Faithfulness receives its assurance

The two young men gave Rahab an answer of peace. “It shall be, when the Lord hath  given us the land, that we will deal kindly  and truly with thee” (Josh 2:14). The men asked her to leave the very same scarlet cord hanging from her  window “when we come into the land”.

In fact, she did not wait until then: she bound  the scarlet cord in the window just as soon as they had departed from her. In so doing she left herself vulnerable to being challenged from her people. As the pursuers returned, could they also see the cord,  showing the escape route of the men? Even if they did not, it showed faith in the God of heaven that He would protect her from evil. Rahab was not going to miss this wonderful opportunity for anything. Here was the hope of salvation; a godly, spiritually healthy and blessed life was hers if she followed the plan. More could be said about the scarlet thread and the connection with Tamar, another woman of ill repute (Gen 38:27–30), which will have to be kept for another study.

Trusted advice

The men trusted Rahab’s advice and followed her suggestion; “Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days … ” (v 16). Having seen Rahab’s willing self-sacrifice for the sake of their own lives, the men knew she would not betray them and tell others of their hiding place in the mountains.

After three days the men returned to Joshua, full  of enthusiasm, “Truly the Lord hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of  the country do faint because of us” (v 24). The spies repeated almost word for word what Rahab had told  them (v 9). Her words had encouraged them and would have inspired Joshua also, flowing through  to the rest of the nation, providing substance for faith in God’s ability to bring a great victory to pass. If, after all, pagan people in a corrupted land were expecting Israel’s God to win, why should not  His own people trust that He would fight for them!  Sisters, our words can help others, quietly spoken  perhaps, but none the less encouraging. Let our words be those that build up and edify! Rahab’s words inspired the nation.

Saved alive

Can we imagine Rahab’s anxious week as she watched the silent marching of the Israelites around  he walls? She did not know at what point the city would fall, or how it would fall, so she stayed in her  house, with her family, for all that time. And finally the trumpet sounded!The deafening sound of the crumbling and cracking of stone was all around them as the walls fell at the power of God. And yet Rahab’s house was left standing! The cord was now  more obvious than ever as she watched the Israelites  advance into the city.

Joshua specifically arranged for Rahab and her family’s protection, saying to the spies, “Go into the harlot’s house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath” (Josh 6:22). As destruction and slaughter echoed all around her and the city of Jericho fell in a short time, Rahab’s family fled with their belongings, being led by the very men she had sheltered at the risk of her own life. Her faith was rewarded and her life was spared. Her heart would have been full of thankfulness, and her faith in Yahweh was strengthened as she realised she was  now with a people who kept their promises.

We too live in ‘Jericho’, watching the surrounding  signs of the nearness of the fall of the kingdom of men. Yahweh’s angels are on the march, awaiting the trumpet sound of the greater than Joshua. How  ready do we feel? Is our scarlet thread out in full view? Have we in our hearts heeded the warning  to “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not  partakers of her sins” (Rev 18:4)?

Without the camp

In the strict orders from God only Jericho’s silver, gold, and vessels of brass and iron were to be saved and put in the treasury of the house of the Lord (Josh 6:19, 24). And yet Rahab and her family were also to be saved – with a very different destination – “left without the camp of Israel” (6:23). How  interesting that gold and silver received preferential  treatment – brought not only within the camp, but into the treasury of God Himself, whereas it was  seen fit to put Rahab outside the camp! Under the Law lepers, women with an issue and those defiled  by the dead were also without the camp, due to their uncleanness (Num 5:2–3). Rahab was also unclean  in the sight of the Israelites, initially at least.

How beautiful though that the record of  Scripture paints a happy ending for this faithful  woman. “Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and  her father’s household, and all that she had; and she  dwelleth in Israel even unto this day” (Josh 6:25).  So, like the gold, silver, brass and iron, Rahab was  to become part of the treasures of the land of Israel!  Her faith was far more precious to God than any of the treasures saved from Jericho. She bore her  reproach with patience and later was received into the fellowship of the people of God (cp Heb13:13).

More blessings

Matthew’s record highlights only _ five women in  the genealogy of our Lord – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary. “And Salmon begat Booz of  Rachab” (Matt 1:5). So we can expand on Rahab’s future. She not only came from without the camp to dwell among the people of God, she also married and became a mother in the line of Christ!  Her husband, Salmon, was the son of the Prince  of Judah (1 Chron 2:10–11), and her son, Boaz, was one of the most outstanding men in the time of the Judges. It also explains how Boaz married Ruth the Moabitess despite the prejudice against  foreigners that might otherwise have existed among the Bethlehemites. His own mother was, after all, a wonderful example of the power of God to change the lives of people full circle so that they should  become people He loved.

From Rahab’s acceptance into the people of  Israel, and ultimately as an heir of the Kingdom, we learn a great deal about the love and mercy of our heavenly Father. No matter our background, no matter our race or what others in the community may think of us, God’s forgiveness of past sins and ; willingness to save if we turn to Him are powerful  beyond comprehension. Our natural mind so often finds it hard to forgive from the heart and accept  others who are considered ‘tainted’ by past wrongs.  We may not have Rahab’s background, and we may  not be from the cursed city of Jericho, but we all have the need of God’s forgiveness and would be without the camp if our Lord had not called us to join him in the hope of Israel.

By faith

We have already touched on Hebrews and James’  inclusion of Rahab amongst the faithful. James’  context is that faith without works is dead. “Was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them  out another way?” ( Jas 2:25). Rahab’s faith was  seen in action as she sent the spies on their way, and she was ‘saved alive’ quite literally. Rahab’s faith with works led to life. It is sobering to think that although we are not usually faced with life and  death opportunities to show our faith in action, in  the end that is what it will be for us too – “For as  the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (2:26).

Hebrews has a slightly different emphasis, “By  faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that  believed not, when she had received the spies with peace” (11:31). Although the chapter is all about faith in action, the writer says her faith was in the receiving of the spies. Sending them out another way as James records is the final action on her part. Presumably Rahab had not even been born when the Red Sea parted, yet she believed it, and was counted among the faithful of God.

The faithful saw by the eye of faith “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (v 1). Many of us have been born long after the return of the Jews to the Land last century, the major sign of our age. Our elders have passed on to us their enthusiasm of the significance of this incredible  event. Have we, like Rahab, faithfully taken on the power of this witness to the living God? Does it move us, like the Red Sea crossing moved her, to  exclaim, “Yahweh your God, he is God in heaven  above, and in earth beneath!” (Josh 2:11)?

Much more precious

The first epistle of Peter sums up beautifully the  hope of Rahab. “The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though  it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:  Whom having not seen, ye love … receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls”  (1 Pet 1:7–9).

Rahab was justified and saved because of her faith. God saw her faith as precious, as worth saving!  Her faith in God gave Him praise and glory. The gold of Jericho will long be forgotten, but this woman who believed in the God Who could save will be eternally blessed! She will see her descendant, the Son of God himself, on the throne, when all the corruption she so wanted to escape from will be destroyed. It will be wonderful to meet her in that day and by God’s grace “dwell in Israel” with her for eternity!