To read another application of the same theme in the previous post click Here
I am sure all of you have already heard this cliché: “Perception is reality” with the underlying appeal to the gullible side of man that if something is presented in a such a way as to sound or to look real, most people will believe that it is indeed real. Of course the concept taken in an absolute sense is erroneous. But it is used especially in the business world to train people to present in the best light whatever product they are trying to sell.
It is also used in other religions, or in Christian or non Christian cults to reprogram the brain and deceive inquisitive and sincere seekers searching for God, love, peace and unity for the human race with the ultimate appealing promise of becoming god or a god.
One definition of truth could be absolute and exact correspondence with the reality of God’s word and embodied and personnified by the Lord Jesus Christ who said : “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes through the Father except through me.” John 14: 6.
When Pilate asked Jesus if he was a king, Jesus replied:
“You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” John 18:37.
Jesus has a way of making things clear, simple and understandable. There is no gray area of personal perception. It´s either you believe or you don´t, you are on my side or on the other. No wiggling room, no tweeking the Gospel of the supernatural birth, perfect earthly life and sacrificial death on the cross, then burial and resurrection and finally the ascension to heaven.
Now without the Way there is no going or coming because of our natural spiritual blindness, without Truth there is no knowing with absolute certainty in the midst of lies and without Life there is no real living in the present world of death and dying.
Now let’s see if under some circumstances, this can be true from a biblical point of view.
Sometimes we can interpret real factual truth to be absolute when the way we perceive the facts is distorted by experiences that have been shaped by our personal make up and emotional or intellectual understanding of life’s circumstances and our relationships.
Take for example the passage about the flight of Jacob away from Laban in Genesis 3.
In this chapter, we have 2 examples in which Laban interpreted real facts and extrapolated his perceptions to be actual truth corresponding exactly with the reality of what happened.
When Laban caught up with Jacob, as related in verse 26, he told Jacob:
“What have you done by deceiving me and carrying away my daughters like captives of the sword?” Was this what really happened or just an assumption on the part of Laban?
Let’s look at verse 3 to find out. “Then the Lord said to Jacob; “return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives and I will be with you”.
When Jacob related the encounter with the Lord to his wives, here is what they said in verse 15 to 17:
“Are we not reckoned to him as foreigners? For he has sold us and has entirely consumed our purchase price. Surely all the wealth which God has taken away from our father belongs to us and our children, now then, do whatever God has said to you”.
There also seems to be some duplicity in these words that sound like acquiescence to God’s command and submission to the husband. But for right now, to follow the subject, let’s continue with Laban’s apparent motive for distorting a real fact, his daughter’s disappearance and interpreting it as a the real truth.
Laban, like Jacob was a deceiver and as such, was afraid of being deceived, so he acted under the assumption, valid as it may, that Jacob thought and acted like him when in fact the daughters partly motivated by fear of being kept out of their inheritance followed their husband willingly.
Another example in the same chapter, verse 13.
Laban accuses Jacob of having stolen his household gods, (teraphim) under a false assumption. Was it a real fact that his idols had disappeared? Yes, it was.
Was it really true that Jacob had stolen them?
No, not at all. It was just a false perception on the part of Laban, due partly because of his resentment at having been dispossessed of his flocks by his nephew, but also because of an emotional dynamic present in the heart of a parent who, no matter what the behavior of their children will excuse and cover it up out of a sense of disproportionate idealizing the beloved person which borders on idolatry in disguise.
Another factor that comes in the picture to reinforce this natural tendency is that we don’t want to admit that we are wrong and would prefer to continue in our denial and self-deceit rather than agreeing with God as to what is true and real about ourselves and the ones we are trying to protect, thus taking the first and necessary step towards freedom from emotional and spiritual bondage. We can see that Laban wanted to keep Rachel as long as possible because of his fatherly love for her as well as to keep Jacob for seven more years.
Now let’s look at the role Rachel played in taking the deceit one step further.
But first let’s look at what could have motivated Rachel to take her father’s household gods and hide them from Jacob. Could it be that she really didn’t trust the God of Jacob to provide them with everything they needed, so that she felt a need to rely on her idols to protect her and make her fruitful in the bearing of children? Could it be one of the reasons why God didn’t open her womb until later on?
Back to Rachel and her deception.
Why did she use faking her condition to hide the teraphim? Could it because she knew that it would be a sure way of ensuring that her deception would be successful?
She certainly played on her father’s sympathy for a physiological condition that men recognized and perhaps respected. I am not sure about the laws of the Medianites at that time concerning contact during a woman’s natural cycle. The hygienic and health laws were given to Moses and written down later in Exodus.
Back to false perceptions. Laban is still not getting the point and continues in his denial and deception. Since they haven’t found the household idols, the problem has not been resolved and his deceitful nature is still working against him.
Verse 43: “Then Laban answered and said to Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters and the children are my children and the flocks are my flocks and all that you see is mine, But what can I do this day to these my daughter or to their children whom they have borne?”
It might sound a bit callous, judgmental and cynical and I may be wrong, but what follows in verses 44 to 53 seems to be a ritual in which Laban engages to give weight to a decision that was made for him by Jacob, by invoking the name of God and manufacturing a divine stamp of approval for his attitude and behavior. After all, all God said to Laban about Jacob and the way to treat him in a dream was to:
“Be careful that you do not speak to Jacob good or bad” (verse 24).
Laban didn’t think that he was speaking good or bad when he accused Jacob of abducting his daughters and stealing his household idols. He was analyzing the situation from the mistaken premise of a false perception based on a true fact, the disappearance of his daughters and his teraphim.
This is why we need so much the wisdom, understanding and discernment of God to differentiate between what is absolute truth as revealed in the Word of God when it is revealed to us and our perceptions based on true and real facts that are nevertheless colored by our own emotional and intellectual make up and our own personal life experiences.
Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”Proverbs 3; 5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”