostle speaks of entertaining angels unawares. He says that the duty of hospitality may be exercised in this remembrance — thereby some have entertained angels. It is so still. The angelic office is discharged sometimes in human form. Let us count common life a ministry: let us, in common life, be on the look-out for angels!

2. And more especially, in the exercise of a vigilant self-control, lest we harm or tempt. Our Saviour Himself has warned us of the presence of the angels as a reason for not offending — that is, for not thwarting and not tempting — His little ones. Beware, careless parent! beware, sinful brother! beware, false friend! That child, that boy, that youth, has his angel, and the home of that angel is the heaven of God l

(Dean Vaughan.)

We who live in this matter-of-fact and mechanical age are apt to think that it was a wrapt and wondrous life which the patriarch led in that old time, when he could meet God's host among the hills, and could see convoys of bright angels like the burning clouds of sunset hovering round him in the solitudes of the mountains. But God's host is always nearer than we are apt to suppose in the dark hours of trial and conflict. The angels have not yet forsaken the earth, nor have they ceased to protect the homes and journeys of good men. Heaven and earth are nearer each other now than they were when Jacob saw God's host in the broad day and Abraham entertained the Divine messengers under the shadow of the oak at noon. The spiritual world is all around us, and its living inhabitants are our fellow-servants and companions in all our work for God and for our own salvation. The inhabitants of heaven find more friends and acquaintances on earth now than they did in former times. It is not from any want of interest in the affairs of men that they do not now meet us in the daily walks of life or speak to us in the dreams of the night. If we do not see angels come and take us by the hand and lead us out of danger, as they led Lot out of Sodom, it is not because they have ceased to come, or because they fail to guard us when we need protection. We must not think that God was more interested in the world in ancient times, when He spoke by miracles and prophets and apostles, than He is now when He speaks by His written word and by His holy providence. The heart of the Infinite Father never yearned toward His earthly children with a deeper or more tender compassion than now. There never was a time when God was doing more to govern, to instruct, and to save the world than He is doing now. To those who look for Him the tokens of His presence are manifest everywhere; the voice of His providence is in every wind; every path of life is covered with the overshadowings of His glory. To the devout mind this world, which has been consecrated by the sacrificial blood of the cross, is only the outer court of the everlasting temple in which God sits enthroned, with the worshipping hosts of the blessed around Him. We need only a pure heart to see God as much in the world now as He was when He talked with men face to face. He speaks in all the discoveries of science, in all the inventions of heart, in all the progress of the centuries, in everything which enriches life and enlarges the resources of men. All the great conflicts and agitations of society prove that God is on the field. We need only add the faith of the patriarchs to the science of the philosophers, and we shall find Bethels in the city and in the solitude, Mahanaims in every day's march in the journey of life

(D. March, D. D.)

I did not see, early in the morning, the flight of all those birds that filled all the bushes and all the orchard trees, but they were there, though I did not see their coming, and heard their songs afterwards. It does not matter whether you have ministered to you yet those perceptions by which you perceive angelic existence. The fact that we want to bear in mind is, that we are environed by them, that we move in their midst. How, where, what the philosophy is, whether it be spiritual philosophy, no man can tell, and they least that think they know most about it. The fact which we prize and lay hold of is this, that angelic ministration is a part, not of the heavenly state, but of the universal condition of men, and that as soon as we become Christ's we come not to the home of the living God, but to the "innumerable company of angels."

(H. W. Beecher.)

Though no vision is vouchsafed to our mortal eyes, yet angels of God are with us oftener than we know, and to the pure heart every home is a Bethel, and every path of life a Penuel and a Mahanaim. In the outer world and the inner world, we see and meet continually these messengers of God. Wrestle with them in faith and prayer they are angels with hands full of immortal gifts; to those who neglect or use them ill they are angels with drawn sword and scathing flame.

I. The earliest angel is the angel of youth. Do not think that you can retain him long. Use, as wise stewards, this blessed portion of your lives. Remember that as your faces are setting into the look which they shall wear in later years, so is it with your lives.

II. Next is the angel of innocent pleasure. Trifle not with this angel. Remember that in heathen mythology the Lord of Pleasure is also the God of Death. Guilty pleasure there is; guilty happiness there is not on earth.

III. There are the angels of time and opportunity. They are with us now, and we may unclench from their conquered hands garlands of immortal flowers. Hallow each new day in your morning prayer, for prayer, too, is an angel — an angel who can turn "pollution into purity, sinners into penitents, and penitents into saints."

IV. There is one angel with whom we must wrestle whether we will or no, and whose power of curse or blessing we cannot alter — the angel of death.

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

Links
Genesis 32:1 NIV
Genesis 32:1 NLT
Genesis 32:1 ESV
Genesis 32:1 NASB
Genesis 32:1 KJV

Genesis 32:1 Bible Apps
Genesis 32:1 Parallel
Genesis 32:1 Biblia Paralela
Genesis 32:1 Chinese Bible
Genesis 32:1 French Bible
Genesis 32:1 German Bible

Genesis 32:1 Commentaries

Bible Hub
Genesis 31:55
Top of Page
Top of Page