Who can you really trust? Well, sometimes it seems like there is no obvious answer to that question. It always amazes me how early on we learn to lie and deceive. No one has to teach us how to lie. Or even when to lie. From an early age, sin springs to life in us and teaches us the art of self-preservation through falsehood, lies, and half-truths. Who can you trust in such a world as this? A world full of natural born liars?
Jacob was well-acquainted with the art of deception. He had used it to trick his blind father and cheat his older brother. Now he was on the run. And who can he trust? Who can he look to for help in his hour of need?
Well, as we heard a moment ago in this doozy of an Old Testament reading, Jacob certainly can’t trust his uncle Laban. Though Laban and Jacob may share the same “bone and flesh,” when it comes to telling the truth, these two men are cut from the same cloth. Now Jacob gets a taste of his own medicine. Now the deceiver becomes the one who is deceived.
All this treachery of course raises the question: Why is any of this in the Bible? Why does the Lord want to teach us through this recounting of the sordid and sleazy behavior of these two liars?
Well, if we step back a bit—back to the very beginning—back to the Garden of Eden—we see that this whole mess started with a lie. With a half-truth. With a deceiver and one who was deceived.
And yet, we also hear God’s curse fall on the deceiver. We hear God’s promise to stamp out the fruit of his deception. We see God bind himself to wage war on the Father of Lies and redeem man from his power through the One whom he would send into the world speak words “full of grace and truth.”
And one of the beautiful things about these Old Testament stories that’s not always immediately apparent, is just how often God brings about his plan of redemption despite, and even sometimes through, the mouths of liars and deceivers. From Laban’s cruel trick, God would use it to make Leah—this unattractive, unwanted bride—the great, great, great (plus about 30) grandmother of Jesus. Through the schemes of cheaters and liars, God would establish a kingdom of truth and righteousness.
So who can you really trust? Who can you really turn to when everyone around you seems to be full of deception? You can trust God. You can trust his Word. As we heard yesterday in the Gospel reading, through Christ, God has established a new community of worshipers—those who are called to worship him in Spirit and in truth through his gift of the Spirit of Truth. The Holy Spirit that was given to you in your baptism takes the true words that Christ has spoken to you and creates and sustains in you the faith that clings to that truth in the face of every lie and falsehood of the devil. Stand firm in his word. His word is truth.