Is there a time to use deception to get God's blessing?

As I read Ben’s post earlier this month, What is the Point of Genesis?, I began thinking a lot about my own Genesis Bible studies. I have studied all 50 chapters of Genesis four times. But Ben’s thinking challenged me to rethink what I had learned. Do I really know Genesis well? I found that I really have just learned the proverbial tip of the iceberg of what Genesis has to teach. 

I remembered a question that came up once during Bible study on Genesis 27: Is there a time to use deception to get God’s blessing? I don’t recall how anyone at the study answered the question. This sounds like an odd question, especially when asked of Christians. Why would a Godly person lie or use deception to get a blessing or to glorify God?

Please read Genesis 27 to see if you understand why this question might come up: 

“1 When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, “My son.” “Here I am,” he answered. 2 Isaac said, “I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death. 3 Now then, get your equipment—your quiver and bow—and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. 4 Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die.” 5 Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the LORD before I die.’ 8 Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: 9 Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. 10 Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.” 11 Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin. 12 What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.” 13 His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.” 14 So he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and she prepared some tasty food, just the way his father liked it. 15 Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. 16 She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins. 17 Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made. 18 He went to his father and said, “My father.”“Yes, my son,” he answered. “Who is it?” 19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.” (Genesis 27:1-19 NIV) 

I decided to read some commentary on this passage to get a broader viewpoint. John Wesley reacts to Rebekah’s actions with disdain. He makes a good point that Jacob had a legitimate path to God’s blessing, and was God’s choice. Rebekah did not need to intervene. God did not need Rebekah’s impatient actions to bless Jacob. God already knew both Esau and Jacob well. Rebekah could have used truth to persuade Isaac, such as telling him that Esau had already given up the blessing by selling his birthright and by marrying strange wives.

Rebekah is here contriving to procure the blessing for Jacob, which was designed for Esau. If the end was good, the means were bad, and no way justifiable. If it were not a wrong to Esau to deprive him of the blessing, he himself having forfeited it by selling the birth right, yet it was a wrong to Isaac, taking advantage of his infirmity, to impose upon him: it was a wrong to Jacob, whom she taught to deceive, by putting a lie in his mouth. If Rebekah, when she heard Isaac promise the blessing to Esau, had gone to him, and with humility and seriousness put him in remembrance of that which God had said concerning their sons; if she had farther shewed him how Esau had forfeited the blessing, both by selling his birth-right, and by marrying of strange wives; ’tis probable Isaac would have been prevailed with to confer the blessing upon Jacob, and needed not thus to have been cheated into it. This had been honourable and laudable, and would have looked well in history; but God left her to herself to take this indirect course, that he might have the glory of bringing good out of evil.
John Wesley

Commenting on Jacob’s outright lie in verse 19, John Wesley was dumbfounded. He wondered how a good man like Jacob could lie to his father, even twice.

Who would have thought this plain man could have played such a part? His mother having put him in the way of it, he applies himself to those methods which he had never accustomed himself to, but had always conceived an abhorrence of. But lying is soon learned. I wonder how honest Jacob could so readily turn his tongue to say, I am Esau thy first-born: and when his father asked him, Genesis 27:24. Art thou my very son Esau? to reply I am. How could he say, I have done as thou badst me, when he had received no command from his father, but was doing as his mother bid him? How could he say, Eat of my venison, when he knew it came not from the field, but from the fold? But especially I wonder how he could have the forehead to father it upon God, and to use his name in the cheat.
John Wesley 

The fact is, no one can take the curse for someone else. Only Jesus Christ did that. “10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10 NIV). There is no record that God approved Rebekah’s deceptive actions. And Jacob would pay dearly for his lies. He would live life on the run, living in fear of his brother Esau, who wanted to kill him.

The Bible does say that Isaac was acting by faith: “20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.” (Hebrews 11:19-21). Indeed, Isaac was acting by faith. He could not see well. But does the Bible say that Rebekah was acting by faith? Does the Bible say that Jacob was acting by faith? No. The Bible simply acknowledges that Rebekah had God’s promise that “the older will serve the younger” and that God knew both Jacob and Esau: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (Romans 9:10-14) Neither of these statements tells us that God approved of Rebekah’s deception nor that God approved of Jacob’s lies. The Bible simply upholds God’s sovereign choice to bless Jacob. I believe God did not bless Jacob because of Rebekah’s actions, but in spite of her actions.

What do you think? Is there a time to use deception and lying to get God’s blessing? Was Rebekah or Jacob acting out of faith? Should we imitate their actions to get God’s blessing for ourselves or for someone close to us?


  1. I had taught Gen 27 for several decades that Rebekah acted out of faith, and that Jacob learned from her mom the utmost importance of getting God’s blessing by any means, even by deception.

    Now I see several major problems teaching this passage in this way, as brought up by Wesley and by other Bible commentaries as well.

    I justified that God informed Rebekah of his choice of Jacob. But that does not give Rebekah the license to use deceptive means to achieve the desired result. Also, man’s heart is deceitful (Jer 17;9), including Rebekah’s and us. Rebekah herself favored Jacob.

    God told David that he would be the next king. But David did not use his own power to rid himself of Saul. So, this cancels the justification of Rebekah’s deception in the previous paragraph.

    Most damagingly of all, it puts the major emphasis on man to get it right, before God can fulfill his will. This is of course ludicrous. God will always fulfill his will, with or without our participation.

    Even if Rebekah was well intentioned, it still doesn’t justify deception. It can easily lead to all kinds of practical application that is not biblically grounded.

    I remember once justifying driving over 90 mph on Lake Shore Drive because I had to bring something to church urgently. I was so proud that I did so for the glory of God!

    • I’m so glad you are repenting Ben! In regard to your driving in the past, I can only say as I heard many Russians say: “Oy!”

  2. Recently when children in church were studying this passage, I told them there were some problems with the anxious people in this passage. Isaac still had many years ahead – he was just thinking that he’s dying. Rebekah wanted to rush and deceived her husband, and Jacob followed her advice to deceive his own father. So all were punished by their own sins – they were separated since that moment until death, and Jacob had a hard time to recover his relationships with his brother and with many people, and with God.

    And I believe children should learn that lying is bad, and trusting God to put things right and people in the right places is good.

    • Excellent point Timothy. I think we should often ask ourselves: “Would I teach this to a child? Would I teach this to my children?”

  3. Birgit (Heidelberg)

    Rebekah and also Jacob had to pay the price: Broken family, separation, fear … Therefore I don’t think, their deception should be excused (or even serve as a role model).

    But their sinful behaviour did not hinder God’s plan. PLUS he did not give up his hope for his chosen one.

  4. Darren Gruett

    Lying is expressly forbidden in both the OT (Ex 20:16) and NT (1Ti 1:10), and I can think of no place in Scripture where lying is condoned, even if it is for a good reason. God’s plan and purpose would have come true apart from Rebekah and Jacob’s deception.

  5. David Bychkov

    I was used to lying in order to preach the Gospel in dorms. Everyone knows that it is strongly forbidden, but I was trained and encouraged by leaders to preash in dorms, inspite it was forbidden. then I became a leader and became to encourage others do this as well, still inspite it was strongly forbidden. During few years it almost did not disturb me, but with time I began to feel very uncomfortable of this. I listened proverbs very often, and was taught that it to hide eyes is not good, it is bad, but when I was coming to dorm, I had to hide my eyes of shame, because I had to lie for the mission sake. It worried me, and then I stopped this practice at all.
    This is just one example of lie or double standarts which I used for the mission.

    • David, I am glad to hear that you stopped this practice. I am convinced that God respects our conscience, for He put it there as part of His image in human beings. I don’t think God calls us to violate our conscience, even though we often have to think differently or struggle to see someone else’s point of view. God’s Spirit is the Spirit of truth, not of lies.

  6. Brian, thanks for your thoughts. Initially, when I studied Genesis 27, I had a reductionistic view of the passage. My points was “Catch God’s blessing by any means.” Of course, we should always strive to do what is right. But that is not the main point of the passage. We can see that each character in this chapter had their own agenda. There is favoritism, egos, blind ambition, deception, etc. Of course, all of these sinful things are morally indefensible. The main character is not Isaac, Jacob, Rebekah or Esau. It is God! In spite of all their sullied actions, God worked. This chapter reminds me of a quote by Tullian Tchividjian. He quoted: “I learned that God’s capacity to clean things up is infinitely greater than our human capacity to mess things up. I learned about the “stubbornness” of God to accomplish His will, regardless of how hard we may try and thwart it.” We try our best to do the “right” thing, but our righteousness is often filthy rags. But in spite of our actions, God will accomplish his will. As Ben says “God will always fulfill his will, with or without our participation.” We are lost in our sinfulness, but God provided a way of salvation. It is at the foot of the cross that God cleansed our filthy rags and redeemed messy lives. I have done things that I’m not proud of, but God in his infinite wisdom has used even these events to teach, discipline and mold me to grow in the image of Christ.

  7. David Bychkov

    Recently I finished reading J. I. Parker’s small book “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God”. The book is great, and I highly recommend it to anyone. You will enjoy.
    One of wonderful points I learned from him is when we trully believe in God’s sovereignty of giving salvation to people, we will be able to keep participating in salvation work only with allowed method. We will not break God’s laws in order to bring people to Christ. Yes, we do responsible for preaching the Gospel. We do responsible for doing it wholeheartedly, using all allowed methods. But we do not responsible for preaching effectiveness, for result. So we are free from the philosophy – “the purpose justifies everything” or “good is what effective”. We are not judjed by what God decide to do in his sovereign will, but by what he opened to us in his word.
    “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law”(Det. 29:29)

  8. Brian, thank you for this article. I agree with you that God wants us to be children of truth and that lying, hypocrisy and deception are sin.
    However, there is one story, i am still wrestling with. In Joshua we read how Rahab hid the spies. Her act of faith was to protect these men from their certain death and to choose loyalty towards the people of Israel rather than her own people, who were all doomed and to be judged. Nonetheless, she lies about them in order to save them.
    What do you make of this story? would appreciate any helpful and thoughtful comments.

    • David Bychkov

      I think this is like in the war. What would you say to Hestapo if you are hiding Jews?

  9. Henoch, your point is why the answer to my question is not so cut-and-dry, as I first thought. I am considering what James and Hebrews have to say:

    “24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” James 2:24-26 (NIV)


    “31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” Hebrews 11:31 (NIV)

  10. So are James and the Author of Hebrews implying that what Rahab did was justified?

    • Darren Gruett

      I was thinking about Rahab also when this discussion came up. What Hebrews and James say is that Rahab was justified for her faith and that she displayed that when “she had welcomed the spies in peace.” It was her treatment of the spies, not her lie, for which she was honored.

  11. Brian Karcher

    it is clear to me that the person Rahab was justified. I need to think more like a child to understand further. I think this is also a war situation…. a life or death matter.

    • I don’t understand what you mean when you say “I need to think more like a child to understand.” Do you mean you are looking at the issue in a more simplistic manner? I’m sure many people have tried to tackle this issue before us. If they haven’t been able to find an answer I don’t know if we will be able to; the implications are just way too mind-racking.

    • Brian Karcher

      What I mean is this. “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.'” Luke 10:21 (NIV)

      So if I were to ask a child: “Two women lied to get something good. Which one is God happy with?” A child would say that God was happy with neither one.

      It is clear to me that neither God nor the Bible approves of lying or deceit.

      It is also clear that God and the Bible considered Rahab as righteous for her act of hiding the spies. The reason cannot be because God approves of lying or needs deception from His people to accomplish the saving of lives. There must be another reason.

      So a key question for me is: Why does James say Rahab was righteous for her act of sending the spies off in an opposite direction, and why does Hebrews commend Rahab as having faith when she welcomed the spies?

    • Ahhh that mysteries of God. Oh well, probably best not to go nuts trying to figure it out and just trust that God knows what he’s doing.

  12. Just adding a cultural complexity to this question. Someone sent me this random website about Korean culture (particularly about the concept of “kibun”). Western cultures value truth over loyalty but Eastern cultures value loyalty over “truth” – generally speaking.

    “The Concept of Kibun

    . Kibun is a word with no literal English translation; the closest terms are pride, face, mood, feelings, or state of mind.
    . If you hurt someone’s kibun you hurt their pride, cause them to lose dignity, and lose face. Korean interpersonal relationships operate on the principle of harmony.
    . It is important to maintain a peaceful, comfortable atmosphere at all times, even if it means telling a “white lie”.
    . Kibun enters into every facet of Korean life.
    . It is important to know how to judge the state of someone else’s kibun, how to avoid hurting it, and how to keep your own kibun at the same time.
    . In business, a manager’s kibun is damaged if his subordinates do not show proper respect. A subordinate’s kibun is damaged if his manager criticizes him in public.
    . Nunchi is the ability to determine another person’s kibun by using the eye.
    . Since this is a culture where social harmony is crucial, being able to judge another person’s state of mind is critical to maintain the person’s kibun.
    . Nunchi is accomplished by watching body language and listening to the tone of voice as well as what is said.”

    • Thanks John! Those are concepts I’ve picked up on, even learned I think, over the past couple decades (man I sound old!). I’ve never seen the concepts written down and explained so well though. Those things are very important to understand when doing cross-cultural mission. And I think a lot of hurt could be avoided if we would communicate about these things intentionally, rather than finding out years later.

      I’d love to see some key aspect of many cultures documented like this, for Russians, Mexicans, Americans, Canadians, etc.

    • Darren Gruett

      I think that understanding how other cultures think and operate is invaluable, especially in a church like ours which is so heavily invested in foreign missions. A while back, Dr. Scott Moreau of Wheaton College gave a lecture at the main center entitled “Contextualization,” and it was one of the most eye-opening talks I have ever heard on this issue. In it, he delineated well the differences between American and Korean culture in terms of their core values and how they approach they same scenarios through a different set of lenses.

    • Darren, I saw the lecture too. It was really good. It looks like Scott came to Chicago also. The similar lecture is on ubfTV: (Click the 12/19/09 link on the right-hand side “Contextualization”).

    • Darren Gruett

      Yes, it was in Chicago where I saw him. In fact, I was looking for the video, so thanks for posting the link. I may want to view it again.

  13. Actually, I see that your link does provide a nice list of cultures:

    • Joshua Brinkerhoff

      Brian, all you need to know for Canadians is:

      “GO CANUCKS!”

    • To think that the Chicago Blackhawks almost pulled off a major upset of the highly favored Canucks in the first round…

    • Brian Karcher

      Ah…well the Wings will be back next year! Sorry, I digress.

  14. Any volunteers for articles on cross-cultural communication? There’s a lot to say and know about this. I know we are going off on a tangent, but it’s a good tangent that needs exploring!

    Compare the Korean values to the American values, for instance…

    “American Society and Culture


    America is ultimately a nation of immigrants and as a result is a cultural mish-mash in every sense of the word. Not only is the country populated by people from foreign countries but all Americans in one way or another trace their ancestry back to another culture, whether Irish, German, Italian or Scottish. Looking around any major city one will notice the ‘melting-pot’ that it is.

    Informal and Friendly

    Most people who come to the United States may already know a few things about the people through TV. Although this is of course a skewed reality some of the stereotypes are true, especially American friendliness and informality. People tend to not wait to be introduced, will begin to speak with strangers as they stand in a queue, sit next to each other at an event, etc. Visitors can often be surprised when people are so informal to the point of being very direct or even rude.

    Time is Money

    The country that coined the phrase obviously lives the phrase. In America, time is a very important commodity. People ‘save’ time and ‘spend’ time as if it were money in the bank. Americans ascribe personality characteristics and values based on how people use time. For example, people who are on-time are considered to be good people, reliable people who others can count on.

    The Family

    The family unit is generally considered the nuclear family, and is typically small (with exceptions among certain ethnic groups). Extended family relatives live in their own homes, often at great distances from their children.

    Individualism is prized, and this is reflected in the family unit. People are proud of their individual accomplishments, initiative and success, and may, or may not, share those sources of pride with their elders.”

    • Brian, a couple i am very close friends with gave me two books to read on cross-cultural mission (as a birthday gift). it’s on my to-do-list. If i find time to go through the books and if i think these are helpful, i will definitely write a piece on cross-cultural mission.

    • David L

      I might write one on that…as a white English Ministry pastor of a Korean church it has sometimes been difficult for me to relate to the congregation and for the congregation to relate to me.

    • Awesome, and two public commitments none-the-less!

  15. I didn’t see anyone make this point, so I will add a small detail that I think is relevant.

    I think one important matter is WHO we lie to and WHY we are lying.

    Are we lying to the enemies of God to help and serve those in need? Was it wrong to lie to the NAZI regime to save those who were going to be excommunicated, beaten, starved, and eventually lose their lives? Was it wrong for Rahab to lie to those standing in the way of God’s Holy Work because she knew God was doing something much bigger? Certainly not. None of these were wrong because these were people who were either evil with evil intent to harm the less powerful or they were a roadblock in a greater work of God.

    Or are we lying to God’s servants to make our will happen – even though it seems in line with God’s will (Rebekah)? Or are we lying to Co-workers in Christ about what we have done in the past because we think they will think one thing or another or because we will lose credibility with them? Or, are we lying to young Christians because they cannot handle the truth of what we or others have done or are doing in the ministry or because some people in the ministry have other views or opinions we want to “shelter” them from? In my opinion – none of these are justified, ever. It only makes church a place of non-human humans. People who project images of themselves and of the work of God. People who cannot just be who they truly are, live with their own mistakes, and celebrate the glory and grace of God to make them new people. Lying to Christian leaders, coworkers, or young Christians, in the long term, will do serious damage to others and to the work of God in that ministry.

    In short – the WHO and the WHY matter. And in that, lying, I think, can seldom be justified.

    • Darren Gruett

      Although it is tempting to agree with you, I simply cannot on the basis that Scripture never condones lying–period. I think that Jesus serves as the best example of this, who I am sure under pressure from the Sanhedrin was tempted to lie, but instead chose to remain silent. Yet, when put under oath He did state the truth, even to His own demise.

      It is difficult to speak to things like your example about the Nazis, especially for someone like me who was never in that position, which clearly would be a difficult dilemma for any Christian. But let us suppose that those who were asked by the Nazis about whether they were hiding any Jews chose to remain silent? What would the consequences of have been? Would the Nazis have just given up and left them alone? Certainly not! In fact, the lie was not just to protect the Jews but also themselves from repercussions.

      I think the same thing can safely be said of Rahab, knowing that if she was truthful that it would not only hurt the spies but herself. Again, the Bible is very clear that she was honored for her faith, not her lie.

      Would I have done the same thing if I was in either of these situations? Most certainly, yes, I would have. Why? It is because I am as weak as the next man (or woman, in the case of Rahab) who needs Christ’s forgiveness. Yet, it is dilemmas like these that make walking with Jesus such a radical and sometimes difficult path to follow.

    • David Bychkov

      What about Christians in the countries where Christianity is above the law? I know that in USSR, Christians did many activities really secretely.

    • David L

      God’s Law is always above man’s law, but God’s law never condones lying. Something like meeting in secret to worship God is not a lie, it is a secret. All lies are from the father of lies the devil, but secrets can be either evil or good depending on the context. Like Darren said, there could have been other ways of dealing with those situations because God never puts his people in a position where they must sin my lying, he always provides a way out of our temptations.

      For instance, a German Christian who was hiding a Jewish family in his attic could say to the Nazi, “C’mon, do you think that a good German like me would do such a thing? Yeah I have a whole family in my attic! Come on in and I’ll throw a party for all of us, haha.” If he said such a thing it would not be a lie, but it might be effective to evade capture.

    • Tuf, asking us to consider the “who” and the “why” sounds logical. Lying to an enemy seems ok. But I wonder how we can tell who the “infidel” is? Of course, looking back in hind-site, such as in the Nazi case, we might excuse those who lied.

      But this kind of thinking just sounds too much like Islam for me to accept it. I don’t think as a Christian I can open a “loop hole” and say that lying to enemies of God or evil people is ok.

      Here are some quotes about Islam and lying:

      Muslims are “to associate with non-Muslims only for a very specific purpose, which is to lead the ‘infidel’ into the ‘House of Islam’, chattel slavery, or death. Lying is not only permitted to achieve this goal, but encouraged. The Muslim is in fact required to lie in order to change the host society into an Islamic nation and merge the old culture into one in which there is no religion but Allah’s [Q. 3:19].”


      “While lying against Allah and his lone prophet is punishable by hell-fire, lying to non-Muslims plays an important roll in the Sunnah of Muhammad found in many of the traditions. In later philosophical treatises on the relation of deceit and jihad, there are many examples of just how Muslims are to deal with ‘infidels’ and even how critics are to be dispensed with.”


    • You all have interesting replies, and I may be wrong.

      David – “C’mon, do you think that a good German like me would do such a thing? Yeah I have a whole family in my attic! Come on in and I’ll throw a party for all of us, haha.”

      I look at lying broadly. To me, this quote is still lying. It is purposeful misleading. BTW – Spin is lying too.

      Brian – yikes.

      That said, I even if I am wrong, I think I would lie to a horrible evil person to save an innocent one. Would you?

    • No, I would not lie. But I would be shrewd. I think shrewdness is the answer. I would react with shrewdness in the examples discussed in this thread. In other words, in the situation of needing to save a life at the hands of an evil person, I would manipulate details without changing the truth of the situation.

      I think that Rebekah acted deceitfully and taught Jacob to lie. Rahab lied but also acted shrewdly.

      God himself acts shrewdly when dealing with the “crooked”: “25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, 26 to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.” — Psalms 18:25,26 (NIV)

      And shrewdness combined with innocence is what Jesus commands: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” — Matthew 10:16 (NIV)

  16. David Bychkov

    BTW, we just overcomed the level of 2000 comments made on this website!

  17. Interesting First Things argument about deception. I’m not endorsing the argument and I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I found it an interesting that someone would argue for it

    By the way, what ever happened to the statistics for the Most Commented Article? It really motivated to comment. Is someone trying to address my concupiscence to pride?

    • We lost a couple things when the rogue script attacked us… We’ll get the list and ref-tagger back soon… after you repent of your “comment envy”! :)

  18. Birgit (Heidelberg)

    When I read David L’s comment about hiding Jews during Nazi time, a true story came to my mind which I read in Corrie ten Boom’s famous book “The shelter” (not sure, if the this is the title in English). Her father respected Jews very much and helped them to escape from Nazi persecution. They had made a special room for them in their house in Amsterdam where Jews could hide in case of a Nazi “razzia”. But one day, there was not enough time left to make the jewish guests go upstairs and hide in this secret room. But in their living room they had a table covered with a long blanket, reaching almost to the floor. So they made the Jews hide under the table. Corrie’s sister Betsie had a strong conviction that God hates lies and blesses those who always tell the truth. So when the Nazis came and asked where the Jews were hidden, Betsie replied: “Under the table.” Corrie described how shocked she was, her heart almost seemed to stop beating. But the Nazis didn’t take Betsie’s reply for serious and didn’t lift the blanket on the table, but just left with an angry manner. God blessed Betsie and made her a blessing for the Jews who remained undiscovered.

    • Darren Gruett

      Thanks for sharing that great story, Birgit. What an amazing example of God’s grace.

    • This is a great example of shrewdness. There is an interesting characteristic of truth: often people don’t believe it.

      1. Characterized by keen awareness, sharp intelligence, and often a sense of the practical.
      2. Disposed to artful and cunning practices; tricky.

    • Birgit: Didn’t the soldiers actually look under the table? I thought they found nothing under the table and left. The truth was the people were hiding under the trap door under the table.

      That’s why I thought this was “shrewd”. The people were “under the table”, but the soldiers didn’t keep looking and missed the trap door.

      Maybe I’m remembering this wrong…

  19. Darren Gruett

    By the way, I was thinking, Rahab could have said the same thing, and who knows, it might have turned out similarly.

  20. james lee

    Interesting discussions.. I remember at church we talked briefly about Paul having a “clear conscious before God” (this is when Paul was presenting his testimony to Pharisees in ACTS)

    This is when he was about to go on trial. He testifies about how he carried out his journey upon meeting Christ and that he has a clear conscious before God and man, which means that he believed he did the right thing.

    Maybe Jacob and the other “blessed liars” of the Bible had a “clear conscious” before God as well?

    Maybe their lies didn’t come from a place of pride, arrogance, fear, etc.

    In military strategy, business, and team sports, deception is common. Like in basketball I could “fake” a pass, etc. I use forms of deception like this in some areas of my life but am I sinning? I know that I have a clear conscious when I play basketball and I “trick” others to a certain extent. Does God detest this behavior? Am I living in sin? I’m leaning towards a no.

    I think what we actually SAY out loud, the words that come out of mouths, are actually irrelevant. It’s the “heart” that counts.

    Some Pharisees in Jesus’ time would say all these nice prayers in the synagogues when in reality their hearts were only focusing on pleasing other people.

    Rahab was obviously telling a fat lie to the Jericho soldiers, but her heart was God-fearing.

    I think we can agree who was blessed out of the 2 examples.

    just my thoughts

  21. So here is my answer after much thought. Thank you everyone for your input.

    Is there a time to use deception to get God’s blessing? No.

    Jesus said in John 4:24 (NIV) “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” I am a Christian called by God to be truthful– to believe the truth, to speak the truth and to live truth (James 2:18-26). Jesus does instruct me to be shrewd as a snake and innocent as a dove (Matthew 10:16). But this does not excuse me to stray outside the truth. My faith and my actions must work together in the light of truth.

    C.H. Spurgeon said, “If God does not save a man by truth he certainly will not save them by lies, and if the old gospel is not competent to work a revival, then we will do without the revival.”

    Sarah Barry once said, “I hope it [UBF] can be a fellowship that can be used by God. I hope it to disappear if it becomes a fellowship that God cannot use.” (

  22. Brian I also recently studied Gen 27 with some Bible students. No one in that passage was good but God alone. Later as I was reading the Bible I came to a verse where God identified himself as the God of Jacob. Why not the God of Israel? When I read that God is the God of Jacob I was really touched. God is the God of sinners. God is the God who loves sinners, liars and all. And it is God who can change the worst of us (which is really all of us)into his saints. I love the God of Jacob.

    • I agree, no one in that passage was good except God alone. The exciting part of this passage for me was to learn that God did not approve of Rebekah’s deception nor Jacob’s lies. God does love sinners, but God does not approve of our sins. God did not bless Jacob because of Rebekah’s actions, but in spite of her actions (all of which is very different from what I was taught about this passage).

      Since no one is good except God alone, I am learning that it is not helpful for me to see people as “good” and “bad”. Instead of good and bad people, Jesus saw people as repentant and unrepentant, those with faith and those without. I now am trying to see people and myself like this: am I acting out of genuine, repentant faith or out of my own selfish ambition? 

  23. I was talking to Ben W recently about this topic and he made a great point: What about the Egyptian midwives who lied about Jewish babies being born before they could get to them, THEN God blessed them and gave them their own families! Was that a case of, “Love covers a multitude of sins (including lying to pharaoh)? Veeery eeenteresting……..

    • Darren Gruett

      Did they lie to get God’s blessing, or lie to save their own lives? In any case, I do not think God blessed them because they lied. He blessed them because they feared Him and were willing to obey Him rather than Pharaoh.

    • David Bychkov

      But didn’t it (their fear of God) express in their lie?

    • Hi Darren, They certainly did not lie IN ORDER to get God’s blessing, you are probably right, they lied to save their lives…but, God blessed them anyway, and abundantly. So their blessing was not a consequence of their lie (which occured after their disobedience to Pharoah) but rather a consequence of their disobedience to Pharoah in obedience to God by the saving, not destroying of life!