“Then the woman took the two men and hid them. So she said, ‘Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And it happened … when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.’ (But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax.)” — Joshua 2:4-6 NKJV
Rahab told an outright lie to the messengers of the King of Jericho when she told them that the two Israelite spies had left the city. They hadn’t left; she was hiding them on her roof! This allowed the spies to escape to the Israelite camp and report to Joshua that the city could easily be captured.
Had Rahab not lied to protect them, we might think that they may have been caught and killed. And, interestingly, it appears that for her faithfulness in lying about the spies, she was saved from the destruction of Jericho and had the special blessing of being mentioned in the lineage of King David and the Lord Jesus (Mt. 1:5-16).
“Jehu gathered all the people together, and said to them … ‘Call to me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests. Let no one be missing, for I have a great sacrifice for Baal …’ But Jehu acted deceptively, with the intent of destroying the worshipers of Baal.” — 2 Kings 10:18-19
Similarly, Jehu lied unashamedly in saying that he would serve Baal. In doing so he brought together all the false prophets, servants and priests of Baal to a great sacrifice. His intent was to slay them. One might say that had Jehu not lied they would not have all gathered in the temple of Baal where his soldiers could kill them and so destroy Baal out of Israel. It appears the Lord rewarded Jehu for his deeds, promising him that four generations of his family would occupy the throne of Israel.
Conundrum, A Puzzle
And so, we have a conundrum – puzzle for the mind of the serious Christian. It looks like we have two people who told blatant lies that seem to have helped accomplish God’s purposes. And each is rewarded by a special commendation of the Lord. Was it right to lie? Was lying the vehicle to blessing?
Some say that Rahab was an unbeliever, still outside the family of faith. She could be excused because she didn’t know any better. Or others say that she may have been a new believer but the Spirit of the Lord had not yet taken hold of her life to rid her of her old, unregenerate ways. However, this cannot be said of Jehu! He was an Israelite, one of God’s chosen people. Both told sinful lies contrary to the ninth commandment (Ex.20:16). Even if Rahab wasn’t yet a believer, the moral law also teaches that lying is wrong. Either under the Law of Moses or the moral law, there is no excuse. So what is the answer to this conundrum?
Make No Mistake!
Make no mistake! God hates lying (Prov. 6:16-19). The lie has its origin in the devil (Jn. 8:44). Never try to justify any tainting of the truth; it is a very slippery slope downwards. The lies told by Rahab and Jehu did not honor God and did not originate in His will. Actually, the protection of the spies and the destruction of the false prophets, servants and priests of Baal, could have been accomplished by the power of God without the assistance of a lie! Their falsehoods tainted their personal character, cheapened the power and ability of God and confuse many Christians today.
Could the Lord have hidden the spies? Yes, of course! After all, did He not hide David from King Saul when the king entered the exact cave that was occupied by David and his men (1 Sam. 24:3-4)? And even as the Lord gathered all of the Israelites, who had returned from the Babylonian captivity, “as one man” to Jerusalem (Neh. 8:1), couldn’t He have brought all the followers of Baal to one place? Of course He could!
Then the blessings of salvation and kingship had nothing to do with the lies that were told. Rahab was blessed because of her faith and belief in the God of Israel. She was rewarded for receiving the spies in peace (Heb. 11:31), not for telling a lie. Furthermore, from a careful reading of the account, Jehu was not promised a continued kingship because of his destruction of the followers of Baal. It was in connection with his action in executing God’s judgment on the house of Ahab and utterly destroying it. It appears that the eradication of Baal worship could not be commended by God because of the lie! It is only recorded in the Biblical account as a factual statement.
So even though some may think that Rahab and Jehu’s lies were excusable, if not necessary, we may be assured that no one, especially a Christian, should ever tell a lie or defend the use of one.
By Hank Blok