Sounds like: shaw’kar/sheh’ker
Lying is one of the very first sins we accomplish as a child. We can all picture a mother asking the toddler, whose face is covered chocolate chip cookie smears, if he ate the cookie. Of course the little child says, “no”, regardless of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Even in the infant stages of humanity, lying was the very first sin they committed. When the Great Deceiver put himself in the presence of Eve he asked her if God really told her she couldn’t eat from any tree, Eve responded:
The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”
That was a lie. God never said Eve couldn’t touch the tree.
Why Eve lied is up for debate. Was it an unintentional lie by confusion? Was it a bold-faced lie which meant to repel the snake from asking more questions? Or was this lie a symptom of being in the presence of the Great Deceiver?
We don’t know. Regardless of the motivation, it was a lie. Eve claimed YHWH said something that He did not say. Before even biting the forbidden fruit, Eve was not acting like a child of God.
The Father of Lies/The Great Deceiver
YHWH is the God of Truth, which makes His adversary the proponent of Lies.
Yeshua (Jesus) called him the father of lies, and He boldly announced that the Jewish elite were acting like children of the wrong father:
[Jesus to the Jewish elite:] “I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.”
They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.”
Jesus said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. You are doing the deeds of your father.”
They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.”
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie [Greek: pseudos], he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar [pseustēs] and the father of lies.
But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”
Long before Yeshua graced the planet, Isaiah had something similar to say to the people:
“Against whom do you jest? Against whom do you open wide your mouth and stick out your tongue? Are you not children of rebellion, offspring of deceit [zera shaqer]…?”
Not much has changed since that fateful day in the Garden when Eve was seduced by the father of lies. That first little lie compounded on itself and grew bigger and bigger (as lies are want to do). Misinformation, disinformation, fake news, outright lies… this is the generation in which we now live. The line between true and false appears to be progressively getting blurrier.
All this falsehood, lying and deceit, is abhorrent to YHWH. He made it abundantly clear:
“You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie [t-shaq’qeru] to one another. You shall not swear falsely [la-shaqer] by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am YHWH.”
Although they were called to not lie to one another, they did so anyway:
“They bend their tongue like their bow; lies [sheqer] and not truth prevail in the land; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me,” declares YHWH.
“Let everyone be on guard against his neighbour, and do not trust any brother; because every brother deals craftily, and every neighbour goes about as a slanderer. Everyone deceives his neighbour and does not speak the truth, they have taught their tongue to speak lies [sheqer]; they weary themselves committing iniquity. Your dwelling is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know Me,” declares YHWH.
Idols of Falsehood
It’s not just lying to each other… sometimes we elevate things in our lives which are lies, such as the emphasis on wealth and beauty, fame and influence. We surround ourselves with idols, not so differently from our Ancient Near East counterparts. We worship idols but never admit our idolatry.
“What profit is the idol when its maker has carved it, or an image, a teacher of falsehood [shaqer]? For its maker trusts in his own handiwork when he fashions speechless idols.
Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, ‘Awake!’ To a mute stone, ‘Arise!’ And that is your teacher? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all inside it. But YHWH is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.”
Do we let lies be our teacher? Are we instructed by falsehood? The prophet Jeremiah was much more forthright:
Jeremiah 10:14-16 (see also Jeremiah 51:17-19)
Every man is stupid, devoid of knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols; for his molten images are deceitful [sheqer], and there is no breath in them. They are worthless, a work of mockery; in the time of their punishment they will perish.
The portion of Jacob is not like these; for the Maker of all is He, and Israel is the tribe of His inheritance; YHWH of hosts is His name.
YHWH Never Lies
YHWH, was the Maker of all, and He was the opposite of the Great Deceiver. He was, and is, the Great Living Truth and incapable of lying.
When Saul made a monumental blunder and lost his kingship in the eyes of God, he begged Samuel to pardon his iniquity and have God change His mind. Samuel responded to Saul:
1 Samuel 15:29
“…the Glory of Israel will not lie [lo y-shaqqer] or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.”
YHWH, “the Glory of Israel”, was firm on His decision and He would never be dishonest.
Even YHWH Himself announced his truthfulness. Saul’s successor was David, chosen by God, and YHWH promised that He would never deal falsely with him:
Psalm 89:20-21, 26-37
[YHWH:] “I have found David My servant; with My holy oil I have anointed him, with whom My hand will be established; My arm also will strengthen him…
…He will cry to Me, ‘You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.’
I also shall make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. My lovingkindness I will keep for him forever, and My covenant shall be confirmed to him. So I will establish his descendants forever and his throne as the days of heaven.
If his sons forsake My law and do not walk in My judgments, if they violate My statutes and do not keep My commandments, then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes. But I will not break off My lovingkindness from him, nor deal falsely in My faithfulness [w’lo a’shaqqer beh-emunati]. My covenant I will not violate, nor will I alter the utterance of My lips.
Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David. His descendants shall endure forever and his throne as the sun before Me. It shall be established forever like the moon, and the witness in the sky is faithful.” Selah.
YHWH’s promise to David, that his kingdom would have no end, appeared to fall apart when his grandsons destroyed the kingdom. Although it appeared that David’s kingdom did fall, YHWH had a more eternal solution to His promise. He would send His Son as the Anointed One from David’s line to fulfill the Kingdom of God. God would keep his promise in the most astounding way, and He upheld the truth as only the God of Truth could.
But humans are not God. We lie all the time, to others and to ourselves. We often complain that our politicians are liars… but they are just as human as you and I are. However, those who put themselves in a place of public leadership must be held publicly accountable.
In the days of first Temple Judaism, Jewish leaders consisted of the king of Israel or Judah, the priests, and the prophets of the day. Prophets were considered to be the mouthpieces of God, and so YHWH was particularly concerned about the message that the prophets were delivering. The book Jeremiah had a distinct emphasis on false prophets:
Then YHWH said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood [sheqer] in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false [sheqer] vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds. Therefore thus says YHWH concerning the prophets who are prophesying in My name, although it was not I who sent them—yet they keep saying, ‘There will be no sword or famine in this land’—by sword and famine those prophets shall meet their end!”
But this wasn’t just a problem in Jeremiah’s day. Years before Jeremiah, Isaiah wrote:
So YHWH cuts off head and tail from Israel, both palm branch and bulrush in a single day. The head is the elder and honourable man, and the prophet who teaches falsehood [sheqer] is the tail. For those who guide this people are leading them astray; and those who are guided by them are brought to confusion.
And a century after Jeremiah, Zechariah wrote:
For the teraphim speak iniquity, and the diviners see lying [sheqer] visions and tell false dreams; they comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep, they are afflicted, because there is no shepherd.
Apart from a few stand out kings and prophets, it appeared that the leadership of the Hebrew people was primarily run and operated by liars. YHWH’s people were like stranded sheep without a shepherd… because they didn’t acknowledge their one True Shepherd.
Although most people had no idea they were being led by deceivers, some people were keenly aware that they were surrounded by corruption and deceit. Job understood this:
“Behold, my eye has seen all this, my ear has heard and understood it. What you know I also know; I am not inferior to you. But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue with God. But you smear with lies [shaqer]; you are all worthless physicians. O that you would be completely silent, and that it would become your wisdom!”
Job’s words to his “friends” could also be fitting words to some of our leaders today… perhaps they should just be quiet and listen! It might be the only wise thing they do.
Regardless of your feelings about certain leaders, we must acknowledge that we have all told lies or represented ourselves falsely, or witnessed falsely against our neighbours.
Things Which YHWH Hates
Lying was listed at the top of things that YHWH hated:
“These are the things which you should do: speak the truth to one another; judge with truth and judgment for peace in your gates. Also let none of you devise evil in your heart against another, and do not love perjury [lies: sheqer]; for all these are what I hate,” declares YHWH.
Proverbs 6 listed seven things which were despicable to YHWH. Two of those things were associated with lying:
There are six things which YHWH hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:
(1) Haughty eyes, (2) a lying [shaqer] tongue, and (3) hands that shed innocent blood, (4) a heart that devises wicked plans, (5) feet that run rapidly to evil, (6) a false witness [ed shaqer] who utters lies, and (7) one who spreads strife among brothers.
A lying tongue and a lying (false) witness who utters deception are abhorrent to YHWH. In fact the ninth commandment (out of the famous Ten Commandments) was…
You shall not bear false witness [ed shaqer] against your neighbour.
According to the Proverbs, bearing false witness was like a weapon (club, sword, arrow) of destruction:
Like a club and a sword and a sharp arrow is a man who bears false witness [ed shaqer] against his neighbour.
David felt that weapon used against him:
[David:] Teach me Your way, O YHWH, and lead me in a level path because of my foes. Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries, for false witnesses [edey sheqer] have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence.
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of YHWH in the land of the living. Wait for YHWH; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for YHWH.
Lying Tongues was the second lying reference (from Proverbs 6) that YHWH despised, and you can find the visual references (along with Lying Lips and Lying Mouths of Falsehood) all over the Tanakh.
Deliver my soul, O YHWH, from lying lips [mi-s’fat sheqer], from a deceitful tongue. What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you, you deceitful tongue?
Let the lying lips [sif’teh shaqer] be mute, which speak arrogantly against the righteous with pride and contempt.
David prayed that those who used their mouths against him would be stopped:
[David:] O God of my praise, do not be silent! For they have opened the wicked and deceitful mouth against me; they have spoken against me with a lying tongue [l’shohn shaqer]. They have also surrounded me with words of hatred, and fought against me without cause. In return for my love they act as my accusers; but I am in prayer.
Although he was consistently persecuted, David had great faith that YHWH would shut the deceiving mouths:
[David:] My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me. But those who seek my life to destroy it, will go into the depths of the earth. They will be delivered over to the power of the sword; they will be a prey for foxes.
But the king will rejoice in God; everyone who swears by Him will glory, for the mouths of those who speak lies [shaqer] will be stopped.
Image by Wendy Alvarez (Unsplash.com)
Psalm 119: Lies, Arrogance, and Loving the Law
My soul weeps because of grief; strengthen me according to Your word. Remove the false [sheqer] way from me, and graciously grant me Your law.
The acrostic poem of psalm 119 put a special emphasis on loving YHWH’s laws/precepts/ordinances/testimonies. These were the great Truths and so it’s not surprising that the author of the poem compared these truths of YHWH to the falseness of the arrogant:
- The arrogant have forged a lie [sheqer] against me; with all my heart I will observe Your precepts. Their heart is covered with fat, but I delight in Your law (Psalm 119:69-70)
- May the arrogant be ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie [sheqer]; but I shall meditate on Your precepts (Psalm 119:78).
- The arrogant have dug pits for me, men who are not in accord with Your law. All Your commandments are faithful; they have persecuted me with a lie [sheqer]; help me! (Psalm 119:85-86)
- How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! From Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false [shaqer] way (Psalm 119:103-104).
- You have rejected all those who wander from Your statutes, for their deceitfulness [sheqer] is useless. You have removed all the wicked of the earth like dross; therefore I love Your testimonies (Psalm 119:118-119).
- Therefore I esteem right all Your precepts concerning everything, I hate every false [sheqer] way (Psalm 119:128).
- I hate and despise falsehood [sheqer], but I love Your law (Psalm 119:163).
The Law (Torah) was the guiding pathway back to YHWH. Falsehood set people astray and they would inevitably end up on the path of destruction. Following the law was a great help in leading humans back to where they needed to get to, but we had gotten so lost that we needed divine assistance.
Rise Up and Redeem!
We are Children of God not Children of Deception, but we are participants in deception so we need a Redeemer. The Son’s of Korakh wrote that they had not dealt falsely with YHWH’s Covenant; they had stayed on the right path, but they also acknowledged that they still needed a redeemer:
[Sons of Korakh:] All this has come upon us, but we have not forgotten You, and we have not dealt falsely [w-lo shiqqar’nu] with Your covenant. Our heart has not turned back, and our steps have not deviated from Your way, yet You have crushed us in a place of jackals and covered us with the shadow of death.
If we had forgotten the name of our God or extended our hands to a strange god, would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart. But for Your sake we are killed all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
Arouse Yourself, why do You sleep, O Lord? Awake, do not reject us forever. Why do You hide Your face and forget our affliction and our oppression? For our soul has sunk down into the dust; our body cleaves to the earth. Rise up, be our help, and redeem us for the sake of Your lovingkindness.
Isaiah pointed out that human liars were not un-saveable. As a result of our own choices, there was a separation between humanity and God, but God would supply a way to bridge the gap:
Isaiah 59:1-4, 12b-16, 20-21
Behold, YHWH’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.
For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken falsehood [sheqer], your tongue mutters wickedness. No one sues righteously and no one pleads honestly. They trust in confusion and speak lies; they conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity…
…our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities: transgressing and denying YHWH, and turning away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving in and uttering from the heart lying words [div’re shaqer].
Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the street, and uprightness cannot enter. Yes, truth is lacking; and he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey.
Now YHWH saw, and it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. And He saw that there was no man, and was astonished that there was no one to intercede; then His own arm brought salvation to Him, and His righteousness upheld Him.
…“A Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” declares YHWH. “As for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says YHWH: “My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring’s offspring,” says YHWH, “from now and forever.”
A Redeemer would one day come to Zion, but until then YHWH’s Spirit would inhabit the mouths of His followers, and their mouths would proclaim truth, rather than lies.
The Refuge of Falsehood
Humanity, however, had engulfed themselves in such deception that they had made falsehood their refuge. It’s a sad statement, but sometimes people feel more comfortable living in a lie; it can be easier than facing the truth.
Therefore, hear the word of YHWH, O scoffers, who rule this people who are in Jerusalem, because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have made a pact. The overwhelming scourge will not reach us when it passes by, for we have made falsehood [u-ba-sheqer] our refuge and we have concealed ourselves with deception.”
Therefore thus says the Lord YHWH, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed. I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the level; then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies and the waters will overflow the secret place.
Your covenant with death will be canceled, and your pact with Sheol will not stand; when the overwhelming scourge passes through, then you become its trampling place.”
There was no human to intercede, so YHWH supplied an interceder, a cornerstone, a redeemer, a saviour to cancel our pact with the grave and overcome what seemed like our inevitable date with death:
For He [YHWH] said, “Surely, they are My people, sons who will not deal falsely [lo y-shaqqeru].” So He became their Saviour.
In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel [messenger] of His presence saved them; in His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, and He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.
YHWH sent a Saviour from the line of David to redeem His people and bring them back home to His Presence. He sent Yeshua to bear the burden of all the lies and deception of humanity. It only makes sense, then, that He was sent to the cross through deceit.
The Truth sent to the Cross with Lies
Yeshua was arrested with no charge and sent to a series of biased trials where they hurled lies against Him:
Matthew 26:57, 59-66
Those who had seized Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were gathered together… Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony [Greek: pseudomartyrian] against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. They did not find any, even though many false witnesses [Greek: pseudomartyron] came forward. But later on two came forward, and said, “This man stated, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.’”
The high priest stood up and said to Him, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” But Jesus kept silent.
And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of Heaven.”
Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?”
They answered, “He deserves death!”
And so Yeshua went to His pubic execution, completely innocent. The most truthful man who ever walked the planet was accused of being a liar, and found guilty as a blasphemer. Regardless, Yeshua was willing to bear the burden of humanity’s lies and have them die with Him on the cross. He would rise again, leaving our sins in the grave.
Paul recognized the deep chasm between true and false. Yeshua had overcome our falsehood so that we could live in truth in the Presence of YHWH. Now that we had been eternally forgiven, we would have lay aside falsehood and become champions of truth:
Therefore, laying aside falsehood [Greek: pseudos], speak truth each one of you with his neighbour, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labour, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Messiah also has forgiven you.
Today that deep chasm between true and false seems to have disappeared. It’s hard to find the break between what is authentic and what is fake. But there are some truths that we can firmly hold onto: Yeshua came to save us, He abides in us, and we will eternally abide in Him.
1 John 2:21-22a, 25-27
I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie [Greek: pseudos] is of the truth. Who is the liar [Greek: pseustēs] but the one who denies that Jesus is the Messiah?
…This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life. These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie [pseudos], and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.
He who speaks truth tells what is right, but a false [sh’qarim] witness, deceit. There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Truthful lips will be established forever, but a lying [shaqer] tongue is only for a moment. Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but counsellors of peace have joy.
No harm befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble. Lying [shaqer] lips are an abomination to YHWH, but those who deal faithfully are His delight.
It’s pretty simple: stop the lying and seek out the truth… because lies are a prison and, as Yeshua said, the truth will set you free.
Next week: War