Rahab: When God Prepares the Way
Some battles seem too big for us.
Many of us reach an uneasy truce with our battles. Maybe your battle is with anger. Maybe your battle is with lust. Maybe your battle is with envy. Maybe your battle is with lying. We all have battles.
Jesus has saved us. We are going to heaven. However, the battle with sin and victory in this life continues. We accepted Christ and received new life, but we still struggle with sin.
Is the promised land of our salvation just for the future? Is it just for heaven, or is it for this life and the next? I believe it is for this life and the next.
The things that happened to Israel are an example for us. As the Children of Israel were to enter into the Promised Land, so, we too, are to enter into our promised land. Hebrews 4:1 calls it entering into his rest when it says, “God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it.”[i]
A generation of Israelites died in the wilderness. They never entered the promised rest. They never entered the Promised Land. Hebrews 3:17 says of them, “And who made God angry for forty years? Wasn’t it the people who sinned, whose corpses lay in the wilderness?” Hebrews 3:19 sums up the lesson we learn from this generation. It says, “So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest.”
We were not brought out of the Egypt, otherwise known as the world, in order to end up corpses in the wilderness.
Joshua led the Israelites in the conquest of Canaan. He led them into the Promised Land. He led them into their rest. However, it was a battle. Three times God said to Joshua, “Be Strong and courageous.” (Joshua 1) Joshua’s job would take courage and strength. However, the promise of God’s presence accompanied it. God promised that no one would be able to stand up to Joshua.
In Joshua chapter 2, Joshua makes his first tenuous expedition into the Promised Land. It is not an assault. It is not a bold move. He looks at the situation. Verse 1 of chapter 2 says, “He secretly sent out two spies.”
I do not understand what Joshua is thinking. He could stand on his side of the Jordan and see the other side. He could look and see the walled city of Jericho. What is he hoping to find out? We do not know the answers to these questions. However, we do know what Joshua found out. He found out that God had prepared the way before them.
As we look at our battles, we too will find that God has prepared the way before us.
Look at Joshua 2:1.
Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove. He instructed them, “Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.” So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night.
I do not think these were immoral men. One of the commentaries I read said that the word translated “prostitute” could also be translated “Innkeeper.” However, they could have entered town and asked for a prostitute just to stay in disguise, pretending to be weary travelers doing what weary travelers do. Whatever the reason, how likely was it they would by pure chance end up at the house of the one person who would feed them, hide them, protect them and advise them? How is it that they just “happened” to stay the night at Rahab’s house?
God had prepared the way.
As you set out on your first tenuous expeditions to claim your promise, you will find that God has prepared the way. Others have fought the same battle you face. For example, if your battle is anger, you will find that many have fought that battle. Or, if your battle is lust, you will find that many have fought that battle.
The story continues. Look at Joshua 2:2-3.
But someone told the king of Jericho, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” So the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab: “Bring out the men who have come into your house, for they have come here to spy out the whole land.”
Busted! Joshua may have sent the spies out secretly, but the enemy was not fooled. He knew why the Israelites were there, and he was out to stop them. He was king. This was his city. He was there to protect it.
As you set out on your first tenuous expeditions to claim your promise you will find that the enemy is there and will not like you poking around in his territory.
Rahab’s quick thinking saved the men from certain death.
Look at verses 4 through 7 of Joshua chapter 2.
4Rahab had hidden the two men, but she replied, “Yes, the men were here earlier, but I didn’t know where they were from. 5They left the town at dusk, as the gates were about to close. I don’t know where they went. If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them.” 6(Actually, she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them beneath bundles of flax she had laid out.) 7So the king’s men went looking for the spies along the road leading to the shallow crossings of the Jordan River. And as soon as the king’s men had left, the gate of Jericho was shut.
Rahab was ready. It says here that she had hidden the spies. It does not say she was warned in advance, but somehow she knew and she prepared a hiding place. She had hid them under flax bundles. She then diverted the search. She directed the king’s men to search in the wrong place.
I cannot say that you will be hidden under bundles of flax. However, God does promise in 2 Corinthians 10:13, “When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
God knows what we need and prepares the way before we set out.
The men were led by providence to the right place to stay. Their hiding place and safety were prepared before them. Next, we will see the information Rahab gives them.
Look at verses 8 through 11 of Joshua chapter 2.
8Before the spies went to sleep that night, Rahab went up on the roof to talk with them. 9“I know the LORD has given you this land,” she told them. “We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror. 10For we have heard how the LORD made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. 11No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the LORD your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below.
What incredible words! “I know the LORD has given you this land.” This came from one of the residence of the land. She had not lived under Moses’s leadership. She had not eaten Manna. She had not seen the miraculous hand of God defeating Pharaoh’s army. She had only heard about all these things. What is more, she informs the spies that everyone in the land has heard. “Everyone in the land is living in terror.” “Our hearts have melted in fear!” “No one has the courage to fight.”
If Joshua and the spies needed confirmation of God’s leading, this was it. God said to Joshua, “You are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.” (Joshua 1:6, NLT) The information Rahab gave them was confirmation. Victory was guaranteed.
In our battles, we have the same kind of information. In John 16:33 Jesus says, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."
Some say there is no battle to be fought. Based on Romans 6:11, which says, “So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.” And, based on other verses in Romans 6 that say to yield control to God, some say that we are passive. However, these verses are not passive. The New Living Translation gets Romans 6:13 right when it says, “Give yourselves completely to God.” This giving ourselves to God or yielding is not passive. “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17) This certainly is the truth of Scripture. In addition, we are called upon to put on the full armor of God. Furthermore, we are called upon to stand firm. All these are acts of faith, and they are also pictures of battle.
Many people have gone before and have given testimony to the life of faith. Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
God has set a race before us. He has prepared the way. However, there is the sin that so easily trips us up. Sin in general will keep us from entering the rest God has promised. Unbelief in particular is the most grievous sin. However, each person has a sin that easily trips him or her up. I find I have many. Whether by natural tendencies, upbringing or training we all have places in our life that will trip us up.
These places are like Jericho. They have strong walls. They have armies.
When Moses sent the twelve spies, ten of them came back and said, “They have strong armies and walls we cannot do this.” Perhaps you have fought with your favorite sin all your life and are convinced you cannot defeat it. Listen to the voice of Rahab. She said, “For the LORD your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below.” (Joshua 2:11, NLT)
Jesus died to set us free. It is possible to be free.
I am not talking about sinless perfection. The Scripture is clear, “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.” (1 John 1:8, NLT) God has prepared the way before us, but have we failed to take Jericho?
Rahab believed God, and because of this, she took action. She arranged with the spies to save the lives of herself and her family. Because of her faith, God has honored her with a place in Scripture, a place in the ancestry of Christ and we can assume a home in heaven.
The spies who had gone out secretly on this tenuous expedition came back with this report. “The LORD has given us the whole land,” they said, “for all the people in the land are terrified of us.” (Joshua 2:24, NLT)
The first step in being free is being willing to take the first step. If you are willing to send out your spies, you will find that God has prepared the way.
If your tongue is your Jericho, you will find the Scriptures have an answer. If your temper is your Jericho, you will find the Scriptures have an answer. If your lust is your Jericho, you will find the Scripture has an answer.
[i] Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Steam, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.