Summary: The Holy Spirit works change in us.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Perhaps you would like more hair or fewer freckles. Maybe you want or to be taller or to be quicker on the playground. Did you know that God wants to change certain things about you? He doesn’t so much want to change what’s on the outside – the color of your hair or the size of your feet; he wants to change what’s on the inside. He wants to transform our selfishness into selflessness. He wants to turn our habit of worrying into the routine of trusting. He wants to dissolve our pessimism into optimism. As we continue our Faith Factor sermon series today we’ll see how faith in the true God induced a big change in a woman named Rahab.
In our Faith Factor sermon last week we heard how God appointed Joshua to lead the Israelites across the Jordan River into the Promised Land. To prepare the Israelites for this task, Joshua sent two spies to check out their first target: the city of Jericho. Some Bible students have wondered whether the use of spies showed a lack of trust in God’s promise to give the Israelites the land of Canaan. Not at all. People of faith don’t presume miracles. They diligently plan and work, trusting that God will bless the outcome in a way that is best for them. If God performs a miracle along the way, great, but they don’t sit around waiting for one. That’s worth remembering in regard to our building plans. The God-pleasing thing to do might seem to be this: dream, draw plans, and wait for an anonymous donation. While we could receive an anonymous donation that would pay for much of our new building, God doesn’t want us sitting on our hands while we wait for that to happen. Instead we are to remain diligent in caring out our plans to build a new church. Yes, this will take work (as we’re finding out!) but it is work we do to make God’s house here more inviting so more people will learn about God’s grace. God will bless this work in his way and in his time. Don’t become discouraged. Keep working!
Joshua’s spies arrived in Jericho where they made Rahab’s house their headquarters. This seemed to be a shrewd choice because Rahab was a prostitute. The spies probably figured no one would pay any attention when two strangers stayed at her place. Unfortunately someone realized that these men were not regular paying customers of Rahab’s but were in fact Israelite spies. So the king of Jericho sent soldiers to arrest the men. That sounds pretty routine doesn’t it? Only the king should have sent a peace delegation, not the Gestapo. I say this because, according to Rahab, the people of Jericho knew what God had done for the Israelites. They knew how God had parted the Red Sea some 40 years earlier so the Israelites miraculously escaped from Egypt. They also knew how God had given the Israelites strength to utterly destroy the kings Sihon and Og to the east of them. As a result the people of Jericho were terrified to hear that the Israelites were just across the river from them. But instead of repentance and a request for mercy, there was hardness of heart.
How do you react when God comes “nosing” around? When a Christian friend stops by to share concerns about what you are doing or not doing would you rather sic the dog on him than humbly listen to what he has to say? There is a part of us that never likes to be told that we’re mishandling our human relationships or that our inattentiveness to God’s Word is killing our relationship with our Lord. We might not run God’s messengers out of the house but our sinful nature knows that we can probably get rid of them just as easily by telling them what they want to hear. But God isn’t fooled. Anyway we probably wouldn’t do this if we had a clearer understanding of what’s at stake. In that sense the king of Jericho was more godly than many who claim membership in a church somewhere. At least the king knew enough to be afraid of God’s presence and power. Unfortunately Satan has so blinded us that we don’t take God’s warning of hell-fire seriously anymore. We don’t think this judgment could ever fall on us. Or we suppose that we have time enough to get serious about our faith later on. The time to get serious about spiritual matters is now. Why, you don’t even know if you’ll make it home from church alive this morning. Repent of your sins now, whatever they are, and turn to God for forgiveness.