Rahab the Faithful Servant
Sermon: Rahab the Faithful Servant
The Mercy of God in life of Rahab the Prostitute (Joshua 2 and 6)
How did she come to faith?
Key verse: Deuteronomy 7:1-2
The Grace of God in Rahab’s life
Matthew 1:5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse
Trace God’s grace in her life through the godly men that surrounded her
Nahshon à Salmon à Boaz àààJesus
The Faith of Rahab
Hebrews 11:31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
Compare Josh 2:9-11 with Hebrews 1:1; Romans 10:13; 10:17; 10:9-11
The Works of Rahab
James 2:25 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?
What did Rahab do?
Sermón: Rahab la Sierva Fiel
La Misericordia de Dios en la vida de Rahab la Prostituta (Josué 2 y 6)
¿Cómo llegó a la fe?
Versículo clave: Deuteronomio 7:1-2
La Gracia de Dios en la vida Rahab
Versículo clave: Mateo 1:4-5
Los más importante hombres en su vida
La Fe de Rahab
Versículo clave: Hebreos 11:31
Compara Josué 2:9-11 con Hebreos 1:1; Romanos 10:13; 10:17; 10:9-11
Las Obras de Rahab
Versículo clave 2:25
¿Qué hizó Rahab?
The Mercy of God in life of Rahab the Prostitute (Joshua 2 and 6)
How did she come to faith? Key verse: Deut 7:1-2
*We are Rahab (sinners condemned to die but spared by God’s mercy)
Two spies were sent to Jericho to save Rahab. They did not know this, any more than we know the outcome when we are sent on some errand for God.
Josh 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 [why?... God led them there! God led them to the only believer in Jericho]. 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, the men 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 this land to you [before it even happened!] 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. [God promised to do this for Israel Ex. 15:14–16; Deut. 2:25] 10 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt [40 yrs ago!], and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan [Numb 21:21-35] , whom you completely destroyed. 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. [From whom had Rahab heard about Godl? prob from men she delt with……polytheistic background. … she “turned to God from idols to serve the living & true God” (1 Thes. 1:9)] 12 Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness [ḥeseḏ -love based on a covenant]. 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 Now she had 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 The men 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 anyone goes outside your house into the street, his blood will be on his own head; we will not be responsible. As for anyone who is in the house with you, his blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on him. 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.”
Josh 6:17 The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. [Rahab’s knowledge of the true God was meager, but she acted on what she knew; and the Lord saved her.] 18 But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. 19 All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury.” 20 When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city. 21 They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys. [God commanded the Jews to utterly destroy them and show them no mercy (Dt.7:1–3). 22 Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her.” 23 So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel. 24 Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house. 25 But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.
We might imagine how, thru mercy, God would receive her under the protection of the chosen nation and allow her to dwell in the midst of the favored people on a lower plane—something like the Gibeonites who were allowed to live among the Jews as “woodcutters and water carriers for the community” (Josh. 9:27). But that is not what happened. Though she was a Gentile, an Amorite, and a prostitute, she was immediately accepted as a full member of the favored nation.
2:1 Acacia Grove … Jericho. The grove (3:1) was situated in foothills about 7 mi. E of the Jordan, and Jericho lay seven mi. W of the river. two men … to spy. These scouts would inform Joshua on various features of the topography, food, drinking water, and defenses to be overcome in the invasion. house of a harlot. Their purpose was not impure; rather, the spies sought a place where they would not be conspicuous. Resorting to such a house would be a good cover, from where they might learn something of Jericho. Also, a house on the city wall (v. 15) would allow a quick getaway. In spite of this precaution, their presence became known (vv. 2, 3). God, in his sovereign providence, wanted them there for the salvation of the harlot. She would provide an example of His saving by faith a woman at the bottom of social strata, as He saved Abraham at the top (cf. James 2:18–25). Most importantly, by God’s grace she was in the Messianic line (Matt. 1:15). 2:2 the king. He was not over a broad domain, but only the city-state. Kings over other city areas appear later during this conquest (8:23; 12:24). 2:4, 5 Cf. vv. 9–11. Lying is sin to God (Ex. 20:16), for He cannot lie (Titus 1:2). God commended her faith (Heb. 11:31; James 2:25) as expressed in vv. 9–16, not her lie. He never condones any sin, yet none are without some sin (Rom. 3:23), thus the need for forgiveness. But He also honors true faith, small as it is, and imparts saving grace (Ex. 34:7).2:6 stalks of flax. These fibers, used for making linen, were stems about 3 feet long, left to sit in water, then piled in the sun or on a level roof to dry.2:11 God in heaven above and on earth beneath. She confessed the realization that He is the sovereign Creator and Sustainer of all that exists (Deut. 4:39; Acts 14:15; 17:23–28), thus the Supreme One. 2:15, 16 Her home was on the city wall, with the Jordan (v. 7) to the E. The rugged mountains to the W provided many hiding places. 2:18 cord. A different word from “rope” (v. 15). Scarlet, unlike drab green, brown, gray, etc., is better seen to mark the house for protection. The color also is fitting for these whose blood (v. 19) was under God’s pledge of safety
* The spying out of Jericho Joshua had been 1 of the 12 spies who had explored the land (Num. 13-14). Now as he faced westward and viewed the land God promised across the turbulent Jordan, it was natural for him to secure information necessary for a successful battle. That battle was the first in a long, difficult war. the spies’ commission to jericho (2:1)
2:1. Looming in the middle of the path the invaders must take was the walled city of Jericho, the key citadel of the Jordan Valley which commanded the passes into the central highlands. But before attacking it Joshua needed complete information about this fortress—its gates, fortified towers, military force, and the morale of its people. So two secret agents were chosen and sent on a carefully concealed mission. Not even the Israelites were to know of it lest an unfavorable report dishearten them as it had their fathers at Kadesh Barnea (Num. 13:1-14:4). Taking their lives in their hands the two spies left Shittim, seven miles east of the Jordan, and probably traveled north, swimming across the flooded river (3:15) at some fords. Turning south they approached Jericho from the west side and soon were moving along its streets, mingling with the people. How the spies chose the house of a prostitute named Rahab is not revealed. While some suggest they saw her walking the streets and followed her, it seems better to believe that in the providence of God the men were led there. God’s purpose for the visit of the spies to Jericho included more than securing military information. A sinful woman was there whom God in His grace purposed to spare from the judgment soon to fall on the city. So the Lord, moving in a mysterious way, brought together two secret agents of the army of Israel and a harlot of Canaan who would become a proselyte to the God of Israel. Some, from the time of Josephus to the present, have attempted to soften the situation by arguing that Rahab was only an innkeeper, but the New Testament references to her (Heb. 11:31; James 2:25) indicate that she was an immoral woman. This in no way impugns the righteousness of God who used such a person in the fulfillment of His purposes. Instead this incident serves to bring His mercy and grace into bold relief (Matt. 21:32; Luke 15:1; 19:10). the spies’ shielding by rahab (2:2-7) 2:2-3. The disguise of the spies was not adequate. The entire city was on alert, knowing about the camp of Israel opposite them across the Jordan. Someone detected the agents, followed them to Rahab’s house, and quickly returned to report to the king. The king, responding with alacrity, sent messengers who demanded of Rahab that the spies be surrendered. In keeping with oriental custom the privacy of even a woman such as Rahab was respected and the king’s men refrained from bursting into her house and searching it. 2:4-6. But apparently Rahab also had suspicions about the identity of the two visitors. When she saw the soldiers approaching her house she took the spies and hid them beneath the stalks of flax which had been placed on her flat roof for drying. After flax stalks were pulled up at harvesttime, they were soaked in water for three or four weeks to separate the fibers. Then, after drying in the sun, the flax was made into linen cloth. Hastening down to open her front door to the king’s messengers, she freely admitted that two strangers had come to her house, but how could she know their identity and mission? ”They left here at dusk, just about the time the city gate is closed,“ she lied. ”But if you hurry you can probably catch . . . them.“ 2:7. The soldiers took Rahab at her word, made no search of her property, but quickly set out on a wild-goose chase due east to the fords of the Jordan, the most likely escape route.Was Rahab wrong to lie since her falsehood protected the spies? Are there some situations in which a lie is acceptable? After all, some say, this was a cultural matter, for Rahab was born and raised among the depraved Canaanites among whom lying was universally practiced. She probably saw no evil in her act. Further, if she had told the truth the spies would have been killed by the king of Jericho. But such arguments are not convincing. To argue that the spies would certainly have perished if Rahab had been truthful is to ignore the option that God could have protected the spies in some other way. To excuse Rahab for indulging in a common practice is to condone what God condemns. Paul quoted a prophet of Crete who said that Cretans were inveterate liars, and then added, ”This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith“ (Titus 1:13). The lie of Rahab was recorded but not approved. The Bible approved her faith demonstrated by good works (Heb. 11:31), but not her falsehood. (However, some explain Rahab’s lying by saying that deception is allowable in war.) the spies’ intelligence information from rahab (2:8-11) 2:8-11. A most remarkable conversation then took place. The king’s messengers were gone and Rahab climbed to the roof of her home where she talked with the two spies in the darkness. One is hardly prepared for her declaration of faith which follows. First, she disclosed that she believed that the Lord, the God of Israel, had given them the land of Canaan. Though the army of Israel had not yet crossed the Jordan River, Rahab stated in effect, ”the Conquest is as good as over.“ Second, she revealed to the spies the priceless information that the inhabitants of Jericho as well as the rest of Canaan were utterly demoralized: All who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. (v. 24, and v. 11, our hearts sank and everyone’s courage failed.) This is as God had said it would be (Ex. 23:27; Deut. 2:25). Since a major objective of the spy mission was to assess the morale of the enemy, this word was indeed ”music to their ears.“ But why the terror? Because of the power of Israel’s God which parted the Red Sea for the Hebrew slaves 40 years before, and more recently gave them victories over Sihon and Og, the mighty kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan (Num. 21:21-35). Now that same God was closing in on them and they knew they could not win. Third Rahab declared her faith in Israel’s God: For the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. Responding to the word she had received about the mighty working of God, Rahab believed, trusting in His power and mercy. And that faith saved her. But how could Rahab have such a remarkable faith and still be a harlot, and so glibly tell lies? The answer would seem to be that as she responded in belief to the message she heard about God’s works, she later responded to further messages concerning God’s standards of life and obeyed. After all, spiritual maturity is gradual, not instantaneous. Even John Newton, who wrote the gospel song ”Amazing Grace,“ continued for some time after his conversion in the slave trade before he was convicted about this base and degrading practice and gave it up. the spies’ promise to rahab (2:12-21) 2:12-13. Rahab demonstrated her faith not only by protecting the spies (Heb. 11:31; James 2:25) but also by showing concern for her family’s safety. Admittedly she sought her family’s physical deliverance, but she must have desired also that they too become a part of God’s people, serving the one true God of Israel instead of being enslaved to the Canaanites’ vile and degrading idolatry. She pursued this urgent matter delicately but persistently, pressing the spies to make a pact with her because of her cooperation with them. When Rahab asked for kindness (ḥeseḏ) to be shown to her family she used a significant and meaningful word. Found about 250 times in the Old Testament, ḥeseḏ means loyal, steadfast, or faithful love based on a promise, agreement, or covenant. Sometimes the word is used of God’s covenant-love for His people and sometimes, as here, of relationships on the human level. Rahab’s request was that the spies make a ḥeseḏ agreement with her and her father’s family, just as she had made a ḥeseḏ agreement with them by sparing their lives. 2:14. The response of the spies was immediate and decisive. ”When the Lord gives us the land, that is, Jericho, we will keep the ḥeseḏ agreement. If you don’t report our mission we will protect you and your family or forfeit our own lives“ . 2:15-20. As the spies prepared to go they again confirmed the pact by repeating and enlarging the conditions Rahab must abide by. First, her house must be marked by a scarlet cord hung from the window. Because of the position of the house on the city wall (see comments on v. 21 about the house on the wall) the cord would be clearly seen by the Israelite soldiers again and again as they would march around the walls (6:12-15). Her home would be clearly marked out and no soldier, however fierce and eager he might be in the work of destruction, would dare violate the oath and kill anyone in that house.
Second, Rahab and her family were to remain in the house during the attack on Jericho. If anybody would wander out and was killed the guilt for his death would be his own, not the invaders‘. Finally, the spies again emphasized that they would be free of this oath of protection if Rahab exposed their mission. 2:21. To these conditions Rahab agreed, and after the spies left she tied the scarlet cord in the window. She probably also hurried and told her family to gather in her house. The door of her house was a door to safety from the judgment soon to fall on Jericho (Gen. 7:16; Ex. 12:23; John 10:9). Their mission completed, the spies and Rahab exchanged parting instructions concerning their escape (Josh. 2:15-16). Jericho at this time was surrounded by two walls about 15 feet apart. Planks of wood spanned the gap and then houses were built on this foundation. Probably due to the pressure of space in the small city, Rahab’s house was one of those built ”on the wall.“ In this way it was ”part of the city wall“ (v. 15). the spies’ return to joshua (2:22-24) 2:22-24. The spies were carefully lowered by a rope through a window of Rahab’s house (v. 15). Their escape would have been more difficult, if not impossible, had it been necessary for them to go out the city gate. Scarcely a half-mile west of Jericho are limestone cliffs about 1,500 feet high, honeycombed with caves. Here the spies hid (in the hills) for three days (1:11) until the soldiers of Jericho gave up the hunt. Then under cover of darkness the spies swam back across the Jordan, made their way quickly to the camp at Shittim (2:1), and reported to Joshua about their strange and stirring adventure and the alarm and utter despondency of the Canaanites. Their conclusion was, The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands for all the people are melting in fear (v. 9; Ex. 23:27; Deut. 2:25). How different from the report of the majority of the spies at Kadesh Barnea who said, ”We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are“ (Num. 13:31).
* A Convert in Canaan Only two women are personally named in Hebrews 11, “The Hall of Fame of Faith”: Sarah, the wife of Abraham (v. 11), and Rahab, the harlot of Jericho (v. 31).
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 James 2:21–26, it also associates her with Abraham. 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! When you read the genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 1, you find Rahab’s name listed there (v. 5), along with Jacob, David, 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” (Rom. 5:20). 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]” (Heb. 11:6). 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? 1. Courageous faith (Josh. 2:1–7) Both Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25 indicate that Rahab had put her faith in Jehovah 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” (1 Thes. 1:9). She wasn’t like the people of Samaria centuries later who “feared the Lord, and [at the same time] served their own gods” (2 Kings 17:33). Jericho was one of many “city-states” in Canaan, each one ruled by a king (Josh. 12:9–24). 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.
Forty years before, Moses had sent twelve spies into Canaan; and only two of them had given an encouraging report (Num. 13). Joshua sent two men to spy out the land and especially 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 (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 James 2:25 and Hebrews 11:31, 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” (1 Cor. 1:27–29). Jesus was the “friend of publicans and sinners” (Luke 7:34), 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 (Gen. 12:10–20; 20; 26:6–11), as well as David (1 Sam. 21:2), 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 (Prov. 12:22), 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. James saw her actions as proof that she was truly a believer (James 2:25). Her faith wasn’t hidden; the spies could tell that she was indeed a believer. 2. Confident faith (Josh. 2:8–11) 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. 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 (Matt. 4:5–7). 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 as yet [the intellect], moved with fear [the emotions], prepared an ark [the will] . . .” (Heb. 11:7). 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. Of course, 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 (Matt. 9:20–22). Rahab’s knowledge of the true God was meager, 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” (Josh. 2:9). Her faith was based on facts, not just feelings; for she had heard of the miracles God had performed, starting with the opening up of the Red Sea at the Exodus. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Since 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” (Ex. 15:14–16). 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” (Deut. 2:25). “The Lord your God, He is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath” (Josh. 2:11). 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 (1 John 5:9–13). 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 (2 Cor. 5:21; James 2:14–26). It isn’t enough to say “Lord, Lord!” We must obey what He tells us to do (Matt. 7:21–27). 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 (Deut. 7:1–3). Rahab was a Gentile, outside the covenant mercies shown to Israel (Eph. 2:11–13). She didn’t deserve to be saved, but God had mercy on her. If ever a sinner experienced Ephesians 2:1–10, it was Rahab! Concerned faith (Josh. 2:12–14) 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 (John 1:35–42). The cleansed leper went home and told everybody he met what Jesus had done for him (Mark 1:40–45). “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30). 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 (Gen. 43:8–9). The Book of Proverbs warns against “suretyship” in the business world because it involves a risk that could lead to your losing everything (Prov. 6:1ff; 11:15; 20:16; 27:13). However, in the realm of the spiritual, we are saved because Jesus Christ, who owed no debts, was willing to become surety for us (Heb. 7:22). The next time you sing “Jesus Paid It All,” remember that Jesus has pledged Himself as “the guarantee of a better covenant” (Heb. 7:22). 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). 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. Covenant faith (Josh. 2:15–24) 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 our first parents in Eden (Gen. 2:16); God’s covenants with Noah (Gen. 9), Abraham (12:1–3; 15:1–20), and Israel (Ex. 19–20); the covenant concerning the land of Palestine, as explained in Deuteronomy; the messianic covenant with David (2 Sam. 7); and the New Covenant in the blood of Jesus Christ (Jer. 31:31; Matt. 26:28; Heb. 12:24). You also find human covenants, such as the agreement between David and Jonathan (1 Sam. 18:3; 20:16) and between David and the people of Israel (2 Sam. 5:1–5). 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 (Gen. 17:9–14; Rom. 4:11). When God established His covenant with Israel at Sinai, both the covenant book and the covenant people were sprinkled with blood (Ex. 24:3–8; Heb. 9:16–22). God gave the rainbow as the token of the covenant with Noah (Gen. 9:12–17), and the Lord Jesus Christ used the broken bread and the cup of wine as tokens of the New Covenant (Luke 22:19–20; 1 Cor. 11:23–26). 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 (Josh. 2:18). 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 (Ex. 12:1–13), 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 (Josh. 2:12–23). 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 (Rom. 2:25–29; Deut. 10:12–16; 30:6). 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 (Josh. 6:21–25). 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), 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.
*Rahab’s story is set in the context of the story of the conquest of the land. It is intertwined with the story of Joshua sending two spies to Jericho, just as Moses had sent twelve spies to report on the land years before. It is interesting that Joshua sent two spies. Thirty-eight years earlier, when Moses dispatched the twelve Jewish infiltrators, only two returned with a faithful report to the effect that God would give the land to the people. Joshua was one of those, and his good friend Caleb was the other. On this occasion Joshua did not want a repetition of the earlier disaster and so, perhaps symbolically, chose two men whom he undoubtedly selected carefully and from whom he expected a believing rather than an unbelieving report. Moreover, I think he had been directed by God in this action. The text does not say so directly, and some have supposed that Joshua was in error to send spies, saying he should simply have trusted the Lord and moved ahead. But God had told Moses to send the twelve spies earlier, in spite of the outcome (Num. 13:1–2), and it is reasonable to suppose that God had likewise instructed Joshua to do the same now. The spies were to go to Jericho and report on it in preparation for the attack that was to take place in just a few days.If the spies were sent in obedience to the command of God, as we have every reason to believe, then we are probably also right to think that it was for the saving of Rahab and not merely for the bringing back of information that they were sent. Joshua did not need information about Jericho. What was needed were the arrangements by which Rahab and her family would be saved when Jericho was taken.The situation here is similar to that in John 4:4, where we are told that Jesus “had to go through Samaria.” It was not that the Samaritan road was the only road to Galilee; it was not. Usually, another way was taken. It was rather that God had one of his elect children residing in that city, and, as Jesus taught, not one of these elect sheep shall ever perish. Jesus entered Samaria to save the Samaritan woman. In the same way, the two spies were sent to Jericho to save Rahab. They did not know this, of course, any more than we know the outcome when we are sent on some errand for God. But in the divine view of things, this was the reason. God had been working in Rahab’s heart, leading her to true faith, and now he was sending his messengers to confirm her faith and physically save her. It is interesting that the first character in this great book of Joshua, other than Joshua himself, is this woman and the first real story is her story. Grace Abounding Another way of saying this is to say that the first story in Joshua is a story of God’s mercy rather than of his wrath. Joshua is a book of harsh conquest, and the premise for the particularly destructive nature of this conquest is that “the sin of the Amorites” had reached its full measure (see Gen. 15:16). That is, the people were ripe for judgment. All through Joshua, we see God commanding the Jews utterly to destroy the nations occupying the land, a judgment that has its closest parallel in the destruction of the people of the earth (except Noah and his family) at the time of the great flood. Yet even in this book of harsh and utter judgment, the very first story is about the salvation of the harlot of Jericho. This is a story of great mercy, because Rahab had nothing going for her, humanly speaking. This is so striking that it is worth listing Rahab’s liabilities.
1. She was a Gentile. It is true that throughout the long history of the Jewish people, God demonstrated a marvelous tendency to reach out and save certain representative Gentiles. We think of Ruth the Moabitess or Naaman the Syrian. Still, as Jesus later said, “Salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22), and the only real advantages where true religion is concerned were in Judaism. Paul asked rhetorically, “What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew?” He answered, “Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God” (Rom. 3:1–2). “Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ” (Rom. 9:4–5). Not every one of these advantages was fully possessed by Israel at the time of the conquest, but most of them were, and—this is the point—it was Israel that possessed them. Rahab had none of these things. She was a Gentile and was, therefore, as Paul later told the Ephesians was their case, a foreigner “to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12).
2. She was an Amorite. The Amorites were only one of many peoples who occupied Canaan at this time. The standard list includes “the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites” (Gen. 15:19–21; Num. 13:29). But among these many peoples, who were now to be destroyed for their wickedness, the Amorites were singled out for particular condemnation for their sin. They were a corrupt, vile people, even sacrificing children in their depraved religious practices.
3. She was a prostitute. Here and there, there have been attempts to excuse Rahab from the full implication of this word, and some have suggested that since she had apparently come to believe in the true God prior to the visit of the spies, she must already have been reformed from her earlier sinful life. They argue that the spies would not have gone to the house of an immoral woman. Arthur W. Pink even argues from the presence of flax on the roof of her dwelling (Josh. 2:6) that she was engaged in a moral occupation—citing Proverbs 31, where the virtuous wife is said to work wool and flax with eager hands. Well, Rahab may well have been converted before the arrival of the two spies—I think her language does suggest that—but she is nevertheless identified as a prostitute, and it is undoubtedly because of her being one that the spies went to her. I am not suggesting that they went to her for immoral purposes. But where, pray tell, could two strangers go where they were least likely to be asked embarrassing questions? To go there was a stroke of genius. Moreover, when the king heard that the spies had gone to Rahab and sent to have them brought out to him, he seemed to accept it as normal that men would visit Rahab and accepted her report that the men had left almost as quickly as they had gone in. No, there is no doubt that she was a prostitute, just as the Samaritan woman was also sexually immoral. It is merely another case of the great and inexplicable grace of God reaching out to save such a one. Francis Schaeffer asks whether it is “fitting” that God should save such a person, and he answers quite correctly that “it is most fitting.” Rahab was no worse than we are, and yet God saves us. It is not the righteous but sinners whom Christ redeems. Faith Comes by Hearing In spite of this grim list of liabilities—a Gentile, an Amorite, and a prostitute—this pagan woman had at least one great thing going for her: She had heard about the God of Israel. As a result of that, she believed in the true God, for “faith comes from hearing the message” (Rom. 10:17). This is where Rahab’s great confession comes in: Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given this land to you 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. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea 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. When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.”
Joshua 2:8–11. Undoubtedly, there was much about the faith and history of Israel that Rahab did not know. She had heard only of God’s acts in delivering the Jews from Egypt and of the victory he had given them over the two Amorite nations east of the Jordan. But that was enough! She did not have the adoption, the covenants, the law, the worship, or the promises. But she had ears, and she heard what God did and believed on him as a result. An interesting thought occurs to me here, because if we ask, “From whom had Rahab heard these tales of the God of Israel?” the answer is probably from the men who frequented her establishment. Her home would have been a place of great gossip as strangers from near and far reported their tales of foreign wonders. “Have you heard what happened in Egypt?” one of them might have asked. He would have told how God had sent plagues on the Egyptians, plagues that turned the water of the Nile River to blood, brought flies and frogs upon the land, destroyed the cattle, and blotted out the sun. Last of all, he killed the firstborn. “Did you hear what happened at the Red Sea?” another would continue. “The Jewish God parted the water so the people crossed over on dry land. And then he allowed the water to come back and drown the Egyptian soldiers who were following them.” “These people are still around,” a third customer might say. “Not very long ago they defeated and killed Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River.” I find this interesting, because although the Bible certainly does not excuse Rahab’s prostitution, it was to some extent because she was a prostitute that Rahab received firsthand accounts of these things. I said earlier that one thing going for Rahab was that she had heard of Israel’s God, but I add that the wonderful (and saving) thing is that she had heard about God not only with her ears but with her heart. Here was an immoral, pagan woman who in the midst of the practice of her prostitution had heard about the true God of Israel and believed that the God she heard about was the true God. As long as that can happen—and it does happen—we can never despair about anybody and need not despair about ourselves. By Faith … Rahab When we say that Rahab heard with her heart as well as with her ears, we are saying that she believed in God or had faith. This is what she is praised for in the New Testament. Did you know that Rahab is held up as a model of faith two times in the New Testament? First, she appears in the list of the heroes and heroines of faith in Hebrews 11:31, where it is said of her, “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” Then the book of James says, “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?” (James 2:25). Here is true faith, because it is faith in action. We must marvel at what this woman did. It is true that she demonstrated her faith in God by welcoming and hiding the spies, who were God’s representatives. This is what the texts in Hebrews and James say. But Rahab did more even than this.1. Rahab put her life on the line. She risked her own life and the lives of her family for the spies. Jericho was not a nice place. It was actually something of a military outpost, and we are not wrong to think that Rahab’s life would not have been worth a wooden shekel if her deception had been discovered. If the messengers of the king had failed to accept her word that the spies had left before sundown and had entered her house and discovered the men on her roof, she would have immediately been dragged before the king and probably have been horribly tortured before being killed. Her family would probably have been taken and killed with her. Rahab must have known the risk she was taking, yet she risked everything on the basis of her spiritual discovery and new life. 2. Rahab repudiated her own past and people. This was a military situation, and Rahab knew, as the other residents of the city also knew, that when the Jews attacked the city, no quarter would be given. If the Jews succeeded in overrunning the city, everyone would be killed, just as the inhabitants of Canaan would kill the Jews if they had the opportunity. Rahab was a resident of Jericho. Humanly speaking, she should have been loyal to her own city and people. Yet she repudiated her past for the sake of her new faith in the God of Israel. 3. Rahab identified with the Jewish people. She was not a Jew. But since she believed in the Jewish God, she now instinctively understood that her place was with this new people rather than with her own. In other words, in passing out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, she also passed out of the natural citizenship of Jericho to the citizenship of the children of God. In fact, since not even all Jews believed as genuinely as she did, she actually became more Jewish, spiritually speaking, than many of her new fellow citizens. God accepted her new allegiance. We might imagine how, through mercy, God would receive her under the protection of the chosen nation and allow her to dwell in the midst of the favored people on a lower plane—something like the Gibeonites who were allowed to live among the Jews as “woodcutters and water carriers for the community” (Josh. 9:27). But that is not what happened. Though she was a Gentile, an Amorite, and a prostitute, she was immediately accepted as a full member of the favored nation. She married a Jew and became an ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ. She married a man of the tribe of Judah named Salmon. Their son was Boaz, who married Ruth the Moabitess. Their son was Obed, who was the father of Jesse, who was the father of King David (see Matt. 1:5–6). Isn’t that tremendous? Rahab was not given a second-class salvation; from the very beginning, she received the whole thing. Her position was equal to that of any citizen of Israel, and in proof of that, she was brought into a noble line of the tribe of Judah and became an ancestor of our Lord. The Scarlet Cord Rahab’s experience is parallel to that of everyone who comes to God through faith in Jesus Christ today. Joshua tells us that after Rahab had helped the spies and they had agreed to spare her and her family when the city was taken, they said, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us 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” (Josh. 2:17–18). Rahab agreed and tied the scarlet cord in her window. There is a tradition in the church, going all the way back to Clement of Rome and possibly earlier, that the scarlet cord represents the blood of Jesus Christ, and teachers have talked about the cord running all through the Bible, from Abel’s sacrifice to Calvary. I do not know if Rahab’s scarlet cord specifically represented this, though there is a remarkable parallel between the cord that marked her house and the blood of the lambs spread on the doorposts and lintels of the Jewish homes in Egypt when the angel of death passed over the Jewish homes and families. But I do know that, whether or not that was intended to be explicit, the way of salvation has always been the same and the experience of those whom God saves is parallel. For we are Rahab if we truly understand her story. We were not at all part of the family of God or within the scope of what God is doing in a saving way in human history. What is worse, we were part of a corrupt, degenerate society in which we each had our own reprehensible sins. But God set his hand on us. He made his great saving acts in history known to us and then brought us into contact with his messengers and representatives. He called forth faith in us, faith by which through his grace we also laid our lives on the line. In a spiritual sense, we were called to repudiate our own people and identify with God’s people. As a sign of that, the blood of Christ, like a scarlet cord, was spread over our homes and lives. And now? Now we live in an alien land between the moment of our commitment of faith and the moment of the final judgment, which will be the time of our full deliverance. In this important interim we are to stand alone for God as Rahab did: We are to be God’s people in opposition to the surrounding godless culture. What if you have not done this? Then your state is the same as that of the citizens of Jericho. You look at the surrounding walls of your great secular city and say to yourself, “Surely I am safe here. The walls are strong. This city has stood for many thousands of years.” Why shouldn’t you be like Rahab? She had nothing but a verbal report of the mighty acts of Jehovah, and even that was a selective, limited report. You have the law and the gospel, the law that condemns you for your sin and the gospel that shows you the solution to your sin through the death and outpoured blood of Jesus Christ.
The Grace of God in Rahab’s life
Matt 1:4 Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse…. 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ
Trace God’s grace in her life (surrounding her with godly men)
……Nahshon à Salmon à Boaz àààJesus
Her “previous” men
God’s grace gave her godly fr-in-law Nahshon……leader of Judah / Aaron’s bro in law, offering
God’s grace gave her a godly husband (Salmon)…………………….
God’s grace gave her a godly son (Boaz)…………………………….book of Ruth
God’s grace chose her for the honor of being in Jesus’ lineage
*pick a “failure”, someone you see as a life of poor choices and and disobedience….then by faith see what they can become by God’s mercy and grace
IT IS BEYOND EXPECTATION WHAT ONE ACT OF FAITH CAN ACCOMPLISH IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD
These 4 OT women are exceptional illustrations of God’s grace:
Tamar (Gen.38), Rahab (v. 5), Ruth (Moabite), Solomon’s mother (Bathsheba)
Josh.6:23 So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel. 24 Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house. 25 But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day. (DHH) Ellos entraron y sacaron a Rahab, a su padre, a su madre, asus hermanos y a todos sus parientes, y los llevaron a un lugarseguro fuera del campamento de Israel.
We might imagine how, thru mercy, God would receive her under the protection of the chosen nation and allow her to dwell in the midst of the favored people on a lower plane—something like the Gibeonites who were allowed to live among the Jews as “woodcutters and water carriers for the community” (Josh. 9:27). But that is not what happened. Though she was a Gentile, an Amorite, and a prostitute, she was immediately accepted as a full member of the favored nation & then by God’s grace in Jesus’ lineage
*Another interesting fact about Matthew’s genealogy is the inclusion of four Old Testament women: Tamar (Matt. 1:3), Rahab (v. 5), Ruth (v. 5), and Solomon’s mother (v. 6), Bathsheba. All of these women (as well as most of the men) were questionable in some way. Tamar and Rahab were prostitutes (Gen. 38:24; Josh. 2:1), Ruth was a foreigner, a Moabitess (Ruth 1:4), and Bathsheba committed adultery (2 Sam. 11:2-5). Matthew may have included these women in order to emphasize that God’s choices in dealing with people are all of His grace. Perhaps also he included these women in order to put Jewish pride in its place
*1:3–6 The mention of women in a Jewish genealogy is unusual. But in addition to Mary, four women are listed in this catalog of names. The extraordinary emphasis is underscored by the kind of women Matthew mentions: Tamar, who was involved in a scandal with Judah (Gen. 38); Rahab, the Canaanite harlot of Jericho (Josh. 2); Ruth, who was not an Israelite, but a Moabite (Ruth 1:4); and Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, a woman involved in a sin of horrendous proportions (2 Sam. 11:1–12:23), and who may have been a Hittite. At the beginning of his Gospel, Matthew shows how God’s grace forgives the darkest of sins and reaches beyond the nation of Israel to the world. He also points out that God can lift the lowest and place them in royal lineage
*5, 6a. Salmon became the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz became the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed became the father of Jesse, and Jesse became the father of David the king. With the new names that are mentioned here every student of the Bible is familiar. Who, brought up in Christian circles, has not been thrilled by the stories about Rahab and the spies (Josh. 2 and 6; Heb. 11:31; James 2:25); Boaz, Ruth, and their child Obed (book of Ruth); Jesse and his sons (I Sam. 16); and, last but not least, David the king (I Sam. 17–31; II Sam.; I Kings 1:1–2:11)? Nevertheless, Matthew’s aim is not primarily to bring these thrilling stories back to mind but to give an enumeration of ancestors, so that, in harmony with prophecy, Jesus Christ may be recognized as David’s son and David’s Lord. Everything else cannot have more than ancillary significance, though it does have that. This also means that the list must not be used for the purpose of establishing chronological conclusions; for example, to compute the length of the period that elapsed between Rahab and David. If verse 5 is nevertheless used to serve that end, on the assumption that no Messianic link has been omitted, it would follow that Rahab, who lived at the time of Israel’s entrance into Canaan (Josh. 2 and 6), was the great-great-grandmother of David; for the sequence presented here is Rahab (wife of Salmon), Boaz, Obed, Jesse, David. This result would be very difficult to harmonize with I Kings 6:1, where, even when the necessary subtractions are made, a considerably longer period is implied for the span Rahab to David. Matthew evidently did not deem it necessary to mention a representative of each passing generation. Neither did other Bible writers (Ezra 7:3 with I Chron. 6:7–9). In Matthew this is clear also from a study of the second fourteen (verses 6b–11) and the third (verses 12–16), as will be indicated. The evangelist is interested in Christology, not in chronology. He is satisfied to show that the three catalogues of Messianic antecedents, logically arranged according to the great turning points in the Davidic dynasty, attain their fulfilment in Christ. In order to achieve this goal neither he nor the inspired author of the book of Ruth deemed it necessary to mention every link in the chain of ancestry. The origin of the house of David has now been recorded. The next fourteen names, Solomon to Jechoniah, are reminiscent of the glory and the decline of the dynasty. They show us that not even Solomon in all his glory was able to bestow salvation. It is Christ who saves, he alone.
*Many Bible readers skip over this list of ancient (and, in some cases, unpronounceable) names. But this “list of names” is a vital part of the Gospel record. It shows that Jesus Christ is a part of history; that all of Jewish history prepared the way for His birth. God in His providence ruled and overruled to accomplish His great purpose in bringing His Son into the world. This genealogy also illustrates God’s wonderful grace. It is most unusual to find the names of women in Jewish genealogies, since names and inheritances came through the fathers. But in this list we find references to four women from Old Testament history: Tamar (Matt. 1:3), Rahab and Ruth (Matt. 1:5), and Bathsheba “the wife of Uriah” (Matt. 1:6). Matthew clearly omitted some names from this genealogy. Probably, he did this to give a systematic summary of three periods in Israel’s history, each with fourteen generations. The numerical value of the Hebrew letters for “David” equals fourteen. Matthew probably used this approach as a memory aid to help his readers remember this difficult list
*Most intriguing is the inclusion of four women in an otherwise male genealogy (Tamar, v. 3; Rahab, v. 5; Ruth, v. 5; and Bathsheba, v. 6). While women are occasionally listed in genealogies (Gen 11:29; 22:20–24; 35:22–26; 1 Chr 2:18–21, 24, 34, 46–49), the oddity of Matthew’s genealogy is the mention of these four particular women. Their precise role in the genealogy has been the subject of much discussion, and consequently space will not allow a full investigation of the proposals offered. Certainly, their Gentile status alongside their gender limitations are common denominators linking their stories with crucial themes in Matthew’s story. The presence of four Gentile women in the genealogy foreshadows Matthew’s pronounced interest in Jesus’ role as the Abrahamic Messiah who undermines ethnic boundaries by including Gentiles in the new community of faith (8:5–13; 15:21–28; 28:18–20). Prominent also in Matthew’s story is his emphasis upon the positive response of social outcasts to Jesus’ announcement of God’s reign. Thus early in Matthew’s story we learn that neither one’s ethnic origin nor one’s social status proves to be an obstacle to full participation in the blessings of God
*1:5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse. Rahab is the woman of Jericho who hid Israel’s spies and eventually was saved by them when the Israelites destroyed Jericho. Rahab was a prostitute (Joshua 2:1) who operated an inn on the city wall. She came to believe in Israel’s God, and she protected the spies and helped them in their mission: “‘The Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you.’ … So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall” (Joshua 2:11–12, 15). Rahab is included in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. She is the only non-Jew mentioned there by name. There is a chronological problem in making Rahab the actual mother of Boaz, however. As with the phrase “father of,” those listed as mothers in a genealogy may be ancestors rather than actual mothers. However, chronology was not a concern with the next three people. The book of Ruth tells the story of Boaz and a young woman named Ruth, who had come to Israel from the nearby nation of Moab. Boaz married Ruth, and they became the parents of Obed (Ruth 4:13–17). Obed later became the father of Jesse (Ruth 4:21–22). See 1 Chronicles 2:12.
*Matthew’s genealogy also shows us the work of God’s grace in His choosing four former outcasts, each of them women (the only women listed until the mention of Mary), through whom the Messiah and great King would descend. These women are exceptional illustrations of God’s grace and are included for that reason in the genealogy that otherwise is all men. The first outcast was Tamar, the Canaanite daughter-in-law of Judah. God had taken the lives of her husband, Er, and of his next oldest brother, Onan, because of their wickedness. Judah then promised the young, childless widow that his third son, Shelah, would become her husband and raise up children in his brother’s name when he grew up. After Judah failed to keep that promise, Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and tricked him into having sexual relations with her. From that illicit union were born twin sons, Perez and Zerah. The sordid story is found in Genesis 38. As we learn from the genealogy, Tamar and Perez joined Judah in the messianic line. Despite prostitution and incest, God’s grace fell on all three of those undeserving persons, including a desperate and deceptive Gentile harlot. The second outcast also was a woman and a Gentile. She, too, was guilty of prostitution, but for her, unlike Tamar, it was a profession. Rahab, an inhabitant of Jericho, protected the two Israelite men Joshua sent to spy out the city. She lied to the messengers of the king of Jericho in order to save the spies; but because of her fear of Him and her kind act toward His people, God spared her life and the lives of her family when Jericho was besieged and destroyed (Josh. 2:1–21; 6:22–25). God’s grace not only spared her life but brought her into the messianic line, as the wife of Salmon and the mother of the godly Boaz, who was David’s great-grandfather. The third outcast was Ruth, the wife of Boaz. Like Tamar and Rahab, Ruth was a Gentile. After her first husband, an Israelite, had died, she returned to Israel with her mother-in-law, Naomi. Ruth was a godly, loving, and sensitive woman who had accepted the Lord as her own God. Her people, the pagan Moabites, were the product of the incestuous relations of Lot with his two unmarried daughters. In order to preserve the family line, because they had no husbands or brothers, each of the daughters got their father drunk and caused him to unknowingly have sexual relations with them. The son produced by Lot’s union with his oldest daughter was Moab, father of a people who became one of Israel’s most implacable enemies. Mahlon, the Israelite man who married Ruth, did so in violation of the Mosaic law (Deut. 7:3; cf. 23:3; Ezra 9:2; Neh. 13:23) and many Jewish writers say his early death, and that of his brother, were a divine judgment on their disobedience. Though she was a Moabite and former pagan, with no right to marry an Israelite, God’s grace not only brought Ruth into the family of Israel, but later, through Boaz, into the royal line. She became the grandmother of Israel’s great King David. The fourth outcast was Bathsheba. She is not identified in the genealogy by name, but is mentioned simply as the wife of David and the former wife of Uriah. As already mentioned, David committed adultery with her, had her husband sent to the battlefront to be killed, and then took her as his own wife. The son produced by the adultery died in infancy, but the next son born to them was Solomon (2 Sam. 11:1–27; 12:14, 24), successor to David’s throne and continuer of the messianic line. By God’s grace, Bathsheba became the wife of David, the mother of Solomon, and an ancestor of the Messiah. The genealogy of Jesus Christ is immeasurably more than a list of ancient names; it is even more than a list of Jesus’ human forebears. It is a beautiful testimony to God’s grace and to the ministry of His Son, Jesus Christ, the friend of sinners, who “did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:13). If He has called sinners by grace to be His forefathers, should we be surprised when He calls them by grace to be His descendants? The King presented here is truly the King of grace!
NAHSHON (PERSON) [Heb naḥšôn (נַחְשֹׁון)]. Son of Amminadab and chief (nāśı̂˒, Num 2:3) of the tribe of Judah during the wilderness sojourn after the Exodus. As the leader of the tribe of Judah, he helped Moses conduct a census of the able-bodied fighting men of Israel prior to their departure from Mt. Sinai (Num 1:7), presented the offerings of the tribe of Judah on the first day of the twelve-day celebration of the dedication of the altar (Num 7:12, 17), and conducted Judah both to its proper place on the E side of the tabernacle in the Israelite camp (Num 2:3) and to its position at the head of the tribes as the Israelites prepared to depart from Mt. Sinai (Num 10:14). Nahshon is listed in a number of significant biblical genealogies. He is celebrated as the ancestor of David both in the OT genealogies in Ruth 4:18–22 and 1 Chr 2:3–17 and in the genealogies of Jesus Christ (Matt 1:4; Luke 3:32). In the genealogies of Moses and Aaron (Exod 6:14–25), Nahshon is identified as the brother of Elisheba, Aaron’s only wife from whom the Aaronic priests descended (Exod 6:23). This marriage between Aaron and Nahshon’s sister constituted a covenant between the house of David and the house of Aaron and thereby was regarded by the tradition as linking the royal and priestly lines in Judah (Galil 1985: 493). The name “Nahshon” means “little snake”; it may have been given as a nickname NAHSHON (Heb. naḥšôn, possibly from nāḥāš, ‘serpent’; Gk. Naassōn). Aaron’s brother–in–law (Ex. 6:23; av gives ‘Naashon’), son of Amminadab and prince of Judah (Nu. 1:7; 2:3; 7:12, 17; 10:14; 1 Ch. 2:10). He is mentioned as an ancestor of David in Ru. 4:20, and of our Lord in Mt. 1:4 and Lk. 3:32. Numb 1:4 One leader from each of the 12 tribes was to assist Moses and Aaron in the numbering of the men. These same leaders are mentioned in Num. 2:1–34 and 10:14–28 as the heads of tribes and in 7:1–88 they bring gifts to the tabernacle. Numb.2:2 The leader of the people of Judah is Nahshon son of Amminadab. Nahshon — sorcerer, the son of Aminadab, and prince of the children of Judah at the time of the first numbering of the tribes in the wilderness (Ex. 6:23). His sister Elisheba was the wife of Aaron. He died in the wilderness (Num. 26:64, 65). His name occurs in the Greek form Naasson in the genealogy of Christ (Matt, 1:4; Luke 3:32)NAHSHON <na’-shon> (נַחְשׁוֹנע, nachshon]; Septuagint and New Testament, [Ναασσών, Naasson]): A descendant of Judah; brother-in-law of Aaron and ancestor of David and of Jesus Christ (Exodus 6:23; Numbers 1:7; 1 Chronicles 2:10, 11; Ruth 4:20; Matthew 1:4; Luke 3:32) Nahshon (nahʹshuhn), the son of Amminadad and the leader of the tribe of Judah during the wilderness wandering (Exod. 6:23; Num. 1:7; 10:14). He is also an ancestor of David and stands in the lineage of Jesus through Joseph (Ruth 4:20; Matt. 1:4; Luke 3:32) Nahshon Judahite leader Num. 1:4, 7; Aaron’s brother-in-law Ex. 6:23; Ancestor of David Ruth 4:20–22; Ancestor of Christ Matt. 1:4; *NAHSHON, of Amminadab, the sister of Nahshon, Ex 6:23; of Judah, Nahshon the son of Amminadab; Nu 1:7; Nahshon the son of Amminadab, Nu 2:3; day was Nahshon the son of Amminadab, Nu 7:12; of Nahshon the son of Amminadab. Nu 7:17; with Nahshon the son of Amminadab, Nu 10:14; and to Amminadab was born Nahshon, Ru 4:20; born Nahshon, and to Nahshon, Salmon, Ru 4:20
Amminadab became the father of Nahshon, 1Ch 2:10; Nahshon became the father of Salma, 1Ch 2:11; Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Mt 1:4; and Nahshon the father of Salmon. Mt 1:4; the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, Lk 3:32
*Exodus 6:23 Aaron married Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab and sister of Nahshon, and she bore him Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.Numbers 1:7 from Judah, Nahshon son of Amminadab; Numbers 2:3 On the east, toward the sunrise, the divisions of the camp of Judah are to encamp under their standard. The leader of the people of Judah is Nahshon son of Amminadab. Numbers 7:12 The one who brought his offering on the first day was Nahshon son of Amminadab of the tribe of Judah. Numbers 7:17 and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Nahshon son of Amminadab. Numbers 10:14 The divisions of the camp of Judah went first, under their standard. Nahshon son of Amminadab was in command.Ruth 4:20 Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon,1 Chronicles 2:10 Ram was the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, the leader of the people of Judah.1 Chronicles 2:11 Nahshon was the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz,Matthew 1:4 Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon,Luke 3:32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon
Salmon — garment, the son of Nashon (Ruth 4:20; Matt. 1:4, 5). 1. The father of Boaz, the husband of Ruth, and thus the grandfather of Jesse, David’s father (Ruth 4:20, 21). He is mentioned in both the genealogies of Jesus (Matthew 1:4, 5; Luke 3:32). From Matthew 1:5 we learn that he married Rahab, by whom he begat Boaz
born Nahshon, and to Nahshon, Salmon, Ru 4:20
and to Salmon was born Boaz, and to Ru 4:21
and Nahshon the father of Salmon. Mt 1:4
Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Mt 1:5
the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, Lk 3:32
The Faith of Rahab
Heb 11:31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. RV60 Por la fe Rahab la ramera no pereció juntamente con los desobedientes, habiendo recibido a los espías en paz. (DHH) Y por fe, Rahab, la prostituta, no murió junto con los desobedientes, porque ella había recibido amistosamente a los espías de Israel
Josh 2:9 and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given this land to you [before it even happened!] 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. (DHH) --Yo sé que el Señor les ha dado esta tierra a ustedes, porque él ha hecho que nosotros les tengamos mucho miedo. Todos los que viven aquí están muertos de miedo por causa de ustedes.
Heb.1:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see
RV60 Es, pues, la fe la certeza de lo que se espera, la convicción de lo que no se ve.
Josh 2:9 and said to them, “I know that the Lord [YHWH, Yahweh] has given this land to you 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. (NBLH) "Porque hemos oído cómo el SEÑOR [Jehova] secó el agua del Mar Rojo delante de ustedes cuando salieron de Egipto. También supimos lo que hicieron a los dos reyes de los Amorreos que estaban al otro lado del Jordán, a Sehón y a Og, a quienes destruyeron por completo.
she used his covenant name Lord [yhwh] she knew His name!!
Rom.10:13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
(NVI) porque "todo el que invoque el nombre del Señor será salvo".*
Joel 2:32 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the survivors whom the Lord calls
Josh 2:10-11 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea 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. 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. NBLH "Porque hemos oído cómo el SEÑOR secó el agua del Mar Rojo delante de ustedes cuando salieron de Egipto. También supimos lo que hicieron a los dos reyes de los Amorreos que estaban al otro lado del Jordán, a Sehón y a Og, a quienes destruyeron por completo. 11 "Cuando oímos esto, nos acobardamos, no quedando ya valor en hombre alguno por causa de ustedes. Porque el SEÑOR, el Dios de ustedes, es Dios arriba en los cielos y abajo en la tierra.
Rom.10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ (RV60) Así que la fe es por el oír, y el oír, por la palabra de Dios.
Josh 2:11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. 11 "Cuando oímos esto, nos acobardamos, no quedando ya valor en hombre alguno por causa de ustedes. Porque el SEÑOR [Jehova], el Dios de ustedes, es Dios arriba en los cielos y abajo en la tierra.
Rom.10:10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame (NVI) Porque con el corazón se cree para ser justificado, pero con la boca se confiesa para ser salvo.
Her confession of faith was based on the person and works of God
The Rewards of Obedience
Heb. 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
She encouraged the Israelites (Josh.2:23,23); She & family were saved; She was honored forever
Not all faith was outside the city…..What was she thinking as they marched around the ciy????
First, Israel was encouraged—“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. 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’ ” (2:23, 24).
Second, was her and her families salvation.
Third was her “honor” Here her story becomes an impossible dream.” Not only did Rahab live in Israel the rest of her life, but she married an Israelite and became an ancestor of Jesus Christ.
But not all the faith was outside the city. Heb 11:30,31 “By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days. By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” During those last seven days [ I wonder what Rahab was thinking when she saw them marching around the city wall!!!],
* her act of faith: “welcomed the spies” [DELT W/ in next section]
….knowing full well the “dangers” involved to her and her family
Rahab had no more light than any other inhabitant of Jericho; yet she believed, while the others disbelieved…..she believed God and the did not
She is the only 1 of 2 woman mentioned…..only nonJew mentioned…..
Compare her and Sarah (v.11)
Heb. 11:11-12. The NIV introduces the word Abraham into these verses. But its marginal reading is preferable: “By faith even Sarah, who was past age, was enabled to bear children because she. . . .” The NIV interpretation is influenced by the opinion that the phrase to become a father (eis katabolēn spermatos) can refer only to the male parent, but this need not be so. The writer here chose to introduce his first heroine of faith, one who was able to overlook the physical limitation of her own barrenness to become a fruitful mother. Since “she considered Him faithful who had promised” (nasb) so also should the readers (cf. 10:23). Her faith in fact, contributed to the startling multiplication of her husband’s seed, when old Abraham was as good as dead. NOTE: NLT, NASB, NKJV all read “Sarah”, not Abraham
NASB - By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised
* 11:29-31. The readers could also look forward to victory over their enemies (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
* 11.31 Cuando Josué planeó la conquista de Jericó, envió espías para investigar sobre las fortificaciones de la ciudad. Ellos hallaron a Rahab, quien tenía dos cosas en su contra: era gentil y prostituta. Pero mostró que tenía fe en Dios al dar acogida a los espías y al confiar en que Dios protegería a su familia y a ella cuando fuera destruida la ciudad. La fe nos ayuda a cambiar y hacer lo que es correcto a pesar de nuestro pasado o de la desaprobación de los demás. Para mayor información sobre Rahab, véase Josué 3
* 31. By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.Both James and the author of Hebrews refer to Rahab and call her forth-rightly “the prostitute” (James 2:25). Matthew lists her name as the mother of Boaz in Jesus’ genealogy (Matt. 1:5). She was one of Jesus’ forebears because she believed in Israel’s God. Faith knows no barriers. Consider the evidence against Rahab, for she was: a pagan Canaanite,a prostitute, and a woman. Rahab’s faith triumphed. Her fellow citizens were destroyed, but she and her extended family lived because of her faith in Israel’s God (Josh. 2:8–13; 6:25). God did not condone her sinful practice of prostitution; instead he granted her grace and salvation. And although in Israel the man, not the woman, was heir of God’s promises, in matters of faith distinctions disappear (Gal. 8:28). Rahab believed Israel’s God. She received no promise of salvation, no gospel of faith and repentance, and no assurance of acceptance. She had heard the reports about the exodus from Egypt, the conquest of the land east of the Jordan, and the destruction of the Amorites. Her confession of faith was based on the works of God. She said, “The Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (Josh. 2:11). Hers was a simple but basic confession. She believed in God and trusted in him to deliver her from the impending destruction of her people and her city. The author of Hebrews writes, “By faith the prostitute Rahab … was not killed with those who were disobedient.” By using the expression disobedient, the writer places the inhabitants of Jericho on the same level as the rebellious Israelites who perished in the desert. He asks, “And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed?” (3:18). Unbelief results in disobedience; faith in obedience. Rahab believed and welcomed the spies into her home. At great personal risk she protected them from the king’s soldiers, who knew that the spies were in Rahab’s house. Rahab not only believed; she also put her faith to work in the interest of God’s people (James 2:25). And last, she trusted God that at the time of the siege of Jericho her life and those of the members of her family would be spared (Josh. 2:14–21). We see somewhat of a parallel in the case of the Philippian jailer who asked Paul and Silas, “Men, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household” (Acts 16:30–31). Joshua spared the life of Rahab’s family and placed them “outside the camp of Israel” (Josh. 6:23). Nevertheless, because of her faith, Rahab was welcomed by the Israelites, married Salmon, and became the mother of Boaz, who was the great-grandfather of David (Ruth 4:21; Matt. 1:5–6).
IT IS BEYOND EXPECTATION WHAT ONE ACT OF FAITH WILL ACCOMPLISH IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD….I want to take such a step of faith so that You might be glorified
* 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.
11:31 la ramera Rahab. Se le designa así en descripción de su antigua manera de vivir antes de encontrar su nueva fe (Jos 2:8–11; 6:22–25). Ella colaboró con los israelitas en la conquista de Canaán al ocultar los espías, salvándoles la vida (Jos 2; Stg 2:25)
11.31 La fe de Rahab se apoyaba en los innumerables portentos y promesas de Dios al pueblo de Israel (Jos 2.9–11)
* 11:31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
The story about Rahab also teaches the value of obedience even if it is a small deed (v. 31). Certainly she knew the risk of helping the spies, worse, of concealing them. She was especially aware at the inn of the travelers’ talk about the approaching Israelites. She would later tell them, “All who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea 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” (Josh 2:9–10). There was more in her heart. She had seen the frustrating impotence and degrading immorality of the gods around her. The stories coming from spies and travellers who kept an eye on the Israelites suggested that their God was a far different kind of god, a good god. She knew little more than his name. Perhaps she had heard some of the very fair laws of this god. Suddenly two strange men appeared at her inn. Guessing that they were Israelite spies she had to make a quick decision. Should she help them and risk death herself, or expose them and become a heroine in Jericho? For what? Jericho could not stand against them if Egypt could not. There was no time to inquire about their god now. She had only a few moments to decide and to act. She hid them quickly. One last time she approached them just before they lay down for the night, and she blurted out the growing confidence in her heart, “The Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (Josh 2:11). From tiny bits of information came enough faith to do one little thing. It was enough to show where her heart was. Faith without accompanying deeds is a useless thing. With them it is powerful. James uses both Abraham’s offering of Isaac and Rahab’s helping the spies as evidence that faith must do something to be real (James 2:17–26). In Hebrews the only evidence presented of her faith is that she did not “perish with, be destroyed with” (συναπόλλυμι, synapollymi) those who were disobedient. The word occurs nowhere else in the NT, and is not very frequent in the LXX. In this instance Rahab’s faith helped her leave the group. As it did in verse 27 the NIV adds the word “because” as an interpretation of an adverbial participle. The Greek text does not require “welcoming the spies” to be seen as the reason that she escaped death. It may as correctly be translated simply “after she welcomed the spies.” Nothing is mentioned here about her saving her whole family, nor about the scarlet cord which was the means of this preservation. A small deed, done quickly with little advance notice, built on a general fear of dire consequences, was all she had available. It was all she needed. By that one deed she won for herself a place in the hall of fame of the faithful and in the lineage of the Messiah (Matt 1:5). These concrete examples show that faith always looks to God. It seeks him out and aims to please him by doing whatever he says to do. God is trusted to be the designer, the builder and the host of a better city in a better country with better people. In honoring this faith God guides the steps, enlightens the mind and enlarges the influence. Faith gives strength to do what men in their weakness could not do. Faith knows that if its own strength fails, God will assist, even if he must do a miracle. When faith seizes the moment, it seizes God. Though faith leads to new places, new privileges, new privations, it never leads away from God. Faith expects a better future full of God’s own rewards. Faith keeps the eyes on heaven while driving the nails on earth. Faith sees the end past long costly projects or large luring pleasures. A believer draws others along in his train. He aims to save his family. He works to save the world. He leaves a clear voice when he has gone. God commends the faithful
* 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.”the harlot—Her former life adds to the marvel of her repentance, faith, and preservation (Mt 21:31–32).believed not—Greek, “were disobedient,” namely, to the will of God manifested by the miracles wrought in behalf of Israel (Jos 2:8–11). received—in her house (Jos 2:1, 4, 6). with peace—peaceably; so that they had nothing to fear in her house. Thus Paul, quoting the same examples (Heb 11:17, 31) for the power of faith, as James (Jam 2:21, 25) does for justification by works evidentially, shows that in maintaining justification by faith alone, he means not a dead faith, but “faith which worketh by love” (Ga 5:6).
* By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace. (11:31)
Rahab was an unlikely candidate for the faithfuls’ hall of fame. For one thing, she was a prostitute. For another, she was a Gentile, and a Canaanite at that. She was, in fact, an Amorite, a race that God had long before marked for destruction (Gen. 15:16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”). Yet that is how God’s grace works. His mercy is open to all who will receive it, and His grace has always been wider than Israel, even in Old Testament times. Rahab had no more light than any other inhabitant of Jericho; yet she believed, while the others disbelieved. They were more than simply unbelieving, they were disobedient. The implication is that they not only knew that the true God was with Israel but that He had also called them (that is, the Jerichoites) in some way. Yet they rejected God’s word. They had wanted to kill the Israelite spies, but Rahab had welcomed the spies in peace. They were prepared to fight Israel when she attacked the city, but Rahab again welcomed God’s people. For her faith, she and her family were spared. For their disbelief, all the others in the city were destroyed. The destruction of the Canaanites was as great a social as it was a spiritual gain to the welfare of humanity. They were a debauched, idolatrous, and wicked people. They were noted for their grossly immoral and perverted sexual practices as well as for their general cruelty. Among other things, they frequently put live babies in jars and built them into their city walls as foundation sacrifices. They were begging for judgment. In the midst of this pagan unbelief, Rahab believed, and confessed, “The Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (Josh. 2:11). And in the midst of barbaric cruelty, she was kind and welcomed the spies in peace. She staked her life on the fact that God had said He would save and protect His people, Israel, and she wanted to be on His side. She had faith’s courage. For her faithful courage Rahab not only was spared but was honored. She became the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth, the great-great-grandmother of David, and she thereby came to be an ancestor of Jesus (Matt. 1:5).
* Along with the story of Jericho’s overthrow, we read the remarkable account of Rahab the harlot (v. 31). She had heard of Israel’s conquests at the Red Sea and in the wilderness and expected them to assault Jericho many years before. She knew that their victories came from their faith in God, and she “received the spies with peace” (literally) when Joshua sent them to spy out the city. Her motive was not merely to save her life and that of her family; she was convinced, as she said, that “the lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” That faith was honored when the walls of the city collapsed and all within were killed except Rahab and her family. That her faith was genuine is confirmed by Matthew when he lists her as one of the ancestors of Jesus. She went on to marry Salmon and became the mother of Boaz, and thus the great-grandmother of David. Faith overcame a sinful life, delivered her from a pagan religion. She was granted a place of honor among the heroes and heroines of faith. The incident also illustrates the fact that “in Christ there is neither male nor female.” Rahab was a woman in a man’s world, but faith accepts no such distinctions.
* 11:31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. When Joshua planned the conquest of Jericho, he sent spies to investigate the fortifications of the city. The spies met Rahab, who hid them. Rahab is an odd entry in this “hall of faith” because she was a Gentile and a prostitute (read Joshua 2 and 6). But she demonstrated her faith in God by welcoming the spies and by trusting God to spare her and her family when the city was destroyed. Rahab’s words to the spies reflect that faith: “I know that the Lord has given you the land…. The Lord your God is indeed God in heaven above and on earth below” (Joshua 2:9, 11). Faith helps us turn around and do what is right regardless of our past or what others may think. Those who disobeyed were killed. These people did not have faith and therefore faced God’s punishment. Rahab’s faith was rewarded: she and her family were saved. Even more important, she became an ancestor of Jesus. We read her name in Matthew 1:5—she was the mother of Boaz. Rahab’s faith, despite her past sins, is contrasted with those who refused to turn to God and obey him. God’s work in history is not limited by human failures or sins, and he works through ordinary people. Just as God used all kinds of people to bring his Son into the world, he uses all kinds today to accomplish his will.
* Rahab’s Faith Hebrews 11:31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. (11:31)
We have considered the amazing faith of Joshua and the people of Israel as they followed God’s seemingly absurd instructions—and saw the great city of Jericho fall flat on its face! But not all the faith was outside the city. FAITH INSIDE JERICHO The collapse was complete, except for one small section from which a scarlet cord tossed in the wake of the concussion. It was the cord of faith. Hebrews 11:30, 31 tells us, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days. By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” During those last seven days [ I wonder what Rahab was thinking when she saw them marching around the city wall!!!], all faith’s factors—which we examined in the previous chapter—had developed and swelled through Rahab’s growing soul. Obedience She gave implicit obedience to the explicit directions given her by God through the spies. She kept all her family in her home, just as she had been told. Though some of them very likely questioned her wisdom, she did not capitulate, but rather insisted that they remain. Her obedience bears testimony to an amazing faith. Rahab’s obedience matched that of the encircling Israelites. Focus Day after day Rahab rose to the trumpeting of the shofars as they announced the approach of God and the Ark, then peered out over her scarlet cord. The Israelites silently and knowingly stared back, and she rested her faith in the fact that God really was with them. Hers was a focused faith. Perhaps she recited to her family something of the testimony she had given to the spies: I know that the Lord has given this land to you.… We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea 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. When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. (Joshua 2:9–11) By faith, like Noah and Moses before her, Rahab saw the unseen, and that changed her whole life. Declaration Finally, there was the declaration, the shout of faith. Earlier she had declared her faith to Israel’s spies. And because of this she probably shouted out in concert with her new people, for faith declares itself. The story of Rahab will bring us immeasurable encouragement and fuel for faith. THE FAITH OF RAHAB First we will consider some background to the story of Rahab. The older faithless generation of Israelites had perished in the wilderness. God had buried Moses in a secret place in one of the valleys of Moab and made Joshua the leader of his people. Now Israel had to spy out the land and consecrate itself to the great work before her. Joshua 2:1–3 describes the spies’ mission: 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. The king of Jericho was told, “Look! Some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” 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.” This reconnaissance was extra-perilous because Jericho was a walled city situated in an open valley, and its inhabitants, the Amorites, were on special alert. The ominous massed presence of Israel at the Jordan had made them suspicious of everyone and everything. Accordingly, the spies took every precaution, carefully disguising themselves, discarding anything characteristically Hebrew, and doing their best to appear Canaanite-Amorite in clothing and speech. They approached the city with great caution. The Jordan was flooding, so they probably traveled to the north where the fords were easier, then turned southwest to enter Jericho from the west side—the side away from the Israeli presence. This was advantageous because they would have the cover of the caves in the mountains west of Jericho, and the king would be less likely to detect infiltration from that side.
Apparently unnoticed, they slipped through Jericho’s gates, and, in a premeditated, studied attempt to “get lost” in the city, sought hiding in the house of a prostitute named Rahab. Lodging in such a place was characteristic of traveling merchants, and the spies felt their chances of escaping notice were best served there. But the strategy failed in two respects. First, someone saw them enter Jericho and followed them to Rahab’s establishment. Second, the prostitute immediately discerned their identity. From all appearances everything had fallen apart, and they were doomed. The king was searching for them. They could not retreat back into the city. And if they jumped through the window, horsemen would easily run them down on the plain. It looked like their time had come, except for one totally unexpected thing—the faith and good works of a prostitute. God’s agents were saved by a madame, the proprietress of a bordello, a woman who sold her body for money, who submitted to any man who crossed her doorway if he had the cash. Some try to tone down the facts, but the New Testament is clear—she was a pornee, a prostitute (see James 2:25; Hebrews 11:31). So unanticipated, and so extraordinary, was this madame’s courageous faith that she is included in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11, along with the likes of Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Moses: “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient” (v. 31). It is most significant that the final person to receive individual commentary in the list of champions of faith is a woman and a Gentile and a prostitute. Rahab’s faith, a prostitute’s faith, is given as an example for all who desire to have true faith—especially those who know they are sinners and who deep down want to be pleasing to God. We are going to look at this from three revealing angles: 1) Faith’s work—its demonstration, 2) Faith’s formation—its nature and development, and 3) Faith’s reward—its astounding benefits. FAITH’S WORK Faith’s Lie Verses 4 and 5 of Joshua 2 present a very awkward truth—Rahab’s first work of faith was a lie! 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. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, the men left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” Actually Rahab told three lies in one. First, she said she did not know where they came from. Secondly, she said they had gone. And finally, she said she did not know where they were. So here we have it—a lie was the first work of Rahab’s faith! Does this mean it is okay to lie in certain situations? I personally do not think so, though some highly respected theologians do. I agree with Calvin, who comments on Rahab’s deception: As to the falsehood, we must admit that though it was done for a good purpose, it was not free from fault. For those who hold what is called a “dutiful lie” to be altogether excusable, do not sufficiently consider how precious truth is in the sight of God. Therefore, although our purpose be to assist our brethren, to consult for their safety and relieve them, it never can be lawful to lie, because that cannot be right which is contrary to the nature of God. And God is truth.… On the whole, it was the will of God that the spies should be delivered, but He did not approve of saving their lives by falsehood. The Scripture does, of course, record the lies of saints such as Abraham (Gen 12:10–20), but it never approves such deception. Rather, God’s Word uniformly condemns falsehood and calls us to be men and women of truth. Moreover, the life of Christ, our model par excellence, provides us with the supreme example of truthfulness. Our Lord never lied or deceived anyone. And as members of his Body, we are obligated to do our best to live according to his example. Nevertheless, Rahab’s calculated lie was a stupendous act of true faith, for her subsequent actions—when she assisted the spies in their escape through the window and cleverly advised them to hide three days in the hill country—put her life in deadly peril (vv. 15, 16). In fact, if the king had gotten wind of her doings, her death would have been immediate and terrible. Rahab’s faith was great and deserves the status it has been given. We must consider Rahab’s lie against the backdrop of her pagan culture and lowly profession. She had no knowledge of the revelation given to Israel at Sinai. We can be sure that godly morality and its radical truth ethic had not penetrated her pagan mind. True, she possessed a moral conscience, but it was not informed by God’s Word. Hence it very likely did not occur to her that she was doing wrong. I am not saying that her lie was OK or that people are better off not knowing what is right and what is not. But I am saying that God recognized the motive behind the act—and that motive was faith! The lessons Rahab leaves us are many, and one we should particularly keep in mind is that we must be sympathetic and patient with the character of recent converts. It is a matter of historical fact that John Newton, the author of “Amazing Grace,” composer of the famous Olney hymns, and one of the early fathers of the evangelical movement in the Church of England, continued to participate in the slave trade for over a year after his dramatic conversion. Faith and sin mingled without conscious contradiction in his new life. This is often characteristic today of those coming out of our Biblically ignorant post-Christian culture. One of my long-time missionary friends tells how he came to Christ in the midst of a hard-drinking business environment—and how he fortified himself with six martinis to get the courage to share Christ the first time! An inebriated evangelist? Rahab would have understood this completely.Often real faith is salted with sin, and God finds faith where we do not (and often cannot) see it. We should be slow to judge sin and quick to perceive faith. Faith’s Trust The classic symbol that revealed Rahab’s great faith was the scarlet cord she hung from her window over the wall of Jericho. Verses 17–20 record how the two spies promised her safety if she would display that cord in her window. They vowed that everyone in the house would survive if the red cord were in place. Rahab’s faith invited their saving work. Verse 21 says she replied, “ ‘Agreed.… Let it be as you say.’ So she sent them away and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.”Recent scholarship has suggested that the scarlet rope may have been the mark of a prostitute and that Rahab lived, so to speak, in the “red rope” district. It is also noted that since the Hebrew word for “rope” is the same word for “hope”—and most often means “hope”—there may be an intentional pun here: the “rope” is the prostitute’s “hope” for customers! But now that Rahab has confessed Jehovah as God, her scarlet “rope” signified a new kind of “hope”—that of deliverance by God.Be that as it may, the scarlet cord tells us that Rahab’s faith, though incipient and uninformed, was completely trusting. If the Israelites failed to return and conquer the city, she would soon be found out. The gathering of her family into her home would be interpreted for what it was, someone would talk, and she and her kind would go down to their graves in terrible agony. But Rahab completely believed that judgment was coming and that salvation awaited her. So she let down the scarlet cord in profound trust. Here, a word about the scarlet cord is in order. Too much has been made of it typologically, as the history of interpretation reveals. Some of the church fathers, such as Clement of Rome, thought the red cord was a symbol of the blood of Christ and that Rahab was a symbol of the Church because through it she obtained safety for her family. This type of allegorization is still quite popular. A member of my family recalls listening to a flannelgraph story in which the spies were depicted as escaping down the red cord! Following this, the teacher stretched out a red cord as a symbol, not only of the blood, but of the bloodline of Christ.Having said this, I would like to suggest there is a direct connection with the Passover, which had occurred forty years earlier. Then, you will remember, the Israelites were commanded to gather all their family into the house (just as Rahab did) and paint lamb’s blood around the door, so that when the death angel came and saw the blood, all inside would be spared (Exodus 12:21–23). What happened with Rahab parallels this closely, and it seems likely that the spies (though not Rahab) were quite aware of the symbolism. In both cases the red upon the door or the window evidenced the faith of those inside. Francis Schaeffer explains further: “When the children of Israel were about to leave Egypt, they were given the blood of the Passover Lamb under which to be safe. When the people were about to enter the land, they were met by a different, but parallel sign—a red cord hanging from the window of a believer.” What great trust flowed from Rahab’s faith. Rahab’s sequestering of her family and patiently awaiting the outcome showed her trust. She stood alone against the whole of her culture, something few of us in our contemporary culture have had to do. She, like Moses before, saw the unseen when no one else did (cf. 11:27). Oh, did she believe! Faith’s Work The Apostle James, in the second chapter of his letter, tells us that true faith produces works, and he gives two examples—first Abraham and then Rahab. He presents them as parallels. Of Abraham he says, “Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?” (2:21). Of Rahab he then says, “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?” (2:25). James’s point in these two examples is the same. Abraham demonstrated his faith at great cost. He willingly offered up his own son. Rahab’s faith was likewise costly. She risked everything. Faith is not a barren intellectual process. True faith issues in action—even when it costs! Is our faith real? Can it be seen in our actions? Are we willing to let it cost us something? We can, and will, if it is real. Rahab’s faith was salted with sin. She did not understand everything. But she trusted God—and her faith worked as she sent out the spies and lowered the scarlet cord. True faith works! FAITH’S FORMATION We wonder at such great faith, and we wonder where Rahab got it. Abraham Kuyper, the great Biblical scholar who delivered one of the most brilliant of the Stone Lectures at Princeton, and who also served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1901–1905, explains: The people who in Rahab’s time most frequently used such houses of prostitution were the traveling merchants. From them she had repeatedly heard of the marvelous nation which was approaching from Egypt, and of the God of Israel who had perfected such striking miracles. Rahab heard that there was only one God, Jehovah. She heard bits and snatches about Israel’s destiny. She heard, perhaps derisively, of the nation’s high ethical and moral code. Perhaps she had become disillusioned with the culture around her. She was treated as chattel. She had seen life at its worst. All of this together made her open to truth and faith. No doubt, fear contributed to the formation of her faith. Fear is an inevitable and natural consequence of sensing that God’s justice leaves us in the wrong. Rahab knew she was a sinner. She was ready for faith. The testimony of the spies opened her to faith. Rahab would immediately have sensed the difference between the Israelite visitors and the clients who normally frequented her house. The spies were not sensualists but holy men of impeccable morals. She had never seen this before. They were sure of their God. Their ethos confirmed the reality of what she had been hearing from the merchants. She was spiritually enticed.These inner workings coalesced with her disillusionment and fear to produce faith. Rahab’s speech in Joshua 2:9–11 is a grand song of belief in the one God: I know the Lord has given this land to you 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. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea 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. When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. Jericho had stood for hundreds of years. Today it is still the earliest fortified town known to scholarship. Its inhabitants thought it invincible. But Rahab heard God’s word, and though she was encased by her ancient pagan culture, which appeared to be eternal, she believed! That is why her faith has been immortalized. “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” Truly, we can never tell where faith will be found. And Rahab’s example tells us there is hope for people where we would never dream of it. When Jesus came, he said to the Pharisees, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did” (Matthew 21:31, 32). There is no one who is too bad or too ignorant to be saved! Some are not only doing drugs but dealing them—dealing death to others. Some have prostituted their sexuality—doing anything with anyone. But anyone can come to faith, like Rahab in her bordello, and be saved. Rahab’s story means there is hope for all us sinners with our incipient, imperfect, stumbling, selfish faith. This ought to cause us to shout for joy! FAITH’S REWARD Rahab’s faith garnered three rewards. Encouragement First, Israel was encouraged—“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. 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’ ” (2:23, 24). The children of Israel were encouraged through Rahab’s great confession of faith (Joshua 2:9–11). They were uplifted by the positive report that the spies brought back, and they were strengthened by the miraculous deliverance given to the two spies through the prostitute. Salvation The second reward of Rahab’s faith was her own salvation. This came initially as physical salvation, as 6:22–25 records: Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her.” So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel. Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house. But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho. Rahab did not initially have saving faith in the spiritual sense, but as she joined with Israel she completely believed and became a full member of God’s covenant people. Ultimately, Rahab’s faith saved her in every way. Glorification The third reward of Rahab’s faith may be spoken of as her “glorification.” Here her story becomes lyrical—an “impossible dream.” Not only did Rahab live in Israel the rest of her life, but she married an Israelite and became an ancestor of Jesus Christ. Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus bears out the incredible truth: “… and to Ram was born Amminadab; and to Amminadab, Nahshon; and to Nahshon, Salmon; and to Salmon was born Boaz by Rahab; and to Boaz was born Obed by Ruth; and to Obed, Jesse; and to Jesse was born David the king” (Matthew 1:4–6). And Christ came from David’s lineage! Nahshon, Rahab’s father-in-law, was one of the twelve princes who made a special offering at the raising of the Tabernacle. Numbers 7:12 says, “Now the one who presented his offerings on the first day was Nahshon… of the tribe of Judah.” Nahshon was a great prince of Judah, and so was his son Salmon, who married Rahab. How unutterably beautiful! The Amorite prostitute became a believer and then the wife of a prince of Judah. Rahab was a princess and ancestor of Christ! Predictably, but nevertheless amazing, some have been uncomfortable with Rahab’s being in the genealogy of Christ. Josephus tried to make her out to be an “innkeeper” (Ant. V. 1:2, 7), and some have referred to her as a “landlady” or “formerly a fallen woman.” As we have seen, she was a pornee and nothing else. I think it is wonderful that she belongs to Christ’s bloodline. In fact, it fits perfectly, for the whole human race is guilty of spiritual prostitution! Furthermore, all of us have had our lapses. Jesus did not come from a sinless human line. Every person in it was a sinner in need of salvation, including Rahab and the Virgin Mary! Anyone who looks down on Rahab had better beware, for it is obvious that such a person has a defective doctrine of sin and does not understand the depth of human iniquity or heights of the grace of God. All of us stand in Rahab’s place in front of a holy God. And many of us are worse, because she had such little knowledge. We must at least be as wise as Rahab, who though she understood little did understand that she was under God’s judgment and sought redemption. Hebrews 11:31 cites Rahab as an example of one who was saved by faith. James 2:25 says she was saved by works. There is no contradiction, for Rahab was saved by a faith that produced works. There is eternal wisdom for us here in Rahab’s faith—especially from the enlightening angles from which we have considered it. CONCLUSIONS Faith comes to us in response to God’s Word—“faith comes from hearing the message” (Romans 10:17). On this point, we have incredible advantage over Rahab. We have the whole Bible, not just a fragmentary story from the lips of traveling merchants. And the message we hear is not just of judgment but of love and salvation—“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16, 17). Also unlike Rahab, we are surrounded by people of faith who have trusted Christ and can lead us in the way everlasting. There are people who will pray for us, counsel us, even give of their resources to help us grow in faith. The quality of their lives alone draws us upward. Our advantages in forming faith are huge.Further, God does not expect perfection from us. He knows how weak we are. He forbears with us. But he does expect us to act on our faith—even if it is one step at a time—even if it is a stumbling faith. He expects us to hang the scarlet cord in our windows, announcing our faith in this dark world, and to trust him alone for our salvation. He expects a faith that works. Regarding reward, I would mention only this: we become not only beneficiaries of Christ’s atoning blood, but part of his bloodline as members of his mystical body—we are “in Christ” (a term used no less than 168 times in the NT). He calls us brothers and sisters and himself our “elder brother” (2:11). We have been made royalty and will reign with him forever and forever!
The Works of Rahab
James 2:25 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? (RV60) Asimismo también Rahab la ramera, ¿no fue justificada por obras, cuando recibió a los mensajeros y los envió por otro camino? (DHH) Lo mismo pasó con Rahab, la prostituta; Dios la aceptó como justa por sus hechos, porque dio alojamiento a los mensajeros y los ayudó a salir por otro camino.
What did she do? She lied three times
Josh.2:4 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, the men left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” NBLH Pero la mujer había tomado a los dos hombres y los había escondido, y respondió: "Sí, los hombres vinieron a mí, pero yo no sabía de dónde eran. 5 "Los hombres salieron a la hora de cerrar la puerta, al oscurecer. No sé adónde fueron. Vayan de prisa tras ellos, que los alcanzarán."
Does this mean it is okay to lie in certain situations
God is the God of Truth!!!!
The lessons Rahab leaves us are many, and one we should particularly keep in mind is that we must be sympathetic and patient with the character of recent converts. She responded in belief to the message she heard about God’s works, she later responded to further messages concerning God’s standards of life and obeyed. After all, spiritual maturity is gradual, not instantaneous
Neither the writer of the Book of Joshua, nor the author of Hebrews, nor James dwells on Rahab’s immoral past or on her lies she gave the messengers of the king of Jericho. Of importance is her faith in Israel’s God. Because of her faith in God her sins are covered.
Her faith reflected by her works
What if she had said…..I believe in God but I can’t help you, I hope you don’t get caught
Compare and Contrast Abraham with Rahab
James’s point in these 2 examples is the same, they demonstrated faith at great cost.
Rahab was a harlot before she believed, but not after. What a wonderful testimony must have
been given by the change in her life. The reason she is called a harlot in this verse and the others is to show how sinful her past had been and how wonderful was the change that had taken place in her life. That is precisely the reason why James has chosen her as an illustration in his argument. Her faith meant a complete turnabout in her life
IT IS BEYOND EXPECTATION WHAT ONE ACT OF FAITH CAN ACCOMPLISH IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Hebrews 11:31 cites Rahab as an example of one who was saved by faith. James 2:25 says she was saved by works. There is no contradiction, for Rahab was saved by a faith that produced works.
if she had only said to these messengers, “I believe the God of heaven and earth has given you this whole land to possess, yet I dare not show you any kindness in this city,” it would have been only the dead, barren sort of faith James discusses here. It would not have been enough for Rahab to have said to the spies, “I hope you don’t get caught”;
Compare and Contrast Abraham with Rahab
James’s point in these two examples is the same. Abraham demonstrated his faith at great cost.
James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. 20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. 25 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? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead
Rahab’s first work of faith was a lie! 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. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, the men left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” Actually Rahab told three lies in one. First, she said she did not know where they came from. Secondly, she said they had gone. And finally, she said she did not know where they were. So here we have it—a lie was the first work of Rahab’s faith! Does this mean it is okay to lie in certain situations
The lessons Rahab leaves us are many, and one we should particularly keep in mind is that we must be sympathetic and patient with the character of recent converts.
Neither the writer of the Book of Joshua, nor the author of Hebrews, nor James dwells on Rahab’s immoral past or on the inaccurate information she deliberately gave the messengers of the king of Jericho. Of importance is her faith in Israel’s God. Because of her faith in God her sins are covered.
Sometimes it is harder for respectable sinners to be justified by God because of their self-righteousness than it is for out-and-out sinners. Maybe it was harder for Abraham to be justified than it was for Rahab. The author will never forget what the chief of chaplains of the prisons of Greece told him one day after he had been discussing with him the wonderful response by the prisoners of Greece to the message of the gospel. “When you deal with prisoners, you do not need to persuade them that they are sinners. Their imprisonment is a proof of it.
Before Rahab gave expression to her confession of faith, she must have believed God in the very recesses of her heart. This, then, was one of the opportunities afforded her to demonstrate her faith by works in treating the Israelite spies as she did with favor and courtesy. As in the case of Abraham, Rahab was declared righteous the very moment she believed, but God also declared her righteous many times consequent to that, every time she honored her profession of faith by the works of faith. Rahab was a harlot before she believed, but not after. What a wonderful testimony must have been given by the change in her life. The reason she is called a harlot in this verse and the others is to show how sinful her past had been and how wonderful was the change that had taken place in her life. That is precisely the reason why James has chosen her as an illustration in his argument. Her profession of faith meant a complete turnabout in her life
*The OT records the content of her faith, which was the basis of her justification before God (Josh. 2:11). She demonstrated the reality of her saving faith when, at great personal risk she protected the messengers of God (Josh. 2:4,15; 6:17; Heb. 11:31). James did not intend, however, for those words to be a commendation of her occupation or her lying. justified by works. See v. 21.
2:25. In the same way (lit., “and likewise also”; homoiōs de kai) was not even Rahab declared righteous for her actions in welcoming the spies (angelous, “messengers”) and helping them escape? (Josh. 2; 6)
2:21, 25 justified: The works of Abraham and Rahab declare to us that they were righteous. See also Luke 7:29
2.25 Rahab vivió en Jericó, una ciudad que tomaron los israelitas al entrar en la tierra prometida (Josué 2). Cuando los espías de Israel entraron en la ciudad, ella los ocultó y les ayudó a escapar. Como resultado, ella y su familia fueron salvas cuando se destruyó la ciudad (Josué 2). Hebreos 11.31 menciona a Rahab entre los héroes de la fe.
*25. 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? 26. As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. Here are some points we need to discuss: a. Contrast Abraham, the father of believers, serves as a striking example of faith and works. But, we object, all of us are not like Abraham. True, James answers, Abraham demonstrated both faith and works, but so did Rahab—and she was a prostitute. Together with other writers, James links the names of Abraham and Rahab to show contrast. Abraham is a Hebrew, called by God to become the father of believers. Rahab is a Gentile, an inhabitant of ancient Jericho destined for destruction by the Israelite army. As a man, Abraham is the representative head of God’s covenant people (Gen. 15; 17). Rahab is a woman, known in Scripture as “the prostitute.” After Abraham was called by God in Ur of the Chaldees, he gave proof of his obedience to God for at least three decades. His obedience reached its climax when he showed his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac. Rahab knew about Israel’s God only by hearsay; yet she displayed her faith by identifying herself with God’s people. Abraham and Rahab have much in common: Abraham showed hospitality to the three heavenly visitors who came to him at Mamre (Gen. 18:1) and Rahab to the two Hebrew spies who came to her in Jericho (Josh. 2:1). Both were foreigners among other people: Abraham dwelled among the Canaanites and Rahab with the Israelites. And last, both are listed as ancestors of Jesus (Matt. 1:2, 5). b. Consider James asks a rhetorical question that receives a positive reply: “Was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did?” Certainly. At the bottom of the social ladder stands the Gentile woman Rahab, candidly referred to as “the prostitute” (Josh. 2:1; 6:17, 22, 25; Heb. 11:31; James 2:25). This woman puts her faith in Israel’s God and openly confesses it to the two spies: I know that the Lord has given this land to you 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. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea 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. When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. [Josh. 2:9–11] Rahab’s faith is matched by her deeds. She protects the spies by hiding them on the roof of her house and she sends the king’s messengers out of the city. She makes the spies swear by the Lord to spare her family when the Israelites come to destroy the city of Jericho (Josh. 2:12–13). And when on oath the men agree to this, she shows them the way to safety. She lowers them by a rope through the window of her house situated on the city wall Faith and works are prominent in the life of Rahab and are of such a nature that James asks, “Was not even Rahab … considered righteous for what she did?” Yes, Rahab is permitted to take a place next to Abraham, for she, too, displays her faith in Israel’s God and acts in faith. For this reason she is considered righteous. Rahab, like Abraham, is putting her faith to work in daily life and under precarious conditions. God justifies her because of her faith that comes to life in her deeds.
c. Cover James places emphasis on what Rahab did. He assumes that his readers are acquainted with her faith. Her deeds need to be stressed: “She gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction.” The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews expresses the same idea in different words: “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient” (11:31). He, too, links faith and works. Neither the writer of the Book of Joshua, nor the author of Hebrews, nor James dwells on Rahab’s immoral past or on the inaccurate information she deliberately gave the messengers of the king of Jericho. Of importance is her faith in Israel’s God. Because of her faith in God her sins are covered. d. Conclusion James concludes his argument by using a simple illustration. “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” Perhaps we are inclined to turn this around and identify deeds with the body and faith with the spirit. However, we ought not to press the details of this comparison.What we have in this comparison is not a contrast of faith over against works. The point is that faith by itself is dead, much the same as the body without the spirit is dead. The readers of the epistle know that they ought not to touch a dead body but to avoid it whenever possible. By implication they need to avoid faith that is dead because it is like a corpse.Faith that is alive expresses itself in works that are performed in obedience to the Word of God. James eloquently illustrates this point with the examples from the lives of Abraham and Rahab. For him faith and works form an inseparable unit that can be compared to man’s body and soul. These two belong together and constitute a living being.
2.25 Abraham era todo un patriarca y líder, mientras Rahab representa a la persona común y corriente situada en el otro extremo de la escala social y moral. Ambos, sin embargo, fueron justificados sobre la misma base.
*25. Likewise also was not Rahab. It seems strange that he connected together those who were so unlike. Why did he not rather choose some one from so large a number of illustrious fathers, and join him to Abraham? Why did he prefer a harlot to all others? he designedly put together two persons so different in their character, in order more clearly to shew, that no one, whatever may have been his or her condition, nation, or class in society, has ever been counted righteous without good works. He had named the patriarch, by far the most eminent of all; he now includes under the person of a harlot, all those who, being aliens, were joined to the Church. Whosoever, then, seeks to be counted righteous, though he may even be among the lowest, must yet shew that he is such by good works. James, according to his manner of speaking, declares that Rahab was justified by works; and the Sophists hence conclude that we obtain righteousness by the merits of works. But he deny that the dispute here is concerning the mode of obtaining righteousness. We, indeed, allow that good works are required for righteousness; we only take away from them the power of conferring righteousness, because they cannot stand before the tribunal of God
*2:25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did Rahab, the second example of working faith, may seem at first to be an odd choice. Of all the Old Testament examples James could have chosen, why pick a Gentile and a prostitute? The answer may lie in the previous warning against favoritism. Christians are not to prefer rich to poor, so James gives both the rich and powerful Abraham and the despised prostitute Rahab as examples of faith. James’s readers may have thought the example of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac was too heroic for them to imitate. James says if one cannot be an Abraham, one can at least be a Rahab. Interestingly, the writer of Hebrews also gives both examples (Hebrews 11:8-10,31). when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? Rahab hid the Israelite spies from their enemies in Jericho because she knew the Lord their God was the God of heaven and earth (Joshua 2:11). Unlike the demons and those who say “keep warm and well-fed,” she confessed God and put that confession into practice by caring for God’s people. Although they were strangers to her, she saved their lives for the sake of their God. Even though she was a stranger to the Law, as a result of her faithful actions, she and her household were saved from the destruction of Jericho and welcomed into Israel (Joshua 6:25). She is the embodiment of those who show mercy to others and so receive mercy from God.
*25. It is clear from the nature of Rahab’s act, that it is not quoted to prove justification by works as such. She believed assuredly what her other countrymen disbelieved, and this in the face of every improbability that an unwarlike few would conquer well-armed numbers. In this belief she hid the spies at the risk of her life. Hence Heb 11:31 names this as an example of faith, rather than of obedience. “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not.” If an instance of obedience were wanting. Paul and James would hardly have quoted a woman of previously bad character, rather than the many moral and pious patriarchs. But as an example of free grace justifying men through an operative, as opposed to a mere verbal faith, none could be more suitable than a saved “harlot.” As Abraham was an instance of an illustrious man and the father of the Jews, so Rahab is quoted as a woman, and one of abandoned character, and a Gentile, showing that justifying faith has been manifested in those of every class. The nature of the works alleged is such as to prove that James uses them only as evidences of faith, as contrasted with a mere verbal profession: not works of charity and piety, but works the value of which consisted solely in their being proofs of faith: they were faith expressed in act, synonymous with faith itself.messengers—spies. had received … had sent—rather, “received … thrust them forth” (in haste and fear) [Alford].another way—from that whereby they entered her house, namely, through the window of her house on the wall, and thence to the mountain.
*How Was Rahab the Harlot Justified? Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?—James 2:25
There is a second illustration which the Apostle James brings to our attention in his endeavor to describe the futility of a mere profession of faith without works. It is the illustration of a woman who lived in Jericho, a city of Canaan. Her name was Rahab. Of course, we do not know for certain why James, under the leading of the Holy Spirit, chose the second illustration in his argument to be that of a woman being declared righteous, but it may be that he wanted to show us that the grace of God makes no distinction between men and women. The Lord is able to save all those who believe. He expects faith in His Son to transform the lives of both men and women. In the 25th verse of the second chapter of James, the Apostle records the works of Rahab, while the author of the epistle to the Hebrews records her faith first and then one of the acts of her faith. Here is what Hebrews 11:31 says: “By means of faith Rahab, the harlot, did not perish with the disobedient ones, having received the spies with peace.” Although James does not mention Rahab’s faith, it is presupposed for her works were the result of her faith. Because, however, he wants to lay stress on the results of faith and not on faith itself, he merely mentions her works. Therefore, right from the beginning of our study, we must clearly bear in mind that Rahab’s actual salvation was not caused by her works, but by her faith in the God of the Israelites, faith which resulted in consequent acts of faith to which James makes reference. Let us examine this verse, then, very carefully from the original Greek in which it was written. To connect the two illustrations, James uses two Greek words: homoíōs, correctly translated “likewise,” and the word de, which may be translated in a variety of ways. One is as the conjunction “and,” but the most common use of the word is “in contrast to.” Here the inspired writer of this verse wants to bring out the similarity of the justification of Abraham and Rahab on the one hand through the word homoíōs, “likewise,” and the contrast with the de. There was similarity in the means of grace, but there was a great deal of difference in the personalities saved. The one was a wonderful man even before he was saved, before he was justified, and the other was a terrible sinner, a harlot. What wonderful lessons are hidden in just these two words. Every individual needs salvation, needs to be justified by God. No one is good enough to stand before the Lord. Our goodness is as filthy rags before Him. And on the other hand no one is so bad or so far gone that the Lord is not able to save him. But both the good and the evil ones are saved exactly the same way, by faith in the finished work of Christ upon Calvary. A gentleman once took exception to a message based upon the words of God concerning Jew and Gentile, that both are guilty before God. The preacher remarked, “But the Word of God distinctly says, ‘There is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God’ ” (Rom. 3:22–23). The preacher’s friend then replied, “Do you mean to say that there is no difference between an honest man and a dishonest one, between an intemperate man and a sober man?” “No,” the preacher remarked, “I did not affirm that there was no room for comparison between such cases, but my position is that, if two men were standing here together, one an intemperate man and the other a sober man, I should say of the one, ‘This man is an intemperate sinner; the other is a sober sinner.’ ” Our friend did not know how to meet the difficulty, but answered, “Well, I don’t like such teaching.” Very quietly the preacher replied, “Then I will make some concession and meet your difficulty. I will admit that many are ‘superior sinners,’ and that you are a superior sinner.” What consternation was pictured on the face of the respectable sinner. Sometimes it is harder for respectable sinners to be justified by God because of their self-righteousness than it is for out-and-out sinners. Maybe it was harder for Abraham to be justified than it was for Rahab. The author will never forget what the chief of chaplains of the prisons of Greece told him one day after he had been discussing with him the wonderful response by the prisoners of Greece to the message of the gospel. “When you deal with prisoners, you do not need to persuade them that they are sinners. Their imprisonment is a proof of it. But there are many out of jail who should be in, and because they are out they argue that all is well with them and they need no Savior.” This man of God was absolutely right in his observation. There is another contrast which James wishes to bring here in presenting two characters so far removed from each other. Abraham was a Hebrew, the progenitor, the father, of the Israelites who throughout the Bible have enjoyed the special favor of God, and yet he needed individual justification which came to him as a result of his personal faith in God. On the other hand, Rahab was a heathen Canaanite and as such she belonged to a group of people who incurred the wrath and punishment of God. But the two completely diverse origins of the two individuals made no difference when it came to their justification. The Scripture is full of this truth, that our ancestry does not alter God’s attitude toward us. God saves the Hebrew and the Gentile exactly the same way. How wonderfully Romans 1:16 says it: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first and also to the Greek,” or to the Gentile. In the case of Abraham and Rahab we have two entirely different characters, from two entirely different ancestries, but both saved the same way, by faith that worked in acts of righteousness. There is not very much that is known about Rahab except that she was a harlot. In the New Testament she is mentioned only twice, once in Hebrews and once in James, and in both cases she is characterized by this adjective, “harlot.” In the Old Testament her story is found in the second chapter of Joshua, who took over from Moses in the leadership of the Israelites in order to consummate their liberation, and who just before crossing the River Jordan sent two spies over to Jericho in order to appraise the situation. These two spies came to a harlot’s house, the house of Rahab. Why did they come there? We do not believe that it was simply because she was a harlot, but because they knew she was a believer. Perhaps she was a new believer, but we are safe in saying that at the time the spies came to her house justification by God through faith had taken place already; otherwise she would not have treated them as she did and the spies would not have been supernaturally directed there. Observe how ready she was for the coming of the Israelites and how confident she was of the ultimate triumph of the God of the Israelites. Her confession to the men is found in verses 9 to 11 of the second chapter of Joshua: “And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt.… And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.” Before Rahab gave expression to her confession of faith, she must have believed God in the very recesses of her heart. This, then, was one of the opportunities afforded her to demonstrate her faith by works in treating the Israelite spies as she did with favor and courtesy. As in the case of Abraham, Rahab was declared righteous the very moment she believed, but God also declared her righteous many times consequent to that, every time she honored her profession of faith by the works of faith. Rahab was a harlot before she believed, but not after. What a wonderful testimony must have been given by the change in her life. The reason she is called a harlot in this verse and the others is to show how sinful her past had been and how wonderful was the change that had taken place in her life. That is precisely the reason why James has chosen her as an illustration in his argument. Her profession of faith meant a complete turnabout in her life. The argument of James is that, if there is no such turnabout in your sinful life consequent to your conversion, then there has been no conversion, there has been no justification. That is why he asks the question, “Was not Rahab declared righteous by works?” Every time Rahab refused to submit herself to the practices of her former life, God declared her righteous. We have previously discussed the meaning of the word dikaióō in Greek, commonly translated “to justify.” It actually means “to declare righteous,” to receive God’s commendation and assurance that we are His, since we are living a life that pleases Him. The moral life which Rahab lived, after her faith was initially exercised in God, was not the cause of her salvation, but the result of her salvation and justification by faith. In the total picture presented to us in this verse, as well as in the other passages where she is mentioned, the moral life of Rahab is understood as part of her works of faith. James, however, chooses to mention in particular the help that she rendered to the two Israelite spies who came to Jericho. Her giving shelter to the children of God was a demonstration to all that she had given shelter to the God of the Israelites in her own heart first. Hospitality to fellow believers may be considered very lightly by some Christians today who do not want to be bothered, but we are clearly taught here that it is one of the marks that should characterize the one who professes faith in Jesus Christ. The first evidence of Rahab’s true faith was in a sense negative; she refused to commit the sins of the past, the moral sins that plagued her all her life. James does not mention this angle. He mentions the positive side, her hospitality toward these Israelites. When we are saved, God is not interested only in our quitting the sins of the past, but in our doing good unto all men, especially those of the household of faith. Does our faith show by what we do for others? It did in the life of Rahab. And it was God’s good pleasure to record that indelibly as part of her biography. What we do for self will be wiped out soon, but what we do for others in the name of God will outlive us. There are two readings of the word translated “messengers” in this verse. One is angélous and the other is kataskópous The first one means “messengers” or “angels” and the second means “spies.” For Rahab they were angels, but for the rest of her fellow citizens they were spies. She knew by faith that Jericho was going to fall into the hands of the Israelites and therefore those whom others dreaded she herself loved, and opened her house to them. Faith sees through the clouds to the sun shining behind. There was great danger in what she was doing if she were discovered, but the danger of the present had its future reward. Many times the Christian is misunderstood in the world because that which is commonly unacceptable, suffering and destruction and dark days to come, to the Christian may mean nothing but a heavenly visitation. May God give us the eyes of faith which can see through the darkness no matter how thick it may be. What a brave woman she was to hide these two Israelites and then to let them depart in such a way that their presence could not be detected, as our verse says, by “another way.”May God help us to imitate Rahab’s faith in God and her kindness to her fellow believers. The message of our verse is that, if we do not have the latter, we cannot say we have the former. “My boy,” said a father to his son, “treat everybody with politeness, even those who are rude to you; for remember, you show courtesy to others, not because they are gentlemen, but because you are one.”
*Rahab (2:25–26)* The third example is intended as further biblical precedent, but of a complementary sort. Abraham was the respected patriarch. Rahab represents the opposite extreme, both because she was a prostitute and because she was a comparatively minor figure in Old Testament history. Yet even Rahab had to carry out her faith in the true God by actions of obedience.
***It would not have been enough for Rahab to have said to the spies, “I hope you don’t get caught”; that would have been comparable to the pious but useless wishes in 2:16. On the basis of her actions to help the spies, the identical verb is applied to her in 2:25 as to Abraham in 2:21, translated “justified” (NASB) or “considered righteous” (NIV). Thus Rahab’s example demonstrates the universality of the principle. This leads James to a summarizing conclusion about Rahab and about the entire discussion in 2:14–26. He states his conclusion by the analogy of a body without a spirit, enlarging on his labeling faith without actions as dead in 2:17. It is an apt analogy at this point. As final as death, it brings an end to the hypothetical debate in which James has engaged. It also conveys meaning along with emphasis. If faith without actions is dead like a body without a spirit, again faith without actions is no genuine, Christian, saving faith at all. It is a meaningless, useless, powerless, lifeless impostor.
*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?
Here James gives another example. But why does he mention Rahab?
(1) Because this act of hers is made an effect of faith: “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient” (Hebrews 11:31). It was indeed a great act of faith for one who had lived among the heathen to be persuaded of the power of the God of Israel and of the right they had to that land. Her faith was brought about in her by divine instinct, in response to the report that was given of God and his works.
(2) Because this example can well be joined with the previous one. Some might object that not everyone could go as far as Abraham, the great pattern of all believers. But the least faith must produce works as well as the greatest, and so James gives Rahab as an example of the weakest faith.
a. As for her person, she was a woman, a prostitute, and a heathen when God worked on her. With so many disadvantages, it is to be presumed this was as low an example as could be given.
b. As for the act itself, it was accompanied by weakness, by a lie, which indeed is here suppressed, or at least not mentioned, lest it should deface the glory of her faith.
(3) Because there might be some doubt about this example. They might object that mere profession was accounted faith in Rahab, and she was a prostitute. James replies that in Rahab the doctrine might be made good, for her faith, however weak, yielded some self-denying act or fruit. But you will ask how this is pertinent to the purpose, to prove that pretense of faith without works is not enough to acquit us of hypocrisy. I answer that you must think of it like this:
***if she had only said to these messengers, “I believe the God of heaven and earth has given you this whole land to possess, yet I dare not show you any kindness in this city,” it would have been only the dead, barren sort of faith James discusses here. But this belief prevailed so far with her that she did something helpful for them, though she incurred present danger and the tortures that the rage of her citizens would inflict on her for harboring spies. Now I come to the words:In the same way. This relates to the previous example of Abraham.Even Rahab the prostitute. Lyranus thinks that the word for prostitute was her proper name; others think it only indicates that she was a hostess, a woman who kept a tavern. But the article—the prostitute—and the fact that this is repeated as a notable circumstance seem to imply that she was indeed a woman of disrepute; and it is mere folly to excuse what God wants to be made known for his own glory. Was … considered righteous for what she did. That is, she was shown to be sincere and honored by God before all the congregation. There was a special instruction to save her and her household when all her countrymen were slain, and afterwards she was joined in marriage with a prince of Israel. When she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction. The story is in Joshua 2. But is not this act questionable? Is it not treachery? Did she not sin against that love and faithfulness she owed to her country? She did not sin, because she had a warrant and a special revelation from God that the land of Canaan, and so her town, was given to the Israelites (Joshua 2:9–11). And being won to the faith, she was to leave her Gentile family and be incorporated in the people of Israel and so was bound to promote their interest, as Calvin points out. But you will say, “If there was no sin, why was her action so good? Was it no more than civility or necessary prudence and caution, since she was persuaded of this?” I answer:
(1) There was much faith in it, in believing what she had heard of God in the wilderness and the desert places of Arabia and magnifying his power and ability to destroy them. The people of her city were in great strength, they thought themselves safe within their walls; but God had revealed the truth to her by some special instinct, and she was confident of Israel’s future success. And so, as Origen observes, she acknowledged what was past, believed what was present, and foretold what was to come.
(2) There was obedience in it, for whatever she did in this, she did out of reverence and fear of God, whom she knew to be the author of this war; and though there was some weakness in the action, it was mostly a duty.
(3) There was self-denial in it. It was an action that might have had very dangerous consequences for her; but to demonstrate her fidelity to God she overlooked the threats and cruelties of her own people.
Note 1. God may often choose the worst of sinners. Faith is acceptable in a prostitute; those who set out late for heaven often make more way than someone who professes faith early on. The only women counted in Christ’s genealogy are those who were stained with some infamy: idolatrous women, adulterous women, in Christ’s own line—such as Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, Tamar. Chrysostom gives the reason: “he came to save sinners, and therefore wanted to be known to come from sinners according to the flesh.” Manasses was received after witchcraft, Paul after blasphemy (1 Timothy 1:13), and all as precedents in which God would show mercy and long-suffering; so it is with Rahab here. So you will see that Matthew 21:31 says, “The tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.” The most odious and despised sinners, when they turn to God by repentance, find grace and a place in Christ’s heart. Note 2. The meanest faith must justify itself by works and gracious effects. Rahab, a Gentile convert, not only professed faith but preserved the spies. Do not let hypocrites plead that everyone is not like Abraham. Are you like Rahab? Can you produce any evidence of your faith? The meanest sort will show itself by some effect or other. The smallest faith, even if it is like a grain of mustard seed, will have some branches. Note 3. Believers, even if they justify their profession, are still monuments of free grace. It is Rahab the prostitute, even though she was justified by works. The scars and marks of old sins remain not to our dishonor, but to God’s glory. Note 4. Ordinary acts are gracious when they flow from faith and are done in obedience, as when Rahab received the messengers. Entertainment in such a case is not civility but religion. Even “a cup of cold water … because he is my disciple” (Matthew 10:42) is not courtesy but duty and will not lose its reward. In Hebrews 11 many civil and secular acts are ascribed to faith, such as fighting battles, saving children, etc., because they were directed by faith to spiritual ends and were performed by supernatural strength. Note 5. The great trial of faith is in acts of self-denial. Such was Rahab’s, to prefer the will of God rather than the safety of her own country; and such was Abraham’s in the previous example. Self-denial is the first thing that must be resolved in Christianity (Matthew 16:24). A person is not revealed when God’s way and his own lie together. Your great inquiry should be, “In what way have I denied myself for God?” Note 6. God hides his eyes from the evil that is in our good actions. Here mention is made of receiving the messengers, but no mention of the lie. The person who drew Alexander, who had a scar on his face, drew him with his finger on the scar. God puts the finger of mercy on our scars. See 5:11—You have heard of Job’s perseverance; we have heard of his impatience, his cursing the day of his birth, etc., but no complaints are here mentioned.
*In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (2:25–26)
The second person James uses to illustrate justification by works stands in stark contrast to Abraham. She was a woman, a Gentile, and a prostitute. Abraham was a moral man; she was an immoral woman. He was a noble Chaldean; she was a degraded Canaanite. He was a great leader; she was a common citizen. He was at the top of the social-economic order; she was at the bottom. Yet Rahab the harlot is listed along with Abraham in the great gallery of the faithful (Heb. 11:8, 17, 31) and was even in the human lineage of Jesus, being the great-grandmother of David (Matt. 1:5). As reported in Joshua 2, Rahab was an innkeeper in Jericho. When Joshua sent two men into the city to spy it out, her inn was a logical place to go because it was on the city wall and did not require venturing far into the city. When the king of Jericho heard of their presence, he sent officials to Rahab’s house to arrest them, but she falsely reported that the spies had left the city just before dark and suggested that soldiers be sent to capture them. She had hidden the two men behind stacks of flax on her roof, and after the officials left, she said to the Israelites, I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted 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 utterly destroyed. When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Now therefore, please swear to me by the Lord, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth. (Josh. 2:9–12) Rahab not only acknowledged that the God of Israel was the true Lord, but she obviously trusted in Him. Although she doubtless knew nothing of salvation as Christians understand it, or even as the ancient Israelites understood it, her heart was right before the Lord, and He graciously accepted her faith for righteousness. He also accepted her protection of the spies as an act of obedience to Him, and she was therefore justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way. As with Abraham and every other true believer, imputed righteousness based on faith resulted in practical righteousness reflected in good works. Her outward life of faithfulness manifested her inner life of faith. Also like Abraham, however, she was not perfect. Her profession was despicable and her lying was sinful. She was not honored by the Lord for either. She had been born into and been raised in a debauched pagan society that the Lord was about to destroy, in which lying and all sorts of gross sin were the norm. But when she had opportunity to demonstrate her trust in the Lord, she placed her life on the line. Had her actions been discovered by the king, she and her family would have been summarily executed for treason. In His boundless grace, God accepted her trust in Him and her service to Him, rescued her family, and used her for His own divine purposes, causing her to become a model of faith and an ancestor of the Messiah. Abraham’s and Rahab’s justification by works was not demonstrated by their profession of faith, their worship or ritual, or any other religious activity. In both cases it was demonstrated by putting everything that was dear to them on the line for the Lord, entrusting it to Him without qualification or reservation. They were supremely committed to the Lord, whatever the cost. It is in the vortex of the great plans, decisions, and crossroads of life—where ambitions, hopes, dreams, destinies, and life itself are at stake—where true faith unfailingly reveals itself. Long before Jesus’ crucifixion, Abraham and Rahab were willing to take up their crosses, as it were, and follow Him (Mark 8:34). They hated their life in this world in order to keep it in the world to come (John 12:25). It is also in that same vortex that false, deceitful faith reveals itself. James notes that just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. He likens dead faith—professed faith without works—to a body without the spirit. Both are useless, devoid of any life-giving power. It is a sobering reality that all who profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will not be saved. As He warned in Matthew 7:21–23, Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” Aware of that fearful truth, Paul urged, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!” (2 Cor. 13:5). Abraham and Rahab stand for all time as examples of those whose living faith passed the test.
*2:25 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? God’s final judgment on a person’s life considers the righteousness that person shows through works. But why would James bring up Rahab? After speaking of the great faith of Abraham, the father of Israel, James cited the example of Rahab, a pagan woman with a bad reputation (see Joshua 2:1–24; 6:22–25). But these two people, as opposite as they were, cemented James’s argument—both people were declared righteous on the basis of their works that resulted from their faith. The contrast is not between faith and works, but between genuine faith and false faith. If Abraham had not had faith, he would not have followed God. If Rahab had not had faith, she would never have decided to side with Israel—“For the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (Rahab’s words in Joshua 2:11). Yet if Abraham had not been willing to obey God, his faith would have meant nothing. If Rahab had not risked her life to help the spies, her faith would have accomplished nothing. But she is listed in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews: “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient” (Hebrews 11:31). Many have pointed out that Abraham and Rahab could represent opposite extremes of society. James may have used them for that reason, but they were also his relatives—Abraham in a general way as father of the Jewish nation, and Rahab in a specific way as one of the ancestors of David, Jesus Christ, and James (see Matthew 1:5). Both these heroes demonstrate the fact that real faith can survive in people with “feet of clay.” The Bible describes neither Abraham nor Rahab as perfect. In fact, the spotlight shines on their sins as much as on their trust. Both demonstrated in their own way a tendency to lie (Genesis 20:1–2; Joshua 2:3–7). Neither could have pointed to a life of perfect obedience as the reason for God’s acceptance. Rather, each pointed to a life that illustrated their need for God and their trust in God.
O it is a living, busy active mighty thing, this faith. It is impossible for it not to be doing good things incessantly. It does not ask whether good works are to be done, but before the question is asked, it has already done this, and is constantly doing them. Whoever does not do such works, however, is an unbeliever. He gropes and looks around for faith and good works, but knows neither what faith is nor what good works are. Yet he talks and talks, with many words, about faith and good works.—Martin Luther
Job 9:13 God does not restrain his anger; even the cohorts of Rahab cowered at his feet.
Job 26:12 By his power he churned up the sea; by his wisdom he cut Rahab to pieces.
Ps 87:4 “I will record Rahab and Babylon among those who acknowledge me— Philistia too, and Tyre, along with Cush— and will say, ‘This one was born in Zion.’ ”
Ps 89:10 You crushed Rahab like one of the slain; with your strong arm you scattered your enemies
Isa 30:7 to Egypt, whose help is utterly useless. Therefore I call her Rahab the Do-Nothing.
Isa 51:9 Awake, awake! Clothe yourself with strength, O arm of the Lord; awake, as in days gone by, as in generations of old. Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces, who pierced that monster through?