RAHAB: The Faithful One

Sunday, December 14, 2008 |

RAHAB: The Faithful One
Faith in God Alone

Opening Illustration:
Ashley’s true faith in Santa Clause as opposed to my lack of faith.
Ashley had absolute faith in Santa Clause.

We’ve been studying this advent season the women named in the genealogy of Christ found in Matthew.

We learn from the genealogy in Matthew 1:5 that Rahab the harlot was the great-great-many times great-grandmother of Jesus.

1A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:
5Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,

Where we are at in history:
As we learned last week Israel’s early history was in big time jeopardy because the Patriarchal son Judah was slipping further and further into Canaanite culture and beliefs. That was until Tamar, the only righteous one of the bunch stepped in and saved the messianic line and helped turn Judah’s life around.

The next we see Judah in Egypt with all the brothers and Joseph a changed man. Egypt goes through a great famine and because of Joseph the people are saved and the Jew’s are blessed. They grow strong during this time of favor in Egypt, so strong that the Pharos’s become afraid and enslave them. Then comes Moses to lead them out of Egypt, headed for the Promised Land. Because of Moses’ sin he cannot lead them to the final stage of the land so in steps Joshua who takes over leadership. Before they enter the land, the Jewish people send an envoy to the Canaanites with the message, "God, the Creator of the Universe has promised this land to our forefathers. We are now here to claim our inheritance, and we ask you to leave peacefully." Needless to say most of the Canaanites don’t leave (only one tribe takes them up on their offer and leaves.)

Meanwhile, Joshua has clear instructions from God that if the Canaanites don't get out, the Jews must wipe them out, because if they remain in the land they are going to corrupt the Jews. It is made clear that the Canaanites are extremely immoral and idolatrous people and the Jews cannot live with them as neighbors.

This is where we pick up our story, the taking of the Promised Land. The Promised Land is ruled by 7 Canaanite tribes with 31 fortified cities. The first stage of 7 years of conquering the Canaanites was going to be the conquering of Jericho. Jericho was the first of these fortified cities to be targeted by Israel. This would split the Canaanites in two because it sat right in the middle and this would cut off supply lines and communication lines.

So Joshua first sends out a couple of spies to Jericho to scoop out the land.

Rahab: Joshua 2:1-24
Explain the text:

Verse 1
1 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.
First of all who was Rahab? And why did they choose her house as a place to stay? Keil and Delitzsch’s suggestions might be true, "Their entering the house of such a person would not excite so much suspicion. Moreover, the situation of her house against or upon the town wall was one which facilitated escape." Prostitutes were often involved in espionage.
But I have a hunch that it was Rahab that found the two spies. She felt something in her soul, and was led by God to invite these men to her house. I believe this was a divine appointment by God. He had chosen one person and her family in the city to be saved, and it was the harlot Rahab.
Verse 2-3
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."
This is the moment of truth for Rahab. Before this, she could have gone along and helped the spies without really making a commitment in her heart. But now she must choose sides. Will she protect these spies or will she warn her city? Something deep in her heart helped her to make this decision.
Verses 4-7
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.
She made her choice to protect these strange men from a foreign country. And in the next few verses we find out why…
Verses 8-11
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 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. 10 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. 12 Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness 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."
What a wonderful statement of faith by a woman with little knowledge of the God of Israel. God had placed this faith in her heart, and he had caused the spies to be led to her house for the purpose of saving her and her family. Notice the statement she makes in verse 11, "for the LORD your God is he who is God in heaven above and on earth beneath."
Matthew Henry comments, "Rahab the harlot, who had only heard of the wonders God had wrought, speaks with more assurance of the truth of the promise made to the fathers than all the elders of Israel had done who were eye-witnesses of those wonders, many of whom perished through unbelief of this promise. Blessed are those that have not seen, and yet have believed; so Rahab did. O woman, great is thy faith!"
Verses 14-16
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."
From verse 18 we know that Rahab let the men down with a scarlet cord. Tell the rest of the story.
The story of Rahab does not end here in the book of Joshua. We learn later that she married Salmon. Some commentators think that he might have been one of the two spies whom she saved. From Ruth 4:21 we learn that her son was Boaz who married Ruth. So she became a respectable woman.
The story of Rahab is an amazing story of faith by a despised member of society from a godless nation. In the New Testament, James gives Rahab as an example in James 2:25 of a person whose faith causes them to do good works. And in Hebrews 11:31 she is listed in this famous roster of the heroes of the faith along with Moses, Abraham, and Noah. What does this tell us about the mercy of God? He took a despised person who committed great sins and elevated her to a position of honor among the greatest in the history
Here’s the message of Rahab…
1. God desires your absolute faith.
2. God delights in your absolute faith no matter who you are.
God desires your absolute faith.
ABSOLUTE VODKA = without impurities
Often in the OT the writers will juxtapose two characters next to each other like Judah and Tamar to show one as opposed to the other. Here we have Rahab’s faith juxtaposed next to Achan’s faith and the faith of the Israelites. Rahab’s faith was without impurities/absolute…while Achan lacked the faith even though he was an eye witness to God’s miracles.
Remember, Joshua has clear instructions from God that if the Canaanites don't get out, the Jews must wipe them out, because if they remain in the land they are going to corrupt the Jews. It is made clear that the Canaanites are extremely immoral and idolatrous people and the Jews cannot live with them as neighbors.

Contrast Israel’s lack of Faith in God alone:
Achan's disobedience in Joshua 7 is an illustration of how the obedience of faith was a condition of a successful conquest. Israel was defeated at Ai because Achan disobeyed the command to destroy everything. He said, "When I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar and 200 shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, I coveted them and took them" (Joshua 7:21). In other words, Achan stopped trusting that God's way was best and most rewarding, and so his desire for the happiness he could achieve with gold and silver became stronger than his desire to follow God and obey his commandments. This attitude of covetousness so dishonored God that he refused to fight for Israel until things were rectified.
The story of the conquest is told in the book of Joshua. It can be summed up like this. Jericho falls in chapter 6. Then after a brief setback due to the disobedience of Achan, in chapter 7, Ai is captured. Then with Gilgal as the base, Joshua subdues all the southern part of Canaan in Joshua 9-10, and all the northern part in Joshua 11. In chapters 13-21, the land is parceled out to the tribes of Israel. The climax comes in Joshua 21:43 with these words:
Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the Land which he swore to give to their fathers; and having taken possession of it they settled there. And the Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their fathers; not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one of all the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.
The book of Joshua ends on a triumphant note. But there are premonitions of trouble ahead because, even though all the nations had been subdued, and Israel enjoyed rest, there were remnants of the godless nations still in Canaan, and Joshua had to warn the people before he died "Take good heed to yourselves, therefore, to love the Lord your God. For if you turn back and join the remnant of these nations left here among you, . . . know assuredly that God will not continue to drive out these nations before you" (Joshua 23:11-13).
When the book of Judges opens, we sense immediately a different atmosphere, and we brace ourselves for the worst. Joshua dies, and Judges 2:10 tells us ominously, "And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work which he had done for Israel. And the people did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals."

Rahab’s absolute Faith:
Here is this prostitute Canaanite who has never even seen me but only heard of me and she has more faith then you do.
First point: God desires your absolute faith.
What is faith? Faith is trusting that God knows best and that what He has for us is better then anything else we can come up with.

Faith in God is keeping our eyes on Him and off of the temptations of life.
Achan thought that if he could just grab a few things, which was totally normal in war, then this would give him some satisfaction. This silver would be more satisfying then the things God was offering. Achan was walking by sight and not by faith. It is hard isn’t it to walk by faith and not by sight.

We had our faith tested recently with the break in. I had to ask myself is it these things that bring me happiness or satisfaction. Especially that flat screen TV. I loved that TV. But God was sending me a little reminder to get my eyes off the temptations of this world and back on Him. Not that flat screen TV’s are bad in themselves but it’s what our heart does with that temptation.

We all have temptations in life that trip us up and keep our eyes off of God. For Achan it was the temptation of a financial windfall. The world has a lot to offer seemingly that keeps us distracted, fortune, fame, entertainment…all these things can become a Baal god that we substitute for the true God. All of our souls thirst for satisfaction. The question is what do you use to quench that thirst? Are you regularly going to the well of God and being satisfied in your soul? If not, there’s a good chance something else is out there you are turning to whether you realize it or not.

Paul put it like this…
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Faith in God is keeping our eyes on Him and off of the troubles of life…
Do you have the faith to trust God no matter what it may look like on the surface?
Jesus helping Peter walk on water gave us a perfect illustration of this. When Peter kept his eye’s on Christ he was fine, but when he took his eye’s off Christ and saw all the trouble around him he started sinking.
Faith is placing our total confidence that life with God is better then anything else. No matter what we may think or see that seems better for us out there.

Bamo returning back to a very dangerous place. He keeps his eye’s on Christ, not on the troubles of this world.

We may think that having total security in our finances is what will make us happy, we may think that perfect physical health for our entire family is what will satisfy us, we may think that our kids getting into the perfect school or the perfect class will satisfy us, but this God who is all powerful, all loving, all caring, wants us to come to the place in our lives where we truly realize and experience total faith in HIM and nothing else. He wants to strip these Baal gods out of our lives so that we come to the point where we live in such a way that our life exudes the fact that nothing else truly satisfies but YOU.

Second point: God delights in your absolute faith no matter who you are.

Rahab was everything that the Jew’s thought God wasn’t looking for on the outside. She was a woman first of all, she was an outcast of society and most likely and outcast of her own family. She was the lowest of the low, and she was a Canaanite. But what happened? She had faith in God and he used her in an incredible way and he blessed her for it. This story illustrates the point that God makes over and over throughout the Bible, including the three women we are studying during Advent, that it doesn’t matter who you are, what your past may be, what society you come from, God cares for you and he wants to use and bless you if you’ll just put your faith in HIM.

• If I were just this or that, I could really do something for Christ. I was always an extremely shy kid growing up and I always thought, there is no way God could use me because I just can’t speak. I had that Moses syndrome, and I still do in some sense. I battle with this idea that God can use me, but Rahab teaches us that no matter who you are, what your background is, what your default you may think you have (I’m not tall enough, good looking enough, elequant enough) God doesn’t care, he can use you as long as your faith is pure.

• God can do great things with the absolute faith of people like us.
We may feel small and insignificant but God delights in using people like us if we will place our absolute faith in Him.

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