In the book of Joshua 2, we are introduced to a women by the name of Rahab.
Rahab lived in the city of Jericho, in fact her house was built on the outer wall that surrounded the city for protection.
From her window overlooking the wall, she would be able to see the travelers who would come to her city before they even entered the gates.
If she eyed a handsome young man about to enter the city, she could capture his attention by leaning out her window and calling down to him, if she wanted.
Rahab could not have asked for a better place to live than right here on the outer wall of her city. And the reason for that was because Rahab was a prostitute.
She was a women who would sell her body for the pleasure of men.
When men who had traveled from great distances would come to her walled city, all she would have to do to let them know that she was available, was pretty herself up, lean out her window and call down to them.
How many hearts do you think she had broken?
How many homes do you think she had destroyed?
How many families had she torn apart?
How many marriages had she ruined?
And she did it all, for the love of money
It wasn’t like she was homeless or living in the streets that forced her into this lifestyle.
It wasn’t that she had no one to help or give her encouragement and support.
The Bible tells us that her mother, father, brothers and even her sisters lived right there in the same city.
And yet she traded loot for lust
All through the Bible, wherever her name is mentioned, right next to it are the words, “The Prostitute”. Rahab, The Prostitute.
That is how she will forever be remembered
She will be forever remembered for what she once was and probably not for what she became.
You see, one day her whole life changed.
She eventually met a man who loved her more for who she was than for what she did and he happened to be a prince.
In time they married and had a child together, the child’s name was Boaz. And like all love stories, as far as we know they did live happily ever after.
But, lets back up to the beginning of the story. Back to the time, where Rahab first comes into the picture, during her days of harlotry, Joshua 2.
One night, she met two men who had come from a distant land, they come to her city to spy out the place.
These two men belonged to a larger group of people who were the grown children of former slaves.
They had just come from wandering in the desert for forty years because their fathers had refused to believe in the God that had freed them from slavery.
And while the rest of their people are waiting on the other side of the river, ready to come and conquer this land, which had been promised to them by God some 400 years earleir.
These two men, finds themselves in the company of a Lady of the night, named Rahab.
Rahab’s story really is quit unique, not simply because she was a prostitute but because she was a prostitute that expressed her belief in God more than the people who claimed to have belonged to him did.
Let’s read her story, Joshua 2
Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. "Go, look over the land, especially Jericho." So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there. The king of Jericho was told, "Look! Some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land." So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: "Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land." But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, "Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, the men left. I don’t know which way they went. But, go after them quickly. You may catch up with them still."
(But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out)
So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut. Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, "I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death." The men responded by saying, "Our lives for your lives!, If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land." So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. Now she had said to them, "Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way." The men said to her, "This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. If anyone goes outside your house into the street, his blood will be on his own head; we will not be responsible. As for anyone who is in the house with you, his blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on him. But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear." "Agreed, Let it be as you say." she replied. So she sent them away and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window. When they left, they went into the hills and stayed there three days, until the pursuers had searched all along the road and returned without finding them. Then the two men started back. They went down out of the hills, forded the river and came to Joshua son of Nun and told him everything that had happened to them. They said to Joshua, "The LORD has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us."
In Verse 8 she tells them that everyone in the city is frightened about the presence of the Israelites are across the Jordan River.
Notice, that she does not say that it was their large numbers or fierce fighting men that had instilled this fear into the hearts of her people.
She and her people are frightened, because of some events that had transpired some 40 years earlier. Specifically, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the defeat of the kings Sihon and Og.
Now, Rahab did not experience any of those events directly. She did not see them with her own eyes.
Personaly, she knows nothing about God. She has no idea of any of his teachings.
She does not know what is required of her to be forgiven of her sins for God has not revealed to her what kind of animal she is to sacrifice as a sin offering.
All She has to go by is what she has heard about this awesome God and that was enough for her to be willing to put her life on the line.
And so, she gets the two men, who have come to spy out the land, to promise her that they would spare her life and that of her family’s in exchange for keeping their presence and their plans a secret.
The men agree, But with two conditions. First, she must keep a red cord hanging out of her window on the city wall.
And secondly, she must have her father, her mother, her sisters, her brothers and all their families in her house when the conquest takes place.
If any of them were out in the open when the battle starts the deal would be off and their blood will be upon their own heads
Can you imagine the difficulty Rahab must have had in convincing her family to come and live in her home?
For all we know, they could have been fine respectable citzens of that city and to have to stay in a house that was known as a place of passion, my what would the neighbors be thinking now.
For those of you who have tried to share your faith with family and friends you know first hand how difficult that can be.
But Rahab stands as an example that it can be done, so don’t give up.
Well, the men use the red cord which is hanging out of her window to escape into the night.
Notice that they did not give her any deadline. They did not tell her when the battle would begin or even when they would return.
All they gave her was their word, And that was enough for her. And because of that, God regards Rahab as one of the great women of faith.
In fact Rahab is the only woman mentioned by name in the book of Hebrews 11 as being one of the faithful.
(Hebrews 11:31) “By faith, the prostitue Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were unbeleiving.."
Also in the book of James, her faith is compared to that of Abraham, whom the Bible calls, the father of the faithful.
James 2: 23-25: "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. IN THE SAME WAY, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?
In Hebrews 11:39, the Bible tells us that she was commended for her faith and in the passage of James which we just read he tells us that she was considered just as righteous Abraham was for two things that she did.
# 1 . . . for taking in the spies.
# 2 . . . for sending them off in a "different direction."
Now what does it mean, when it says that she “Sent them off in a different direction?”
Remember that the men of the city had come to her by order of the King of the city of Jericho with the command to give up the spies whom they knew had come into her home.
Did she tell them the truth as to their whereabouts? No! In fact she lied and sent them off in a “different direction”.
And it was for that lie and her actions that accompanied it that put her right up there with the faithfull and the righteousin Gods sight.
James says she was considered righteous for lying.
There is only one other example in the Bible where a person is commended for lying.
In Exodus chapter 1, the King of Egypt has given a command to the Hebrew midwives to kill all the newborn Hebrew male children.
But because they feared God, they did not do what the King had commanded and when he had called them into his presence to explain their actions, they lied.
And told him; Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women, thay are vigourous and give birth before the midwives arrive.” That was a lie.
And in Exodus 1: 21 we are told that because they feared God and lied, God blessed them and even gave them children of their own because of it.
Does this mean that it is OK to tell a lie, NO! Does it mean that we should never lie? NO!
Notice, some things that Rahab and the midwives have in common, when telling their lies. First, each of them were in a life or death situation.
Secondly, in each situation the ones who told the lies did so to protect the lives of others and not their own.
Thirdly, by telling these lies, each woman put themselves in greater danger than if they had simply told the truth.
In other words, in telling these lies, it did not benefit them personally in any way. In fact, it only put them in greater risk of losing everything, including their very lives.
Rahab lied, The Mid-wives lied, but, in neither one of these examples, are these lies told for the benefit of the one’s who told them nor were they told for their own protection.
If we are to conclude anything from this, it would be that the protection of human life justifies a lie, if we are willing to put our own lives on the line in order to protect the lives of others.
Perhaps a good illustration of this would be, the lies told by those hiding Jews during WW II, when the Nazis asked of their whereabouts.
And those who were hiding them lied, thus putting their own lives at greater risk than if they would have told the truth.
So, if the last lie that you told was not under these circumstances or for any of these reasons, you sinned and it was not pleasing to God.
Let us return to our story and find out what happened to those two spies after they left Rahabs house.
According to Verse 22, after they left her house, they hid in the hills for three days. Then, according to 3:1-2 after arriving back to camp, they stayed there for 3 days.
After those three days are over they Israelites cross the Jordan river on dry ground as had their fathers when they had passed through the Red Sea.
Once they cross the Jordan river they stay at least 3 more days resting and erecting a pillar of twelve stones as a memeorial for their children to remind them of what great deeds God had done for them.
Then, Joshua has all the men take upon themselves the sign of the covenant, circumcision and more time then is spent on healing.
Joshua then re-institutes the Passover and the manna from heaven, forever ceases. Then in chapter 6 the marching begins.
The entire Israelite army in full armoured array is commanded to circle the city one time around and they are to do this for six consecutive days without a whisper being said.
Each day after the Israelites have circled the entire city in complete silence, the troops turn around and go back to camp for the night.
Can you imagine Rahab’s excitement on that first day when she saw the troops marching around the city.
Surely, she must have thought that all her efforts in getting her mother, father, brothers, sisters, and their families to stay in her place of ill repute must have all made sense to them now.
But can you imagine her disappointment when all they did that day was march around the city in silence and then leave.
As she sees this happening from her city wall window, she has only two things to rely on.
# 1 . . . The promise of the spies, that they would spare her life and that of her family
#2 . . . The red cord that hung from her window which was not only a reminder of their escape, but also of their promise to return.
And keep in mind that this red cord was visible to all. It was hanging from the city wall. And it was scarlet in color.
How many times do you think people, her family asked her what it meant? How many times did she have to bite her lip in order to not tell what was about to happen?
Remember, if she told, the deal would be off
But, would they know it? NO!
She must have believed that the God of heaven above and earth below would
Can you imagine what her family members must have said to her each day after the whole Israelite would march around the city and then leave in silence.
They must have reminded her, "Rahab, you’re a prostitute. Don’t you know that Men always tell prostitutes, “That they’ll be back, but never do”
They must have just said those things to keep you from talking. They may have wives and children of their own, they’re not going to save you.”
What must have Rahab been thinking about God during her time of waiting? How did she explain His actions to her family?
While the crossing of the Jordan must have been impressive, what about the piling up of a bunch of rocks?
What about the UN-warlike actions of cutting off foreskins and lying around recovering for three days.? And what about the Passover, that must have looked like one big barbecue?
And then to see them do nothing more than march around and around and around the city without even a whimper from any of them.
The men had never even given her a deadline or a date of their return.
She had taken all the risks, she had kept up her part of the bargain, by hanging a red cord out of her window for everyone to see and question.
She had put the credibility of her family on the line by getting them to live with her. Just because she was a prostitute doesn’t mean that her father and mother, brothers and sisters were bad people.
Can you see, why God would use her as an example of faith for all those who would come after her. Her faith was greater than those who had witnessed with their own eyes, the crossing of the Red Sea.
With all they’d experienced, they still didn’t have the faith in God that a pagan woman would have some 40 years later.
Here was a woman who had risked everything to be on Gods side.
Now, here is the main point of this lesson, and I will pose it to you in the form of a question. Ready?
What tactical knowledge had the two spies come to Jericho to obtain?
Did they need to know how thick the walls were?
I don’t think so, because they didn’t even know themselves that God was intending to knock them down.
Did they go in order to determine what kind of weapons they would need, to defeat these people? I don’t think so.
None of these things were factors in conquering the city, were they?
God wasn’t going to need any of that stuff in order to bring down the walls of Jericho, was he?
I believe that those spies were sent to Jericho
for one purpose and one purpose only.
They were sent there to find Rahab and to assure her of salvation and to mark her home so that she would be protected when the fighting started.
I believe that God delayed the taking of the land for His people in order to rescue one solitary woman whom he knew had the heart to believe in Him.
And he knew that she believed in him in spite of the fact that she had never seen one single miracle of His. “The Just shall live by faith and not by Sight”
And God gave her the conviction needed to persuade others to believe in him also.
Of all the places to be on the seventh day, when the Israelite army marched around the city one last time, the most dangerous place to be was on the Wall, because that was going to come crashing down.
And yet, when the troops of Israel marched around the city six times and blew their trumpets and shouted on the seventh time around, the home of Rahab did not come crashing down.
That part of the wall remained standing. She and all who were in her house were saved.
Whats the lesson in that for us? We, too, live on the basis of promises by a Man who came to our sinful world and then left, assuring us that He’d be back.
And like the spies in Rahabs story, this man didn’t give us a specific timetable either. Why did he come? It wasn’t just to look around.
It wasn’t because he needed to know if he was going to be able to accomplish what he wanted to do. He came for you, just for you.
And if you were the only person on this planet who believed in him, he still would have come, just for you.
But He is coming back for us, all of us, because he knows that we are as sinful as any prostitute, after all, to Him, one sin is as evil as the next.
They all separate us from the Father.
Many times it must look to us like His actions aren’t very productive.
Why does He do things like pile up rocks in our lives?
Why does he not just remove the heavy burdens that we must bear?
Why does it seem as if God is just moving in circles in our lives sometimes?
Where is he? Where is His mighty hand? Does he not even notice us?
And we too, have been given the responsibility to try with all our powers to persuade our families to stay in the only safe place, which is within His kingdom.
Somehow we must convince our loved ones that His promise is worth risking everything for.
He left us with the Holy Spirit as a promise of His return.
And the scarlet cord of our lives must be the reality of the blood of Jesus Christ that streamed down the cross, it is our only hope for salvation.
But we must be brave enough to display it, talk about it, to live by it. Because, He is coming back!