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Joshua 2:1-21--Oh, What Grace!

"Jerud, your neck and back muscles are really tight. What’s got you so tense?"

Jerud rolled over and sat up. He looked intensely out the window for a moment, as if collecting his thoughts. Then he turned toward the beautiful woman next to him. Before he spoke, she noticed something about the set of his mouth and his eyes. Was that fear?

"Rahab, do you remember the stories we’ve heard about the Israelites since we were kids?"

"I remember some. What about them?"

"Well, remember the one about how the God of the Israelites’ brought them through the Red Sea unscathed, but the Egyptian soldiers who were following them all drowned?"

"Who could forget that story? I still get goose bumps thinking about a god with such powers."

"After that, do you remember how their God helped them defeat nation after nation as they headed our way?"

"Wasn’t that right before word came to Jericho that they suddenly stopped traveling."

"Yeah, you’ve got a good memory."

"Well, I think the reason that stands out in my mind is because I remember my parents talking about how scared they were. They were fearful that Jericho might be one of the next nations on their attack list. Dad said he had to work a lot of overtime to help fortify the walls; then, he was put on weaponry duty just in case they did attack Jericho. I remember, too, that he was convinced that the Israelites’ God must have been supernaturally helping them. He said it didn’t seem logical that a people who had been slaves could have come out of Egypt with enough weapons or enough fighting ability to conquer nations that were known for their military strength. My parents still talk about the parties that went on for days after they got word that the Israelites had stopped moving. Have long have they been sitting out in the desert, anyway?"

"I think it’s been about forty years. Can you imagine? They’ve been parked for forty years in a dust bowl with no natural water or food supply."

"But haven’t we gotten reports about food and water being provided by their God?"

"Yeah, but that’s another thing that just doesn’t make sense. If their God was powerful enough to feed the Israelites for all these years, He certainly would have been powerful enough to just lead them through the lands to wherever they were headed. Why stop in the desert?"

"I don’t have a clue. I just know that I’ve always been curious, and a little bit envious, about a God who cares so much about his people. The gods in our temple are just stone and wood covered over with gold and jewels. I know they’re pretty, but tell me, Jerud, has one of those gods ever spoken to you? Or, have they ever done anything for you personally?"

"No, but you’d be better off keeping your thoughts about our gods to yourself, Rahab. You’d be out of the priests’ good graces if they heard you speaking so disparagingly."

"I know, but I’ve got to tell you, Jerud, it’s all I can do anymore to sit through the temple rituals and pompous worship ceremonies without screaming. It’s just about a bunch of show and hypocrisy. It sounds like the Israelites have a God who is real and actually cares about his people. I’d give anything to worship a God who might actually be able to hear me than to go through the motions of worshipping a stupid stone."

"From the information we’ve been able to gather on the Israelites, they do believe their God is real and it’s reported He actually communicates with their leader. If I remember correctly, his name is Moses."

"That’s the name I remember my dad mentioning. So why all the questions and talk about the Israelites? What do they have to do with your being uptight?"

"They’re on the move."

"They’re on the….what?" Rahab’s intake of breath could be heard around the room.

"The Israelites are on the move. At least we think they are. We’ve just received scouting reports that they’ve broken camp, and after forty years of wandering in the desert, they’re packing up. From all appearances, it seems that they may be resuming their travels."

"Oh, my gosh, Jerud. What does this mean?"

"I’m not real sure. I just came from a strategy meeting with the other military officers and none of us likes what this could mean for Jericho. We’re definitely going to treat this as a threat. As soon as we can determine the direction the Israelites are heading, and if that direction is towards us, then we’ll go on high alert and initiate early curfews and lockdowns. We believe our walls are strong enough to ward off an attack; but like I was saying earlier, this God of theirs is known to do some mighty, supernatural feats, so we won’t rest until we believe we’re safe."

"Well, no wonder you’re so tense. For our entire lives we’ve heard the stories and the fears associated with the Israelites, but that’s just what they were…stories. To think after all these years of just sitting out there in the desert, not being a threat, they might be on the move."

The fictional conversation above is just that – fictional. However, to understand why Rahab would make such a life-changing, on-the-spot decision of asking two spies, whom she doesn’t know, to save her and her family, there must have been some belief on Rahab’s part that Jericho was in serious trouble. But why would she assume that? After all, her home was Jericho, and it wasn’t logical that the Israelites could be a real threat to such a fortified city. Its walls were virtually impenetrable. For Rahab to believe that the Israelites were the assumed victors should a battle with Jericho ensue, it only makes sense that rumors, spy reports and tales about the Israelites and the power of their God had been passed along to Rahab’s generation. The Israelites had enjoyed victory in other battles because of their God, so she had no reason to believe their God wasn’t capable of bringing them victory against Jericho. Even with its fortified walls, she believed she wouldn’t be safe.

As the fictional scenario above implies, Rahab’s occupation may have given her opportunities to interact with political and military leaders, thus possibly making her a confidant. Assuming this fictional account has some truth and validity to it, there are several parallels between Rahab’s thoughts and actions thousands of years ago to that of an unbeliever today.

  • Rahab began doubting and questioning her current belief system, becoming convinced that something was missing from the impersonal, ritualistic worship in which she was involved, and she became dissatisfied.

  • Unbelievers often begin their quest for truth when they realize something (or someone) is missing from their lives. For a while they may feel fulfilled with their careers, their financial status and achievements, but behind all their success, they may begin to think "there’s got to be more than this."

  • Rahab had heard about the God of the Israelites; and from all that she heard and knew about Him, their God had attributes that drew her toward Him. Even before the spies arrived at Jericho, Rahab had already come to the conclusion that the Lord God of the Israelites was more alive and powerful than her people’s useless and dead gods, and she found her worship of them to be empty and vain. She noticed that God was active and evident in the lives of His people; whereas, the gods of Jericho were inactive, dormant and ineffective.

  • As unbelievers start sensing something lacking within them, they may begin the journey of discovering what’s missing in their lives and seek to fill it. They might start asking questions, researching answers, and reading books, which may even include the Bible. Recognizing something spiritually more meaningful in another person’s life can be a catalyst for them to seek out what that other person believes. If that other person’s beliefs and testimony reveal that they worship a God who is alive and personal, and He can fill the void and emptiness, then they will want to learn more about God for themselves.

  • Rahab faced a crisis of belief before sending the spies on their way. If she truly believed that the Israelites’ God was the one true God of heaven and earth, as she expressed to the spies in Joshua 2:11, and that she faced certain death if she didn’t claim that truth for herself, she had only two options. One, she could let the moment pass and not do anything about those beliefs, which would have fatal consequences. Or, she could trust her instincts, step out on faith and ask the spies to save her. While I believe Rahab was concerned for her physical life and the lives of her family members, her compelling speech to the spies was all about the God they served. (Read Rahab’s complete statement in Joshua 2:9-14.) More than her physical life, she wanted the opportunity and freedom to worship a God who was not only real, but worthy of her worship.

  • Once unbelievers comprehend that their current situation will result in certain, eternal separation from God, they have only two options. One, they can do nothing, which will have eternal consequences. Or, they can step out on faith and ask the Lord to save them. That, too, requires a crisis of belief in recognizing that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life,” and no one can come unto the Father except through Him. (John 14:6)

  • In Rahab’s case, she chose to put feet to her faith. She confessed to the spies that she knew that her only means of safety when the Israelites invaded Jericho was to put her trust in their God. She decided to denounce all previous gods, and claim the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as her own. He was the only true source of salvation, physically and spiritually, for herself and her family.

  • Likewise, an unbeliever today must denounce all other efforts and means by which he thinks he can earn or gain salvation for himself. It’s “not of works” so that no one can be boastful about what he has accomplished. Salvation cannot be gained by being a good or moral person, by giving money to charities, or by attending church. Salvation is only through faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, through whom God made His provision of forgiveness and salvation for a dying world on a cross. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

We learn in Joshua 6 that the spies did indeed save Rahab and her entire household. And, in the genealogy Matthew shares with us in the beginning of his book, we gain insight about her life afterwards. Rahab evidently married an Israelite, Salmon, and bore a son, Boaz. This is the same Boaz who became the Kinsman-Redeemer for Naomi when she and Ruth returned to Bethlehem. The character, integrity and compassion Boaz demonstrated in his treatment of Naomi and Ruth reveal much about the upbringing and positive influence this former Gentile and immoral woman, turned believer, had on her son.

Living with a proselyte mother and observing her faith as he grew up may possibly have been the reason he was so willing to open his heart to another Gentile woman, Ruth. We know that Ruth had already declared to Naomi that her mother-in-law’s God would be her God, so Boaz knew through his mother’s example that it was possible for a Gentile woman to genuinely embrace and personally come to know the God of his people. I imagine that Rahab took her new daughter-in-law under her wing and mentored her, along with Naomi, about the wonderful God they served.

  • Lastly, in Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25, Rahab’s faith is once again authenticated. What an honor that she is mentioned in Hebrews 11, often referred to as the “Hall of Faith.” These scriptures confirm that Rahab’s faith produced fruit, or works, by protecting the spies. Be careful to recognize that the works didn’t come first, and they had nothing to do with her faith. Her faith came first, which resulted in her works of caring for the spies.

  • This is still true for believers today. Our salvation cannot be worked for or earned; however, our faith, if genuine, is to produce works.

Rahab’s faith is not only memorable, but it resulted in one of the greatest demonstrations of God’s grace in the Scriptures. We know she was the mother of Boaz, who became father to Obed, grandfather to Jesse, and great grandfather to David. This makes Rahab the great, great grandmother of the greatest king of Israel. But even more significant than that, Matthew’s genealogy also reveals that Rahab, an idol-worshiping, heathen harlot is granted the privilege of being an ancestor and a participant in the blood line through which the King of kings and Lord of lords would come. Oh, what grace! And, that, my friend, deserves an "Amen" and "Hallelujah!"

See Also:  Joshua 6:17, 22-25; Matthew 1:5; Hebrews 11:31; James 2:5

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