Guarantees. We all like guarantees. They give us a sense of security. We can rest knowing that if events work against us we have a card to play that will fix our problem.
Everywhere you go you are faced with the options on buying a warranty on an item. This is your guarantee that you will be covered should something happen to your purchase. It also guarantees a profit for the store who sold you the guarantee. Last year, profits from warranties accounted for all of one companies operating income and almost half of another’s. Profit margins on contracts are between 50% and 60%. That’s nearly 18 times the margin on the goods themselves. For example, a 4-year contract on a $3,000 flat-panel TV costs about $400. The company gives its insurers $160 and keeps $240 for itself. (Business Week 12/20/04)
Some guarantees are effective but can still cost you. Consider this lawsuit against an air-conditioner sales and service company.
A couple had bought an older home as a fixer-up. The first summer there they experienced trouble with the air-conditioner. As they explained it in court, “Our air conditioner broke every year.
It would cool down the house then, become a heater, heat it up, and then cool it down.
The first year they called the company who had placed the sticker on the unit. They came out. Fixed it. Worked well. It was under warranty – only had to pay for labor.
Next year, same thing happened. The same company. Fixed it. Worked well. Under warranty – again – only had to pay for labor.
Third year – same thing. Called a different company. Guy opens the unit and says ‘No wonder it keeps breaking…’and there inside the unit lay a pile of extra parts.
Apparently at one point someone couldn’t figure out how to put the unit together right and just left the parts and subsequent air conditioning guys did the same.
The new guy fixed the air conditioner using all the parts. It never broke again.”
They were suing to recover the monies paid for labor and the bill from the person who finally fixed it. So guarantees are no guarantee that you will not have to pay.
Life holds no guarantees, nor does any aspect of life. I love what Erma Bombeck had to say about marriage. “Marriage has no guarantees. If that's what you're looking for, go live with a car battery.”
But this week we will examine a woman who received a guarantee that she could count on. And we will learn some lessons from this event in her life.
Last week we talked about Caleb, the man with a different attitude. And because of his attitude he was able to enter into the land that had been promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But in between the 40 years of wandering along the Jordan River and the crossing into the land we meet the next character in our lineage.
Moses had died and God placed Joshua in the leadership role. All of those who had left Egypt had died also. It was time to prepare for battle and receive the promises of God.
Next something very interesting happens. Joshua 2:1 “Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove. He instructed them, ‘Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.’ So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night.”
It may seem strange that the spies found refuge in the house of a prostitute—what were they, people of God, doing there? To state the obvious, perhaps the spies were seeking the services of a prostitute.
Or possibly, they knew that the house of a harlot was probably a good place to avoid detection—a couple of travelers entering such a house would probably not arouse much suspicion. The spies, seeking anonymity, figured a house of prostitution would be a good place to find it. Rahab’s house was situated on the city wall, providing an escape route if needed. A prostitute would know a great deal about the politics and military strengths of a fortified city.
Or perhaps the hiding place was God-ordained. God may have led them there so the next chapter of history could be written.
The commentaries that I have read about Rahab seemed to treat her a bit harshly. We tend to judge the ancient facts upon our modern day standards. Prostitution at this time was a career choice for many women. Some became very wealthy because of it. A couple of weeks ago we read of Judah’s encounter with what he thought was a prostitute.
When the children of Israel were in the desert they were given the Law of God. The law forbids temple prostitutes and the offering of any profit from prostitution. It also forbids a priest’s daughter from entering into prostitution. The law condemned adultery, which was defined as being intimate with another man’s wife.
These are but a drop in the bucket to the over 600 regulations given to the nation of Israel. But these regulations were given to them and them only. They were designed to set them apart from the rest of the world. No other nations were expected to live by these codes of conduct. And since Rahab was not an Israelite, she was not restricted to these laws.
Not only was Rahab a prostitute she was also a liar. She had allowed the two spies into her house. It is possible that she did not realize they were Israeli spies, until the king of Jericho sent messengers to find them.
Let’s read Joshua 2:4-5 “Rahab had hidden the two men, but she replied, ‘Yes, the men were here earlier, but I didn’t know where they were from. They left the town at dusk, as the gates were about to close. I don’t know where they went. If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them.’”
The first part may have been true. She may not have known where they were from. But the last part was a right out lie. She had hid them. So is it okay to lie to protect others? Again, Rahab is not under the standard of God. She is not an Israelite.
So what prompted her to lie? Fear. Remember her house was on the walls of Jericho. During the day she could see the cloud of smoke leading them as they wandered by the river. At night she could see the cloud of fire over them as they camped.
After the messengers left she went to the spies and said, “I know the Lord has given you this land. We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror. For we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below.
Now swear to me by the Lord that you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you. Give me some guarantee that when Jericho is conquered, you will let me live, along with my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all their families.”
We can gleam from her statement that she was probably an idol worshipper. She probably had many gods. But from what she had heard and witnessed she concluded that their God was supreme over all of her gods. She had not yet realized that their God was the only God. There was no other.
She was also concerned about her immediate family. She pleaded on their behalf, although there is no indication of their request that she do so. She realized that destruction was coming and she pleaded for their salvation as well.
Then men agreed. They offered their lives as a guarantee for Rahab’s safety. So she let them down by a scarlet colored rope through the window. Before they left the two spies gave some conditions to their guarantee.
Joshua 2:18 “When we come into the land, you must leave this scarlet rope hanging from the window through which you let us down. And all your family members—your father, mother, brothers, and all your relatives—must be here inside the house.”
The scarlet rope she possessed was probably for decorative purposes. This would have indicated that Rahab was probably very wealthy as any dyed material would have been expensive. Also the fact that she was able to purchase a home on the wall of Jericho.
When she decided to allow them to use the scarlet rope as a tool of escape, they were reminded of their escape from the angel of death that passed through Egypt. That night the eldest of each family died unless the blood of a sacrificed lamb was on the doorpost. To escape death that night they had to be inside their homes. That same offer was being made to Rahab. In order to escape death those she wished saved would need to be inside the house with her.
The scarlet rope would one day represent the blood of Jesus that would secure our salvation. Once that blood was applied to our lives then we should display it as Rahab was required to do. There should be an outward appearance of our inward change. And there should be a desire to gather up those we wish saved from the coming destruction. They must be within the safety of the Kingdom. If not we have the same warning that Rahab had.
Joshua 2:19 “If they go out into the street and are killed, it will not be our fault. But if anyone lays a hand on people inside this house, we will accept the responsibility for their death.”
The spies made it clear that the guarantee was void toward those who were not inside the house. They would not be responsible for their destruction. This placed the burden on Rahab to convince those she loved to seek the safety of her dwelling.
We have that same burden. If you are a follower of Jesus, you have a burden to warn those that you love of the coming destruction.
2 Peter 3:7 reads “And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.”
Who are these ungodly people? They are the ones who the scarlet blood of the sacrifice of Jesus has not been applied to.
I did a funeral yesterday for a man I had never met. In talking with his family, there was no indication that he had given his heart to the Lord. I am not saying he didn’t because I would not have that knowledge. But they all kept describing him as a good godly man. Today I realize we cannot make that declaration and be assured of someone’s salvation.
Being a godly person in appearance is not enough. Being a Godly person through the redemptive work of Jesus is required. Having that scarlet rope of his blood is a necessity. If not those with just a godly appearance will discover this one day.
Matthew 7: 22-23 “On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’”
If we want our loved ones saved it is up to us to convince them to join us in the safety of God’s house. But it is ultimately their decision as to whether they listen or not.
After about 30 days the Israelites arrived at walls of Jericho. They marched around the city once for six days. On the seventh day they marched around the city seven times. On the seventh lap the priests blew the trumpet and the walls collapsed. They invaded the city killing men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep, goats, and donkeys. Except for one family.
Joshua 6:23 “The men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, mother, brothers, and all the other relatives who were with her. They moved her whole family to a safe place near the camp of Israel.”
This is pure speculation but I would like to imagine the entire wall collapsed except for a tower with a house on top and a scarlet rope hanging from the window. Imagine how awesome this would appear to God’s people as they went into battle. Imagine those who were about to meet destruction gazing at the sight, perhaps some of which had been invited to be inside but refused. Imagine the feeling of security for those in the house who realized that the God of the Israelites was the one true God and had saved them.
They were taken to safety outside the camp. They were not part of the family. The term “gentiles” would one day describe them. Bringing them into the camp would defile the Holiness of the camp. But this was a picture of upcoming events.
Joshua 6:25 “So Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute and her relatives who were with her in the house, because she had hidden the spies Joshua sent to Jericho. And she lives among the Israelites to this day.”
The day came when they were allowed to become part of the family. It was required that they go through the purification steps to make them acceptable before God. This was a picture of the Gentiles becoming a part of God’s family through the purification of the blood of Jesus. It was this scarlet rope that makes us acceptable.
Rahab would marry the great-great-great-grandson of Caleb. His name was Salmon. And together they would have a son who is our next character in the legacy. His name is Boaz.