In the book of Genesis there are five accounts that use different Hebrew words for the concept of deceit. The first, of course, refers to Satan, but the rest continue to form a pattern that portrays God’s entire plan for defeating the forces of evil. Join me on this search, and you will see a pattern also.
Before I begin, try to unravel the pattern on your own. Here are the five accounts.
- Genesis 3:13
- Genesis 27:12, 35
- Genesis 29:25
- Genesis 31:20, 26-27
- Genesis 34:13
First we must start with Satan, but the verse is far from simple. “The Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ And the woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate’ (Gen 3:13). The Hebrew word for “deceive” conveys a powerful visual image. The primitive root refers to one who lends money. God warns us that “the borrower becomes the lender’s slave” (Pr. 27:2). Thus, Satan uses deceit to control us. We are under his foot and he can do with us as he pleases, that is, if we fail to obey God as God’s servant.
Second, Jacob used deceit to acquire from his brother, Esau, both the birthright and the blessing that accompanied the birthright. In both cases, we see Isaac, Jacob’s father, who is a “type” for God, the Father of His children. In the first of the two verses in this account, the verb is expressed with extreme emphasis. Jacob says to his mother, who has constructed this deceitful action, “Perhaps my father will feel me, then I will be as a deceiver in his sight, and I will bring upon myself a curse and not a blessing"” (Gen 27:12). “Be as a deceiver” is in a verbal form that expresses intense emotion felt by Jacob’s father (also God, our Father), who agonizes when his child allows Satan to manipulate him. Listen now to Isaac’s words when he learned that Jacob had deceived his brother in order to acquire the blessing of the birthright. Can you hear the agony in his voice? “Your brother came deceitfully and has taken away your blessing!” (Gen 27:35). Certainly Jacob’s actions to gain the birthright and blessing by deceit were not legitimate godly deeds, which represents the way we walk in the world when we do not commit to obeying and serving our wonderful Father.
Third, we come to God’s instruction by “testing”. After working seven hard years for Rachel, whom he loved, Jacob experienced the same kind of deceit that he had earlier perpetrated on his brother. Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, deceived him by giving Leah to Jacob as a wife instead of Rachel. Listen to Jacob’s self-righteous words that are expressed with intense emotion. “What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?" (Gen 29:25). In my visual way of perceiving God’s instruction by testing, God lets us walk in worldly ways and then He removes His hand of protection so we bring upon ourselves the consequences of our ungodly behavior. Hopefully, we recognize what we have done and turn to God in a growing process of maturity.
Fourth, after more than twenty years in Padan-Aram, which represents the wilderness of the world where we receive our training by “testing”, Jacob escaped from Laban. “Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him that he was fleeing” (Gen 31:20). Then we hear Laban’s angry demand (Laban is a “type” of Satan) when he finally caught up with Jacob and his family. “What have you done by deceiving me and carrying away my daughters like captives of the sword?” (Gen 31:26). Jacob was not the only one who had escaped from Laban (Satan). He took with him his two wives, eleven sons, one daughter, his servants, and all his worldly possessions. In the ancient world, Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, had an ownership claim not only on Jacob but also on all that Jacob possessed. Satan also makes that claim, but again we have a wonderful word picture. The Hebrew word for “deceive” in this account represents using deceit to steal something from another person. Jacob has just stolen his family from the clutches of Satan and returned them to God.
Fifth, we come to the climax of our pattern, which gives us a powerful perspective on the end of time. First, let us look at the context of what happens next. After Jacob’s exodus from Laban’s control (representing Satan’s control), he wrestled with an angel whereupon God changed his name to Israel and declared him worthy of the birthright. As this dramatic struggle began, we learn that “Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak” (Gen 32:24). The Hebrew word for “left” is used of a remnant. The prophet Hosea refers to this man as an angel (Hos 12:3-4), and the angel was not able to “prevail” against Jacob. That is, Jacob was spiritually strong enough to be the victor in a spiritual battle. Jacob was now a remnant in the eyes of God, and we see him entering the land of Israel with his family. I suggest that this is the same imagery as the remnant entering the land of the Millennial Kingdom after the Great Tribulation.
Now we come to the fifth account of deceit, which is the rape of Dinah at Shechem and the slaughter of the Shechemites by Jacob’s sons. However it was only two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, who killed the Canaanite men of Shechem, but all of the sons plundered from the Shechemites their possessions. Jacob’s descendants used the same tool of deceit to accomplish this utter destruction of the enemy that Satan had used against God’s people. Stop now and read Genesis 34:13-29.
Following this account at Shechem, God told Jacob (now named Israel), “Arise, go up to Beit El and live there” (Gen 35:1). “Beit El means “House of God,” so Jacob would be dwelling there with God. One can only come into God’s presence in righteousness, so Jacob told his household (family and servants) and “all who were with him” (those who had attached themselves to Jacob after the slaughter of the Shechemites) to “put away your foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves and change your garments” (Gen 35:2). Thus, Jacob was bringing others, besides his household, with him to the House of God. Who were these “others”? The only possibility could have been Canaanites who lived in the land. These Canaanites appear to represent the “nations”, that is, the Gentiles who were not Jews.
Now I have puzzling questions for you. Jeremiah refers to the account at Shechem as “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer 30:7), which we have traditionally associated with the Great Tribulation. The slaughter of the Shecehmites had exposed Jacob and his family to the intense hostility of the surrounding Canaanites, and Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and my men being few in number, they will gather together against me and attack me and I will be destroyed, I and my household" (Gen 34:30-31). So, here are the questions for you to ponder.
- Is the account at Shechem prophetic of the Great Tribulation, which led to Satan being chained for 1000 years, or to the battle at the end of the Millennial Kingdom with Gog and Magog when Satan was completely defeated?
- Simeon and Levi are not identified as a remnant. Their brothers Joseph and Judah have attributes of the birthright in Jacob’s blessings of his twelve sons (Gen 49:1-27). Since Simeon and Levi were the ones who killed the Shechemites, do they represent the time of the Great Tribulation or the final defeat of Satan at the end of the Millennial Kingdom?
- Does going up to Beit El represent the Millennial Kingdom of the Messiah, or the Kingdom of God the Father at the end of time?
So, this is the pattern that I see, which offers a picture of God’s great plan of redemption. This pattern is in alignment with my work on the remnant.
- Satan gains control of God’s people by deceit.
- God’s people walk in worldly ways where deceit represents ungodly behavior.
- God instructs His people by “testing” whereby they bring consequences upon themselves for their worldly way of living. In this manner they learn to become mature servants of God. I suggest that these righteous ones are worthy of God’s selection of a remnant.
- God’s servants are in the process now of walking in righteousness as a witness of what is to come. At some time in the future, a remnant will enter the Millennial Kingdom with their families, just like Noah, the righteous one who is identified as a remnant in Scripture, entered the ark with his wife, his sons, their wives, and his possession of animals. During the following thousand years, the righteous remnant will bear righteous offspring (as numerous as the sand on the seashore and the stars in the sky).
- At the end of the Millennial Kingdom, Satan will be loosed from his chains and will come out with Gog and Magog to battle God’s forces. God’s righteous army will be victorious. I suggest that Jacob’s two sons who slaughtered the Shechemites may represent the offspring of the righteous remnant (Jacob was the righteous remnant). The remaining sons who plundered the enemy’s possession would then also represent the offspring of the righteous remnant. Perhaps those who joined themselves to Jacob to go with him to Beit El represent all the rest of God’s children. I think this account gives us a prophetic glimpse of the future, but it probably prompts more questions than it answers. That is the way God leads us into a depth of meaning in Scripture. So, what needs to follow is for you to ponder these thoughts, and then let’s dialogue.
With sincere best wishes for your excitement that comes from digging for deeper meaning in Scripture
Dr. Anne Davis
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