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Legends and Lessons

The Bible Reading Club: Legends and Lessons – Hooker with a heart of God (Joshua 2:3-6)

Today’s Reading: Joshua 1-5

Today’s Reflection: Joshua 2:3-6

3) Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” 4) But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5) And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” 6) But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof.

Subject: Rahab

Background:  There is much we can surmise from the brief introduction to Rahab we receive at the beginning of Joshua 2.  We know she was likely an idol worshiper as her people were.  And we know she was a prostitute.  So it’s interesting that the two Israelite spies end up there.  There is much speculation about how that happened, but it is my strong belief that God led them to Rahab’s house.  For He knew what the Israelites were about to discover.  This woman who externally would appear to be the exact opposite of a follower of God had uncommon and remarkable faith in the God of Israel.

In verses 9 to 13 Rahab makes this confession of faith, and it’s truly amazing for two reasons.  First of all it’s based on the stories of the exodus of Egypt which took place nearly 40 years earlier and have clearly become the stuff of legend among the peoples of Canaan.  Secondly, though the people know Israel poses a threat, Rahab appears to be in the minority willing to pledge her allegiance to Israel’s God, even though it means turning her back on her own people.  This reminds us that many who hear the Word of God may know it is true, but few have the courage to trust and follow it.

Amazing Grace:  What happens to Rahab afterwards is fascinating.  After the fall of Jericho she becomes part of the assembly of Israel.  She marries an Israelite and ends up being the great-grandmother of King David and part of the lineage of Jesus Christ.  She is sited in the two most significant New Testament passages on faith—Hebrews 11 and James 2—alongside patriarchs and prophets like Abraham and Moses.  By God’s grace Rahab is elevated from being an outcast to a station in an established family in Israel.

All of this for the faithful act of helping Israel…  By lying.

She breaks one of God’s commandments in her act of astonishing devotion.  Clearly she didn’t know God’s Word, and this is completely understandable.  In her cultural context she would never have been exposed to Torah or Jewish law.  Yet her lack of understanding didn’t bar her from being used for God’s service.  Her willingness and faith were enough to take a step towards God.  His grace did the rest.

Lesson:  Think about the prostitutes you’ve seen, whether depictions in popular culture or in real life.  These are people ‘good church folk’ typically have nothing to do with or consider unclean.  It was no different in Rahab’s day.  Yet she displays amazing character and faith towards a God she scarcely knew.  The fact that Rahab knew the God of Israel was real was enough for her to pledge devotion to Him.

Where someone begins doesn’t matter.  What matters is what a person does with the light and truth they receive from God.  There isn’t anyone far enough from the ways of God to be used by Him.  Where and when anyone chooses to follow God’s Word, the transformation to becoming a hero of faith begins.  And if they continue faithfully along that journey it will end where Rahab’s story ends—becoming a part of God’s story and a citizen of His eternal kingdom.

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