Summary: Rahab teaches the Israelites a truth they should have learnt 40 years earlier. When you fear instead of trusting in the promises of God you will find yourself missing out on the full freedom that a relationship with God can give.

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Joshua 2:1-24

Rahab - Living Without Fear

As Joshua watches the two spies head off towards Jericho he must have had a sense of déjà vu. 40 years earlier the same had been done. That time it had been Moses sending off 12 spies … and Joshua had been one of the spies. The spies had come back with a report.

The land was beautiful, bountiful and blessed; just as God had promised.

But 10 of the spies also added, “We can’t go in there and claim that land for our own, it’s occupied by giants, they’ll squash us."

In vain Joshua had argued that the Israelites had to trust in God. But instead of trusting the Israelites were punished for their lack of faith. The punishment was that they had to wander 40 years in the desert.

But now it was time. Time for the Israelites to enter the Promised Land. God had specifically told Joshua that this was the plan.

The LORD said to Joshua you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life.

Joshua 1:1-5

What more does Joshua need? I will give the land to you. No-one will stand against you. Yet in preparation for the advance Joshua still sends out some spies--just to be sure.

Many years ago a man was travelling from England to America by boat. He brought his ticket and only had a little money left over. So, with the rest of his money, he brought some biscuits for food. The trip went for three weeks and, because he was only eating biscuits and drinking water, the man became quite sick. On the second last day of the cruise the stewards found him in his room. When the man explained why he was sick the stewards said – didn’t you realise that your ticket included all your meals? This is a journey with all the benefits and extras taken care of.

That is what a relationship with God is – a journey with all the benefits and extras taken care of. Jesus just doesn’t put us on the journey called eternal life … He makes a whole heap of promises – benefits and extras – which are given to us along the way.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6:33

Jesus just look after our spiritual life, he also makes sure our material needs are taken care of.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

Walking in the family of Jesus is not meant to be overwhelming. Jesus promises support, and even rest, along the way.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:8-9

When we mess up we don’t have to fall into despair. Jesus will give us what we need to move forward.

Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Matthew 28:20

Where ever we go. Where ever we are. Jesus is with us.

This is what Jesus gives us. That is what God was giving Joshua.

So why do we find it so hard to trust?

Why do we second-guess God?

Why do we put in contingency plans?

Why do we think God is going to let us down after He has told us he won’t?

We should know better. Yet we don’t live better. It’s as if we are missing out on the fullness of what it could be like. We rob ourselves of living a faith-filled life that enables us to really stand out.

To show you what I mean let’s have a look at a passage from Hebrews 11. In this chapter we find a list of those who are identified as living a life of faith. I’m going to read from the section which focuses on the history of Israel from the time they left Egypt to the time when they entered the Promised Land – that’s 42 years of history.

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days. By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.

Hebrew 11:29-31

42 years of history. So many people could have been focussed on. But who gets mentioned?

Not even Joshua gets a mention.

The focus is on Rahab.

There is something about Rahab that makes her stand out. Something that enables her to be mentioned in the same list as people like:- Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David.

Rahab is mentioned among them – all because she welcomed the spies.

So was she noticed because she put her life on the line?

Well let’s understand a few things.

The fact that the spies are at her house is a strategic decision. Rahab is a prostitute. Lots of people come to her house – including people from out of town. The spies were there in order to avoid detection. Unfortunately it didn’t work. Now Rahab has a decision. Will she protect the spies or will she betray them?

She decides to protect the spies. At that point her life is on the line. If the truth is discovered she would have been executed as a traitor. But remember, Rahab is a prostitute. It is quite likely that those who work for the king have used her services. They have come to trust her. So they go off on a wild-goose chase for three days.

Rahab put her life on the line for the strangers on the roof. Is that why she is noticed on the faith hall-of-fame? It isn’t. Rahab is noticed because of her motives.

I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.

Joshua 2:9

I have seen the big picture. The LORD has decided that this land is going to be for the people of Israel and there is nothing we can do about it. I’m helping you because I need to be on the side that wins. You are from the winning side.

Rahab’s motive is a motive of faith. She knows with greater certainty than Joshua … than the spies … than all of Israel … that God is going to fulfil His promises. She sees what the Israelites themselves don’t even see. That has got to be a bit of a kick in the lack-of-faith-pants.

But then she goes on and gives an even bigger kick.

We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

Joshua 2:10-11

When did the LORD dry up the Red Sea? 42 years earlier.

When were Sihon and Og destroyed? 41 years earlier.

All this happened before Israel was punished with wandering in the desert for 40 years because they did not believe back then that God was going to fulfil his promises.

The pagan’s knew it.

They knew to have fear.

Their courage was gone.

They were resigned to their fate.

They knew that the God of the Israelites was the strongest of all Gods.

Yet fear stopped the people of Israel from experiencing the blessings. Fear got in the way of faith. And that same fear stops us from experiencing the freedom that God wants us to enjoy every day.

The African impala can jump to a height of over 2.5m feet and can jump a distance of over 10m. Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 1 meter high wall. That’s because the animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will land. Their fear stops them from experiencing freedom.

How many of us allow ourselves to be trapped by so many small things because we don’t have the faith to trust what God has got for us on the other side?

It could be the fear that comes because we can’t let go of the past. We are constantly looking back. Wishing our life was different. Wishing our situations had been different. Wondering what would have been … or could have been … or might have been … if we had made a different choice. The fear of making the same mistakes cripples us.

It could be the fear which comes because of our character. We want to be in control. We don’t like taking risks. We are self-reliant and self-sufficient. We have trouble trusting ourselves. We don’t like to be hurt. We get frustrated and angry when things don’t go as planned. The fear of how we will respond cripples us.

It could be the fear that comes because we have been hurt. We trusted people and they let us down. We gave our heart to someone and they just walked all over it. We thought we had a good business partner and they were just using us. We had a life goal and were on our way, but somewhere along the line the rules changed. The fear of how we will be hurt again cripples us.

It stops us from reaching our full potential in God’s hands.

That is what can happen.

But not to Rahab.

Where everyone else sees obstacles … she sees opportunity.

Where everyone else is hesitant … she is bold.

Where everyone else is worried … she trusts.

She doesn’t care that she is a Canaanite – a traditional enemy of the Israelites. She doesn’t care that she is a prostitute – having a sordid history. She doesn’t care that she is going against her culture – by choosing God over them.

It was a wise choice

Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.

Joshua 6:25

Rahab understood that placing herself under the banner of God was the safest place.

It was safer than turning the spies over to the king.

It was safer than relying on the defences of Jericho.

It became the means by which her whole family is saved.

Instead of allowing herself to become stuck in her past, and stuck with the Canaanite culture, and stuck in her mistakes … instead of that Rahab took a step of faith and was determined to stick with God. Nothing she feared was going to stop her doing this because she knew that God had already gone ahead to prepare the way. She knew that God wanted to give a fresh start.

About 10 years ago there was a promising junior executive at IBM who was involved in a risky venture for the company and ended up losing ten million dollars in the gamble. He was called into the office of Tom Watson Sr., the founder and leader of IBM for 40 years ... a business legend. The junior executive overwhelmed with guilt and fear, blurted out: "I guess you’ve called me in for my resignation. Here it is. I resign". Watson replied, "You must be joking. I just invested ten million dollars educating you; I can’t afford your resignation".

When we have fear and think that God wants our resignation what we need to understand is that God has invested so much into us. He doesn’t want us to give up because He has invested the most valuable asset that He had.

God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.

God says of His Son This My Son whom I love, with Him I am well pleased.

I and the Father are One said Jesus.

That is the investment which has been made on our behalf. God doesn’t want us to give up. He doesn’t want us to think we are no good. He wants us to have faith … faith which gives freedom.

How wonderfully God illustrates that truth through the life of Rahab.

A Canaanite.

A prostitute.

A faith-legend.

As a result of her actions people still remember her. In fact her lack of fear results in her becoming part of a very important family.

This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:

Abraham … Isaac … Jacob … Judah … Hezron … Ram … Amminadab

Nahshon the father of Salmon

Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab.

Matthew 1:1-5

Why is she there?

Because she let her fears for what could happen … become faith in God who would make it happen … so that she could have freedom no matter what happened.

Rahab let her fears for what could happen … become faith in God who would make it happen … so that she could have freedom no matter what happened.

And there is no reason why we all can’t experience the same.