“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
This study is repeated because of technical difficulties in sending it out last week, for which admin apologizes.
About the Author:
James Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland. This week James speaking in our SEP camp in Scotland. S.E.P. is a two-week summer activity camp that takes place on the banks of Loch Lomond, Scotland. It is sponsored and run by the Worldwide Church of God UK, a part of Grace Communion International. Camp began 24th July and runs through 6th August 2016. The camp is Christian in ethos but accepts campers from all denominations and faiths. For more information about S.E.P. visit http://www.sepuk.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
You are welcome to attend any of our local congregations in the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.