Posts Tagged ‘Rahab’

Joshua 2:1-24 (Part 3 of 3)

Rahab Protects the Spies

I guess I am getting all 80’s nostalgic this week. This will be the second blog in a row where my opening includes a reference to a hit song from the 1980s. 80s music (which was really from like 1979-1992) was an awesome time for music – music that lives on today, some 20-30 years later. Music lives on when it tells a story that is common to our experience. The music of the 80s did that well. Today, that 80’s song reference is a song by Cyndi Lauper called “Money Changes Everything”. It was a gritty tune with heartfelt emotion from Cyndi. She belted the lyrics out with passion and volume. Always one of my favorite songs from the 80s. The chorus of the song went something like this:

 

Money changes everything

I said money, money changes everything

We think we know what we’re doin’

That don’t mean a thing

It’s all in the past now

Money changes everything

 

Today, I would like to usurp Cyndi’s chorus and change it up a bit for the subject that we will hit on today in this third and final visit to Joshua 2:1-24 before we move on the chapter 3. Here is how I would change the lyrics up:

 

Salvation changes everything

I said salvation, salvation, changes everything

We thought we knew what we were doin’

That don’t mean a thing

It’s all in the past now

Salvation changes everything

 

That is an awesome chorus change don’t you think, because it is so true. Salvation, Salvation changes everything.

 

Do you remember the day of your salvation? Do you remember that feeling that came over you? That moment when everything that seemed so foggy became so abundantly clear. That moment when you realized that you were, indeed, a sinner that was in need saving through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. He was no longer a dead radical philosopher that raged against the status quo but rather the Son of the Living God. He was no longer a prophet among prophets. He became God in the flesh to you. He was no longer one of the many ways to get to heaven. He became to you the Only Way. You cried out to God that you believed that Jesus was God visited upon us in the flesh. You cried out that you believed that He came to earth to give evidence to the existence of a mighty God. You cried out that you believed that He came to dwell among us to live the perfect life and to show us how to live according to God’s plan for our lives. You cried out that you believed that because He was God in the flesh that His death on the cross was not just the death of a political revolutionary but rather the permanent conclusion of the Old Testament sacrificial system in that He was the perfect, sinless sacrifice for the atonement of all sins, past, present and future. And because He is God in the flesh, He did actually arise from the grave so as to give us hope and victory over sin and death. All you have to do is say that you believe that with all your heart and you will be saved. That is the essence of salvation. Salvation is that you believe that there is a mighty God who sent His Son to die on a cross for your sins aplenty so that you can be made right through faith and grace with that mighty God.

 

Salvation is a miracle, plain and simple. We rail against God most of us for most of our lives. We dispute His existence. We downplay who Jesus is. We make out that the Bible is just literature and outdated literature at that. We make fun of all the Old Testament stuff and dismiss it without seeking the deeper meaning behind all the “weird stuff”. We throw away the Old Testament. We focus on just the love of Jesus as the benefactor/prophet that had some great things to say but that’s as far as we let it go. We make our own gods. We discount anything in the Bible that is in opposition to the way we want to live our lives. We discount the fact that Jesus said He is the only way to heaven, because that just can’t be. We make Jesus/Mohammed/Shiva/Buddha/Confucius all one guy. We make them the appearances of an all accepting God – if we believe in a Higher Power to begin with. We make the Bible out of date and antiquated when it is different from our sexual desires. We want to have sex with as many women as possible outside of marriage because sex is recreational to us and we want men/men and women/women relationships to be OK so we just rip those pages out of the Bible that don’t apply to our new way of thinking.

 

But on that day of salvation, it is the culmination of the power of the Holy Spirit working on a hard heart. Like our pastor of discipleship was saying the other day about his recent conversations with new attendees at our church (He asks each one why did you choose LifeSong and why did you come back again?). The common answer is that they don’t really know why. They just felt drawn to the church. It is that drawing of people closer to God and that leads to that sudden realization on the day of salvation that changes everything that came to mind this morning:

 

2 Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.

 

2 The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” 3 So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”

 

4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. 5 At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” 6 (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) 7 So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.

 

8 Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 9 and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea[a] for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.[b] 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

 

12 “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.”

 

14 “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.”

 

15 So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. 16 She said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.”

 

17 Now the men had said to her, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us 18 unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. 19 If any of them go outside your house into the street, their blood will be on their own heads; we will not be responsible. As for those who are in the house with you, their blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on them. 20 But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.”

 

21 “Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.”

 

So she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

 

22 When they left, they went into the hills and stayed there three days, until the pursuers had searched all along the road and returned without finding them. 23 Then the two men started back. They went down out of the hills, forded the river and came to Joshua son of Nun and told him everything that had happened to them. 24 They said to Joshua, “The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.”

 

In this passage, one of the things that strikes you is that Rahab recognized something that many Israelites did not – the God of heaven is the one true and only God. He is no ordinary run of the mill god. He is all powerful. The people of Jericho were afraid because they had heard the news of God’s extraordinary power in delivering the Israelites from captivity in Egypt and in defeating the armies across the Jordan River. Today, we can worship the same powerful, miracle-working God. He is powerful enough to save us from certain death as he did with Rahab.

 

Rahab had been hearing the stories of the exploits of this Israelite God. He was drawing her unto himself. He was pricking her soul. God knows when there is an opening in our darkened souls. He knows when we are ready to begin considering Him instead of rebelliously rejecting Him. She may have been wondering whether there was more to life than the life she had come to know – prostitution. In the ancient Middle East, a woman without a husband (either through his death or just not marrying) would have to rely on family members for support and shelter. If she had no family it often led to a destitute life and sometimes led these husband-less women to resort to prostitution. We don’t know much about her backstory if anything at all. But we do know that she was prostitute. We do know that she was aware of the presence of the living God, most likely because she was dissatisfied with the world of Jericho and the lot in life that it had given her. Jericho was an opulent town and had its own army. That’s rich! It was well fortified and the fortifications allowed the city to flourish. Here, Rahab is a prostitute. Watching opulent families walk by and having knowledge of the hypocrisy of the husbands that were her customers. She had to be fed up with her life as it was. That opening is where the Holy Spirit began intruiging her about the Israelites and their God. God then directed the spies to her house because God was already working on her. The spies were the confirmation that she needed.

 

if Rahab’s honesty didn’t win the spies’ trust, surely her next words did: “For the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below”. You heard the woman: “God is God!” A genuine profession of faith, just as the apostle Paul described centuries later: “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved”. Right then and there that night with the spies, Rahab accepted Christ as her Savior (since Jesus has eternally existed in the trinity with the Father and the Holy Spirit, then any who professed faith in God prior to Jesus’ dwelling on earth were professing faith in Jesus). Rahad had that moment of full clarity that we all have at the moment of salvation. Everything makes sense. Everything made sense to Rahab even though it meant leaving the life that she used to know behind. Her life would never be the same after this moment of salvation.

 

After this moment of salvation, she followed the order to leave a crimson rope on her window to her house so that she would be spared and anyone who was in her house. After the wall came tumbling down, Jericho was sacked and destroyed by the Israelites – save for Rahab and family. Her faith saved her. Her salvation led her to do what was against the grain of the rest of the Jerichoans. Her life as she knew it before her moment of salvation was over. She had a new family now, the people of God. One house remained standing. “Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her” (). Because of her faith, God saved Rahab in every sense of the word. The Israelites welcomed her into their camp, where a man named Salmon chose her for his bride. Rahab gave birth to a son, Boaz, who married a woman named Ruth, the great-grandmother of King David. And you know where that lineage leads – straight to Jesus Christ.

 

Transformed by God from harlot to heroine, Rahab is an inspiration for every one of us. You, too, can leave your past behind and walk forward in glorious grace, proclaiming to all who will listen, “God is God!” For Rahab, that moment of salvation changes everything. Old life left behind. New life ahead. A new life that will be used by the mighty God that we believe in to accomplish his redemptive plan. Step forward from your past into the newness of salvation and the life that comes after. Indeed, for Rahab, for you, and for me:

 

Salvation changes everything

I said salvation, salvation, changes everything

We thought we knew what we were doin’

That don’t mean a thing

It’s all in the past now

Salvation changes everything!

 

 

Amen and Amen.

Joshua 2:1-24 (Part 2 of 3)

Rahab Protects the Spies

There was a song by the 1980’s musical group called “The Thompson Twins” who had a song released in 1982 called “Lies”. It’s chorus when something like this:

 

Lies lies lies yeah

Lies lies lies yeah

Lies lies lies yeah

 

Oh you know I know

 

Lies lies lies yeah

Lies lies lies yeah

Lies lies lies yeah

 

See video here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6cn0mLJVZY

 

That was a catchy tune that condemns a girl for lying to the writer of the song about the fact that she loved him but her actions did not match her words. She lied. The writer of the song goes onto to say, “You told me you loved me, so I don’t understand, why promises are snapped in two! And words are made to bend!” In this song, it is obvious that the girlfriend’s lies were wrong and the revelation of the truth brought about hurt and the destruction of a relationship. Lies are almost always destructive.

 

When I think back on my life, there have been lies aplenty. Lies start for us when we are little kids when we make the connection that telling a lie can sometimes save us from punishment. Then, it’s on after that. We live to improve our situation or to prevent our situation from deteriorating. We lie. We bend the truth. We break the Ninth Commandment with impunity. Lying is part of the nature of being human. We are fallen by nature. We are flesh. We lie. It is plain and simple a sin.

 

When we commit adultery we not only break the Seventh Commandment but also the Ninth Commandment because there is secrecy involved. There is deceit. There are outright lies told to keep adultery from being found out. When we steal, we break the Eighth Commandment and in so doing to prevent ourselves from being caught we lie. When we murder, we break the break the Sixth Commandment and we almost always lie about it. Lying is common to any of our sins. It is part of sinning. We lie as a part of daily life. We are sinners. Even after salvation, we are in a battle between spirit and flesh and we continue to lie to cover up sins and commit the sin of lying by covering up our other sin. We are condemned in the face of our lies. We are going to be held accountable on our personal day of judgment before the Lord for every lie that we have ever told. Big ones. Small ones (now that song sung by Zazu in the Lion King is playing in your head isn’t it? Well…it is mine…what a lovely bunch of coconuts! Big ones, small ones, some as big as ya head!…but I digress….back to our blog…) Some whoppers. Some little stretches of the truth. Are there any instances where lying is OK? Does this dress make me look fat? Men lie to their wives on that one a lot! Women are often nice to each other’s faces but tell lies about each other behind their back. Little lies are still lies. Telling someone what they want to hear rather than the truth is lying just as much as hiding an adulterous affair if any lie is a sin. Sin is sin. God does not measure degrees of sin. He is a perfect and holy God. Lies are unholy perversions of the truth. They can never be right, no matter how big or how small. We create ugliness in our souls when we lie. Lying is the opposite of truth. Thus, lying is a stain on our soul. Add up all the lies that we tell in a lifetime, and our souls are as dark as midnight when compared to the truth, purity, righteousness, holiness, perfection of our God. There is no lie in Him. He is truth. He is perfection. He is holiness. In Him is all truth.

 

I know that I sound like a professor of logic and/or ethics this morning. However, it was in reading Joshua 2 this morning that I hit the logical and ethical wall when I read of Rahab’s lies. Is there ever a situation where lies are OK. It is a great Christian ethical dilemma:

 

2 Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.

 

2 The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” 3 So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”

 

4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. 5 At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” 6 (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) 7 So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.

 

8 Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 9 and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea[a] for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.[b] 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

 

12 “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.”

 

14 “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.”

 

15 So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. 16 She said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.”

 

17 Now the men had said to her, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us 18 unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. 19 If any of them go outside your house into the street, their blood will be on their own heads; we will not be responsible. As for those who are in the house with you, their blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on them. 20 But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.”

 

21 “Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.”

 

So she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

 

22 When they left, they went into the hills and stayed there three days, until the pursuers had searched all along the road and returned without finding them. 23 Then the two men started back. They went down out of the hills, forded the river and came to Joshua son of Nun and told him everything that had happened to them. 24 They said to Joshua, “The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.”

 

In this passage, one of the things that strikes you is the fact that Rahab lied. Was Rahab justified in lying to save the lives of the spies? Although the Bible does not speak negatively about her lie, it is clear that she lied and lying is a sin. In Hebrews 11:31, the Bible says, “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” She praised for her faith. Her lie is not mentioned. Scholars have offered several explanations. First, she sought forgiveness for her lie and she was forgiven by God. Another explanation is that it is simply deceit of the enemy is a customary practice in times of war (the old “all’s fair in love and war” theory). As well, other scholars state that Rahab was not yet a part of the people of God so she could not be held responsible for keeping the standard set forth in God’s law. She was just beginning to be drawn to God. Finally, some scholars go with the theory that “the ends justify the means” in that she matched the lies of Satan (as represented by the Jerichoan people) with lies so as to protect the representatives of God’s chosen people.

 

Rahab presents an interesting ethical dilemma for people of faith. Does God condone situational ethics? Rahab lied. There is no dispute about that. She lied by omission and commission. She lied by omission by not revealing to the Jerichoan authorities that the spies were in her house and she lied by commission by telling them that the spies had already left town and had headed for the hill country. In Hebrews she is commended for her faith and considered a member of the “hall of fame of the faith”. In James (2:25), she is commended for her deeds of protecting the spies as an example of faith that is displayed through the things that we do and that faith without works is meaningless. She lied. She broke a direct command from God. What are we to make of this?

 

My take on her deception is, yes, that it was wrong. She lied. She sinned. God does not condone sin nor is God into situational ethics. What is truth now is truth always. There are no exceptions. Even if we tell a lie for a good reason. For example, what about Oskar Schindler in World War II. No matter how you sugar-coat it, the dude lied his ass off for three or more years. His lies saved the lives of thousands of Jews in Nazi Germany during the reign of terror of Hitler. How many thousands of lies did he tell either by commission or by omission. What about the Gies family that hid Ann Frank and her family during the same war? They had to lie to preserve the lies of the Frank family. You and I have told lies to protect a friend or a brother or a sister from getting into trouble with the parents or with the law.

 

So, what’s wrong with Rahab’s lie? It preserved the lies of the spies. If the spies had been killed, would Israel have turned and ran for another forty years instead of doing as God told them to do. Lying is lying though and it is a sin. Should we glorify Rahab for her lie or should we look at her another way. Should we be surprised that a prostitute, living in pagan surroundings, would lie to governmental authorities? Hardly. But she was not saved because she lied—a critical point that needs expanding. In addressing this idea, Allen Webster wrote: “Rahab lied, true, but God never complimented this action. She was a heathen, not yet even converted to Judaism…. She was saved in spite of her lying, and not because of it. She was a prostitute, but this text does not authorize that is was OK. This is a part of the story that seems to have been missed by the Bible critics who have isolated Rahab’s lie not only from the context of the story itself, but from the remainder of her life and additional biblical commentary on that life. Having established the fact that Rahab’s lie was not the reason for her commendation within the pages of Scripture, the question arises: Why, then, was she honored within the great “hall of fame of faith” in Hebrews 11 and spoken of by James as having been “justified”? There can be no doubt that Rahab occupies a special place within the biblical text, since she is one of only five women listed as being within the lineage of Christ.

 

Surely, the answer to the question has to do with the fact that Rahab did not remain in her sinful state. Her life after the destruction of Jericho must have been marked but extreme devotion to the Lord and a willingness to repent of sins committed. David, for example, told lies that led to adultery, murder, and a whole host of sins. However, his momentary lapse in judgment is not what we judge him by. We judge him as a great in the Bible because of his own repulsion at his sin, his repentance from it, and becoming a man after God’s own heart. Rahab’s life must have been a life of wondrous thanksgiving to the God she barely knew at the time of the spies. She must have become such a person of God that she was worthy of mention in the lineage of Christ our Savior. Think about that. Rahab had a sordid past. She was probably used to telling lies to cover for her customers. She was probably an ardent sinner and liar. But she encounter God through the people of Israel. She was saved. She probably other lies in her life just like you and me. But revulsion at our own darkness and repentance for our lies is the key. We recognize our lies and go to the Father with them. We beg the Holy Spirit to change us.

 

We know that we are covered by the grace of Jesus Christ and thank God that we are. We are sinners and we tell lies even after salvation. However the difference between us and the lost person is that we have the Holy Spirit chiseling away at us daily until we are perfected (and that only happens the day we meet our Savior in heaven). The Holy Spirit is sent to us to lift us up above the darkness of our soul’s natural nature. He pushes us. He sharpens us. He points out our sins to us and compels us to repent and become more Christ-like each day. As we mature in Christ, honesty and integrity become greater and greater and the need and desire to lie becomes less and less. It is a life-long project of chiseling away at our dark patches by the Holy Spirit. It is painful at times. Surely, Rahab became a woman marked by integrity later in life to the point that she is a hall of fame believer mentioned in Hebrews. Through the action of the Holy Spirit in our souls over time, a long time, and a lifetime of the Holy Spirit squeezing us when we sin and forcing us to our knees in repentance, we, too, can become hall of fame believers like Rahab.

 

God does not glorify her lies. He glorifies that she came to faith and became a faithful and repentant believer. That’s what we celebrate. There is no such thing as a good lie. There are always consequences. Rahab ended up having to live with strangers because of her lie. It turned out good but the lie is not the thing. It is what she did after the lie. Repentance. Chasing after God. She became a righteous woman and a hall of fame believer.

 

Amen and Amen.