Genesis 31:6- And you know that with all my might I have served your father. Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me. NKJV
I was in Mrs. Wascom’s English class when I first heard and thereby learned Sir Walter Scott’s famous quote:
Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.Sir Walter Scott, 1808, Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field
His tale did not make my long-term memory, but these words are etched in my mind. I’m unsure where he learned this vital lesson, but I see its truth woven through scriptures and life.
No one wants to be deceived, even if they have deceived others in the past. Few people like to admit that they were deceived as if it shows a weakness in their character, not that of the deceiver. If we live long enough, someone will definitely try to deceive us. It doesn’t reflect us unless we refuse to admit that we are easily deceived and ask others to keep us accountable.
Jacob was considered a deceiver by Esau. His experience with his brother’s antics was not positive, but Esau always played into Jacob’s hands. As a man governed by his passions, he didn’t appear to ever stop and think about what he was doing. So Jacob got over on him enough times that he felt his brother was a deceiver.
On the other hand, Isaac probably didn’t have that experience with Jacob, so it probably never occurred to him that Jacob would practice deceit on him. Maybe we should give some credit for the plan to deceive Isaac to Jacob’s mother, Rebekah. In either case, Jacob pulled a fast one on his father to obtain the blessing. At one point, during the planning, Jacob expressed his fears to his mother:
And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Look, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth-skinned man. Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be a deceiver to him; and I shall bring a curse on myself and not a blessing.”Genesis 27:11-12 NKJV
Even with his reservations, Jacob executed the plan and deceived his father, Isaac. I can imagine the disappointment Isaac must have felt when he realized that his son had deceived him. Jacob didn’t just lie to Isaac; he created an elaborate ruse to make his father believe that which was not true, to obtain what he wanted. And when Jacob met Laban, his uncle, he reaped what he sowed.
And you know that with all my might I have served your father. Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times…Genesis 31:6-7 NKJV
Ten times Laban deceived Jacob and changed his wages. Although the Bible doesn’t tell us all of them, we are told that Jacob served seven years for Rachel, was given Leah instead, and had to serve seven more years for Rachel. We are told of the wages of the flock being changed on several occasions, although not how they were changed. Once Jacob opened the door as a deceiver, the web of deception began to draw him into things he could have lived without.
There’s another person who comes to mind, who weaved a web of deception, Haman. Haman was promoted by the king to be over the kingdom’s princes. Part of the honor given to him was that when he arrived at the king’s gates, his servants bowed to him. That is, everyone except Mordecai, Queen Esther’s uncle.
Haman was infuriated that Mordecai, the Jew, would so blatantly disrespect his authority. So Haman came up with a plan to destroy Mordecai. Haman deceived the king by telling him that a group of people in the land did not obey his laws and that they should be destroyed. The king agreed, signed a decree, and sealed it with his ring.
Mordecai told Esther and requested that she speak with the king. Esther went before the king, at the risk of peril, to help her people by inviting Haman and the king to a banquet. Haman was so excited that he shared the news with his friends and family. Not only had he been at a feast with the king and queen, but he was to return for another one the next day. Then he saw Mordecai, and again, Mordecai showed him no respect. His wife and the others encouraged him to build a gallow to hang Mordecai on because surely this invitation meant great things were ahead for him.
Only things didn’t go according to Haman’s plans. First, the king wanted to honor Mordecai and asked Haman what should he do. Haman gave a list of things the king should do, thinking it was about him. Only the king had Haman hasten to do those things for Mordecai. Then at the banquet, Esther told the king that Haman wanted to kill her since he had that decree established against the Jews. When the king took a walk, Haman tried to plead with Esther. But the king returned to the room and found him on her couch and became furious! So instead of being honored, his deception returned to him, and he was hung on the gallows he had built for Mordecai.
God has a way of untangling webs. He did so for Jacob. Despite what Jacob had done, God still had a plan for his life. Jacob still had to go through the consequences of his actions, but God, the Merciful God, was with Him. On the other hand, Haman suffered the judgment and wrath of the king for his deception. The difference between the two men was that Jacob was God’s man who had erred and repented. Haman was against God’s man and had no repentance on his mind.
When I was in the military, I had a supervisor who went out of his way to undermine me. When I arrived on the base, he told me, “I don’t like women. I don’t like southerners. And I don’t like Blacks.” He said he meant it as a joke, but it wasn’t funny. Later, when it came time for fitreps (evaluations), he told the CO (commanding officer) that I did not deserve a good rating and made something up about me. The CO didn’t believe him and decided to investigate.
My new supervisor recalled me telling him what the other guy had said. He reported that and my work ethic since knowing me, which aligned with the CO’s current opinion of me. The CO was livid! So much so that he had the man removed from our base, and he was to be investigated for racism. Before leaving, that man came and begged me to recant my version, saying that he was only joking. But he wasn’t joking when trying to deceive the CO. He wasn’t joking when he lied about my character. And he wasn’t joking then.
No one likes to be deceived! But be assured that the one who does the deception never gets away without payment. God sees! He never approves, and He knows how to extract payment. On the flip side of things, we should not be the one who goes about deceiving others. God isn’t pleased with deception because He is the God of truth! If you have knowingly participated in a deception, repent like Jacob did, and get it right with the Father. He may not erase the consequences, but He will forgive you! Wonderful Jesus!