Joshua 2:1-21 (The Message)
Joshua son of Nun secretly sent out from Shittim two men as spies: “Go. Look over the land. Check out Jericho.” They left and arrived at the house of a harlot named Rahab and stayed there.
The king of Jericho was told, “We’ve just learned that men arrived tonight to spy out the land. They’re from the People of Israel.”
The king of Jericho sent word to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you to stay the night in your house. They’re spies; they’ve come to spy out the whole country.”
The woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, two men did come to me, but I didn’t know where they’d come from. At dark, when the gate was about to be shut, the men left. But I have no idea where they went. Hurry up! Chase them—you can still catch them!” (She had actually taken them up on the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax that were spread out for her on the roof.) So the men set chase down the Jordan road toward the fords. As soon as they were gone, the gate was shut.
Before the spies were down for the night, the woman came up to them on the roof and said, “I know that God has given you the land. We’re all afraid. Everyone in the country feels hopeless. We heard how God dried up the waters of the Red Sea before you when you left Egypt, and what he did to the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you put under a holy curse and destroyed. We heard it and our hearts sank. We all had the wind knocked out of us. And all because of you, you and God, your God, God of the heavens above and God of the earth below.
“Now promise me by God. I showed you mercy; now show my family mercy. And give me some tangible proof, a guarantee of life for my father and mother, my brothers and sisters—everyone connected with my family. Save our souls from death!”
“Our lives for yours!” said the men. “But don’t tell anyone our business. When God turns this land over to us, we’ll do right by you in loyal mercy.”
She lowered them down out a window with a rope because her house was on the city wall to the outside. She told them, “Run for the hills so your pursuers won’t find you. Hide out for three days and give your pursuers time to return. Then get on your way.”
The men told her, “In order to keep this oath you made us swear, here is what you must do: Hang this red rope out the window through which you let us down and gather your entire family with you in your house—father, mother, brothers, and sisters. Anyone who goes out the doors of your house into the street and is killed, it’s his own fault—we aren’t responsible. But for everyone within the house we take full responsibility. If anyone lays a hand on one of them, it’s our fault. But if you tell anyone of our business here, the oath you made us swear is canceled—we’re no longer responsible.”
She said, “If that’s what you say, that’s the way it is,” and sent them off. They left and she hung the red rope out the window.
They headed for the hills and stayed there for three days until the pursuers had returned. The pursuers had looked high and low but found nothing.
The men headed back. They came down out of the hills, crossed the river, and returned to Joshua son of Nun and reported all their experiences. They told Joshua, “Yes! God has given the whole country to us. Everybody there is in a state of panic because of us.”
Joshua 6:17-25 The Message (MSG)
When the seventh day came, they got up early and marched around the city this same way but seven times—yes, this day they circled the city seven times. On the seventh time around the priests blew the trumpets and Joshua signaled the people, “Shout!—God has given you the city! The city and everything in it is under a holy curse and offered up to God.
“Except for Rahab the harlot—she is to live, she and everyone in her house with her, because she hid the agents we sent.
[The faithful marched, the trumpets were blown, and walls of Jericho came tumbling down.]
But Joshua let Rahab the harlot live—Rahab and her father’s household and everyone connected to her. She is still alive and well in Israel because she hid the agents whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
James 2:25-26 The Message (MSG)
Faith in Action
The same with Rahab, the Jericho harlot. Wasn’t her action in hiding God’s spies and helping them escape—that seamless unity of believing and doing—what counted with God? The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse.
Often I reflect on God’s upside-down and backward kingdom. We know God is crazy about us, but sometimes God seems just plain crazy—crazy wonderful! Here’s some evidence: the King of the Jews was born in a stable rather than a palace. (Luke 2:6-7) Scripture tells us that unless you become like a little child you won’t inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 18:2-4) Remember this one? The first shall be last. (Matthew 20:16) The Message calls this “first shall be last” business “the great reversal.” I love that. Add to all this that Rahab the prostitute’s progeny becomes the Savior of the world. (Matthew 1:5-6)
When Rahab helped the men sent out by Joshua she knew she was hiding enemies of the kingdom of Jericho. She boldly defied the king’s orders upon the risk of death. We don’t know why she was prostituting herself—no woman chooses that life! But there it is…the great reversal. The prostitute, the shamed one of the family, saves the lives of her father, mother and all connected with her. Her “seamless unity of believing and doing” is what “counted with God.” (MSG). God saw her heart, not her shame.
Rahab was a woman of great courage. While those in Jericho were caught in the confusion of their fear, Rahab trusted God and chose to move. Through faith, she rose above her circumstances rather than capitulating to her fear.
In my lifetime, I don’t think I’ll ever have to defy a king. But there are plenty of other times that I will have to live my life upside-down and backward and definitely outside of my comfort zone. I want to “go and do” when He asks me to, not to cower and freeze and run away from challenges. But what about when I feel like He is calling the wrong person? When I hear God’s call to action, I can know with absolute certainty that He knows me better than I know myself. (Romans 8:27-37)
So in full knowledge of how well God knows my heart, how can I choose to act as Rahab acted? God gave her wisdom and courage and Rahab let down the scarlet rope and it became the salvation of her family. How much more could I do for God if I believed down to the toes of my Sperrys that I am walking as He desires me to walk…in faith and not in fear? What scarlet rope is God asking me to let down?
My older brother and my younger sister both have addiction issues. I hate the havoc that substance abuse created in my family’s life. Neither my brother or sister have totally shaken or recovered from the addictions that haunt them and only God knows if they ever will. Raising my three sons, I watched, prayed hard, and watched some more for any of the signs that they might have inherited those tendencies. But despite my vigilance, two of my sons have foolishly played with the gateway drug. How can they not understand that they are dancing with the devil? For my older son, it took an overnight jail stay and a DUI to straighten him out, but praise God—please God—he’s okay now. More recently, we’ve walked through a similar situation with our youngest son. We aren’t sure yet how his story will end. He is still very far from God.
I pray daily for my sons and keep the lines of communication open. They know we love them, but that we do not condone their choices. They are both fully grown and both will someday have to stand before God—alone.
So you understand why the whole topic of addiction makes me want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head. I do not like thinking about it, I do not like talking about it, I do not know what to do about it. But God calls me to courage. He is lovingly, tenderly, holding my face between his palms and turning my head to face my deepest fear.
So I am leading a wonderful Beth Moore Bible study on Wednesday nights. By no accident of God, half a dozen recovering addicts have chosen to engage in this Bible study. I’ve told God that this is not my wheelhouse and I’ve told Him I’ve failed in guiding my own children in this area. So how can I be trusted to lead these women? Our crazy wonderful God is insistently refuting my fear and feelings of insecurity. He’s clearly giving me the full assurance that I need to calm down and let Him lead. I must trust that I am who He says I am and not the failure that I think I am.
Maybe you understand my fear because you too have brushed up against lives broken by addictions, but perhaps not. Perhaps it is a completely different thing for you. We all have deep caverns…our own abyss of pain and fear. What black as night cavern is God asking you to fight your way out of? What causes you to feel queasy, inadequate, and in over your head? If He is giving you the “go” command, then you can rest assured that He will also supply the power you need to make the journey, engage in the work, or make the change.
God, the creator of the universe, created the bold you…the going you…the audacious, step-up-to-the-plate-and-hit-a-home run kind of you. You and I are no shrinking violets, sister. We may not possess a cape or a crown, but we do have the All Mighty God in our corner. He has chosen you and me to do the work that He has prepared in advance for us. Read this truth…2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 The Message (MSG)
Meanwhile, we’ve got our hands full continually thanking God for you, our good friends—so loved by God! God picked you out as his from the very start. Think of it: included in God’s original plan of salvation by the bond of faith in the living truth. This is the life of the Spirit he invited you to through the Message we delivered, in which you get in on the glory of our Master, Jesus Christ.
So, friends, take a firm stand, feet on the ground and head high. Keep a tight grip on what you were taught, whether in personal conversation or by our letter. May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech.
The Creator of the sun, the moon, and the stars knows us through and through. Knit together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13), chosen, not forsaken. He sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross so we would have life in Him. How much more does God have for you and I to do? Don’t doubt it…God will give us what we need to accomplish whatever it is that He is asking us to do. No matter where our brokenness lies, we can walk as Rahab walked—in faith, not in fear. May you too choose to go forward with confidence knowing that in every way you can trust God. Go, woman. Go.
Father, I adore you. You have rescued me from the pit. You have marked my days and you have given me work to do…your work. I confess that I often feel weak and broken, too broken to do this work, but then I ask myself, “Who am I to second guess my Creator?” Thank you for overlooking my inadequacies to see use this quivering, wavering heart. I am weak, but you are strong. I beseech you, create in me a clean heart—a willing heart—to do Your will. Lord God, show me how to walk boldly and help me in my moments of wavering and disbelief. I ask all this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Read the legacy of Rahab’s Rope, and learn about an incredible ministry that holds hope for women formerly caught in the terrible net of sexual slavery. You may choose to support them by shopping. Now I have your attention! Next, worship with Hillsong and this beautiful song: Who You Say I Am. f you love folk/bluegrass/country and don’t know Ellie Holcomb or her songs, check out You Are Loved from her album Red Sea Road. Ellie’s songs never fail to encourage me. I pray they do the same for you.
Today’s post was written by Cindy Koopmans.
Cindy is married to her college sweetheart, Brian, for 39 years. She has three grown boys, two sweet daughters-in-law and a gorgeous little grand-man named Oliver Brian. Cindy teaches fifth grade at Sorrento Elementary and serves at the Mount Dora campus as their Worship Coordinator. Cindy’s passion is music, so her happy place is on the keyboard. She also enjoys reading (so many books, so little time), thrifting, and hanging out with Kramer the wonder Bichon. You can find her on Sunday mornings worshiping at our Real Life Mount Dora campus.