How to Be God's Friend: Part 1: Rahab

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Part 1: Rahab

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How to Be God's Friend: Part 1: Rahab

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This is the first part in the Bible study series: How to Be God’s Friend. How could a harlot be considered a friend of God? Could a story of sin, intrigue, spies and lies shed light on a right relationship with God? What lessons can we learn from a sinful life that can lead us to become close to God? We’ll focus on Rahab, the harlot from Jericho to discover what it means to be a true friend of God.

Transcript

[Steve Myers] Good evening everyone. Glad to have you here at the Home Office of The United Church of God for our bi-weekly, Wednesday night Bible study. Welcome to everyone watching on the web as well. Good to have you all with us and good to be together. We’re going to study God’s word tonight. We’re going to have an opportunity to start a new series. We’re going to be starting a series of how to be God’s friend. So we’re going to look at some different characters in the Bible throughout the series; take a look at some of their experiences, and then what we’re going to try to do is glean some lessons from those individuals in the Bible and try to realize how these things apply to us so that we can become better friends with God. So that’s the goal of this series of Bible studies that will be happening throughout the next several weeks. I am hoping it will be a different way of looking at God’s word and digging into it and hopefully gleaning some interesting information that will really help us to be more like Christ. So that’s our goal of this series of studies that we’re going to be doing tonight. And so why don’t we get things started. We’ll ask a blessing on our Bible study tonight and then we’ll begin.

“Great loving, Heavenly Father, God Almighty, thank you so much for Your loving calling. Thank You for Your word and Your way. Father, we’re coming together tonight to dig into Your word; to look at Your precious scripture that You’ve given to us, Father, and we just know that these are Your words. We know that these are the things that You want us to more thoroughly understand. And so we come before You tonight to ask You to bless us as we delve into Your word and as we try to glean, even more deeply, the teachings and the lessons that You want us to. So help us as we rehearse these things and that we would do just that, that our learning and the things that we can put into practice in our lives will certainly bring You glory and bring You honor. And so, Father, we put it into Your hands and ask Your presence. We ask Your blessing and we pray all of this by and through the authority of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Well for our first study in our series, “How to be God’s Friend”, we’re going to look at the life and experience of Rahab. And Rahab is an interesting individual who is not really given a lot of information in the Bible but, once you start looking at it, it is amazing how much is actually there. And of course she shows up in the Book of Joshua. And in the Book of Joshua is a famous story that she is right at the heart and core of and that is the story of Jericho. You probably know that story and yet tonight we’re going to rehearse the story a little bit; notice her part that she played in that story and try to see how, maybe this story can relate to us as well. So if you would, turn with me over to Joshua, Chapter 2. This where the Israelites are coming into the Promised Land. After wandering throughout the desert for 40 years, finally they’re going to be able to come into the land that God promised them and where are they going to begin? Well, one of the things right at the top is, God tells them, you’ve got to conquer Jericho. And He tells them how it’s going to happen. So, in Joshua, Chapter 2, we have that story of the Israelites beginning to take Jericho. So let’s notice the story right at the very beginning of Chapter 2 in the Book of Joshua. It says:

Joshua 2:1 Joshua 2:1And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there.
American King James Version×
“And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there.”

So to begin with, we have the leader of the Israelites, Joshua, sending two men; to people to spy out the land. And where do they start? They start at the house of Rahab. That’s kind of interesting just to begin with because Rahab, if you look at her name, part of her name comes from and Egyptian god.  One of the greatest gods of Egypt was “Ra”. And so here she takes part of an Egyptian god’s name which is interesting to begin with because it carries a little bit of a significance of being fierce. Her name also had the connotation of being spacious as well. And so it’s an interesting combination of words if you were to look up the meaning of her name. And of course she’s not one of God’s people. She is a Gentile. She’s from a pagan land. She’s of the Amorites and, more than just that, we’re told that she’s a harlot.

Now, when you read through that word, some have questions what that actually means. Does that mean that she’ a prostitute or does that mean that she’s an innkeeper? There’s an interesting connection between the words, or the consonants that are used for this word, harlot. They’re the same Hebrew letters in each of those concepts. One is for harlot and one is for innkeeper, or the one who gives provision, or gives food. So some argue, well maybe that’s what she was because God used her in such amazing ways she couldn’t have possibly been a prostitute. So, even, there’s a scholar here or there that kind of tends to take that point of view that, well, she was more than likely an innkeeper.

I wrote down comments from Adam Clarke’s Commentary and here’s what he wrote. He says:

“It is exceeding probable that the Hebrew and Greek words which we translate ‘harlot’ should be rendered ‘innkeeper’ or ‘tavern keeper’.” Well that brings a question to mind then: Is she a harlot or an innkeeper? Which one is it? Well not only here in Verse 1 do we have her referred to as a harlot in the New King James Version (NKJV), but over in Chapter 6 , three times she’s called a harlot. Now with just that you might say, “Well maybe it could be either one.” But if you were to look in the New Testament there’s two times in the New Testament that she’s also called a harlot. In fact, in the New Testament, in the Greek, it uses the word, “pornae”, which you probably recognize that word because, even in English, we get our word ‘porn’ or ‘pornography’ comes from that term and the only Greek rendering that it has is someone who sells herself for sex. So, if there’s any question when you look at the term in the New Testament, it does seem to make it pretty clear that in Hebrews, Chapter 11, and also in James, Chapter 2 , she’s called, “The Harlot, Rahab” and seems, by all indications, to be a prostitute. So that may sound a little startling and maybe take some people by surprise but I think what we begin to see here is certainly she was someone that wasn’t just an innkeeper; wasn’t just the landlady because the term itself, especially in the New Testament, points to the fact that she provided a lot more than just lodging. That’s what it points to because we know that, in the Greek, in the New Testament, there’s an entirely different word for an innkeeper. So, whether the Apostle Paul or whether James using that term, if they meant innkeeper; they could have used a whole different word to describe that. So the idea that maybe she was just an innkeeper seems to have some serious problems when you compare that to what’s written in the New Testament.

Joshua 6:17 Joshua 6:17And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.
American King James Version×
“And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.”

Joshua 6:23 Joshua 6:23And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brothers, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel.
American King James Version×
  “And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel.”

Joshua 6:24 Joshua 6:24And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.
American King James Version×
  “And 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; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.”

Hebrews 11:31 Hebrews 11:31By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
American King James Version×
“By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.”

James 2:25 James 2:25Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
American King James Version×
“Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?”

I think it’s important to realize where she started. That’s her background. She came from a pagan city in a pagan country and from a less than admirable background and that will come into play as we think about how we relate to God. How did she relate to God? How did someone who’s a prostitute come to be named in the chapter of faith? How did she become a hero of faith with that kind of a background? So we can keep that in the back of our mind as we read through her story here.

Let’s pick it up, then, all the way in Verse 2.

Joshua 2:2 Joshua 2:2And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in here to night of the children of Israel to search out the country.
American King James Version×
“And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country.”

Of course the king here, in Jericho, more than likely, the king of that city. More than likely the towns were organized by what they would call ‘city states’. So there would have been a king, like I suppose we would think of a mayor or something like that. But here’s a guy who ruled over that city of Jericho and each of those cities of those Amorites’ towns would have had their own king. So, anyway, the king comes and says, “Hey, what’s going on? We had some strangers show up.

So, Verse 3 , the king goes to Rahab saying:

V.3 “And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country.”

You see the king realized that Rahab would know who was coming and going. Why? Well, because she had an inn. She took care of these men’s needs over the years it seems and he knew where to go to find out who was coming and going. And, in many ways, if you were to read a lot about what happened during these times, the prostitutes would have served as a sort of spy. Just like Joshua sent the spies to check out Jericho, harlots of that day would be able to watch out for what was going on in the city and know who the strangers were who were coming and going in order to help protect the town. So here’s Rahab kind of stuck right in the middle. Now, what is she going to do?

Well it’s interesting. Verse 4; it says:

V.4 “And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were:”

V.5 “And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out:” that’s the men that were looking for them, “whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly;” she says, “for ye shall overtake them.”

So, what does she do? She misleads them? She lies to the king. We have the truth here in Verse 6 :

V.6 “But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof.”

So what happens?

V.7 “And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate.”

So here we have Rahab the harlot lying to the king in order to send the troops after the men who really hadn’t ever left. She was hiding them. So, automatically, because we have a tendency to think, “Well, Rahab is mentioned in the faith hall of fame in Hebrews 11, it must be okay to lie as long as good things come from it.” Is that a lesson that we’re supposed to learn from the story of Rahab. Is it wrong to lie if you’re protecting someone? Is that okay? Or is that not okay? Or, maybe it’s not so bad to lie to my enemies. Is that okay? You know is it okay to help protect someone that we lie in order to preserve them? Because obviously what she was doing is protecting them; she was watching out for their life. She was trying to help them by sending the gang the other direction. So, what about that? What do you think when it comes to lying to protect others or lying to your enemies? Is that what she should have done?

Why not? Why would that not be the best thing to do? Well there is an interesting passage over in Romans, Chapter 3, Verse 7 . I think I will turn there. Paul poses an interesting question here. He even, maybe, I don’t know if he has Rahab in mind here or not as he poses this question. He says:

Romans 3:7 Romans 3:7For if the truth of God has more abounded through my lie to his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?
American King James Version×
  “For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory;” okay, if I lie about something in order to protect someone; in order to maybe show God is even that much more truthful, he says, “why yet am I also (still)  judged as a sinner?”

Okay, lying is still a sin he says. He says:

V.8 “And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.”

You see, he says, “that’s just as bad, he says, ‘as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say, their condemnation is just.’”

So he’s posing that rhetorical question, “Well let’s do evil that good can come from it?”  He’s saying, “That’s ridiculous! That is not acceptabl e.” You know the standard of God is truth and so even though Rahab may not have known any better at this time; even though she lied about this; it wasn’t the right thing to do. Even though there was a good outcome; even though the spies were protected; it wasn’t the right thing to do. And, of course, we know there’s a command that says we’re not supposed to bear false witness, right? The ninth commandment talks about, you know, a lying mouth. So, what should she have done then? Just give them up? Just say , “Oh, I’ve got them up here on the roof. ” Is that what she should have done? Or what do we do? When we are in a situation like that where it would be easy to lie; nobody would know the difference. We could get off the hook or, maybe, we’d protect, you know, someone or something and it seems like good could come from it. What do we do?

Well, it’s interesting that Christ gave us a little bit of insight. You just write down Matthew, Chapter 6. In Matthew, Chapter 6, He outlines a prayer for us; ways that we should pray. If you remember that model prayer, sometimes called “The Lord’s Prayer”. Remember part of that prayer, I think, speaks to this example of Rahab. Christ said part of our prayer should include the concept that “God deliver us from evil,” or “deliver us from the evil one.” Would it be possible for these spies to have been saved; that they could have been totally safe, by her doing something that would be within God’s law; that wouldn’t go against the commandment, without lying? Does God have the power to save them? To protect them? Even if she were to say, “They’re up on the roof.” You know, could God still protect them? Well sure. Sure He could! He could. God didn’t have that opportunity because of, you know, her pointing in a different direction, but it is pretty clear that God could do it a totally different way.

Matthew 6:13 Matthew 6:13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For your is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
American King James Version×
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”

First of all we could pray that we are never put in that situation like Christ talked about. We are also told in 1 Corinthians 10 that God promises us that He won’t tempt us more than we’re able and that even in difficulties He will provide a way of escape. And so we could take that promise to heart there in 1 Corinthians 10:13 1 Corinthians 10:13There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.
American King James Version×
.

1Corinthians 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

He says we’ll be able to bear it. So God can provide another way. So we should never fall back on the excuse, “Well I’m doing something bad so good can come.”   Paul says, “No. Don’t do that; that is not the way to do it .” So Rahab didn’t have to lie. Don’t ever be taken in by this example of hers. She wasn’t where she needed to be yet. She wasn’t there yet but at the same time she begins to show some amazing insight that, I think, shows us, without a doubt, that God is working with her. So, let’s go back to her story here in Joshua, Chapter 2. Look at Verse 8 . She just got done telling them, the men, they went the other way. They shut the gate. Now, Verse 8:

Joshua 2:8 Joshua 2:8And before they were laid down, she came up to them on the roof;
American King James Version×
“And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof;”

Now, of course, if you’re familiar at all with the layout of what Jericho would have looked like, Jericho was, of course, a solid city. It was a walled city and the cities like Jericho would have been built with a wall around them. But it wasn’t just a single wall. Archeology shows that there would have been a double wall around Jericho. And the way that her house was laid out – and we’ll see a little bit more in a couple of verses later; her house was built on, or next to, the outside wall. (Draws a diagram) Normally this wall would have been a little bit higher up the hill and this wall would have been a little lower down the hill. So, if we kind of had a side view, it would probably look kind of more like this as this wall goes around the city. (That’s pretty bad.) But you get the idea. So her house would have been in here and more than likely this roof may have risen to the level of the wall itself - of that outside wall. So here she is with her house built right up against that exterior wall and, in fact, we’ll talk about it a little bit later how that seems to become more evident by not Biblical evidence but by archeological evidence as well. So keep that in mind as we think about the house that she had that was against the wall.

Now, in Verse 9, we come to a key. I think a vital key in the story of Rahab and becoming a friend of God. Notice:

V.9 “And she said unto the men,”   So here she’s talking to those spies and she says, “I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.”

Now how would she know that? The Israelites are just coming into the land. They haven’t already conquered. How would she know these different things? Well, we’ll begin to find out here.

V.10 “For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.”

Joshua 2:11 Joshua 2:11And 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.
American King James Version×
“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.”

How would Rahab know these things? Well because travelers; people would travel. She was a harlot. She seemed to have her own house and with that people would have been coming and going. And what about those stories? What about the newscasts, we might say, of the day? They didn’t have television. They didn’t have “Twitter” or “FaceBook” or “Spotify” or “Instagram” or anything like that. They had word of mouth. So here we are forty years after the Red Sea crossing and she’s talking about it. This was big news. It was big news that the God of the Israelites had dried up the Sea and all the way in Jericho they heard about it. They knew about it and their reaction was they were “shaking in their boots.” These millions of people show up right across the river. And then they’re coming into the land. What are we going to do? So what happens? It says, “their hearts melted.” There was no courage. But Rahab is an interesting person. It wasn’t just that she was afraid. It wasn’t just that her heart melted. It wasn’t just that this was terrible news and our doom is at hand. Notice what she says. End of Verse 11 , she says”

V.11 “for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”

So here Rahab makes a vital statement. She makes a statement that God is God. Your God, what does she say? “He is the LORD…” And she came to a vital turning point in her life. And I think it’s, at least in her life, the first step in becoming a friend of God. Did she believe the reports? She didn’t doubt them, did she? She believed them. And so, as you think about Rahab’s first step in this journey to become a friend of God, she believed it and she said, “The LORD your God is God.” And so she began to revere God. She began to trust God. She began to take the Israelites God as her own God. And she took that first vital step in belief. She believed. She understood, by the stories that were told, that God has dominion over the sea; that He has control over the earth. She understood God’s sovereignty. She began to trust and respect and honor the God of the Israelites. Not just as their God but as her God and that is an amazing step that this harlot, Rahab, begins to come to a comprehension of. In fact this is the same lesson that God was trying to teach Pharaoh; that God is God. But Pharaoh said, “No. I don’t want any of that nonsense,” right? Same lesson later on that God was trying to teach Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon; that God is God. And yet, here is Rahab, who does begin to hold God in awe and respect. She understood His awesome power and it wasn’t just that she began to take it to heart because what we’re shown here – she believed it. How do we know that she believed it? She hid the spies. She took their side. She could have easily given them up. I mean her life is on the line here. She was inspired, I believe, by God to realize that these spies were men of God; that, in a sense, God Himself, was sending these spies into the land. And if God, Himself, was sending these spies into the land, they are not just any old spies. These guys are representatives of the true God. They’re representative of the God of power and control; the Creator God who rules the universe. And if she was going to be a friend of God that meant she had to trust Him. She had to revere Him. So, to side with these men meant she was putting herself on God’s side. It had to be kind of a fearful thing and yet, maybe her name, Rahab, with that underlying meaning of, maybe, fierceness, kind of comes to the forefront a little bit because she doesn’t seem to demonstrate much fear. It doesn’t look like she is shaking in her boots when she says, “Oh no, they went that a way.” (When really I’ve got them upstairs), which I think is an amazing thing that that fear that she could have had was converted to a trust in God. That she respected and honored and held God in awe because we are told that God has a hard time working with fearful people. Because He tells us in Revelation that the cowardly, the unbelieving, those that…, and He goes down a whole list of various other things. They’re not going to be in the Kingdom. They’ll have their part in the Lake of Fire. So here’s Rahab with a fierce dedication and reverence for God to begin that journey of becoming God’s true friend.

Revelation 21:8 Revelation 21:8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
American King James Version×
“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

One of the things I think is so remarkable about her story is that, you know, did she, I mean are we told in this account that she saw this pillar of fire that led the Israelites? No. Are we told that there was this cloud that she recognized and she could see that the Eternal God was with His people? We don’t see any of that. What we find in her account is that she heard about it. She heard about these things and she was absolutely convinced and convicted that God is God. She didn’t have to see it with her own eyes, did she? And that reminds me of a passage over in the Book of John; John Chapter 20, Verse 29 . Remember what Christ said to Thomas after the crucifixion when He showed Thomas His hands and His side? He told Thomas, “You believe because you see; because you’ve seen Me.” But then He goes on and says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.”

John 20:29 John 20:29Jesus said to him, Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
American King James Version×
“Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

That’s us. You see we have a connection to Rahab because we haven’t seen the Christ. He hasn’t miraculously appeared to us, you know, and come before us and shown us His hands and His side and yet we’re kind of like Rahab in that sense, aren’t we? We’ve heard of His awesome nature. We know of His dominion. We see it around us even though, physically speaking, you know we haven’t seen. It’s just like Rahab in that sense. So we find Rahab.

It wasn’t just that fact that well, God exists. Because maybe that’s maybe a beginning level of belief; a beginning level of reverence and trust and awe of God. For Rahab it was a lot more than just that because we see here she believed what He revealed. She believed that God is God and not just that He is God but she believed what He says. And that takes it to a whole other level. I think it’s still a majority of Americans believe in God. But the problem with most of us is we don’t believe God. We believe in Him but what He says and what He’s going to do; and what the Bible talks about, “Ah, I don’t know about that. I got my own version of what I believe.” Wait a second! Here Rahab not only believes in God but she believes God. She believes these spies; she believes His plan. She knows these people have been promised this land. She understands that and so that’s something that, I think, is important for us as we become closer friends with God, is that we don’t just believe in Him but we believe Him. We know His word and we know and trust His word because God is supreme. God has dominion. God has all power and control and He is the Ruler and Creator of the universe. And so Rahab began to understand that. And, in fact, as we look at the different scenarios that she had heard about and learned about, maybe that’s a good lesson for us. If we’re going to become a friend of God, can we gain a deeper respect and a deeper awe for God?

If we look at the different acts throughout history that God has done. I mean she cited a couple of those things right here: the Red Sea. She heard about the Red Sea. She had gotten the news reports and understood how awesome God was because of that event; because of the Amorite Kings that were utterly destroyed. She gained a deeper insight into who God was. Can we read this Book and look at God’s great acts throughout time and gain a deeper level of awe and respect that draws us that much closer to God? That heightens our friendship with Him? That gives us a deeper understanding of God? I think we can. And I think Rahab is a great example of that very thing; that she set that example for us and that we can see how awesome God is and develop a closer, deeper relationship with God by learning to revere Him and to trust Him and learning about His great acts of amazing intervention within man’s rule. So, I think that’s a wonderful way to start becoming a better friend of God.

Let’s go back, then to the Book of Joshua. Go back to, let’s see, where did we leave off? Verse 12.

Joshua 2:12 Joshua 2:12Now therefore, I pray you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have showed you kindness, that you will also show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token:
American King James Version×
“Now therefore, I pray you,” so here’s Rahab talking to the spies once again, “swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token:”

V.13 “And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.”

V.14 “And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the LORD hath given us the land that we will deal kindly and truly with thee.”

So, amazing request from Rahab. She’s not just concerned about herself. It goes even deeper and, in fact, as we begin to look at what she did and then stepping out in trust, maybe, a different way to say it, stepping out in faith, she makes a request for her own life and for her family’s life. Now how could she do that? How could she do that and maybe have that boldness to be able to make that request of God because she knows that’s who she’s talking to. The men are kind of intermediaries, right? She knows they’re acting on God’s behalf. “Can I make a request? Will God grant this request?” How could she do that? Well, I think because what her actions have been. We know as she learned of who God really was; as she came to revere Him and trust Him, she did something about it. And I think that is such an amazing quality because we may know people ourselves who understand some of God’s greatness; who understand some of God’s plan; but when it comes right down to living that way; when it comes right down to making the choices that demonstrate that God is their God, it’s, “Well, no, I don’t really want to do that.”   So they back off. But Rahab didn’t do that.

The way I think of it is that she answered the call. She understood that it wasn’t just understanding that God is God, but she had to do something about it. She had a special calling, you might say, from God. A special calling to protect those spies; to help in overthrowing the city of Jericho. She was the only one, wasn’t she? Of course she gets her family in on the deal which was pretty nice but she was willing to sacrifice her city. You know, imagine, this is probably where she grew up. This is probably, maybe, the only thing that she has ever known. But she’s willing to sacrifice everything she ever had known; everything she ever was; and basically commit an act of treason for this God that she had never seen. But she wanted to be different. She didn’t want a part of that world anymore. She didn’t want to be identified with that Amorite City. She didn’t want a part of this Paganism that she grew up in. She wanted to be a part of the people of God and so she answered the call. She demonstrated the courage and she demonstrated the determination to help and to serve and to answer that call to put her own neck on the line. That’s what she was doing because hiding those spies could be punished by death. You know, if the king of that city would have found out, yea, it would have been all over for her.  But instead she answered the call and laid her own life on the line and certainly if we’re going to be a true friend of God, don’t we have to do that very thing? Don’t we have to come out of this society that we live in? Don’t we have to forsake everything that, perhaps, we grew up with? Or even if we grew up in the church, don’t we have to forsake our own ways; our own thoughts? Absolutely we do. We have to commit our life to God and be willing to put it all on the line because that’s what she did. She heard about God. God became her God and she answered that call. She put that trust and reverence into action and I think we have to do that very same thing. If we’re going to be God’s friend, we’ve got to answer that call. Part of that call wasn’t just a selfish thing. Part of that call was a matter of helping others; her concern for others; the concern that she had for her family. Evidently they didn’t live in the same house that she did and yet she was concerned for them. So it wasn’t just, “Well, it’s all about me and spare my life and watch out for me.” But she thought of others, you know, in that time of crisis as well. And so she was really demonstrating a love to God and a love to neighbor; to literally her own family. But isn’t that the basics of the commandments? Loving God; loving your neighbor. So she certainly learned to be God’s friend by answering that call.

Let’s go back to Joshua for a moment, then.

V.15 “Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall.”

Her house was on the city wall like we talked about in that terrible drawing of the city wall that I drew.

V.16 “And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and afterward may ye go your way.”

V.17 “And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear.”

V.18 “Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee.”

V.19 “And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him.”

V.20 “And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear.”

V.21 “And she said, According unto your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window.”

A couple of interesting things going on. Let’s think about that as we read the next couple of verses. Continue on with the story.

V.22 “And they went, and came unto the mountain, and abode there three days, until the pursuers were returned: and the pursuers sought them throughout all the way, but found them not.”

V.23 “So the two men returned, and descended from the mountain, and passed over, and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all things that befell them:”

V.24 “And they said unto Joshua, Truly the LORD hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us.”

And so as we look at this story of Rahab the spies, you know, give her three conditions. Alright, here’s what’s got to happen if you’re going to be saved. The scarlet cord, that rope, that red rope, has to be hung from the window. What was that rope just used for? It was just used for the other guys to get down and escape, right? That seems to be that same red, scarlet cord. Secondly, the whole family, if her family was to be saved, where did they need to be? They needed to be in her house. And the third thing, be quiet. It’s a secret, right? Don’t tell anybody. You got to keep the whole arrangement secret. So if she didn’t do any of those things then the deal was off.

Also interesting, how long were those spies out in the wilderness? Three days which probably goes along with three nights, right? It’s also interesting that this flax was up on her roof; that linen type of product was made from that flax. Perhaps she actually had another business of making this cord or this rope of flax and dying it. That could have been part of it. But it is interesting, the color. It’s red. And it begins to direct our attention to when this happened. At what time of the year was this whole scenario occurring? It was the time of the Passover. It was the spring Holy day season. It was the Days of Unleavened Bread. 40 years earlier, what had happened? Well, the whole town was fearful because of the Red Sea and how God parted the Red Sea. That was just exactly 40 years before this. And so can you imagine the significance that would have been on people’s minds? No wonder they’re faint hearted. Is God going to do this? Is this the time? And, of course, Rahab shown where is her salvation? How is she going to be saved out of a city that is going to be destroyed? It’s through the scarlet. It’s through that red rope. That scarlet cord. Rahab obviously believed in God. She trusted Him. She revered Him. She knew that He would triumph. In fact, it seems by what is written here that she left that cord. It’s not like she took it out and then, just before the last time people were going to march out of the city, she tied it back on her window. She trusted God. She wasn’t ashamed. She let that cord hang there. She wasn’t afraid. She wasn’t deterred. She wasn’t going to be anything less than whole heartedly obeying God and following that command that the spies had given her because she understood there was safety; there was salvation in that symbolism of what that cord was.

I mean, here we are during the Days of Unleavened just coming through the time of the Passover where Christ would have been sacrificed. What happened in the Exodus? Was there a time when they had to stay in their houses in order to receive protection? Absolutely. They were covered by scarlet, weren’t they? It was lamb’s blood that was put over the door posts and that blood was what identified them. In a way Rahab saw her identity in that scarlet cord just the same as the people were saved by the lamb’s blood on the doorpost at the Exodus Passover. God saw that blood and passed over just like Jericho, that cord, that red cord, would also be her salvation. So she acted upon that faith, that trust in God and that very cord that saved the spies was also going to save her. I think that brings us to a final thought, at least in this story of Rahab and you could probably come up with lots of other concepts of how to be God’s friend but boy does this jump out at me as I think about her story.

We see a third aspect of being a friend of God and that is faith in action. You see it’s not enough just to revere God or not enough just to trust God. What do you do about it? If we’re going to be God’s friend, we have to do something about it. There has to be action. Faith in action. That’s what’s got to happen in our lives as well so we can look at this example of Rahab and understand that. In fact, if you hold your place here, go over to Hebrews, Chapter 11 . We have the “Faith Chapter” and all of these wonderful heroes of the Bible. In fact if you were to read through this whole chapter, which we don’t have time to do tonight, guess how many women are mentioned in the Faith Chapter ? Two. There’s just two. Guess who they are? One is Sarah and one is Rahab. Boy, you talk about extremes. You talk about extremes in experience. Here we have Sarah who was blessed as being Abraham’s wife; the “Father of the Faithful” and on the other hand, the harlot, the prostitute, Rahab. Well, down in Verse 31 , it says:

Hebrews 11:31 Hebrews 11:31By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
American King James Version×
“By faith the harlot Rahab…” it says, “perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.”

It was faith. Yes she believed; that’s a similar concept. Belief and faith goes along with obedience. To trust and revere in God means you better answer that call and then, when you answer that call, you have to obey and put that faith into action. So here she is putting that faith into action. I am always amazed that is says, “in peace”, because everybody else is ‘shaking in their boots’ and their heart is faint because of the Israelites that are going to conquer the land and yet here she is at peace. She’s at peace with God. In fact over just a few pages – look over at James, Chapter 2, Verse 25 . Here’s the second example of where Rahab’s mentioned in the New Testament and still referred to as a harlot. Remember we had the example of Sarah and then Rahab in Hebrews. Well here we have Abraham first mentioned back in Verse 23 .

James 2:23 James 2:23And the scripture was fulfilled which said, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
American King James Version×
“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.”

Then Verse 24 :

V.24 “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

And what was Abraham called? End of V. 23 he was called the ‘Friend of God’ .

Verse 25 starts:

V.25 “Likewise…,” so if Abraham’s a friend of God, “also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?”

Once again a reference, not to just her belief; not to just her trust in Go; but her actions. And of course, what does James say over and over again throughout this chapter? “Faith without works is dead…”

James 2:17 James 2:17Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone.
American King James Version×
“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”

Trust, reverence in God, without action; without doing something; without works, its dead. And so he says that at the very end of the chapter, faith without works is dead” also.

So we have that example of Rahab exhibiting a faith that works. It’s a faith in action and so it reminds us we have to act on our beliefs. She walked by faith not by sight because she had never seen it. But that’s how she lived. That’s how she acted. That’s what ruled the things that she did; the works that she accomplished. So, isn’t that supposed to be our natural response? Natural response to her faith was to act upon that faith and what did she do? Well the only way that she could possibly be mentioned in the Faith Chapter; the only way that she could enter, what would you call it, “The Faith Hall of Fame”? Is if she changed. She changed her entire life. She came out of that lifestyle of harlotry. She came out of that pagan culture and she became a part of the people of God. She understood that friendship with God requires action and obedience. And you know that costs something. For God to be a friend with us, it cost God something, too, didn’t it? It cost the Father the life of His Son. It costs us our life as well. So Rahab understood that. She came to understand that in order to be God’s friend she had to put her faith into action.

Now we can’t talk about the story of Rahab, maybe, without coming to some kind of conclusion in the whole matter so let’s turn over a couple of pages to Joshua, Chapter 6 . In this chapter we will see the example of what happens to that city. What’s the ultimate conclusion of the matter when it comes to the city of Jericho?

Well we know that they marched around the city and blew trumpets every day. And it seems most likely during the Days of Unleavened Bread. And on that last Day of Unleavened Bread, the seventh day, they began to march a little differently. They marched around seven times. Let’s see that down in Verse 15 .

Joshua 6:15 Joshua 6:15And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times.
American King James Version×
“And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times.”

Why? Because that’s what God told them to do.

V.16 “And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.”

So they marched and marched, seven times around. We find connections not only to the last Day of Unleavened Bread but also some other significant sevens especially significant sevens in prophecy. There’s going to come a time when there’s going to be seven marches around the city, you might say, on this earth, where it won’t be just one city like Jericho but it will be the entire earth where seven plagues; seven bowls are going to be poured out. Like the people marching around this city seven times, Revelation 16:7 Revelation 16:7And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are your judgments.
American King James Version×
, talks about that very time. We have connections there; we know there’s coming a time that there will be an awesome shout and that will signify the end of this society just like it was the end of Jericho. 1 Thessalonians 4:16 1 Thessalonians 4:16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
American King James Version×
talks about that shout; when Christ returns and the cities of this world; the kingdoms of this world become His kingdoms; the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. That’s going to happen and this harkens to that very time, that it will be God’s Kingdom, no longer man’s kingdom.

Revelation 16:7 Revelation 16:7And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are your judgments.
American King James Version×
“And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.”

1 Thessalonians 4:16 1 Thessalonians 4:16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
American King James Version×
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:”

And Rahab, maybe by this time, began to understand a little about that; at least began to take those very first steps. And of course, down in Verse 17 , it says:

Joshua 6:17 Joshua 6:17And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.
American King James Version×
“And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.”

V.18 “And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.”

You can’t take anything of this world into the Kingdom of God. It doesn’t work that way. It’s a whole, new thing that God’s going to do.

V.19 “But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.”

So what happened?

V.20 “So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat,” it literally means, ‘fell under itself’, just totally collapsed, “so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.”

V.21 “And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.”

God had told them this city is Haram. It is to be totally destroyed and dedicated to God; devoted to God by destruction. And certainly that points to our lives as well. We have to destroy our old life; our own way of thinking; our own thoughts, and devote ourselves to God. So that’s exactly what was happening with Rahab. Her old self; her old line of work; her harlotry was put away and she had to become devoted, dedicated to God. And of course that last Day of Unleavened Bread, when this most likely happened, seems to be the same time that they crossed the Red Sea. What happened to Pharaoh’s armies 40 years before? Utterly destroyed. What happened to society at Rahab’s day? Utterly destroyed.

What an amazing connection, symbolism for us and victory. We have the victory over sin; over this world. So just like Egypt; just like Sodom; just like Jericho, here, God is going to bring this society to an end and He’s bringing sin to an end in our lives as we do these very things. So, as we see this, Rahab is saved. In fact, look at Verse 22 .

V.22 “But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot’s house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her.”

V.23 “And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel.”

V.24 “And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.”

V.25 “And 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; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.”

Because she put her faith in action.

Rahab was brought out of that cursed city and she was brought out, in a sense from her sins that were scarlet. Her sins like scarlet and yet here we have an amazing illustration of God’s mercy and God’s love and His grace because in so many ways it’s not too much unlike God’s church today that He’s called His people out of a sinful world. Out of a cursed society and shown us His love and His mercy as He’s brought us out of a godless world; out of a pagan world.

So as we think about this example I think we can also consider the blessings that Rahab received as well. In becoming God’s friend, it meant even more than just being a friend because, ultimately, Rahab becomes a part of the royal genealogy of Jesus Christ. It seems that, very likely anyway, she married one of these spies. Seems likely one of these spies, we found out in some of the other accounts, is Salmon. She became wife of Salmon who was a very prominent member of the Tribe of Judah. Very possibly one of the two spies that she sheltered and in marrying him, obviously a prominent member of Judah, had to have had a changed life; had to have a change of heart; a change of perspective to become a full-fledged member, eventually, of Israel. Not only that but became mother, it seems of Boaz, who marries Ruth, who has a son, Obed, who has a son, Jesse, who has a son, David, who is in the line of Jesus Christ. So talk about a great connection. She becomes the great-grandmother of King David. She becomes a part of the family of Jesus Christ.

Well as we become friends of God are we no less than family members? Are we a part of the family of God? Absolutely. We, not just physical family members, like she is in that physical line, but, ultimately, we are spiritual members of God’s family and that family’s going to continue on forever. What an awesome blessing that is.

And so I think we can take heart in the story of Rahab. Here is a pagan, Amorite, former prostitute, who came to understand God; who answered that call and came to a total change of life. Think there is hope for us? There is. The story of Rahab certainly tells us we too can become a friend of God. And it starts by revering Him and trusting Him and honoring Him. Answering that call. Not just a one-time call, but we’ve got to continue to answer that bell every time. We’ve got to continue to grow and to change and continue to submit ourselves to God’s Holy Spirit and, as we do that, we can’t help but put that faith and that trust into action. And as we do that I don’t think there’s any doubt that God considers us His friend.