God makes and fulfills his promises to his people and brings salvation to all who trust in him, and we should trust his promise.
Have you ever been in trouble and needed to be saved? I went swimming in smokies. Slipped into a pool, couldn’t stand up or grab onto anything to pull me up. I was under water and falls were on top of me, so I reached my hand out of the water and waved it. Something grabbed my hand and pulled me up. Next thing I am on dry ground, safe. And my friend looks and says, “What are you doing, you idiot?"
I was in a bad place and needed help. He helped me out of the water. I didn't want to stay in there. I wanted out.
One of the themes of the Bible is that God is rescuing people from the mess that is the world. Joshua is about that. And people experience deliverance by trusting what God is doing. They are to grab on to him and the salvation he is bridging by abandoning everything else.
Spying Out the Land
God has promised his people a land. Do you like having a home? We need a place to live. God created us to work and rule the earth. If we don’t have a place to do that then we have no purpose. So God promised his people a land.
The people were imprisoned in Egypt, but they have been delivered and he is taking them into this land that was promised to them. Now a problem is that they are going to have to overcome the people who are currently in the land. They are going to have to engage in battle to establish God’s kingdom.
Jordan was settled from the coast inward. This is the first city. They will cross the Jordan and into the Promised Land. They will have to take this first to get a foot in the door. It will be their first battle.
God has said he would give this land to them. But there are other people in the land. They are going to have to remove them from the land to establish God’s kingdom. They send spies to check out the land and bring a report back.
The spies go and enter the house of a prostitute.
OK, this is where it gets a little grown up. God created people male and female. A man and woman were to get married and they would live together and have kids. They were to honor God and enjoy life together. But we live in a fallen world and people stray from God’s designs.
A prostitute is a person who makes money by sleeping with other people. It is not God’s design or desire, and it is a sad way to make a living. In that society, she had few options and chose poorly out of desperation.
Rahab is a prostitute. She is not Jewish, and she is not part of God’s people. Not going to church , and is doing everything the wrong way. Doesn't know the promises of God.
These spies are sent to find out how they might take the city. What are they doing in this lady's house??? How about visiting some military bunkers, what kind of weapons do they have? Lots of questions.
Surprising place of Help. While the spies are in the city the king of Jericho finds out some spies are in his city. And the king finds out where the spies are, in Rahab's house! So he sends for the spies. What would the king do with these spies? They are cornered and it is not looking good. But a funny thing happens. Rahab saves them.
She tells the king's men. “They came here but now they are gone.” And she hides them on the roof with the stalks of flax.
She throws the king off their track. She saves their lives. But wait, didn't God say you shall not lie (Ex 20:). How do we understand this?
Lesser of two evils.
She could lie or she could tell the truth and spies might die. Can't live for the Lord and for the world. But wouldn't living for God involve telling the truth? There are times …
[In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? (Jam 2:25 NIV)
Scripture commends her faith, she gave lodging to the people, she leaves her ways and serves God. It's amazing. Scripture commends this, but it does not commend her lying. People who serve God are not perfect. Sometimes they do things that are wrong. We never make excuses for sin.
Rahab turns to God
The climax of this passage is not the military documents that the spies found and knew how they would defeat the city of Jericho. The climax is Rahab confessing her faith in God.
First, she knows that the Lord has given their land to the Israelites. They have heard what God did for the Israelites in bringing them out of Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, and giving them victory over several kings.
She knows their God is the God of heaven and earth. All these other things my people are worshiping are nothing at all.
Second, their hearts have melted with fear.
Third, she makes them promise (v12) that they will show kindness to her family–to bind oneself by an oath. She knows God is giving them the land and so she acts to save herself and her loved ones.
Rahab teaches us three important things.
The men agree to her deal. They will spare her life if she spares theirs. So Rahab lets them down the window. They tell her that when they come back she is to hang the scarlet yarn in the window and all who are with her will be spared.
Perhaps they did get some military secrets. How does that compare to hearing that God has handed this people over to you?? This is the most significant discovery.
Live rightly in light of God’s judgment.
One thing about the book of Joshua, is it teaches God is establishing his kingdom. He will bring justice to the world and hold accountable all who do not serve him. If we resist him then we will experience judgment. That is very sobering. May have been people telling Rahab to sit back and enjoy life. Things are really good right now.
This is also comforting. Look at the world we are in. It is under judgment. The evil things people do. The hurt and destruction caused by others tells you something is wrong. Even more, we need God’s judgment in order to make the world right.
God is bringing his kingdom. We need to turn from everything else and trust in him.
God is merciful to all who turn to him.
It is amazing that Rahab turns to God. She leaves her people and becomes part of God’s people.
God is merciful to all who turn to him. You may feel like you have sunk to a place of no return. But if he can rescue Rahab he can rescue you. If you turn to God you find mercy. But you have to turn to him wholly and completely.
Rahab wasn’t like “Ok, I’ll help you a little bit as long as it doesn’t cause any discomfort with my people.” Turning to God meant turning away from everything else. She was now willing to be a part of a people who don't look like her, talk like her, have her background. She leaves all to be a part of God’s people. To be a part of his church. What he calls us to today.
God is able to help.
Typically we draw a line, and we are always just on the other side of that line. Of course we wouldn't do anything on the other side. But God’s holy standard cuts right through us. We are all Rahabs with nothing but a promise to cling to. Rahab at least had a little leverage on the spies. If they don't agree, she could call the king’s men back.
God has mercy on Rahab. She is listed as a hero of the faith in Hebrews 11. She is also listed in the genealogy of Jesus. That's right, she is a great great great grandmother of Jesus Christ. God can use anybody. If you turn to him with all your heart you will find him.
Rahab left everything. She is an example of following God. Better than many Israelites. Rahab will stay close to that room. She hung her ribbon up, she protected the spies. God promises to return and in that time he will judge the world. He will judge every careless word. Ever say things you shouldn’t say to people? Get mad and frustrated, say something to a family member? Disrespect your parents or belittle your kids?
Trust in God’s promise.
One of the central features of this passage is not the scarlet thread in the window. It is the promise made with Rahab. She made them promise, swear, they would do what she asked. Rahab ain’t playing around!
V12 Rahab made them promise. Give an oath that they would set her free.
We need a promise from God that we too can be spared. Do you know we have that in Jesus? Look, we all have made bad decisions and big mistakes. We need God’s mercy. Do you have any hope that God will spare you?
If you eat this I might give you a dollar.
God made a covenant in Jesus Christ. Jesus died that we could be saved. If we trust in him you will be saved.
Rahab had leverage on the spies. Don't agree? I'll start hollering! How can you get God to make you a promise? Can you leverage him? Elon Musk? Tell him, "I'll give you a dollar." He's worth millions or billions, what's a dollar to him? If he doesn't want to then he won't do it. How much more so with God?
God made a promise to us that if we trust in Jesus Christ we will be saved. Why did he do it?
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (Joh 3:16 ESV)
In Jesus Christ we have a promise from God, that if we believe in him, trust him, follow him, then we will be saved. Saved from judgment. Saved from all the bad things we have done. You can experience this. You need this. Also, your friends and family need this too.
Rahab had a promise.
She had to trust. She had to act on it. If she did not put that scarlet cord in the window she would not be saved. That cord was a sign of the covenant made with her. So also today, we have to respond to God’s promise of salvation. He has sovereignly made a way. We need to trust him. It means we grab onto his promise. We leave the ways of the world. Rahab left everything. You will too.
The sign Jesus gives that point to his work of salvation is baptism. We are not saved through baptism but through his covenant with us, but baptism is a sign that we have trusted in Christ. It points to Jesus dying for us and being raised again.
You can read the full text of Joshua 2 at BibleGateway.com.