Joshua 2:1-21--Oh, What Grace!
"Jerud, your neck and back muscles are
really tight. What’s got you so tense?"
Jerud rolled over and sat up. He looked
intensely out the window for a moment, as if collecting his
thoughts. Then he turned toward the beautiful woman next to
him. Before he spoke, she noticed something about the set of
his mouth and his eyes. Was that fear?
"Rahab, do you remember the stories we’ve
heard about the Israelites since we were kids?"
"I remember some. What about them?"
"Well, remember the one about how the God of
the Israelites’ brought them through the Red Sea unscathed,
but the Egyptian soldiers who were following them all
"Who could forget that story? I still get
goose bumps thinking about a god with such powers."
"After that, do you remember how their God
helped them defeat nation after nation as they headed our
"Wasn’t that right before word came to
Jericho that they suddenly stopped traveling."
"Yeah, you’ve got a good memory."
"Well, I think the reason that stands out in
my mind is because I remember my parents talking about how
scared they were. They were fearful that Jericho might be
one of the next nations on their attack list. Dad said he
had to work a lot of overtime to help fortify the walls;
then, he was put on weaponry duty just in case they did
attack Jericho. I remember, too, that he was convinced that
the Israelites’ God must have been supernaturally helping
them. He said it didn’t seem logical that a people who had
been slaves could have come out of Egypt with enough weapons
or enough fighting ability to conquer nations that were
known for their military strength. My parents still talk
about the parties that went on for days after they got word
that the Israelites had stopped moving. Have long have they
been sitting out in the desert, anyway?"
"I think it’s been about forty years. Can
you imagine? They’ve been parked for forty years in a dust
bowl with no natural water or food supply."
"But haven’t we gotten reports about food
and water being provided by their God?"
"Yeah, but that’s another thing that just
doesn’t make sense. If their God was powerful enough to feed
the Israelites for all these years, He certainly would have
been powerful enough to just lead them through the lands to
wherever they were headed. Why stop in the desert?"
"I don’t have a clue. I just know that I’ve
always been curious, and a little bit envious, about a God
who cares so much about his people. The gods in our temple
are just stone and wood covered over with gold and jewels. I
know they’re pretty, but tell me, Jerud, has one of those
gods ever spoken to you? Or, have they ever done anything
for you personally?"
"No, but you’d be better off keeping your
thoughts about our gods to yourself, Rahab. You’d be out of
the priests’ good graces if they heard you speaking so
"I know, but I’ve got to tell you, Jerud,
it’s all I can do anymore to sit through the temple rituals
and pompous worship ceremonies without screaming. It’s just
about a bunch of show and hypocrisy. It sounds like the
Israelites have a God who is real and actually cares about
his people. I’d give anything to worship a God who might
actually be able to hear me than to go through the motions
of worshipping a stupid stone."
"From the information we’ve been able to
gather on the Israelites, they do believe their God is real
and it’s reported He actually communicates with their
leader. If I remember correctly, his name is Moses."
"That’s the name I remember my dad
mentioning. So why all the questions and talk about the
Israelites? What do they have to do with your being
"They’re on the move."
"They’re on the….what?" Rahab’s intake of
breath could be heard around the room.
"The Israelites are on the move. At least we
think they are. We’ve just received scouting reports that
they’ve broken camp, and after forty years of wandering in
the desert, they’re packing up. From all appearances, it
seems that they may be resuming their travels."
"Oh, my gosh, Jerud. What does this mean?"
"I’m not real sure. I just came from a
strategy meeting with the other military officers and none
of us likes what this could mean for Jericho. We’re
definitely going to treat this as a threat. As soon as we
can determine the direction the Israelites are heading, and
if that direction is towards us, then we’ll go on high alert
and initiate early curfews and lockdowns. We believe our
walls are strong enough to ward off an attack; but like I
was saying earlier, this God of theirs is known to do some
mighty, supernatural feats, so we won’t rest until we
believe we’re safe."
"Well, no wonder you’re so tense. For our
entire lives we’ve heard the stories and the fears
associated with the Israelites, but that’s just what they
were…stories. To think after all these years of just sitting
out there in the desert, not being a threat, they might be
on the move."
The fictional conversation above is just that –
fictional. However, to understand why Rahab would make such a
life-changing, on-the-spot decision of asking two spies, whom she
doesn’t know, to save her and her family, there must have been some
belief on Rahab’s part that Jericho was in serious trouble. But why
would she assume that? After all, her home was Jericho, and it
wasn’t logical that the Israelites could be a real threat to such a
fortified city. Its walls were virtually impenetrable. For Rahab to
believe that the Israelites were the assumed victors should a battle
with Jericho ensue, it only makes sense that rumors, spy reports and
tales about the Israelites and the power of their God had been
passed along to Rahab’s generation. The Israelites had enjoyed
victory in other battles because of their God, so she had no reason
to believe their God wasn’t capable of bringing them victory against
Jericho. Even with its fortified walls, she believed she wouldn’t be
As the fictional scenario above implies, Rahab’s
occupation may have given her opportunities to interact with
political and military leaders, thus possibly making her a
confidant. Assuming this fictional account has some truth and
validity to it, there are several parallels between Rahab’s thoughts
and actions thousands of years ago to that of an unbeliever today.
Rahab began doubting and questioning her current
belief system, becoming convinced that something was missing
from the impersonal, ritualistic worship in which she was
involved, and she became dissatisfied.
Unbelievers often begin their quest for truth
when they realize something (or someone) is missing from their
lives. For a while they may feel fulfilled with their careers,
their financial status and achievements, but behind all their
success, they may begin to think "there’s got to be more than
Rahab had heard about the God of the Israelites;
and from all that she heard and knew about Him, their God had
attributes that drew her toward Him. Even before the spies
arrived at Jericho, Rahab had already come to the conclusion
that the Lord God of the Israelites was more alive and powerful
than her people’s useless and dead gods, and she found her
worship of them to be empty and vain. She noticed that God was
active and evident in the lives of His people; whereas, the gods
of Jericho were inactive, dormant and ineffective.
As unbelievers start sensing something lacking
within them, they may begin the journey of discovering what’s
missing in their lives and seek to fill it. They might start
asking questions, researching answers, and reading books, which
may even include the Bible. Recognizing something spiritually
more meaningful in another person’s life can be a catalyst for
them to seek out what that other person believes. If that other
person’s beliefs and testimony reveal that they worship a God
who is alive and personal, and He can fill the void and
emptiness, then they will want to learn more about God for
Rahab faced a crisis of belief before sending
the spies on their way. If she truly believed that the
Israelites’ God was the one true God of heaven and earth, as she
expressed to the spies in Joshua 2:11, and that she faced
certain death if she didn’t claim that truth for herself, she
had only two options. One, she could let the moment pass and not
do anything about those beliefs, which would have fatal
consequences. Or, she could trust her instincts, step out on
faith and ask the spies to save her. While I believe Rahab was
concerned for her physical life and the lives of her family
members, her compelling speech to the spies was all about the
God they served. (Read Rahab’s complete statement in Joshua
2:9-14.) More than her physical life, she wanted the opportunity
and freedom to worship a God who was not only real, but worthy
of her worship.
Once unbelievers comprehend that their current
situation will result in certain, eternal separation from God,
they have only two options. One, they can do nothing, which will
have eternal consequences. Or, they can step out on faith and
ask the Lord to save them. That, too, requires a crisis of
belief in recognizing that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the
life,” and no one can come unto the Father except through Him.
In Rahab’s case, she chose to put feet to her
faith. She confessed to the spies that she knew that her only
means of safety when the Israelites invaded Jericho was to put
her trust in their God. She decided to denounce all previous
gods, and claim the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as her own.
He was the only true source of salvation, physically and
spiritually, for herself and her family.
Likewise, an unbeliever today must denounce all
other efforts and means by which he thinks he can earn or gain
salvation for himself. It’s “not of works” so that no one can be
boastful about what he has accomplished. Salvation cannot be
gained by being a good or moral person, by giving money to
charities, or by attending church. Salvation is only through
faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, through whom God made His
provision of forgiveness and salvation for a dying world on a
cross. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
We learn in Joshua 6 that the spies did indeed save
Rahab and her entire household. And, in the genealogy Matthew shares
with us in the beginning of his book, we gain insight about her life
afterwards. Rahab evidently married an Israelite, Salmon, and bore a
son, Boaz. This is the same Boaz who became the Kinsman-Redeemer for
Naomi when she and Ruth returned to Bethlehem. The character,
integrity and compassion Boaz demonstrated in his treatment of Naomi
and Ruth reveal much about the upbringing and positive influence
this former Gentile and immoral woman, turned believer, had on her
Living with a proselyte mother and observing her
faith as he grew up may possibly have been the reason he was so
willing to open his heart to another Gentile woman, Ruth. We know
that Ruth had already declared to Naomi that her mother-in-law’s God
would be her God, so Boaz knew through his mother’s example that it
was possible for a Gentile woman to genuinely embrace and personally
come to know the God of his people. I imagine that Rahab took her
new daughter-in-law under her wing and mentored her, along with
Naomi, about the wonderful God they served.
Lastly, in Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25, Rahab’s
faith is once again authenticated. What an honor that she is
mentioned in Hebrews 11, often referred to as the “Hall of
Faith.” These scriptures confirm that Rahab’s faith produced
fruit, or works, by protecting the spies. Be careful to
recognize that the works didn’t come first, and they had nothing
to do with her faith. Her faith came first, which resulted in
her works of caring for the spies.
This is still true for believers today. Our
salvation cannot be worked for or earned; however, our faith, if
genuine, is to produce works.
Rahab’s faith is not only memorable, but it resulted
in one of the greatest demonstrations of God’s grace in the
Scriptures. We know she was the mother of Boaz, who became father to
Obed, grandfather to Jesse, and great grandfather to David. This
makes Rahab the great, great grandmother of the greatest king of
Israel. But even more significant than that, Matthew’s genealogy
also reveals that Rahab, an idol-worshiping, heathen harlot is
granted the privilege of being an ancestor and a participant in the
blood line through which the King of kings and Lord of lords would
come. Oh, what grace! And, that, my friend, deserves an "Amen" and
See Also: Joshua 6:17, 22-25; Matthew 1:5;
Hebrews 11:31; James 2:5