Learn From the Testimony of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

Abraham is known as the Friend of God and the “father of all them that believe.” (See James 2:23 and Romans 4:11.) His responses of faith and obedience in the major decisions of his life pleased God. However, when Abraham went down to Egypt as a result of a famine, he adopted a deceptive practice.

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And it came to pass, when he [Abraham] was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai [Sarah] his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee (Genesis 12:11–13).

Abraham’s deception put Sarah in moral jeopardy, and Pharaoh soundly rebuked Abraham when the lie was discovered. Years later, Abraham used this lie again when he and Sarah traveled in Gerar. (See Genesis 20.) In both situations, God moved to protect Sarah and others from the sin of adultery, but in the years to come the iniquity of deception played a significant role in the lives of Abraham’s descendants.

Abraham and Sarah’s son Isaac followed Abraham’s example and lied about the identity of his wife, Rebekah, when they traveled in Gerar: “And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon” (Genesis 26:7). When the Philistine king, Abimelech, discovered Isaac’s deception, he rebuked Isaac for exposing other men to the possible sin of adultery. (See Genesis 26:9–10.)

In the next generation, the lies were directed toward immediate family members. Rebekah and her son Jacob schemed to deceive Isaac into giving secondborn Jacob the firstborn blessing that rightfully belonged to Esau. Taking advantage of Isaac’s failing eyesight, Jacob deceived his own father: “And he came unto his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I; who art thou, my son? And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy firstborn; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me” (Genesis 27:18–19).

Decades later, Jacob’s sons deceived him concerning the welfare of his son, Joseph. The older brothers, jealous of Joseph’s favor with Jacob, sold Joseph as a slave: “And they took Joseph’s coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; and they sent the coat of many colors, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son’s coat or no. And he knew it, and said, It is my son’s coat: an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces” (Genesis 37:31–33). Not until years later did Jacob discover the truth of what had happened to Joseph. (See Genesis 45:26.)

In these examples, we can see how the iniquity of deception was taken up by one generation after another, deepening and becoming more desperate through the years.

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