Faith In Action
faith can do all things
Power of Faith
30. The soundings of trumpets, though one were to sound for ten thousand years, cannot throw down walls, but faith can do all things [CHRYSOSTOM].
XIV. The next instance of faith is that of the Israelites, under Joshua their leader, before the walls of Jericho. The story we have Jos. 6:5, etc. Here observe, 1. The means prescribed to God to bring down the walls of Jericho. It was ordered that they should compass the walls about once a day for seven days together and seven times the last day, that the priests should carry the ark when they compassed the walls about, and should blow with trumpets made of rams’ horns, and sound a longer blast than before, and then all the people should shout, and the walls of Jericho should fall before them. Here was a great trial of their faith. The method prescribed seemed very improbable to answer such an end, and would doubtless expose them to the daily contempt of their enemies; the ark of God would seem to be in danger. But this was the way God commanded them to take, and he loves to do great things by small and contemptible means, that his own arm may be made bare. 2. The powerful success of the prescribed means. The walls of Jericho fell before them. This was a frontier town in the land of Canaan, the first that stood out against the Israelites. God was pleased in this extraordinary manner to slight and dismantle it, in order to magnify himself, to terrify the Canaanites, to strengthen the faith of the Israelites, and to exclude all boasting. God can and will in his own time and way cause all the powerful opposition that is made to his interest and glory to fall down, and the grace of faith is mighty through God for the pulling down of strong-holds; he will make Babylon fall before the faith of his people, and, when he has some great thing to do for them, he raises up great and strong faith in them.
Faith In Confession
31. Rahab showed her “faith” in her confession, Jos 2:9, 11, “I know that Jehovah hath given you the land; Jehovah your God, is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”
Faith does not discriminate
31. The harlot Rahab (Ῥαὰβ ἡ πόρνη). See Josh. 2; 6:17, and comp. Jas. 2:25. Rahab’s occupation is stated without mincing, and the lodging of the spies at her house was probably not a matter of accident. Very amusing are the efforts of some earlier expositors to evade the fact of a harlot’s faith, by rendering πόρνη landlady.
Perished not with (οὐ συναπώλετο). N. T.o. In LXX see Num. 16:26; Ps. 25:9; 27:3.
Them that believed not (τοῖς ἀπειθήσασιν). Rend. “them that were disobedient.” Simple disbelief is expressed by ἀπιστεῖν, ἀπιστία: disbelief as it manifests itself in disobedience, by ἀπειθεῖν. Ἀπειθεῖν is ἀπιστεῖν on its active side. See on J. 3:36, and comp. Heb. 3:18; 4:6, 11; Rom. 11:30, 32, contrasting with Rom. 11:20, 23. Ἀπειθεῖν here describes the failure to be persuaded that God had given the land to the Israelites, and the consequent refusal to surrender Jericho. Rahab’s faith is shown Josh. 2:9–11.
When she had received the spies (δεξαμένη τοὺς κατασκόπους). Rend. “having received.” For this sense of friendly reception as a guest see L. 10:8, 10. Καράσκοπος a spy, N. T.o. LXX, Gen. 42:9, 11, 14; 1 Sam. 26:4.
With peace (μετʼ εἰρήνης). The phrase only here and Acts 15:33. Quite often in LXX, as Gen. 15:15; 26:29; Ex. 18:23; Deut. 20:20; Judg. 8:9. In N. T. ἐν εἰρήνῃ in peace (Acts 16:36; Jas. 2:16): εἰς εἰρήνην into peace (Mk. 5:34; L. 7:50; 8:48); both these very often in LXX. Rahab received the spies without enmity, and did not allow them to suffer harm from others. An interesting parallel is furnished by Dante, Purg. ii. 99, in the case of the pilot-angel who conveys souls to the shore of Purgatory.
“He, sooth to say, for three months past has taken
Whoever wished to enter, with all peace” (without interposing any obstacle.)*
Saved By Good Works?
those who were disobedient
30, 31. Jericho fell victim to the faith of Joshua and the children of Israel, and Rahab participated in Israel’s blessing by her faith. The memorial to the faith of Rahab is read in Mt 1:5, where she is listed in the genealogy of Christ.
11:29–31. The readers could also look forward to victory over their enemies (cf. 1:13–14). They could learn from the destruction of the Egyptians and the collapse of the walls of Jericho what triumphs faith can win over its adversaries. If, as seems probable, there were a few Gentiles in the church that received this letter, they could take comfort from the experience of the prostitute Rahab, a Gentile who was spared when Jericho was conquered.
Faith enabled Rahab (11:30–31). Faith took the godly Moses and made him even more a man of God. But Rahab was a prostitute! Did faith enable her?
Yes. This inhabitant of Jericho, a city marked for destruction, believed God. She acted in faith to save the Jewish scouts, and instead of sharing the fate of the disobedient, she became a member of the people of God.
Whatever your past, and whatever your old associations, faith can produce a great transformation. Through faith you can lose your old identity as sinner—and become a child of the living God.
Joshua and Rahab—faith winning (vv. 30–31). The account of the conquest of Jericho is found in Joshua 2–6. Joshua was Moses’ successor as leader of Israel, and he succeeded because he trusted the same God that Moses had trusted. God changes His workmen but He does not change His principles of operation. He blesses faith and He judges unbelief.
From a human point of view, Jericho was an impossible city to conquer. However, Joshua’s first act of faith was not the defeat of the city, but the crossing of the Jordan River. By faith, the nation crossed the river just as the previous generation had crossed the Red Sea. This was a witness and a warning to the Canaanite nations that Israel was marching forward by the power of God.
Rahab was a harlot, an unlikely person to put faith in the true God of Israel! She was saved by grace, because the other inhabitants of the city were marked out for death. God in His mercy and grace permitted Rahab to live. But she was saved by faith. What she knew about God is recorded in Joshua 2:8–14. She knew that Jehovah had delivered Israel from Egypt and that He had opened the Red Sea. But that was forty years before! She also knew God had defeated the other nations during Israel’s wilderness wanderings. “For the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath” (Josh. 2:11). That was her testimony of faith, and God honored it.
She was saved unto good works. True faith must always show itself in good works (James 2:20–26). She protected the spies, put the cord in the window as directed (Josh. 2:15–21), apparently won her family to the true faith (Josh. 2:13; 6:25), and in every way obeyed the Lord. Not only was Rahab delivered from judgment, but she became a part of the nation of Israel. She married Salmon and gave birth to Boaz who was an ancestor of King David (Matt. 1:4–6). Imagine a pagan harlot becoming a part of the ancestry of Jesus Christ! That is what faith can do!
Rahab is certainly a rebuke to unsaved people who give excuses for not trusting Christ. “I don’t know very much about the Bible” is an excuse I often hear. Rahab knew very little spiritual truth, but she acted on what she did know. “I am too bad to be saved!” is another excuse. But Rahab was a condemned heathen harlot! Another excuse is, “What will my family think?” Rahab’s first concern was saving her family, not opposing them. She stands as one of the great women of faith in the Bible.
XV. The next instance is the faith of Rahab, v. 31. Among the noble army of believing worthies, bravely marshalled by the apostle, Rahab comes in the rear, to show that God is no respecter of persons. Here consider,
1. Who this Rahab was. (1.) She was a Canaanite, a stranger to the commonwealth of Israel, and had but little help for faith, and yet she was a believer; the power of divine grace greatly appears when it works without the usual means of grace. (2.) She was a harlot, and lived in a way of sin; she was not only a keeper of a public house, but a common woman of the town, and yet she believed that the greatness of sin, if truly repented of, shall be no bar to the pardoning mercy of God. Christ has saved the chief of sinners. Where sin has abounded, grace has superabounded.
2. What she did by her faith: She received the spies in peace, the men that Joshua had sent to spy out Jericho, Jos. 2:6, 7. She not only bade them welcome, but she concealed them from their enemies who sought to cut them off, and she made a noble confession of her faith, v. 9–11. She engaged them to covenant with her to show favour to her and hers, when God should show kindness to them, and that they would give her a sign, which they did, a line of scarlet, which she was to hang forth out of the window; she sent them away with prudent and friendly advice. Learn here, (1.) True faith will show itself in good works, especially towards the people of God. (2.) Faith will venture all hazards in the cause of God and his people; a true believer will sooner expose his own person than God’s interest and people. (3.) A true believer is desirous, not only to be in covenant with God, but in communion with the people of God, and is willing to cast in his lot with them, and to fare as they fare.
3. What she gained by her faith. She escaped perishing with those that believed not. Observe, (1.) The generality of her neighbours, friends, and fellow-citizens, perished; it was an utter destruction that befell that city: man and beast were cut off. (2.) The cause of the people of Jericho’s destruction—unbelief. They believed not that Israel’s God was the true God, though they had evidence sufficient of it. (3.) The signal preservation of Rahab. Joshua gave a strict charge that she should be spared, and none but she and hers; and she taking care that the sign, the scarlet thread, should be hung out, her family were marked out for mercy, and perished not. Singular faith, when the generality are not only unbelievers, but against believers, will be rewarded with singular favours in times of common calamity.