August 14th, 2020

Genuine or pretending?


By Submitted Article on June 6, 2020.

Deception

Second of three parts

Jacob M. Van Zyl

Magicians use deception to change our perception; they use illusion to fool our vision. Dexterous make-believe is the trick of the trade.

Some people can tell a lie with the truth. What they say is quite feasible, but they depict it in such a way that they gain your sympathy and get you on their side. At the end of the long hard-luck story, they ask you for money. It makes you feel a heartless brute if you refuse.

In this way, a guy got a few dollars from his pastor to buy bread for his hungry children. The pastor had a hunch the money would not be spent on bread; so, he followed the guy from a distance. As he suspected, his client entered a bar and ordered a drink. When the barman served the drink, the pastor whispered in Joe’s ear, “You said you wanted to buy bread for your children.” Joe was ready with an explanation, “Pastor, I asked this man for bread, now look what he gives me!”

Deceit may have long-term implications. After the destruction of Jericho and Ai by the invading Israelites, the Gibeonites feared the same lot may befall them (Josh. 9). They sent a delegation with old clothes, sandals and food, pretending to be of a far-off country, seeking peace with Israel. Joshua and his council did not consult the Lord and made a covenant with the Gibeonites not to attack them.

After three days, Joshua discovered they had been deceived. They did not break their oath, but they made the Gibeonites slaves forever.

About five centuries later, King Saul started to exterminate the Gibeonites. After Saul’s death, the remaining Gibeonites requested justice from King David. They demanded that seven grandsons of Saul be delivered to them for execution (2 Sam. 21). David granted the request, thus breaking his oath to Saul that he would not kill his descendants (1 Sam. 24:21-22).

The world has seen many peace accords and treaties of which a substantial portion have been broken. Sometimes one party never intended to observe the treaty for long, using it only as a temporary ceasefire. Sometimes both parties may over time interpret the treaty differently.

The same kind of deception may happen regarding negotiated settlements between spouses, businesses, provinces and countries.

Pretending friendliness on the outside while harbouring malice on the inside is another widely used form of deception. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. It is wise to be on your guard against over-friendly people; they may have a hidden agenda.

Maybe we should make an exception for friendly salesmen, politicians and pastors. Their goal is not a secret – they want your support.

Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.

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