Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him.
Psalm 34, and 91.) "encampeth round about them that fear the Lord, and delivereth them," "keepeth them in all their ways." - R.
I. The angels of God meet us on THE DUSTY ROAD OF COMMON LIFE.
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 —
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.)
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.
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.)
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.)
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
(D. March, D. D.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
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.
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