† SECOND WEDNESDAY IN ADVENT †
1The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king.
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
For each of you the peace and joy which come only through faith in our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus, the one who was who is and who was yet to come.
The text for tonight is from Joshua chapter 2 and Joshua chapter 6.
Tonight we talk about Rahab. According to the Bible, she was a prostitute, a foreigner, and therefore not one of God's chosen people. And yet, according to God's Word, an Old Testament Saint commended by God for her faith.
I want to tell you this account in scripture has all the makings of a blockbuster movie; an angel, a powerful general, the fearful king, spies, people chasing spies, spies hidden by an unexpected female ally, spies escaping down a city wall in the dead of night, a city under siege, a strange battle tactic, the walls of city collapsing, and a total route by the good guys, and then a woman of ill repute treated as a heroine who ends up marrying one of the spies that she saved and she becomes the mother of the son who is in the line leading to both King David and to our Savior Christ Jesus. Indeed all the makings of a blockbuster movie but of course Hollywood would get the point completely wrong.
The saga begins in Joshua 2, after Moses death, Joshua becomes the leader of Israel, the wandering nation is camped by the Jordan River, the next enemy, Jericho, a heavily fortified city which stands between Israel and the goal of possessing the promised land. As any good general would, Joshua sent two men secretly as spies to go and see what they were up against with regard to Jericho. So the spies entered, what the Bible says was the Wicked City, and looked for a place to stay. They found the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab. Evidently, as part of her business, she also ran an inn. Unfortunately, it seems that the spies cover was blown because the king of Jericho was told men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land, and so the plot thickens.
King sends soldiers to Rahab's inn, they order her to send out the Israelite spies, and now Rahab begins a dangerous course of deception. Which, could lead her to execution as a traitor. She tells the soldiers the spies had been but they left. The fact is, for a reason we're not yet told, Rahab decided to hide the spies. She took them to the roof of her inn and she hid them under some stalks of flax plants that she had laid out there on the roof for drying. But Rahab told the kings soldiers they'd better hurry if they wanted to catch the spies, and so taking her advice they raced off to the place at the Jordan where they would have to cross, and of course, the soldiers didn't find them.
Meanwhile, Rahab went to the roof and spoke to the spies. It turns out to be a confession of faith in the God of Israel. She begins, fear of Israel has fallen on our land, people are already starting to flee, we've heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you, when you came out of Egypt, we heard what you did to the two kings of the amorites who were just beyond our border, how you totally destroyed them; I know that the Lord has given our land into your hands. And that the key words, the Lord your God, He is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.
After Rahab's confession of faith she pleads, please swear to me by the Lord that as I have dealt kindly with you, you will also deal kindly with my father's house. Promise you'll spare the lives of my parents and my brothers and sisters, do not let them be killed when you take our city. The one spy named Salmon and his partner swear, if you do not betray us when the Lord gives us the land we will deal with you kindly and faithfully. On the spies promise, and so that the spies would not be seen leaving the city, Rahab, that night, let them down by a rope through a window of her house which was built into the city wall. She advised them to go into the hills and stay there for about three days, and by then the army would have given up and they could safely ford the river and return to their people.
Salmon and his fellow spy reassured Rahab of their appreciation for her help and that indeed they would honor their promise. They set up a special signal, Rahab would hang a scarlet cord in the same window from which she lowered them and then she was to bring her entire family to her house and to wait there for rescue, and Rehab agreed. After three days when the searchers had given up and Salmon and his fellow spy crossed the river, they reported what they had found to Joshua.
Now we skip forward to Joshua 6 and the battle which would lead to sacking Jericho. As you remember, the city of Jericho was in an absolute panic. They knew about the parting of the Red Sea, they had seen what had happened to any army that attempted to resist Israel. So the king of Jericho decided that the only good strategy was to lock themselves inside their own city walls and hope that Israel would get tired of the siege and that they would simply move on and spare their city.
At the end of Joshua 5, we’re told that Joshua met with the Lord’s angel who told him that he was with Israel and that he would be there to fight against her enemies. So Joshua announces the plan for taking Jericho. It must have sounded ridiculous to those who heard it, yet the people had learned not to question Joshua, God's chosen leader. He now commanded the people, seven priests who were to continually blow the seven trumpets of rams horns, the army which was to walk ahead of the priests, and that the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, which was to follow, to march around the city. Joshua commanded that as they marched they were to make absolutely no sound until the day that he would tell them, basically, that they were to holler their guts out.
So the whole Assembly of Israel fell silent save the blaring of the trumpets of horns as they walked around the city of Jericho, and then camped for the night. You can probably imagine the response from the city, bewilderment by the tactic that probably led to cat calling and rock throwing from the walls, and yet early the next morning the whole company of Israel silently, save for the blaring of the trumpets, followed the same route. In fact, they did that for six days in a row.
But then came the seventh day, they rose early and marched around the city, but this time Joshua told them to continue circling, not once but seven times. And when the seven priests, with their blaring trumpets and all the people and the ark of the Covenant and the army, had finished the seventh circuit, Joshua announced, shout for the Lord has given you the city, the city and all that’s within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction, only Rahab, the prostitute, and all who are with her in her house shall live because she hid the messengers whom we sent.
So, the trumpets blared once and soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet they shouted a great shout and the wall of the city came tumbling down. Scripture says Israel devoted all of the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword. But to the two men who had spied on the land, Joshua said go into the prostitutes house and bring her out from there, the woman and all who belong to her, as you swore to her. When Rahab and her family were safe, Israel removed all the gold, the silver, the bronze, the jewelry from the city, they put it into Israel's treasury, and then they burned what was left. Rahab and her family would for the rest of their lives live safely with Israel.
And now, as those of you who remember him, Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story. What do we the people of God learn from the account of a prostitute named Rahab? We learn because she knew that the spies were sent from the true and living God, that at the risk of her own life, she must work to save them. Rahab, who sin was so obvious, so easy for us to condemn, was nevertheless used by God for good. More importantly, Rahab was graciously granted true and saving faith. So, we're reminded tonight that no one, no one is beyond forgiveness, not you, nor anyone else. For God has called us out of darkness into the marvelous light of knowing His glory. Three times you heard it tonight, the New Testament reveals how Rahab, born outside the family of God, living a life of sin, became a faithful follower of the Lord. And that faith led her to a pure life and a great honor.
Scripture says that she married Salman, one of the spies that she saved. Matthew 1 shows, by this blessed marriage she was made and ancestress of her very own Savior, Christ Jesus, our Savior. Hebrews 11, by faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. James further explains the fuller meaning, Rahab, justified by faith, lived her faith with necessary works, which always show that faith is real. James chapter 2, Rahab the prostitute was justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way.
Again, what do you learn from the sinful woman whom God used to fulfill this purpose? We learn Christ blood can cleanse the heart of anyone. Rahab was well worth saving, both for her own souls sake, and for the place that she would have in God's plan. And finally, we also learned that faith caused her to have great concern for the salvation of others. Even when there was destruction at her door she saved the spies and then made them promise to save her family. What an example, may be we all have the same passionate concern that Rahab had for her family and for other people.
Death will strike us all, we should desire and do the work, so that the atoning blood of Christ may be known to all whom we love. Tonight, blessed Rahab, Rahab who loved, but most importantly, just as you, was loved by God.
In Jesus precious name.