“So Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. When Jacob saw them, he said, ‘This is God’s camp.’”
Genesis 32:1-2 (NKJV)
As I write this study from our SEP site on the banks of the stunningly beautiful Loch Lomond, I am reminded of this story in the book of Genesis.
Jacob had deceived his father and stolen his brother Esau’s birthright. Now, however, Jacob himself has been deceived into marrying Leah first instead of his sweetheart Rachel, and, also, he has just settled an argument with his father-in-law, Laban. Even though Jacob had reconciled with Laban, he had not done so with Esau. As he goes on his way, he meets “the angels of God”, and, in Jacob’s mind, this encounter indicates the presence of God. Therefore, he sets up camp and calls the place “God’s camp”, in Hebrew “Mahanaim”, meaning “two camps”, where he and God dwell together. God is, of course, everywhere and, when we name a place after him, it is to do with re-affirming his presence. Each day at our youth camp we acknowledge God in praise and celebrate God’s presence: thus ours could be regarded as one of God’s camps.
Mahanaim becomes the precursor to a scene of a great reconciliation. Esau comes to see Jacob with 400 men, and Jacob is “greatly afraid and distressed” (vs. 6-7). Does Jacob forget he is in God’s presence and that he need not fear? Jacob sends gifts to appease his brother, and decides to flee the camp only to once again be reminded that God is always with him, when he wrestles with God at Peniel (vs. 22-31). Afterwards, “Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and there, Esau was coming” along with the 400 men, but “Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept” (33:1-3). God was there, and, wherever God is, there is the opportunity for peace and reconciliation.
We thank God for his gracious presence at our camp, and we dedicate SEP to him as “God’s camp.” Our hope and prayer is that, wherever our staff and campers go afterwards, they seize the chance to restore broken relationships and to establish God’s peaceful presence in their life.
Thank you, Father, that we walk every day in your presence. Help us always to take the peace of Christ wherever we go. In Jesus’ name
Study by James Henderson
From Because: Because