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 that place Mahanaim. (Genesis 32:1-2)
After Laban departed for his home, Jacob resumed his journey to the land of Canaan and it is at that point that “angels of God met him.” Apparently, he was the only one to see them and, in fact, the Hebrew word that is rendered “saw them” suggests that Jacob recognized them. I find that interesting because this would have been the second time that Jacob had encountered angels — the first time being when he saw them ascending and descending upon the staircase at Bethel. Were these the same angels?
The word Machanaim literally means, “two camps” which provokes the question, “Were there two angelic camps?” Had there been one camp to appear to him at Bethel and send him on his journey and now another to greet him as he returned? Might “two camps” refer to his own camp and the angelic camp side by side? Frankly it isn’t clear what was meant by that name but what is clear is that God sent angels to reassure Jacob at a very critical time in his journey.
Why did they appear to him at this point? First of all, he had just endured a very trying experience with Laban and, presumably, wasn’t sure at first if he was going to live or die. That is, not until he heard through Laban’s own lips that the God of his father had already intervened. Perhaps the angels appeared to comfort Jacob after this ordeal. But it is also possible that they were there to strengthen Jacob for what was still to come. Jacob still had to encounter Esau.
Centuries later, Messiah would go into Gethsemane to pray just before He would be led away to be crucified. The Bible tells us that He was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death and prayed with great anguish. It was in the garden that He faced, perhaps, the greatest battle — denying Himself and consenting to the Father’s Will. As He prayed, His sweat became as drops of blood and, according to Luke, an angel appeared to Him in order to “strengthen Him” for what lay before Him (Luke 22:43). The point is, there are times that the Father sends His ministering spirits to His people to comfort, to reassure and to strengthen them for the battles they must face.
As far as I know, I’ve never seen an angel. But I know that there have been times when I received strength I didn’t have before or never knew before to do things I would have never thought possible. There have been times when, feeling hopeless, something would happen to bring reassurance and inspiration to keep going. Was it an angel sent to minister to me? Maybe. Nevertheless, we know that our Father will bring comfort to those who are weary and will give us strength to do what He has called us to do. You may not be able to see it but, perhaps the old song is true — “And I know that there are angels all around.”
Blessings and Shalom,