Summary: Who shows us their faith & do we show our faith to them, with detailed look at Rahab.
Last week we looked at the "Meaning of Faith" and this week's theme is related as it is "Examples of Faith” and I want to start by asking you a question, Who has shown you their faith in their lives?
While faith can be classed as a personal characteristic it affects everything which we do and is therefore shown to others in the way we live our lives everyday. Faith can be defined as “Faith is an attitude of trust which leads to action” it is these actions which lead us to show our faith to others.
Our reading from the letter to the Hebrews lists examples from the Old Testament of people who showed their faith in their lives. These people and their stories would have been well known to the original readers of the letter.
As well as a list of people who are mentioned in passing the writer mentions two people and gives more details of them, they are very two different people, Moses and Rahab.
Firstly Moses, most of us are probably familiar with parts of Moses story, the great leader of the nation of Israel who had many different aspects to his story and our reading today starts part way through the list of demonstrations of Moses faith that the writer of the letter included , the one in our reading was the story of how he led his people out of Egypt and through the Red Sea, but I want to leave this story to one side for several reasons and focus on Rahab.
Rahab in very many ways is the complete opposite of Moses.
Rahab may not be as well known as Moses, but her story is fascinating. Let’s look at the story of Rahab in more detail.
Rahab’s story is part of a larger story of how Joshua, who was the leader of the Israelites at the time took Jericho and its surrounding land.
Rahab was an ordinary woman, whose family consisted of parents and siblings, she was not Jewish and did not live a good life, she lived in the city of Jericho which was not part of Israel at the time. Rahab realised that the city in which she lived was not godly.
Joshua sent two spies into Jericho, the spies went into Jericho and went to Rahab’s house. When Rahab met the spies she recognised that their God was the true God and that the land and the city of Jericho belonged to the Lord and therefore to the Israelites whom Joshua was leading and from whom the spies came.
Rahab knew that the city guard would have been aware of the spies, she knew her city and how it operated. Rahab helped the spies understand Jericho.
Rahab hid the spies from the Jericho city guard when they were searching for the spies and later she let them out of her house (which was in the city walls) by a rope and giving them the advice they needed to return safely to Joshua.
Rahab obtained a promise from the spies that when they came to take Jericho they would keep her and her family safe.
Later Joshua and the Israelites took Jericho and the surrounding land and kept Rahab and her family safe. Rahab’s actions had consequences, without her actions Joshua and the Israelites may not have taken Jericho and it’s surrounding land, and without this land, the Israelites journey into the promised land would have been very different.
There were several actions which are connected with faith that Rahab took,
• She trusted the guards not to search her house thoroughly, they did not move the flax under which the spies were hiding,
• Secondly she trusted the spies to follow her advice and not get caught by the guards, although this would have also been in the spies own interests to be safe.
• She also showed faith that the spies would keep their word and that her and her family would be safe when they took Jericho.
• Rahab put her faith in the long term power of God. Jericho was in a bad place at that time, but instead of worrying about the short term issues and risks, Rahab put her faith in God that He had a long term plan to ensure safety for everyone.
Rahab and her story was well known to Jews in Jesus’ time as Rahab is mentioned three times in the New Testament, once in Matthew’s Genealogy of Jesus, once in the letter of James (where her actions are noted) and once in our reading from Hebrews which comments on her faith.
Our reading from Hebrews moves on from listing people from the Old Testament to say whose faith we need to follow. Chapter 12 states
QUOTE HEBREWS 12:1-2
The letter is clear, we need to follow Jesus’ example and his teaching by applying these examples to our lives, and throughout history, people have done just that,