RAHAB-JOSHUA CHAPTER 2
Rahab Hides the Spies
And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.”
And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there. And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out. Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” And the men said to her, “Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the Lord gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.” Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall. And she said to them, “Go into the hills, or the pursuers will encounter you, and hide there three days until the pursuers have returned. Then afterward you may go your way.” The men said to her, “We will be guiltless with respect to this oath of yours that you have made us swear. Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household. Then if anyone goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be guiltless. But if a hand is laid on anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless with respect to your oath that you have made us swear.” And she said, “According to your words, so be it.” Then she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window. They departed and went into the hills and remained there three days until the pursuers returned, and the pursuers searched all along the way and found nothing. Then the two men returned. They came down from the hills and passed over and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and they told him all that had happened to them. And they said to Joshua, “Truly the Lord has given all the land into our hands. And also, all the inhabitants of the land melt away because of us.”
· Shittim - City in the plains of Moab located just east of the Jordan River.
The Hebrew city name Shittim means “acacia trees.” The city was likely named after a great quantity of the trees present at its location. Acacia wood was a valuable commodity in the ancient Near East, and Shittim would have been a key locale for trade and commerce.
· The Israelites gathered at Shittim to make final preparations before crossing the Jordan (; ).
· While at Shittim, Balak of Moab tried to prevent them from entering Canaan by using Balaam to curse them ().
· Many Israelites fell into Baal worship and intermarriage while among the Moabites and the resulting plague of judgment killed 24,000 people ().
· At Shittim, Joshua succeeded Moses (), sent out spies to gather information on Jericho (), and finally broke camp to cross the Jordan (3:1)
· remembers Shittim and “the righteous acts of Yahweh” there. The city was a reminder to the people of the idolatrous depths to which they could fall if they did not guard themselves against the allure of neighboring pagan nations.
· Give history of Shittim from Israel’s past ()
· Apparently acting on his own, Joshua, himself a former scout (), sends out two spies secretly to gather tactical information about Jericho.
· These two spies, who are never identified by name, are called “men” by both the narrator (2:1; 6:22) and the king of Jericho (2:3).
· They are also labeled “young men” in (ESV)
23 So the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. And they brought all her relatives and put them outside the camp of Israel.
· This latter term more than likely does not emphasize the age of the spies (Joshua sent out two lads/youths), but rather their military function as part of Joshua’s entourage.
Two points of interest emerge from the first half of v. 1.
a. The first is the information that Joshua dispatched the two scouts from Shittim, Israel’s last stop in the wilderness wanderings. The ancient site has not yet been identified by archaeologists, but according to the first-century a.d. Jewish historian Josephus (Antiquities 5.1) it is located sixty stadia (approximately seven miles) from the Jordan. informs us that it was at Shittim that the Israelites “played the harlot” (zanah) with the women of Moab. And, of course, from Shittim the two Hebrew spies will spend their time in Jericho in the house of a harlot (zonah).
b. A second item of interest is how one interprets Joshua’s decision to scout out Jericho, presumably to bring back vital information about the walled city’s vulnerability, or lack thereof, to siege. His action could be judged negatively as a lack of trust in the word of God. That is, why does a targeted city need to be scouted when (in the preceding chapter) God has given almost unconditional guarantees of success (e.g., “no man shall be able to stand before you”)?
Or, his action may be judged positively. That is, the promises of God do not negate human responsibility; rather, they advance it along the lines of “faith without works is dead.”
And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there.
Entered the house of a prostitute The narrative avoids terminology that would suggest any sexual contact took place. If this had been the meaning, the phrase “the house of” would have been omitted
Samson and Delilah
Samson went to Gaza, and there he saw a prostitute, and he went in to her.
Only two women are personally named in , “The Hall of Fame of Faith”: Sarah, the wife of Abraham (v. 11), and Rahab, the harlot of Jericho (v. 31).
There is quite a contrast in these two women, from a worldly view point.
· Sarah was a godly woman, the wife of the founder of the Hebrew race; and God used her dedicated body to bring Isaac into the world.
· But Rahab was an ungodly Gentile who worshiped pagan gods and sold her body for money.
Humanly speaking, Sarah and Rahab had nothing in common. But from the divine viewpoint, Sarah and Rahab shared the most important thing in life: They both had exercised saving faith in the true and living God.
Not only does the Bible associate Rahab with Sarah; but in
, it also associates her with Abraham.
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
James used both Abraham and Rahab to illustrate the fact that true saving faith always proves itself by good works.
But there’s more: The Bible associates Rahab with the Messiah!
The Genealogy of Jesus Christ
1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
When you read the genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ in , you find Rahab’s name listed there (v. 5), along with
Judah, and his brothers (the 12 tribes)
David the king
Jesus - Messiah
and the other famous people in the messianic line. She has certainly come a long way from being a pagan prostitute to being an ancestress of the Messiah!
“But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” ().
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
But keep in mind that the most important thing about Rahab was her faith.
That’s the most important thing about any person, for “without faith it is impossible to please Him [God]” ().
Not everything that is called “faith” is really true faith, the kind of faith that is described in the Bible. What kind of faith did Rahab have?
We will look at her faith in just a minute.
1. Courageous faith.
2. Confident faith.
3. Concerned faith.
4. Covenant faith.
Whether intentionally or unintentionally, the spies’ decision to stay at the house of a prostitute worked to their advantage. It provided them with cover. It provided them with access to valuable information.
And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” 3 Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” 4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” 6 But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. 7 So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out.
1. Courageous faith ()
Both (ESV) By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
and (ESV) And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?
Both verses indicate that Rahab had put her faith in God before the spies ever arrived in Jericho.
Like the people in Thessalonica, she had “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (). She wasn’t like the people of Samaria centuries later who “feared the Lord, and [at the same time] served their own gods” ().
Jericho was one of many “city-states” in Canaan, each one ruled by a king (see ). The city covered about eight or nine acres, and there is archeological evidence that double walls about fifteen feet apart protected the city. Rahab’s house was on the wall (2:15).
Meanwhile, Jericho was a strategic city in Joshua’s plan for conquering Canaan. After taking Jericho, Joshua could then cut straight across and divide the land; and then it would be much easier to defeat the cities in the south and then in the north.
Map of Land
Map of Land
Forty years before, Moses had sent twelve spies into Canaan; and only two of them had given an encouraging report (). Joshua sent two men to spy out the land and more specifically to get information about Jericho.
Joshua wanted to know how the citizens were reacting to the arrival of the people of Israel. Since Joshua knew that God had already given him the land and the people, the sending of the spies wasn’t an act of unbelief (see 1:11, 15). A good general wants to learn all he can about the enemy before he goes into battle.
How did the two spies make their way through the city without being immediately recognized as strangers?
How did they meet Rahab? We certainly have to believe in the providence of God as we watch this drama taking place. Rahab was the only person in Jericho who trusted the God of Israel, and God brought the spies to her.
The Hebrew word translated “harlot” can also mean “one who keeps an inn.” If all we had was the Old Testament text, we could absolve Rahab of immorality and call her the “proprietress of an inn.” But there is no escape, for in and , the writers use the Greek word that definitely means “a prostitute.”
It’s remarkable how God in His grace uses people we might think could never become His servants. “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence” (, NKJV).
Jesus was the “friend of publicans and sinners” (), and He wasn’t ashamed to have a former prostitute in His family tree!
Rahab took her life in her hands when she welcomed the spies and hid them, but that in itself was evidence of her faith in the Lord.
True saving faith can’t be hidden for long. Since these two men represented God’s people, she was not afraid to assist them in their cause. Had the king discovered her deception, he would have slain her as a traitor.
Since Rahab was a believer at that time, how do we defend her lies?
· On the one hand, she demonstrated her faith in the Lord by risking her life to protect the spies; but,
· on the other hand, she acted like any pagan in the city when she lied about her guests. Perhaps we’re expecting too much from a new believer whose knowledge of God was adequate for salvation but certainly limited when it came to the practical things of life.
If seasoned believers like Abraham and Isaac resorted to deception (; ; ), as well as David (), we had better not be too hard on Rahab. This is not to excuse or encourage lying, but simply to take her circumstances into consideration lest we condemn her too severely.
Lying is wrong (), and the fact that God had Rahab’s lies recorded in Scripture is no proof that He approved of them. However, let’s confess that most of us would hesitate to tell the truth if it really were a matter of life or death.
It’s one thing for me to tell the truth about myself and suffer for it; but do I have the right to cause the death of others, especially those who have come under my roof for protection? Many people have been honored for deceiving the enemy during wartime and saving innocent lives, and this was war! Suppose we looked upon Rahab as a “freedom fighter”; would that change the picture at all?
Ethical problems aside, the main lesson here is that Rahab’s faith was conspicuous, and she demonstrated it by receiving the spies and risking her life to protect them.
Remember the bible records events, even when things didn’t go perfect!
James saw her actions as proof that she was truly a believer (). Her faith wasn’t hidden; the spies could tell that she was indeed a believer.
Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof 9 and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you.
And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear and do not be dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, his city, and his land. And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its livestock you shall take as plunder for yourselves. Lay an ambush against the city, behind it.” So Joshua and all the fighting men arose to go up to Ai. And Joshua chose 30,000 mighty men of valor and sent them out by night. And he commanded them, “Behold, you shall lie in ambush against the city, behind it. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you remain ready. And I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. And when they come out against us just as before, we shall flee before them. And they will come out after us, until we have drawn them away from the city. For they will say, ‘They are fleeing from us, just as before.’ So we will flee before them. Then you shall rise up from the ambush and seize the city, for the Lord your God will give it into your hand. And as soon as you have taken the city, you shall set the city on fire. You shall do according to the word of the Lord. See, I have commanded you.” So Joshua sent them out. And they went to the place of ambush and lay between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai, but Joshua spent that night among the people. Joshua arose early in the morning and mustered the people and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai. And all the fighting men who were with him went up and drew near before the city and encamped on the north side of Ai, with a ravine between them and Ai. He took about 5,000 men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, to the west of the city. So they stationed the forces, the main encampment that was north of the city and its rear guard west of the city. But Joshua spent that night in the valley. And as soon as the king of Ai saw this, he and all his people, the men of the city, hurried and went out early to the appointed place toward the Arabah to meet Israel in battle. But he did not know that there was an ambush against him behind the city. And Joshua and all Israel pretended to be beaten before them and fled in the direction of the wilderness. So all the people who were in the city were called together to pursue them, and as they pursued Joshua they were drawn away from the city. Not a man was left in Ai or Bethel who did not go out after Israel. They left the city open and pursued Israel. Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Stretch out the javelin that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.” And Joshua stretched out the javelin that was in his hand toward the city. And the men in the ambush rose quickly out of their place, and as soon as he had stretched out his hand, they ran and entered the city and captured it. And they hurried to set the city on fire. So when the men of Ai looked back, behold, the smoke of the city went up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way or that, for the people who fled to the wilderness turned back against the pursuers. And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had captured the city, and that the smoke of the city went up, then they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. And the others came out from the city against them, so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side. And Israel struck them down, until there was left none that survived or escaped. But the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him near to Joshua. When Israel had finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the open wilderness where they pursued them, and all of them to the very last had fallen by the edge of the sword, all Israel returned to Ai and struck it down with the edge of the sword. And all who fell that day, both men and women, were 12,000, all the people of Ai. But Joshua did not draw back his hand with which he stretched out the javelin until he had devoted all the inhabitants of Ai to destruction. Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as their plunder, according to the word of the Lord that he commanded Joshua. So Joshua burned Ai and made it forever a heap of ruins, as it is to this day. And he hanged the king of Ai on a tree until evening. And at sunset Joshua commanded, and they took his body down from the tree and threw it at the entrance of the gate of the city and raised over it a great heap of stones, which stands there to this day. At that time Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the people of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, “an altar of uncut stones, upon which no man has wielded an iron tool.” And they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord and sacrificed peace offerings. And there, in the presence of the people of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written. And all Israel, sojourner as well as native born, with their elders and officers and their judges, stood on opposite sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, half of them in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded at the first, to bless the people of Israel. And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them.
(Rahab does not do what she does because she is impressed with the spies. No, her fascination, is with the Lord of the spies.)
10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. 11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.
2. Confident faith ()
Faith is only as good as its object.
Some people have faith in faith and think that just by believing they can make great things happen.
Others have faith in lies, which is not faith at all but superstition. I once heard a psychologist say that the people in a support group “must have some kind of faith, even if it’s faith in the soft drink machine.” But faith is only as good as its object. How much help can you get from a soft drink machine, especially after you’ve run out of money?
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones reminds us that “faith shows itself in the whole personality.” True saving faith isn’t just a feat of intellectual gymnastics by which we convince ourselves that something is true that really isn’t true. Nor is it merely a stirring of the emotions that gives us a false sense of confidence that God will do what we feel He will do. Nor is it a courageous act of the will whereby we jump off the pinnacle of the temple and expect God to rescue us (). True saving faith involves “the whole personality”: the mind is instructed, the emotions are stirred, and the will then acts in obedience to God.
“By faith Noah,
· being warned of God of things not seen yet [the intellect],
· moved with fear [the emotions],
· prepared an ark [the will] …” ().
Rahab’s experience was similar, to that of Noah:
· She knew that Jehovah was the true God [the mind];
· she feared for herself and her family when she heard about the great wonders He had performed [the emotions];
· and she received the spies and pleaded for the salvation of her family [the will].
Unless the whole personality is involved, it is not saving faith as the Bible describes it.
This doesn’t mean that the mind must be fully instructed in every aspect of Bible truth before a sinner can be saved.
The woman with the hemorrhage only touched the hem of Christ’s garment and she was healed, but she acted on the little knowledge that she did possess ().
Rahab’s knowledge of the true God was limited, but she acted on what she knew; and the Lord saved her.
Rahab showed more faith in the Lord than the ten spies had exhibited forty years before, when she said, “I know that the Lord has given you the land” (, NKJV).
Her faith was based on facts, not just feelings; for she had heard of the miracles God had performed, starting with the parting of the Red Sea at the Exodus. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (, NKJV).
Because the report of the Lord’s power had traveled to the people of Canaan, they were afraid; but this is what Israel expected their great God to do.
“The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina.
Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. Fear and dread shall fall upon them” ().
God promised to do this for Israel, and He kept His promise.
“This day I will begin to put the dread and fear of you upon the nations under the whole heaven, who shall hear the report of you, and shall tremble and be in anguish because of you” (, NKJV).
“The Lord your God, He is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath” (). What a confession of faith from the lips of a woman whose life had been imprisoned in pagan idolatry!
· She believed in one God, not in the multitude of gods that populated the heathen temples.
· She believed He was a personal God (“your God”), who would work on behalf of those who trusted Him.
· She believed He was the God of Israel, who would give the land to His people. This God whom she trusted was not limited to one nation or one land, but was the God of heaven and earth.
· Rahab believed in a great and awesome God!
Our confidence that we are God’s children comes from the witness of the Word of God before us and the witness of the Spirit of God within us ().
However, the assurance of salvation isn’t based only on what we know from the Bible or how we feel in our hearts. It’s also based on how we live; for if there hasn’t been a change in our behavior, then it’s doubtful that we’ve truly been born again (; ).
It isn’t enough to say “Lord, Lord!” We must obey what He tells us to do (). Rahab’s obedience gave evidence of a changed life.
Rahab’s conversion was truly an act of God’s grace. Like all the citizens of Canaan, Rahab was under condemnation and destined to die. God commanded the Jews to “utterly destroy them” and show them no mercy (). Rahab was a Gentile, outside the covenant mercies shown to Israel (). She didn’t deserve to be saved, but God had mercy on her. If ever a sinner experienced , it was Rahab!
Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign 13 that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” 14 And the men said to her, “Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the Lord gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.”
3. Concerned faith ()
Rahab, however, wasn’t concerned only about her own welfare, for once she had personally experienced the grace and mercy of God, she was burdened to rescue her family.
· After Andrew met the Lord Jesus, he shared the good news with his brother Simon and brought him to Jesus ().
· The cleansed leper went home and told everybody he met what Jesus had done for him ().
· “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise” ().
Rahab wanted assurance from the two spies that when the city was taken, they would guarantee her family’s safety.
The men gave her that guarantee in two ways:
· They pledged their word,
· and they pledged their lives that they would not break their word.
In other words, they became surety for Rahab’s family, the way Judah became surety for Benjamin ().
The Book of Proverbs warns against “suretyship” in the business world because it involves a risk that could lead to your losing everything (; ; ; ).
However, in the realm of the spiritual, we are saved because Jesus Christ, who owed no debts, was willing to become surety for us (, NIV).
The next time you sing “Jesus Paid It All,” remember that Jesus has pledged Himself as “the guarantee of a better covenant” (, NIV).
He died for us; and as long as He lives, our salvation is secure. Because of the promise of His Word and the guarantee of His eternal suretyship, we have confidence that “He is able to save completely [forever] those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them” (v. 25, NIV).
The spies warned Rahab that she must not divulge any of this information to anybody in the city other than the members of her family. If she did, their agreement was canceled. What a contrast to the believer’s relationship to Jesus Christ, for He wants everybody to know that He has paid the price of redemption and that they can be saved by trusting Him. If Rahab talked too much, her life was in danger; but if we don’t talk enough, the lives of lost people around us are in danger.
Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall. 16 And she said to them, “Go into the hills, or the pursuers will encounter you, and hide there three days until the pursuers have returned. Then afterward you may go your way.” 17 The men said to her, “We will be guiltless with respect to this oath of yours that you have made us swear. 18 Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household. 19 Then if anyone goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be guiltless. But if a hand is laid on anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. 20 But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless with respect to your oath that you have made us swear.” 21 And she said, “According to your words, so be it.” Then she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.
22 They departed and went into the hills and remained there three days until the pursuers returned, and the pursuers searched all along the way and found nothing. 23 Then the two men returned. They came down from the hills and passed over and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and they told him all that had happened to them. 24 And they said to Joshua, “Truly the Lord has given all the land into our hands. And also, all the inhabitants of the land melt away because of us.”
4. Covenant faith ()
A covenant is simply an agreement, a contract between two or more parties, with certain conditions laid down for all parties to obey.
You find a number of divine covenants recorded in Scripture:
· God’s covenant with Adam and Eve in Eden ();
· God’s covenants with Noah (),
· Abraham (12:1–3; 15:1–20),
· and Israel ();
· the covenant concerning the land of Palestine, as explained in Deuteronomy; the messianic covenant with David ();
· and the New Covenant in the blood of Jesus Christ (; ; ).
· You also find human covenants, such as the agreement between David and Jonathan (; ) and between David and the people of Israel ().
Before the two spies left Rahab’s house, they reaffirmed their covenant with her. Since the men didn’t know God’s plan for taking the city, they couldn’t give Rahab any detailed instructions. Perhaps they assumed that the city would be besieged, the gates smashed down, and the people massacred. The men were certain that the city would fall and that ultimately the land would be taken.
Often in biblical covenants, God appointed some physical or material “token” to remind the people of what had been promised.
· His covenant with Abraham was “sealed” by the rite of circumcision (; ).
· When God established His covenant with Israel at Sinai, both the covenant book and the covenant people were sprinkled with blood (; ).
· God gave the rainbow as the token of the covenant with Noah (),
· and the Lord Jesus Christ used the broken bread and the cup of wine as tokens of the New Covenant (; ).
In the case of Rahab, the spies instructed her to hang a scarlet rope out of the window of her house, which was built into the wall (). This scarlet rope would identify the “house of safety” to the army of Israel when they came to take the city.
The color of the rope is significant for it reminds us of blood. Just as the blood on the doorposts in Egypt marked a house that the angel of death was to pass over (), so the scarlet rope marked a house on the Jericho wall whose occupants the Jewish soldiers were to protect. Rahab let the men down from the window with that rope and kept it in the window from that hour. This was the “sure sign” of the covenant that she had asked for ().
It’s important to note that Rahab and her family were saved by faith in the God of Israel and not by faith in the rope hanging out the window.
The fact that she hung the rope from the window was proof that she had faith, just as the blood of the slain lamb put on the doorposts in Egypt proved that the Jews believed God’s Word.
Faith in the living God means salvation, and faith in His covenant gives assurance; but faith in the token of the covenant is religious superstition and can give neither salvation nor assurance.
The Jews depended on circumcision to save them, but they ignored the true spiritual meaning of that important rite (; ; ).
Many people today depend for their salvation on their baptism or their participation in the Lord’s Table (the Eucharist, Communion); but this kind of faith is vain. Rahab had faith in the Lord and in the covenant promises He had made through His servants; and she proved her faith by hanging the scarlet rope from the window. When the Jews captured Jericho, they found Rahab and her family in her house; and they rescued them from judgment ().
Rahab was a woman of great courage. She had to tell all her relatives about the coming judgment and the promise of salvation, and this was a dangerous thing to do. Suppose one of those relatives told the king what was going on.
She also had to give a reason for the scarlet line hanging out her window. Since Jericho was “securely shut up” (v. 1, NKJV), it isn’t likely that there were people outside the walls; but a stranger coming into the city for safety might have seen the scarlet cord. Or somebody visiting Rahab’s house might have asked about it.
The spies left Rahab’s house and hid until they were sure their pursuers had given up the chase. Then they returned to the camp of Israel and gave Joshua the good news that the fear of the Lord had brought the people of the land to a place of helplessness. Rahab not only brought hope to her family, but she also gave great encouragement to Joshua and the army of Israel.
The people of Israel, however, weren’t ready yet to cross the river and conquer the enemy. They had some “unfinished business” to take care of before they could be sure of the blessing of the Lord