Is It Ever Okay to Lie?

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

Print This Article

A boss once confronted his employee, saying: “Armstrong, I heard the reason you didn’t come to work yesterday was that you were playing golf.” Armstrong protested, “That’s a rotten lie! And I have the fish to prove it.”

Speaking of lying, after the people of Israel entered the promised land, Joshua sent some spies into Jericho. When Jericho’s king heard about it, he suspected that Rahab the harlot was housing them, and demanded that she give them up. But she said,

“There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them” (Josh. 2:4,5).

Rahab said, as it were, “They were here, but they left about the time they lock the gates of the city. I bet that means they were trying to get out of the city before the gates closed. You know, if you leave now, you just might be able to catch up with them.”

But none of what she was telling those soldiers was true! She knew whence they were from, and she hid them (v. 4). This raises the question of whether it’s ever okay to lie. And the answer is no, it’s never okay to lie! But that’s not technically what Rahab was doing here.

You see, the precise dictionary definition of a lie is: “to utter falsehood…with an immoral design.” Is that what Rahab was doing here? No! If a bad guy breaks into your house and asks where your kids are, you’re not lying if you tell him they’re upstairs when they’re actually downstairs. It’s not immoral for you to buy some time while you
wait for the police to arrive, or your oldest son to come upstairs with his shotgun.

Another definition for lie is: “to say or do that which is designed to deceive another, when he has a right to know the truth, or when morality requires a just representation.” Did the king’s messengers have a right to know Rahab was hiding the spies? No! God gave Jericho and all the land of Canaan to Israel. That means the Canaanites had no legal right to it, and that means they had no right to know the truth about where the spies were.

A Tailor-Made Hiding Spot

Now let’s read on in Joshua 2 to learn where Rahab hid the spies.

“But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof” (Josh. 2:6).

Here we have proof that while Rahab may have been called a harlot in this passage (v. 1), she had evidently retired from being a working girl. Only a seamstress would have stalks of flax laid out in order on her roof. In those days, flax was used to make linen for clothing—but only after you dried it by laying it out in an orderly fashion in the sun. That means Rahab had gone from being a lady of ill repute to someone like the woman we read about in Proverbs 31:

“…a virtuous woman…seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands” (Prov. 31:10,13).

Rahab now had more in common with virtuous women than she had with ladies of the evening.

But her dark past as a prostitute seems to have made her pretty good at telling untruths, for as we read on we see that the king’s storm troopers bought her story hook, line, and sinker:

“And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate” (Josh. 2:7).

The king’s soldiers would naturally head toward the “fords” of the river, for they knew the Jews were still camped on the other side of the river, making it easy for them to conclude that the spies would be heading toward the Jordan to rejoin their people.

After the soldiers left, Rahab checked in on the spies:

“And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof;

“And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you” (Josh. 2:8,9).

Now here we have to ask how she knew God had given Israel the land. To find the answer, it helps to know that God had given it to them 500 years earlier when

“…the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites…” (Gen. 15:18-21).

Those verses describe the Promised Land, and the land’s inhabitants that Satan sent into Canaan after he heard God send Abram there back in Genesis 11. Abram delayed going there until years later in Genesis 12:4, and by that time Satan’s men were already there (v. 6).

But after Moses recorded in the Bible how God gave Abram the land, God made sure that copies of the Bible got around to people everywhere. We see proof of that throughout the Scriptures, and we see it here when Rahab told the spies that she was aware of how God had given them the land of Canaan.

This means that Canaanites like Rahab also knew God promised to help Israel conquer Canaan (Exod. 23:31), something she told the spies had struck fear into their hearts.

A Holy Terror

But to say that the people of Jericho were terrified of Israel was really saying something, for it was protected by massive stone walls, the ruins of which can still be seen today. How scared would you be if you lived in a gated community as secure as that? The citizens of Jericho were! And verse 10 goes on to explain why.

“For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt….”

Once the people of Jericho heard that God parted the Red Sea for the Jews, they knew there wasn’t anything too hard for the God of Israel—including the toppling of their impregnable walls! God actually predicted their fear when He told His people,

I will send My fear before thee…” (Exod. 23:27).

He even predicted that the Red Sea crossing would be the thing to cause their fear. Right after the Jews crossed it in Exodus 14, we read:

“Then sang Moses…this song unto the Lord….Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath He cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea….The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina” (Exod. 15:1,4,14).

But if those Palestinian Canaanites were frightened of God because He parted the Red Sea, how come Deuteronomy 2:24,25 says:

“I have given into thine hand Sihon the Amorite…contend with him in battle. This day will I begin to put the dread of thee and the fear of thee upon the nations that are under the whole heaven, who shall hear report of thee, and shall tremble….”

If the Red Sea crossing terrified the Canaanites, why does this verse say they wouldn’t “begin” to fear Israel until the “day” came when they conquered kings like Sihon and Og?

A Giant Panic Attack

Well, what do we know about Og? Right after the Jews forced Sihon to assume room temperature, Moses said,

“…the Lord our God delivered into our hands Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people: and we smote him until none was left to him remaining. And…only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of giants…” (Deut. 3:3,4,11).

Og was one of those giants we first read about in Genesis 6 when

“…the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And… there were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that” (Gen. 6:2-4).

Those fallen angels mated with women and fathered a race of giants, the same kind of giants that the 12 spies told Moses they saw in Canaan (Num. 13:33). The very reason Satan planted them in Canaan was to try to keep Israel from being able to gain possession of the land God gave them. And “Sihon king of the Amorites” (Deut. 3:2) was also a giant king of a giant people (Amos 2:9).

That explains why the giants in Jericho didn’t begin to fear Israel’s God until they heard that Israel had conquered giant kings like Og and Sihon. Sure, they were impressed with the parting of the Red Sea, along with all the other inhabitants of Canaan. But in the back of their minds they were thinking, “Hey, even if Israel’s God is able to bring down our walls, we’re still a race of giants, and the people of Israel are mere mortals. We’ll grind their bones to make our bread,” as a mythical giant once boasted in an equally mythical story. But once Og and Sihon fell to Israel, it proved to them that that old saying is true: “The bigger they are the harder they fall.”

I should add that when Deuteronomy 3:11 says, “only Og… remained of the…giants,” that didn’t mean he was the last giant on the planet. We know he wasn’t, for centuries later David rocked a giant named Goliath to sleep with a sling. Deuteronomy 3 was just saying Og was the last giant on the wilderness side of the Jordan River.

But the people of Israel had no reason to fear Satan’s giants, for God told them:

“There shall no man be able to stand before you: for the Lord your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon…” (Deut. 11:25).

God promised His people that “no man”—not even giant men— would be able to stand before them! I’m sure that reassurances like that were very welcome among the people of Israel. Remember, they’d just spent 400 years as slaves in Egypt. That means they had no clue as to how to wage war against mere mortal enemies, let alone demonic giants.

A Giant Meltdown

As we read on in Joshua 2, Rahab tells the spies,

“And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath” (Josh. 2:11).

That part about melting the hearts of the Canaanites with fear and terror is also something God predicted about the Canaanites, when He said,

“…the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. Fear and dread shall fall upon them” (Exod. 15:15,16).

Here I should point out that the things that happened to Israel back in these days were “types” or pictures of things that will happen to Israel again in the future, during the seven years of Tribulation that will follow the Rapture. We know the Lord expected His twelve apostles to live to see the Tribulation, for He told them what to do when they saw the antichrist (Matt. 24:15,16). And true to the type of the two spies we’re seeing here (Josh 2:1,4), the Lord sent the twelve forth two by two (Mark 6:7,12). Then,

“…the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two4…into every city and place…” (Luke 10:1).

The interruption of the dispensation of the mystery kept the Lord’s disciples from entering the Tribulation. But after the Rapture a new crop of saved Jews is going to go forth to preach in the Tribulation two by two, just as the Lord instructed, and just as we see typified here in Joshua 2.

And when those Jews go forth two by two in that terrible day, they’ll also have to keep in mind something the Lord said a few verses later in Luke 10:

“I send you forth as lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3).

Doesn’t that sound like what happened when Joshua (who was a type of Christ) sent those two spies into Jericho, a city filled with giants? And there is going to be a new crop of giants in the Tribulation. The prophet Daniel predicted more unfallen angels will

“…mingle themselves with the seed of men…” (Dan. 2:43).

That mingling is going to produce another crop of giants who will be more than happy to wolf down that new crop of saved Jews.

A Peace Offering

Do you know what else the Lord told His followers as He sent them forth two by two?

“And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again” (Luke 10:5,6).

Compare that to what we read about Rahab:

“…Rahab…received the spies with peace” (Heb. 11:31).

It’s even possible that the spies in Joshua 2 did what the Lord instructed His disciples to do in Matthew 10:11, where He said,

“…into whatsoever city…ye… enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide.”

If the spies did that when they arrived in Jericho, that would explain how they knew to go to Rahab’s house. The people of Jericho would respond to inquiries like that with directions to the home of the hooker who was rumored to have retired because she had converted to Judaism. That would also explain how the king knew where to look for them, and send his soldiers to Rahab’s house to apprehend the spies he’d heard had entered his city.

All we know for sure is that when Antichrist starts persecuting saved Jews in the Tribulation, believing Gentiles like Rahab are going to have to hide them, like she hid these two spies. The psalmist predicted all of this when he prayed,

“O God….Thine enemies make a tumult….They have taken crafty counsel…against Thy hidden ones. They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance” (Psa. 83:1-4).

Some of the “hidden ones” in this prophetic psalm are Jews who will hide themselves in the wilderness from the face of the beast (Matt. 24:15,16), but some will be hidden from him by Gentiles. When that starts to happen, God will have some advice for the nations of the Gentiles. He spoke prophetically to one of them, saying:

Let Mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler” (Isa. 16:4).

The “spoiler” there is the Beast. When he starts killing God’s people, God’s advice to Gentile nations like Moab will be to hide Jews from the beast—just as we see pictured here in Joshua 2 with Rahab.

Rahab actually got saved by hiding those two spies (James 2:25,26). She’s a type of how Gentiles in the Tribulation will get saved, as we can clearly see from the description of the judgment of the Gentile nations the Lord gives us in Matthew 25:31-40. As it says there, Tribulation Gentiles are going to get saved by taking in the Lord’s brethren in Israel—just as we’re seeing typified with Rahab and the spies.

I’ve always said that Israel’s past is a dress rehearsal for her future, and we see it here again. In many cases, the details found in the types in Israel’s past help us flesh out the details lacking in the prophecies of her future—if you’re aware you should be looking for those details in the types, that is. And now you are!


You can receive More Minutes With the Bible every week in your email inbox. This list features longer articles, including both original content and articles that have appeared in the Berean Searchlight.