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Of Genesis

Have you ever been deceived?  Of course, you have.  At some point in our lives we have all be tricked by others [and probably done some fooling ourselves].  And we have all fallen for Satan’s lies.  In Jesus Christ we are moving from the Lie to the Truth but still there are areas in our lives in which we are still believing the satanic lies.

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Genesis is the Book of Beginnings and in it we see the beginning and truth about deceptions.  Satan, the Father of Lies, practiced the art of deception first on Eve in the Garden of Eden. But it did not stop there.  At least 15 major evil tricks can be found in the Book of Genesis. 

Before we look at them we should ask: What does deception mean?  It is simply someone presenting false information or manipulating the truth either directly or by implication to give a misleading impression.  Sometimes it involves leaving some of the truth out, again, to give a false impression.  True deceptions get someone to believe something that is not true.

Below we will look at the best deceptions in the Book of Genesis, how they were worked, the victims of deception and some quick thoughts on what we can learn for our own lives.

Deception 1: Gen. 3:1-7

We have all been deceived at one time or another.  What can we learn about deceptions from the Book of Genesis?

Who Was Deceived?  Eve

Who Was The Deceiver?  Satan in the form of a serpent

Method Of Deception?  Casting doubt on the Word of God followed by direct contradiction of the Word of God.

What Was The Purpose?  Satan deceived Eve into eating the forbidden fruit in direct disobedience to God in order to get at Adam who was the representative of the physical creation including the entire human race. The object was to present Adam with a choice between God and Eve, hoping that he would choose Eve and so bring sin into the world by rejecting God and submitting to Satan. Eve was deceived into thinking there could be something good outside of God, that God was withholding something good from her, and that she could become as great as God.

Was The It Successful?  Yes

Result:  Eve ate the forbidden fruit and gave it to Adam, who was not deceived but ate the fruit in defiant rebellion to the Word of God. Sin was then introduced into the world bringing sickness and destruction. Fear of God replaced relationship with God. Death and separation happened. The eyes of Adam and Eve were opened and they knew they were naked - they experienced shame for the first time.

Why Was Eve Deceived?  She was obviously standing close to the forbidden tree. She expanded on the Word of God when talking with Satan. She talked with Satan instead of leaving. She did not seek the protection or help of her husband. Adam, who must have been there or nearby, did not speak up to defend her.

Lessons:  Rely on the Word of God. Walk in obedience. Do not engage in conversation with Satan or those who would draw us into a sinful lifestyle. Make sure God has priority over all things including pleasures and personal desires. Do not change the Word of God even by expanding it. God, in His wisdom, knew what to cover and not to cover in His Word.

Deception 2:  Gen. 4:3-16

Who Was Deceived?  Abel

Who Was The Deceiver?  Cain

Method Of Deception?  Asked Abel out to a field with a hidden motive

What Was The Purpose?  Cain was angry with God and jealous of His brother. He wanted to remove his brother so God would have no choice but to accept him. Or he was seeking revenge on both God and Abel while avoid responsibility for his own actions.

Was The It Successful?  Yes and No - He was able to kill his brother, but it brought judgment not blessing.

Result:  The first murder. Abel was dead and Cain became a drifter on the earth. The first two children were removed from Adam and Eve's family.

Why Was Abel Deceived?  He trusted his brother and could not see the hidden motive. He had no reason for suspicion. Something like this had never happened before.

Lessons:  Walk with wisdom. Smooth words may hide villainous motives. Even those closest to us may resent our success and seek to destroy us. Having God's favour does not necessarily mean having man's favour. The end does not justify the means. Cain's "means" were wrong and he suffered judgment. We can be blinded by anger to the hurt of others and to our own downfall. Destroying others brings destruction back on ourselves. God is not mocked. We are to protect and look after each other, not tear each other down. We are responsible for our actions regardless of our emotional state. If Cain had obeyed God in the first place, none of this would have happened. Cain had thought he had a better way - no one improves on God's way.

Deception 3: Gen. 12:1-20

Who Was Deceived?  Egyptians/Pharaoh

Who Was The Deceiver?  Abraham and Sarah

Method Of Deception?  Half-truth - Sarai was to pretend to be Abraham's sister instead of his wife.

What Was The Purpose?  Abraham was afraid for his life. He thought this deception was necessary to save his life. He may have been right, at least, on a natural plane.

Was It Successful?  Yes

Result:  Sarai was taken to Pharaoh's palace to become his wife. Pharaoh gave Abram wealth because of Sarai. The Lord intervened to protect Sarai by bringing serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household. Pharaoh rebuked Abram, returned Sarai to him and allowed them to leave.

Why Was Pharaoh Deceived?  He took Abram at his word without investigation. Pharaoh had lust in his heart for beautiful women and wanted them for his own.

Lessons:  Although the danger was real, Abram acted in fear and exposed his wife to danger. Not trusting God placed both Sarai and Pharaoh's household in trouble. Our actions of self-preservation can bring harm to others. We have to be careful to consider the effects of our actions and not place our own safety or priorities above the welfare of others. Abram was rebuked for his unrighteous actions by Pharaoh. God can use the heathen to "straighten us out" if He desires. God never directly rebuked Abram for his actions, but He did rescue him. God is our defender even when we are in the wrong, but this does not give us license to be foolish or sin. God judged Pharaoh for placing Abram in such a position that he had to make such a difficult decision. The fact that God did not condemn Abram for his decision shows that his fears were probably justified.

Deception 4: Gen. 19:30-38

Who Was Deceived?  Lot

Who Was The Deceiver?  His two Daughters

Method Of Deception?  They got their father drunk so they could have sex with him to produce children.

What Was The Purpose?  The daughters wanted children to keep the dynasty of their father alive, but there were no eligible men around.

Was The Deception Successful?  Yes

Result:  Two nations were begun out of incest: The nations of Moab and Ammon.

Why Was Lot Deceived?  Probably willing to drink to forget that his foolish and selfish actions had caused him to lose everything. He was living alone in a cave with his two daughters - destitute although he had been a wealthy man.

Lessons:  Our choice have consequences. Trying to remove emotional pain through alcohol and drugs etc. causes more harm than good. We need to be sensitive to the needs and desires of others. Lot could have sought out husbands for his daughters - even from Abram's family. Probably his willingness to expose his daughters to rape and death had deaden any emotional attachment or love commitment they may have had for him. The purpose of the deception was not sexual, that was the method necessary to produce children. It is possible to have sex and not know it. The children of everyone associated with Abram seem to produce nations. God's blessing is powerful and overflows to all around.

Deception 5:  Gen. 20:1-18

Who Was Deceived?  Abimelech

Who Was The Deceiver?  Abraham and Sarah

Method Of Deception?  Half-truth - Both Abraham and Sarah told Abimelech that she was his sister not his wife.

What Was The Purpose?  Once again Abraham was afraid for his life, afraid he would be killed so his widow could marry Abimelech.

Was It Successful?  Yes

Result:  Sarah was taken by Abimelech. God appeared to Abimelech in a dream to defend Sarah. God had made all Abimelech's women barren. Abimelech maintained his innocence and returned Sarah to Abraham along with a good deal of wealth. Abraham was told he could live anywhere he liked. Abraham prayed for Abimelech and he and his women were healed.

Why Was Abimelech Deceived?  He lustfully desired to possess beautiful women.

Lessons:  Be content with your spouse. God speaks in dreams. It is possible to have 2-way communication with God in dreams. God protects His own even from the innocent actions of others. Ignorance is no excuse - judgment was upon Abimelech even before he know what he had done was wrong. God can keep us from sinning. God is in control even of heathen kings. When we discover what we have done is wrong, we should repent immediately and make generous restitution. Abimelech challenged Abraham about his deception. Abraham had provided false information and now he had to explain his actions. God did not judge Abraham and Sarah for their deception. Abraham and Sarah increased their wealth substantially because of this deception although that was not their motive. God looks after His own.

Deception 6:  Gen. 26:7-11

Who Was Deceived?  Abimelech and the men of Gerar

Who Was The Deceiver?  Isaac

Method Of Deception?  Lying - He said that Rebekah was his sister not his wife.

What Was The Purpose?  To protect his own life.

Was It Successful?  Yes for a while and then it was discovered

Result:  Isaac was exposed and challenged. Then he and Rebekah were protected by Abimelech

Why Was Abimelech Deceived?  He took Isaac at his word.

Lessons:  Even Christians can be deceptive, have hidden motives and give in to fear. Fear can motivate us to do wrong things. An unhealthy self-preservation can cause us to put others - even those we love - in danger. Isaac was where God told him to be, but he did not trust God to look after him there. Even the ungodly have the common grace of God on their lives and are not totally corrupt. They can act with honour. We should not assume that they are always out to get us or take advantage of us. Being beautiful has it own problems and dangers. Isaac followed the example of his father. We have to be careful how we lead. Others will take what we do and expand on it - for Abraham it was a half-truth, for Isaac it was just plain lying.

Deception 7:  Gen. 27:1-45

Who Was Deceived?  Isaac

Who Was The Deceiver?  Rebekah and Jacob

Method Of Deception?  Lying and food [certainly the way to Isaac's heart!] - Jacob pretended to be Esau, the eldest son.

What Was The Purpose?  To obtain the family blessing, the covenant rights and leadership of the family tribe for Jacob.

Was It Successful?  Yes

Result:  Jacob did receive the blessing, but had to flee for his life. He never saw his mother again.

Why Was Isaac Deceived?  He was blind and do could not see Jacob only smell and feel him. He priority was on his meal.

Lessons:  Isaac knew Jacob was God's choice to receive the blessing, but he was willing to oppose it because of tradition and favouritism. He enjoyed his oldest son's cooking the best. It is never wise to have favourites in a family. It can split the family apart and drive a wedge between the husband and wife. Rebekah was the schemer. Jacob was a schemer too, but a low-risk schemer. He would not take high risks unless pushed to it. The blessing was very valuable and unique. It was powerful and could not be given twice. Our eyes are to be on God and His will, not earthly pleasures. Do deep investigation before making major decisions. The things of God are priceless, but they must be gotten in the right way. Our selfishness brings pain to others. We cannot anticipate all the consequences of our deceptions. We may gain what we want, but lose far more than we thought.

Deception 8:  Gen. 29:21-30

Who Was Deceived?  Jacob

Who Was The Deceiver?  Laban

Method Of Deception?  Drinking - Promised to give Rachel as a wife, but gave Leah instead.

What Was The Purpose?  To marry off Leah and get another 7 years of free labour out of Jacob.

Was It Successful?  Yes

Result:  Jacob ended up with two wives for whom he worked a total of 14 years.

Why Was Jacob Deceived?  He did not suspect Laban of trickery and had probably had more than enough to drink so he did not discover the switch until the morning when it was too late.

Lessons:  Do not assume that people have your best interest at heart. There are often ulterior motives and hidden agendas. People do not always keep their word - even relatives. A deceiver often ends up being deceived and; therefore, has no real ground for complaint.

Deception 9:  Gen. 31:17-55

Who Was Deceived?  Laban

Who Was The Deceiver?  Jacob

Method Of Deception?  Packed all his possessions and left secretly while Laban and his men were out shearing the sheep.

What Was The Purpose?  To escape from Laban's control and return home

Was It Successful?  Yes for 3 days

Result:  Laban and Jacob made a covenant not to harm each other.

Why Was Laban Deceived?  He thought he had control over Jacob and did not see or, at least, consider the dissatisfaction and frustration of Jacob.

Lessons:  Do not misuse power or influence. If you take advantage of people under your influence you may lose them and end up hurting yourself. God protected Jacob and did not rebuke him for his method of escape. God will protect His own. God is able to speak even to the ungodly bound on evil purposes. God is always in control. Jacob acted out of fear. He feared Laban more than he trusted God. Sometimes we deceive the ungodly who would harm us in order to escape the evil they would do.

Deception 10:  Gen. 31:30-37

Who Was Deceived?  Laban

Who Was The Deceiver?  Rachel

Method Of Deception?  Lying and concealment - Lied so the Laban would not search under her camel saddle and find the stolen household gods.

What Was The Purpose?  To conceal a theft and save her life

Was It Successful?  Yes

Result:  Jacob was angry at Laban for what he thought was a false charge. Rachel got to keep the gods.

Why Was Laban Deceived?  He believed his daughter's lie.

Lessons:  Hidden agendas can be even in our closest family members. Rachel was beautiful, but her heart was still after her family gods and traditions. She was not a good companion for Jacob even though she was the focus of his love. We must not let a beautiful face or our love for someone blind us to their true character. Rachel was bold and sneaky and willing to risk her life for her gods. Rachel comes across as a spoilt brat while Leah, the unloved one, appears to be the faithful, good-hearted one. Leah got Jacob in the end because he was buried with her not Rachel.

Deception 11:  Gen. 34

Who Was Deceived?  Shechem and Hamor

Who Was The Deceiver?  Sons Of Jacob

Method Of Deception?  Lying - Pretended to be friendly and forgiving, said that if all the men of the city would be circumcised then they would inter-marry and live together. Shechem could then marry Dinah.

What Was The Purpose?  To get revenge [justice?] for their sister's rape.

Was It Successful?  Yes

Result:  Simeon and Levi murdered every male in the city and looted it. They rescued their sister. Jacob and his household had to move.

Why Were Shechem and Hamor Deceived?  Shechem wanted Dinah for his wife. The men of the city saw the advantage of increased trade and profit. They did not realize the depth of their offence.

Lessons:  The desire to correct injustice or get revenge runs deep and may make hidden agendas. We may be sorry for what we have done, but our restitution may not be accepted. We always need to be on the look-out not to give offence. If we treat others with respect, we will do well. Shechem got into trouble because he did not exercise self-control. He wanted Dinah and he forced himself on her. He may have been able to get away with such actions in his own city and culture, but he was dealing with people of a different culture. We need to be aware of different beliefs held by the people we come in contact with and respect them as much as possible.

Deception 12:  Gen. 37:31-35

Who Was Deceived?  Jacob

Who Was The Deceiver?  His Sons

Method Of Deception?  Falsifying Evidence - They ripped Joseph's coat and smeared it with goat's blood to make it appear that he had been killed by a wild animal.

What Was The Purpose?  To hide their crime of selling their brother into slavery

Was It Successful?  Yes, for 14 years, then it was exposed.

Result:  Jacob deeply mourned Joseph's supposed death.

Why Was Jacob Deceived?  He believed his sons and the evidence that was presented. He was blind to the jealousy his favouritism had caused.

Lessons:  Evidence can be faked. Be aware of the emotions and feelings of those around us. Do not jump to conclusions. There are some sorrows too deep to be comforted. Jacob had made a "god" out of Joseph. When Joseph was gone so was his reason for living. We are to have no other gods before us. Our focus and priority is to be the Lord Jesus Christ.

Deception 13:  Gen. 38:13-30

Who Was Deceived?  Judah

Who Was The Deceiver?  Tamar

Method Of Deception?  Disguised as a prostitute she allowed her father-in-law to have sex with her.  Note: This was before the Mosaic laws against sexual relations with close relatives.

What Was The Purpose?  To have children for her dead husband.

Was It Successful?  Yes, until her pregnancy began to show.

Result:  Tamar became pregnant with twin boys. Her father-in-law acknowledged that she was more righteous than he was.

Why Was Judah deceived?  Out of fear he delayed giving Tamar to his third son as a wife, so Tamar took matters into her own hands. Judah's wife had recently passed away and he desired a sexual partner.

Lessons:  Tamar was willing to risk her reputation and life to obtain justice. We should love and pursue what is right. Tamar required a pledge. Although her plan was risky, she took what safety precautions she could. We must be wise in our actions and minimize risk where possible.

Deception 14:  Gen. 39:7-20

Who Was Deceived?  Potipher

Who Was The Deceiver?  His Wife

Method Of Deception?  Lying, presenting false evidence - Told her husband that Joseph had attempted to rape or seduce her.

What Was The Purpose?  To soothe her wounded pride, to get revenge on Joseph for rejecting her.

Was It Successful?  Yes

Result:  Joseph is thrown into prison for a crime he did not commit.

Why Was Potipher Deceived?  Trusted his wife or even if he doubted her word he could not take the word of a slave over that of his wife.

Lessons:  Sometimes people with evil intent appear to win. Sometimes the innocent suffer. Those in power appear to be in control. A woman is often the "power behind the throne," she can manipulate the man/men over whom she has influence for good or evil. Wounded pride can be a powerful motive for revenge and injustice. The rich can be bored and seek immoral avenues to find "entertainment." Lust is a powerful master. Sexual desires can be controlled, even in strong temptation. Evidence can be twisted to give false impressions. We have to look at all the evidence in an unbias light. We cannot be blind to the true character of those we love, nor can we support them in their ungodly actions. Sometimes we do not even get a chance to make our defence - we must trust God.

Deception 15:  Gen. 42 - 44

Who Was Deceived?  Joseph's Brothers

Who Was The Deceiver?  Joseph

Method Of Deception?  Withheld the truth, allowing them to believe their assumptions - Did not reveal who he really was.

What Was The Purpose?  To test them to see if they had changed from the cruel, selfish men who had sold him into slavery.

Was It Successful?  Yes

Result:  His brothers have a hard time while they are tested, but they prove themselves to be changed men.

Why Were Joseph's Brothers Deceived?  It never entered their minds that Joseph could be alive and certainly they could not conceive of him as a ruler in Egypt. Impossible!

Lessons:  While revenge is wrong, it is not wrong to test the character of people we have to rely on or who have wronged us. We forgive freely, but trust must be earned back. Trials develop and prove character. Keep your mind open to possibilities. Never say, Impossible.

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