Rahab – “I trust you’ll keep your promise.”
ONE SMALL STEP CLIP! I want you to meet two women who each took one small step (of faith.) The first is Julie Garee. Oh does Julie have good news to share! (TESTIMONY) Julie is living proof that even addiction itself doesn’t have to hold you back from experiencing God. And neither does your past! Let’s meet woman #2 – Go to Hebrews 11:31. Do you need a Bible? Last week we dabbled in the lives of both Joshua and the Children of Israel. “God, we trust these walls will come tumbling down!” Well, today we’re staying in the book of Joshua, but Rahab enters the scene. Let’s read Hebrews 11:31. Does your Bible say what mine just said? Normally I read from the New International Version. Here are a few more: The KJV: By faith the harlot Rahab… The New American Standard: By faith Rahab the harlot… It’s not getting any better. The Message says, By an act of faith, Rahab, the Jericho harlot…Am I missing something here? How does a harlot or prostitute get this kind of ranking? She should be in the hall of shame not the hall of fame of the faithful! So why is Rahab in Hebrews 11?
She took one small step of faith! Rahab’s story is found in Joshua chapter 2. Go to the Old Testament – Joshua is now firmly established as the leader of the Israelites. God has told Joshua. “Moses is dead. It’s time to cross the Jordan River and conquer the land of Canaan. Let’s start with Jericho!” (MAP) Find Joshua 2:1. Don’t you think as a former spy, Joshua would be a little leery of sending out more spies. This time it’s stealth like operation. Joshua sends only two and it’s a secret! Shhhhh! Read again Joshua 2:1. Where can two strangers go, men no less, and no one would think any different? “Men are such pigs.” TRUE! Some men are pigs – selfish and totally indulging, but others – like these two are very noble. They go to a brothel because they are desperate and desperate people do desperate things. What’s making them desperate? Find verse 2! The king isn’t stupid and he has his look outs too! These two spies are only steps ahead of the king’s guards. If Rahab doesn’t bale them out – they are toast! Look at what she did and then what she said! Find verse 4! (Read 4-7) What did Rahab do that was so great? What put her in the company of the faithful? Go back to Hebrews 11:31: By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies… Turn three or four pages to the right and notice what James says about Rahab in James 2:25. I don’t use “always” very often, but when it comes to faith - I will. Your faith will always lead you to do something for God! To go, to stay, to serve, to give, to trust! And in Rahab’s case – to hide! She hides these two men! Don’t you see how crazy this would be? These two men come banging on her door. That’s normal. But what’s not normal is that they are asking her to protect them! Her fear could have got the best of her right then! Do you remember our Fear Poll Results? I refer to this list nearly every week. We asked the question, “Currently, what is your greatest fear?” Five main categories of fears surfaced – physical, emotional, financial, critter and spiritual. This poll revealed 49 spiritual fears! Fears like… “My children not really believing in God. My grandkids salvation. Fear of the unknown..... what I can't control...... what I've not planned for.” Rahab is totally facing the unknown here. She didn’t plan this. She has no idea of just who these two men are but she knows something’s up! How does she know this? Go back to Joshua chapter 2 and find verse 8! (Read 8-11)
Do you believe that? Apparently Rahab does. If anyone ought not believe it should be her, but she does. The truth is – no matter where you live – no matter what people teach or have taught you – “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” The question is – in faith will you call? If you want to find God – he can be found! In the most unlikeliest of places – school, work, the woods – the home of a prostitute - God can be found!
These two spies want their salvation! She wants hers too – so she makes a request! Find verse 12. (12-13) Her request is the highest of requests. Her request shouts priority! Spare my life, but not only my life but the lives of my family! What request do you need to make of God today? What request is of highest priority in your life? If you’re an addict – could it be – in faith please set me free! If you need a job – could it be – help me to do my part and trust you in the meantime. If your marriage is a little shaky – could it be – in faith please help me bless my spouse. No marriage is good if one or both spouses are selfish! If you don’t believe in God – could your request be – God please spare my life – help me to accept in faith that Jesus your son was no ordinary man! One spiritual fear really caught my eye! Someone wrote in and said, My fear is “Believing in God and trying your best but being rejected from heaven.” Now what does a person do with a fear like that? Watch this funny Post Office commercial! (Clown Video clip) That clown did look a little creepy, but most fears can’t be boxed up and shipped away! If you want to overcome any fear – even the fear of being rejected from heaven – you must follow the example of Rahab and take steps of faith! Go back to Joshua 2:14.
We will keep our promise and you must put your faith into action. Don’t tell anyone we were here. Let us slip out your window. Tie this scarlet cord around your window. And make sure everyone is in your house when we return! And in faith that’s just what she does. Let’s see what happens. Days pass by but not weeks and soon Joshua has the children of Israel marching around the walls of Jericho. Who do you think had her head poked out the window? Rahab! I wonder if she kept repeating to herself – “will they keep their promise. Will they keep their promise?” Oh yes they do and much more. Find Joshua 6:15. It’s now the 7th day – it’s “D” day – destruction for the people – deliverance for Rahab and her family. Read 15-17; 22-24 – back to verse 21! I’m so happy for Rahab, but I’m sad for everyone else. The truth is this verse bums me out! It creates a pit in my stomach and a lump in my throat. Right before you in black & white are the results of disobedience! Look again at Hebrews 11:31: By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
The word disobedient also means “unbelieving.” The truth is – everyone in Jericho had the same information. They felt the same fear. Rahab’s fear led her to cry out for mercy. The people of Jericho’s fear led them to “stubborn rebellion”[i] and it cost them their lives. These people are Amorites. Amorites worshipped multiple Gods. Rahab was named after the Egyptian God “Ra.”[ii] Amorites were cruel, perverted and grossly immoral. John MacArthur writes, “Among other things, they frequently put live babies in jars and built them into their city walls as foundation sacrifices.”[iii] Now you can be delusional and think that a person can do whatever they want to whom ever they want and get away with it. God says no! A man reaps what he sows. One of the main reasons I believe in God is because he will make all wrongs right! Plus this – he floods us with grace. Rahab is the poster child of grace. She had three strikes against her – she’s female, a prostitute and a Gentile. Because of Joshua, because of the spies, because of God she’s a former prostitute and included in the family of God!
I don’t watch allot of TV but I do like Andy Griffith on TV Land. One of my favorite episodes is called, A plaque for Mayberry! Here’s a brief description… “According to a historical society, Nathan Tibbs, the hero of the Revolutionary War's Battle of Mayberry Bridge, has a direct descendant living in Mayberry. The two historians set out to find who this person is so they can award them a plaque in honor of their forefather's bravery.” Well, truth be told Barney thinks he’s the living descendant so he goes ahead and prepares his acceptance speech. But Barney is not the last living descendant. Much to the disappointment of the Mayor and town council, that descendant is none other than town drunk Otis Campbell.[iv] Everyone is embarrassed about Otis except Andy! Speaking of embarrassing! Do you think Jesus would want to be known as the offspring of a prostitute? But that’s what he is! Jesus is thirty-one generations removed from Rahab.[v] According to Jewish tradition Rahab will become the wife of Joshua.[vi] But the Bible tells us in Matthew 1:5 that she becomes the wife of Salmon and most believe Salmon was one of the two spies who stayed at her house.[vii] She rescued him and he rescued her because God rescued them! Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is facing your fears by faith! Julie Garee did. So did Rahab. Rahab trusted that the spies would keep their promise. They did. If you trust Jesus you’ll never be rejected from heaven! Grace is that amazing! (PREACH/PROSTITUTE)
I want you to meet the Hyclak family! Here’s Matt, Rebekka and their little girl, Kesiah. Last week they took a step of faith! What one small step of faith do you need to take today?
[i] EBC, Volume 3, 264
[ii] Herbert Lockyer, All the Women of the Bible, 130
[iii] John MacArthur, MacArthur NT Commentary, Hebrews, 364
[v] Gordon S. Sparks, Working Jerome Avenue, Perspectives 8 (October 1993), 6.
[vi] EBC, Volume 12, 128
[vii] Liz Curtin Higgs, Bad Girls of the Bible Kindle Edition