Rahab – 13 May 2007 As mentioned this series is all about stories. Stories of people in the Bible and stories of people in our Church. You have heard Irené’s story and now I want to tell you the story of Rahab. It is in the book of Joshua chapter 2 (Please turn there) Joshua is one of the most dramatic, adventurous and shocking books in the Bible! It is all about God leading His people (under the leadership of Joshua, who succeeded Moses) to take possession of the land He had promised them long time ago as part of what He was doing to save people from sin. What I mean is this… In the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, there were: • • • God’s people (Adam and Eve) In God’s place (the garden) Under God’s rule (do what ever you want but don’t eat the fruit of that tree). When people rebelled against God they: • • • Stopped being His people (in the sense of a close intimate relationship) Were kicked out of that garden (paradise / land) to stay all over the place And went from bad to worse in their rebelling against God’s rule. But God promised that one day He would have His people in His place under His rule again. That became: • • • His people (Jews / Israel – their development as a people – first five books of the Bible) In the land (how that land was taken… Joshua) Under His rule which was really all the commandments that God has given to let them know how they should live as His people And actually that was all on the way to the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise and that was: • • • God’s people… Christians In God’s place… Jesus (“in Christ”) Under His rule (The Bible). But here in Joshua we are still during that part of history where God is getting His people into His geographical land on the way to Jesus! The great thing about the book of Joshua is that it shows God’s faithfulness to his promises in spite of His people’s unfaithfulness. And even when they get into the land and possess it… it doesn’t take long for the people to start going haywire again… but God remains faithful to His promise. Of course we also learn lots (in Joshua) about how to respond faithfully to the faithfulness of God – in our language… how to live as a Christian. And although Jesus had not yet come so that we could speak of the grace of God in Christ… we see the grace of God in Christ hinted in many places but particularly here in the story of Rahab… a clear example of God’s grace in saving people who do not deserve to be saved at all (none of us do) One of the ways you can divide up the book of Joshua is: 1. Entering the land – Chapters 1 – 5 2. Conquering the land – Chapters 6 – 12 3. Possessing the land – Chapters 13 – 24 And our story of Rahab the prostitute (Chap 2) is found in that first section – entering the land. Read Joshua 2 So God is about to show His faithfulness to this unfaithful people and who does He use to help His people? A prostitute! And He doesn’t only use her but pours out His grace on her, saves her! Joshua, as any good leader in battle, sends out spies to help plan his military campaign and see what emotional and spiritual state the enemy are in. Perhaps in an attempt to avoid attracting attention as foreigners, the spies whom Joshua sent enter a place where many visitors would go… the house of a common prostitute – Rahab. Rahab hid the spies and misled the king of Jericho’s scouts with lies (2 – 7). And then, like a good thriller, Rahab secretly lets the spies escape and tells them how to avoid detection by hiding in the mountains pitted with caves to the west of the city—the opposite of what might be expected by a search team (16 – 17). And while deception is not the way God says we should behave… ultimately this deception of Rahab is used by God for His purposes (but remember the context of war! 2nd WW Jews) Context determines a lot. Just to make the point, there are numbers of contexts in which deception is fine: • • • • • Hunters use traps Fishermen use lures and bait In sport, players will often try to trick their opponents by putting spin on a ball or adopting deceptive postures In chess a player deceives his opponent into taking his weaker piece in order to capture his stronger one In poker one keeps a ‘straight face’. Even in the Bible God was kind to the midwives for deceiving Pharaoh (Ex. 1:19 – 20), and “by faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born” (Heb. 11:23). In all these situations I don’t think we should accuse the people of acting according to the unethical principle of the right end justifying a wrong means. Rather, we should recognize that in such situations deception is legitimate, not wrong. In most situations, however, lies and deception are wrong (Pr. 30: 8, “Keep falsehood and lies far from me”), and truth is required (as Eph. 4:15 reminds us we must speak “the truth in love”). And we who are Christians must listen to God’s Spirit through the Bible and our conscience so as not to rationalize a normal situation. Actually, what Rahab was doing was part of her demonstration of faith. And in vs. 8 – 14 Rahab shows she is a woman of faith, unlike her countrymen who are filled with fear. While the reports of Israel’s triumphs had filled her countrymen with fear and panic, Rahab was convinced that the Lord is God and had given Israel the land (9) and that if she asks He will save her. And she does just that. Rahab’s faith led to life, while her countrymen’s unbelief led to death as we see later in Joshua. And as Rahab reports the fear of Jericho to the spies they are persuaded that the Lord had already defeated the land without a blow in anger (24). And Rahab doesn’t just give the spies information; she renounces her country in favour of Israel. In fact, she risked her life to be identified with Israel’s God. It also interesting to note that Rahab was not just concerned about herself but the salvation of her entire family. And the spies tell her (give her an oath) that God will save her and because of that these Jews accept her as one of their own (one of God’s people), and were even willing to die for her and her family. And then Rahab helps the spies (her new countrymen) escape. It is interesting (In verses 17 – 21) that in a similar way as when Israel needed the scarlet blood of the lamb on their door-frames to distinguish them from the condemned Egyptians (Ex. 12), so Rahab needed this scarlet cord that the Israelites provided to distinguish her and her family from her doomed countrymen. And of course we need the scarlet blood of Jesus to save us from the destruction that awaits all those who don’t ask Jesus to save them. The spies then go to Joshua their commander and report that God has been working already preparing these people for defeat and Rahab for victory. There are many things we can learn from this amazing story… From the book of Joshua itself we learn that... God is faithful. When He promises something He will do it. Even though it had taken 40 years of wandering in the desert and goodness know how many years back to the first time he made this promise to Abraham God would fulfill His promises. And He would fulfill it ultimately when He sent Jesus that took centuries more. And for us? • • • • He has promised to save us if we ask Him to He has promised to look after us and work all things (even the bad things) for good. He promises to look after us after death He has promised that one day He will come back to wrap up history and place His people in the new paradise and punish all those who have rejected Him And I believe He will fulfill all those promises. Another amazing thing from the Rahab story is that… God can save anyone No one is beyond redemption – no one! If God is willing to save even the prostitute Rahab, He shows that He is willing to save all who have the faith to come to Him for salvation. Good or bad, happy or sad… God will save all who come to Him recognizing that only He can save them. • • • Are you open to the truth like Rahab? Will you display the same courage (as Rahab) to make the tough decision to stand firmly on God’s side (now it means accepting Jesus as your Saviour)… even if it means facing danger? Will you be willing (like Rahab) to leave whatever and whoever to join God’s family? And the next amazing thing we learn from this passage is that… God can use anyone. He can use ordinary people like you and me. God used two ordinary, anonymous young men to spy out Jericho. God will more often than not get His greatest work done through ordinary people. He can use people thought to be at the bottom of the pile like Rahab… think of her from an OT and moral perspective: Rahab was a Canaanite, not a Jew. The Canaanites were a wicked people. A people so wicked and so evil that God used Israel as his instrument to judge them. The Canaanites were Idolaters. Rahab was a woman. Women at that time were often treated as 2nd class people. Yet God worked through this woman – Rahab. Rahab was a prostitute. She sold herself for money. And even though she had faith in God she still sold herself for money. Eventually as we see in Joshua 6 she became a part of Israel and I assume she changed to live God’s way… but God used her where she was, doing what she was doing because of her faith! You see if you are willing God will save you and fill you with a purpose, joy and peace (irrespective of the circumstances) like you will never have experienced before. When saved, if you are willing, God can use you to achieve great things for Him… just like Rahab! Look at what happens when God gets hold of a sinner (like us) and that sinner attempts great things for God. • • • Rahab got into the NT hall of fame! Hebrews 11: 31 The brother of Jesus (James) uses her as a great example of faith in action. James 2: 25. And even more radical… Joshua 6: 25 and then Matthew 1: 5. Come on! Let God save you and see what a difference it makes!