Joshua 2:3-4 – “So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.” But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from.” NIV
I was reading today in the book of Joshua, and as I read this verse, it made me think about the commandment about not lying. As a matter of fact, it says quite strongly, “Thou shalt not lie!” Don’t do it! And yet, Rahab lies and becomes a part of the genealogy of Jesus. So, is it ever okay with God for us to lie? The Bible tells us that He hates lying lips, and lying is an abomination to Him, so how do we reconcile these situations with what we know about the commandments?
Ruth told her countrymen that she didn’t know where the two spies had come from. She also told them that the spies had left and if they pursued them quickly that they could overtake them. That was an outright lie. She knew exactly who they were, and she had them hidden on her roof!
When Moses was born, the midwives lied to Pharaoh. They were supposed to kill the baby boys as they left the womb. The women refused to do it, and when Pharaoh asked them about it, they lied. They told Pharaoh that the Hebrew women delivered before they got to them! That was most definitely a lie.
Obadiah, the palace administrator to Ahab, and one who loved God, hid one hundred prophets of God in a cave and fed them, at a time when their lives was of little value to the king, and his hateful wife, Jezebel. In doing so, Obadiah was being unfaithful to the king, and was actually deceiving the king. He was also probably providing food for the prophets from the storehouse of the king. Was this honorable? Was God pleased?
I got to thinking about this and it reminded me of some dark times in world history. For one, the Holocaust. Many people lied to friends, family, and authorities to protect the lives of Jewish individuals. From Corrie Ten Boom to Schindler, and names unknown, people harbored Jewish people, fed them, helped them to escaped, and some died in the process. They knew they were lying, but they were okay with that. Were they liars?
Abolitionists did the same thing. They helped with the Underground Railroad. And in doing so, they hid runaway slaves, lying to authority figures, bounty hunters, and even people they knew. But they helped people to escape to freedom; hiding them, feeding them, transporting them, and clothing them. They were lying, the Bible states that we shouldn’t lie, and clearly people have done so without remorse. Again, I ask, how does this lying look to the Father, who stated clearly, that we are not to lie? What does that teach us today?
Well, I have no revelation on the subject! God hasn’t told me that He is okay with some lies and not other lies. I know that’s not true. But I do believe that our first allegiance is to the Father. And in each of these cases, the lying was done to preserve life, to fulfill His plans.
In the case with the midwives, it was necessary that Moses be born. If the midwives had obeyed the Pharaoh and killed the babies, they would have disobeyed God with another commandment about not killing. And God’s plan for the deliverer had to come to pass, so they couldn’t kill the baby boys. They lied to keep from being involved in something even worst. The Lord blessed them, thereby sealing the truth that He was pleased with their choice. And this technically was before the commandments were given.
Rahab didn’t live by the commandments. However, her lie preserved the life of the two spies. And in lying to her countrymen, she pushed God’s agenda. She also displayed her allegiance to Him, when she shared that she was confident that Jericho would be defeated and she wanted to change her citizenship. Again, this was before the Law. We know that God was pleased because she married a leader of the Jewish people and is found in the ancestry of the Savior.
And Obadiah was deceiving the king, but protecting the prophets of God. Maybe he didn’t tell an outright lie, but he definitely didn’t let the king know that he had the prophets hidden and were feeding them. Yet, what he did was really an honorable thing!
What about us today? I don’t agree with lying. I don’t think the commandments change because of situations. But I do think the situations with the Holocaust and slavery were so inhumane, that God’s people got involved to do what was necessary to preserve life. I think that they probably would have preferred to do it another way, but was left with little choice in how to help save these lives. And today, they are heroes!
Lying to protect ourselves from the consequences of our self-serving actions is wrong. We should not lie. But in response to persecution and tribulation, you have to ask yourself, what can you live with? The midwives couldn’t live with the act of murdering babies, so they chose to lie instead. Rahab couldn’t ignore the fact that God was on the move, and she was drawn to Him, so she refused to allow her people to kill His people. Those who helped in the Holocaust and the abolitionists with freedom for the slaves, couldn’t live with the injustices of seeing a person destroyed just because of their heritage or skin color.
I actually admire these individuals. They weren’t looking to escape the consequences of man, they were looking to escape the consequences of God. I guess that’s the answer to lying, if it’s to get out of what man can do to you, it’s probably not going to be acceptable before God. However, if in your heart, if you lied to honor God, truly honor God, then…. I’ll not encourage you to lie! I will just say that it’s a question that I was thinking about. I asked a lot of questions I didn’t answer, but I am sure that their lies were forgiven them. I am equally as sure that while they lied, they did not become liars, and that is the greater truth! What are your thoughts? Leave me a comment! Wonderful Jesus!