Summary: If we want real security and peace, then we must learn to depend on God’s protecting angels and His unfailing promises.
Ann Beck of North Carollton, Mississippi, talks about the days when her husband and she taught 2- and 3-year-olds in Sunday school. A Bible verse they helped the pre-schoolers memorize was Psalms 56: “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” Their preschool son, Mark, was one of their pupils.
Well, one stormy night, as lightning flashed and thunder boomed, the electricity suddenly went off. “I’m not afraid,” Mark assured his parents as they groped in the dark for candles and matches. Expecting him to quote the Bible verse he recently learned, Ann Beck proudly prompted him, “And tell us why you aren’t afraid.”
Little Mark simply replied, “Cause I’ve got my flashlight.” (Ann Beck, North Carollton, MS, Today’s Christian Woman, “Heart to Heart;” www.PreachingToday.com)
Who needs the Lord when you have a flashlight? If only life was that simple, but we all know that There are real dangers. There are real threats to our well-being that go way beyond being in the dark for a few hours.
It’s then that we wonder if trusting in the Lord is enough, so we go looking for the “flashlights,” the alternatives that might help just in case God doesn’t come through for us.
Most Americans love money, but we love something even more: security. According to a 2009 survey by the Pew Research Center, 59 percent of U.S. adults prefer a job that offers better security over one that offers higher pay but less stability (33 percent). This is true not only when times are bad. It’s also true when times are good. A General Social Survey in 1989 – a year of economic expansion – produced similar results. (www.PreachingToday.com)
Most of us want our security more than anything else, but we wonder: Is God enough to provide that security? Can we trust Him to protect us from any real harm? Or do we need some sort of back-up plan just in case God doesn’t come through?
Well, Jacob is learning to trust God for his security, but he still carries a “flashlight;” he still has his back-up plan just in case God fails.
Genesis 32:1-2 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 (NIV) – which means “two camps,” i.e., Jacob’s camp and God’s camp.
You see, Jacob has just escaped being killed by his Uncle Laban (Genesis 31), and now he is returning home where his brother, Esau, had threatened to kill him 20 years previously. He is running from danger into danger, but along the way he meets some angels from God. Even so, Jacob is not sure that they’re enough. So…
Genesis 32:3 Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. (NIV)
Jacob sends his own messengers ahead just in case God’s messengers aren’t enough to protect him. The word for “messengers” is the same word in the Hebrew as the word for “angels.” And…
Genesis 32:4-5 He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my master Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, menservants and maidservants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.’” (NIV)
The not so subtle message is, “Don’t mess with me, because I am a wealthy and a powerful man.” Is Esau impressed? Look at…
Genesis 32:6 When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” (NIV)
He is coming after Jacob with an army of men! Jacob’s back-up plan failed, so…
Genesis 32:7-8 In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape.” (NIV)
Jacob forgets that he is already two camps (his and God’s), so he divides his own camp into two camps, hoping to provide some measure of protection, just in case God’s camp is not enough. Jacob is not sure he can depend on god’s protecting angels even though they are more than enough to protect him from his brother.
And we must be careful not to make the same mistake Jacob did. If we want to be truly secure, we can and we must…