Bible Insights

Is it Ever Okay to Lie?

Telling the Truth May Not Be Absolute

The descendants of Jacob (Israel) are enslaved in Egypt. They are prolific and their captors fear their growing numbers.

To curb their population explosion the king of Egypt commands the midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, to kill every baby Hebrew boy as he is born.

They do not. They fear God more than the Egyptian king.

The king confronts them. This may seem like a great time for them to boldly stand up to the king, proclaim their fear of God, and be ready to die for their faith. Many others in the Bible do this. Daniel and Esther come to mind.

This would be a great time for Shiphrah and Puah to proclaim God to the king. Perhaps their likely execution will rally their people. Their martyrdom could spark a revolution.

They might inspire the Hebrews to rise up and ultimately escape. But they don’t do this. Instead they lie.

They claim they don’t arrive in time, that the Hebrew women give birth too quickly. Therefore they are unable to do what the king commanded.

How does God react? He does not criticize them for lying. He does not punish them for missing this opportunity to confront the tyranny of their oppressors. Instead he rewards them for their reverence to him: he blesses them with families of their own.

Apparently it was okay for them to lie.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Exodus 1-3, and today’s post is on Exodus 1:15-22.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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