by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Joshua 2:1-24
I. Rahab has given many Bible students difficulty over the years.
A. James 2:14-26 - James tells us she was an example of a working faith when she took in the Israelite spies and sent them out secretly.
B. Notice that her action was listed as an example similar to Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac.
C. She is also listed in the heros of faith in Hebrews 11:31.
D. The problem is that Rahab was a harlot – a prostitute – who lied to hide the spies - Joshua 2:3-6
1. I have heard many explanations for the acceptance of Rahab:
2. “Lying is acceptable in certain situations.”
3. “Sometimes you have to choose between the lesser of two evils.”
4. “Sometimes you have to choose the greater of two goods.”
II. What was it that Rahab was commended for?
A. James commends her for receiving the spies (taking them in) and for sending them out a different way.
B. The Hebrew writer commends her welcoming the spies in peace
C. Notice that neither commends her lies to hide the spies. That particular event was not commendable. Just as we would not expect the Bible to commend her because she was a harlot, though it is mentioned in both accounts.
D. Consider what she did
1. She heard stories of this nation that left Egyptian captivity by crossing a great sea on dry land. This happened over 40 years ago!
2. She heard stories of how two kings had fallen and their nations destroyed trying to stop them
3. She knew that the whole city was in terror of the Israelites coming their way.
4. She was not an Israelite. She did not see these miracles. They were only stories, yet she believed in the God of the Israelites. She believed that he was the one and only God - Joshua 2:11b
5. She asked for their pledge to spare her father’s household. She believed that their promise would save her family!
6. Before she even talked to these men about sparing her family, she was willing to go against her king. When the king demanded the men, she sent the king and his men on a wild chase.
a. True, she lied, but then she grew up as a pagan and a prostitute.
b. She had heard of the God of the Israelites, but she had not had an opportunity to learn of God’s laws.
c. That does not excuse either her lies or her harlotry, but it does explain her actions.
d. What would have happened to Rahab if her house was searched and the spies were found? She risked death for her belief.
7. Think about something else, she hung a scarlet cord from her window that all could see for 18 days before the Israelites came.
8. Her extended family had to be there when the city was conquered. What would have happened if any of them told an authority before the city fell? Since she did not know when the army would come, her family had to be there for several weeks.
9. Think, too, that when the Israelites came to the city, they did nothing but march around the walls for six days. Rahab would not have known the plan. She would not know that on the seventh day the walls would fall. What if she gave up?
III. Faith has always been an expensive commitment
A. Abraham was willing to offer his only son, promised to him by God, because God asked it of him - Genesis 22:12
B. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were willing to burn rather than worship an idol - Daniel 3:17-18
C. Daniel was thrown in a den of lions because he continued to worship God despite a law to the contrary - Daniel 6:10
D. Stephen was stoned to death for telling the people their true status before God - Acts 7:51-53
IV. Would you be faithful if it meant your life?
A. Matthew 16:24-26 - Take up your cross
B. Matthew 10:32-39 - No one comes between you and your God
C. This is the idea of confession - Romans 10:8-10
D. Paul was ready to die for his faith - Acts 21:13
E. Would you hold on to your faith, even to death? - Revelation 2:10
F. Notice that none of these were secret beliefs but confidence in God that lead to action.
V. Job suffered loses almost beyond imagination. His friends accused him of secretly sinning against God. His wife urged him to curse God and die. Yet Job made this confident saying - Job 13:15a
A. Rahab had her flaws, but it was her powerful faith in a God she only heard about that saved her family from destruction - Joshua 6:17, 21-23
B. Will you show a faith like Rahab?