He is a Prophet

Daily Reading Genesis 20 & Genesis 12:10-20

Corrie Ten Boom’s book The Hiding Place is an incredible account of a Christian family sacrificing everything to help Jews in Holland during WWII. During the war, members of Corrie’s family wresteld with the ethical dilemma about whether there was ever an appropriate time to lie. As the ringleader of the underground, Corrie lied all the time to secure ration cards and safe hiding places for Jews. Her sister Nollie, however, was resolved in her conscience to never speak an untruth.

In this excerpt, Corrie describes the day one of the Jews hiding at Nollie’s house arrived on her door step:

“Standing a few feet away, seemingly immobilized by some terrible emotion, was old Katrien from Nollie’s house!”

“I bolted down the stairs, threw open the door, and pulled her inside. “Katrien! What are you doing here? Why were you just standing there?”

“She’s gone mad!” She sobbed. “You’re sister’s gone mad!”

“Nollie? Oh, what happened!”

“They came! she said. “The S.D.! I don’t know what they knew or who told them. Your sister and Annaliese were in the living room and I heard her!” The sobs broke out again. “I heard her!”

“Heard what?” I nearly screamed.

“Heard what she told them! They pointed at Annaliese and said, ‘Is this a Jew?’ And your sister said, ‘Yes.'”

I felt my knees go weak. Annaliese, blond, beautiful young Annaliese with the perfect papers. And she’d trusted us! Oh Nollie, Nollie, what has your rigid honesty done! “And then?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I ran out the back door. She’s gone mad!”

Nollie, we soon learned, had been taken to the police station around the corner, to one of the cells in back. But Annaliese had been sent to the old Jewish theatre in Amsterdam from which Jews were transported to extermination camps in Germany and Poland.

It was Mietje who kept us in touch with Nollie. She was in wonderful spirits, Mietje said, singing hymns and songs in her high sweet soprano. How could she sing when she had betrayed another human being! Mietje relayed another message from Nollie, one especially for me: “No ill will happen to Annaliese. God will not let them take her to Germany. He will not let her suffer because I obeyed Him.”

Six days after Nollie’s arrest, the telephone rang. Pickwick’s voice was on the other end.

“The Jewish theatre in Amsterdam was broken into last night. Forty Jews were rescued. One of them, a young woman, was most insistent that Nollie know: ‘Annaliese is free.’ Do you understand this message?” 

I nodded, too oversome with relief and joy to speak. How had Nollie known? How had she been so sure?

It seems God honored Nollie’s desire to be true to her conscience by giving her peace and allowing Annaliese to be rescued. But does that mean Corrie was wrong for the times she misled the Germans in order to save the lives of innocent Jews?

This is a very important question of Christian Ethics and one that often rises to the surface in discussion of these passages from Genesis. Before we condemn Abraham for wrongdoing, let’s take a closer look at the events.

Abraham’s journey to Egypt from Genesis 12:

Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.” When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. And when the princes of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.

It is important to note that Abraham’s decision to travel to Egypt seems to be motivated by a desire to survive a severe famine. Choosing between what he saw as life and death, Abraham decided to risk taking his family into a land with a leader who had no fear of God. From what we know of the pharaohs historically, they could be pretty nasty guys. The pharaohs where men who set themselves up as god in the land and thus had their way with the people. Knowing this, Abraham believed he was a target because of his wealth and the beauty of his wife. If Pharaoh knew they were married, Abraham would be killed and Sarah would be taken. In hopes to avoid this, Abraham and Sarah devised a scheme. The plan kept Abraham alive, but it did not prevent the ruthless dictator from claiming Sarah as his own.

Look at the language from Genesis 12:14-15:

When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. And when the princes of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 

Pharaoh had no right to take her, married or single. The best illustration for what happened might be the Liam Neeson movie Taken.

A similar event happens in Genesis 20. While not as powerful as Pharaoh, Abimelech was on the same level when it came to lack of fear of God. The evil ways of the people living in Canaan were out of control.

So before we use these passages to teach people not to lie, let’s remember Abraham was trying to keep his family safe while they navigated and sojourned in Nazi Germany.

While the question, “Is deception ever okay?” remains, there is something else happening here that is much more important.

In Genesis 20:7 God says to Abimelech, “Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live.” (NIV)

God’s voice breaks into the narrative and initiates a program of events that will define the rest of human history. In this story, Abimelech sins and is deserving of death. God tells him not to fear, for his prophet will pray for him. After the prophet intercedes, Abimelech will live.

This sequence of events happens over and over again in Scripture and still happens today. One of the biggest examples takes place in Exodus 32 when Israel arrives an Mt. Sinai.

Exodus 32:1-14

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.

And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”

11 But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’” 14 And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.

The wrath of God burns against Israel for their sin, and certain death is upon them. Then God’s prophet climbs a mountain in order to make intercession on behalf of the people. God hears the intercession of his prophet and relents from the judgment that was to fall on them.

Then God raises up another prophet like Moses, who will do the exact same thing. We were dead in our transgressions and sins, but then God sent us his prophet who went up on a mountain to make intercession for his people. In fact, Jesus is seated at the right had of God today and lives to make intercession so that the imminent wrath of God will never fall on those who are protected by God’s Prophet.

Hebrews 7:25

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

1 John 2:1-2

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

BEFORE THE THRONE OF GOD ABOVE

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me

Behold Him there the risen Lamb
My perfect spotless righteousness
The great unchangeable I am
The King of glory and of grace
One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God!
With Christ my Savior and my God!

One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God!
With Christ my Savior and my God!

The Emmaus Trail is a weekly devotional study that explores the theme of God reconciling himself to the world through the redemption of his Son which is found in all of Scripture. 

Luke 24

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 

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