I’ve been reading through the Old Testament over the last few months. You may remember that I mentioned that I was reading Exodus right around the time that I was preparing to leave Panama City. I just began reading Joshua. I’m definitely hoping that reading about the entrance into the Promised Land corresponds to the time that I find a job and a house!
Anyway… I just read the story of Rahab the prostitute and how she helped the Israelite spies hide out in the city of Jericho. Then some “government agents” came to her and said “Where are the Israelite spies?” She then lied and said that they had left the city. Because of her lie the spies were able to escape safely from the city and the Israelites were able to take the city by walking around it and blowing a shofar.
Then I remembered back in Genesis 20 where Abraham was sojourning with his family. When they came to Gerar Abraham told the people of the city that his wife, Sarah, was actually his sister. That way they would not kill him to take his wife. King Abimelech takes Sarah to be his wife (assuming that she is Abraham’s sister). God ends up coming to Abimelech in a dream and telling to not touch Sarah, blesses Abraham with a bunch of servants and sheep AND heals the entire household of king Abimelech.
These are not the only OT stories that use lying as a way to advance God’s will.
So, my question is, why was it alright for these people to lie to advance the will of God? If God is holy, lying defames His holiness and should have no place in His presence. In Exodus God carves “Though Shall Not Bear False Testimony” into a holy tablet. What gives?
I don’t know how to interpret this, but I feel pretty confidently that I can come away from these stories with one point: sometimes following God’s will puts you in a place where you have to consider bending the rules to accomplish God’s will. I’m not sure what that looks like.
I’m definitely cautious about the ramifications of this… I don’t want to say that sometimes violating God’s commandments is alright because his will is more important. That would allow all sorts of people to claim that they are doing evil because “I am doing God’s will!” I’ve definitely heard of people that try to justify their affairs or addictions by saying that God has them in a place of brokenness for a reason. But I can’t help but wonder how often we as a church write off people that are in God’s will because they don’t do things the way that makes sense based upon our reading of the Scripture.
Anyway… I’m not making any definitive statements here. I’m mostly just asking a bunch of questions. Feel free to chime in.
Note: these ideas came to fruition based upon a conversation with my friend Joe. A lot of these ideas are his and I stole them (to advance God’s will, of course).