The Power of Faith
“By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.”
The people who didn’t believe mentioned in the above verse are the inhabitants of Jericho during the time of Joshua’s conquest. If they didn’t believe, it means they had the opportunity to believe but decided not.
Since the Bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17), for them to not have believed, they must have had the opportunity to hear the word, and then make the choice not to. Moreover, the Bible says in Rom. 10:14, “…And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?”
In other words, what I’m trying to bring forth is that the inhabitants of Jericho who perished, heard the message but chose not to believe, while the harlot Rahab and her family heard the same message, but chose to believe and therefore were saved.
An important question arises: How do we know they heard the word? Well, when Joshua sent out the two spies, they lodged in the house of Rahab the harlot. She hid them from their pursuers, and then we read in Joshua 2:8-13:
“Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men: “I know that the LORD has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For 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 the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.”
Faith is the Assurance or Conviction of Things Hoped For
I want you to mark a few phrases that are very important to this message. She said in verse 9, “I know that the Lord has given you the land…” That’s a strong personal conviction. She seems to have had more faith than the spies, or Israel for that matter. She says in Joshua 2:9, “I know that the LORD has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us…” Compare that with the spies’ view in Joshua 2:14, “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land.”
According to Rahab, the Lord had already given them the land, but according to the spies, they still hoped for the Lord to give them the land. The land still had the great wall surrounding it for protection but Rahab didn’t trust in the wall but in the Lord.
They Had Heard
And then she proceeds to talk in plural, “us,’” “we,” “all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you.” And why were they fainthearted? Because, she says in V. 10 “For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you when you came out of Egypt…”
So all the inhabitants of the land had “heard” what the Lord did. But what was their response? They were afraid and fainthearted. They didn’t necessarily believe and turn to God but were fainthearted. I am reminded of what James says about demons’ faith. “ You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19). They believe and tremble, not believe and repent. That’s why they perished.
You see, what God did in Egypt and the Red Sea was not just for Israel, it was a very strong message to the inhabitants of the world, then and even now. God was speaking and saying He is the only true God who can either save or judge. He can save not only Israel but anyone who believes in Him.
That was the message that Rahab got. She also, like the inhabitants of Jericho, heard the same message, but what was her response? We read in V.11b, “for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” That’s a wonderful and great confession. She acknowledges that Yahweh, the God of Israel, He is God, in heaven above and earth beneath.
The God in Heaven above and Earth Beneath
Many times, the children of Israel acted as if God was God in heaven above only, and not God on earth beneath. And like the Israelites, we act like that many a times. We know there is God in heaven but we struggle in believing that He is God on earth beneath, He is God in our challenges and troubles. NCV puts it this way, “The Lord your God rules the heavens above and the earth beneath.” Yes, He rules in both the heavens and the earth. He rules in the Red Seas of our lives, in our financial challenges, in our relationships, in physical or health needs, in the earth beneath. He is God and He rules. Rahab knew that and confessed that.
Moses had warned the children of Israel never to forget this: “So remember this and keep it firmly in mind: The LORD is God in heaven above and on earth beneath, there is no other.” Amen, there is no other. Lay it firmly in your mind. Another translation says, “Lay it to your heart that…”
True Faith Has a Voice, it Speaks
Paul says 2 Cor. 4:13, “We, having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written: “I believed and therefore have I spoken” — we also believe and therefore speak.” True faith speaks, true faith will confess. Rahab made this powerful confession, “The Lord your God He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” (Josh. 2:11).
The spies didn’t try to persuade her or preach to her about the God of Israel. It was her persuasion. She made the confession on her own.
The Bible says in Romans 10:9-10, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Her confessions was evidence of her justification.
Those Who Come to Him Must Believe that God Is
The Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God, and that, those who come to Him must believe that He is and that He rewards that who earnestly seek Him (Heb. 11:6).
Those who come to God must believe that God is, not just that God exists but that God is. There is a difference. Many people believe that there is a God or that God exists but they will still be damned. They believe that there is God but still live as atheists, as if He doesn’t exist. Even demons believe in God, they believe that God exists probably more than human beings because they shudder (James 2:19), but they will be damned. It’s not just enough to believe that God exists, you must believe that God is.
If you believe that God is holy, you will respond by being holy. If you believe that God answers prayer, you will respond by praying. If you believe that God rewards those who seek Him you will respond by seeking Him. If you believe that God is your refuge, rock, savior, you will respond in the like manner by seeking His salvation, refuge, etc.
Rahab believed that God is, that is why, in addition to her confession, she pleaded for mercy unto salvation of her and her family. We read in Joshua 2:12-13, “Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, 13 and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.” In other words, she came to Him for refuge and salvation because of her faith.
In addition to all these, she added deeds to her faith, or to put it differently, her faith was proven genuine by her deeds of faith. She not only hid the spies; she joined the company of the people of God by helping them escape (Joshua 2:15-16).
In the remaining part of my message I want to discuss three things that follow true faith.
1. True Faith Will Transform You (Joshua 6:22-24)
The time came for Joshua and the children of Israel to conquer Jericho. Joshua instructed that everyone and everything in Jericho shall be destroyed except Rahab the harlot and her family. We read in verse 17, “ Now the city shall be doomed by the LORD to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.“
He then instructed the two spies to “Go into the harlot’s house, and from there bring out the woman and all that she has, as you swore to her.” 23 And the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, her mother, her brothers, and all that she had. So they brought out all her relatives and left them outside the camp of Israel.”
Someone said that God loves you just the way you are but He loves you too much to leave you just the way you are. They were to go into the harlot’s house and bring out the woman and her family and all that she had.
True faith will bring you out of your “house” of sin, sexual immorality, curse, barrenness, and into the house of God. Realize she was helpless and powerless by herself to save herself except for the scarlet rope that she was instructed to put it out on her house. That scarlet rope was a type of the blood of Jesus Christ that saves. And like her, we are powerless to save ourselves except by the blood of Jesus Christ.
I can see her and her family inside that house holding tightly onto each other in fear but with hope as they heard the big and terrifying sound of the trumpets. And then came the huge sound of the walls crushing on the ground. The ground shook. Then there was this big shout from the people of Israel. And then there were sounds of people screaming as they were being put to death with the sword – children and grown-ups. Some of the sound she could probably recognize – her neighbors. And they froze in fear mixed with hope.
And then the there was a knock on the door of her house. Carefully she sprung up and went and peeped through the door hole and recognized the two men standing outside. They were the two spies. They took them out of the house and out of the damned city – to save them. Faith, my friend, delivers, saves, and transforms.
Bring out the woman, not bring out the harlot, were the instructions. You see, Joshua was a type of Christ. He saw beyond the sin-tainted sinner to the saint in her, to the woman in her made in the image of God and loved by God.
Jesus still does that even today. He asked Simon the Pharisee, “Simon, do you see this woman?” If Simon were to have honestly answered him, he probably would have said, “No, I see a prostitute, a vile woman.” But Jesus saw the woman in her, the saint in her due to her faith in Him. After all, that’s why He died - to pay for our sins so that those who believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
2. Faith will Establish You (6:25).
The Bible says in Hebrews 11:31 that she did not perish with those who did not believe. She not only survived, she thrived. We read in Joshua 6:25, “And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.”
She was not only rescued from her house and her damned city but was taken to a new land, Israel, the holy land, the land of God’s chosen people, where she dwelt. We know that she got married to a godly man, Salmon, and had a family because we read in Matt. 1:5, “Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse.”
Some commentators believe that Salmon was one of those two spies whom she hid and later (he) rescued her. Whether true or not, he was a godly man because we are told he was the father of Boaz, the godly husband of Ruth. The point is, faith will not only will save you, it will establish you in the house of God, establish you in the church, which is the family of God, and make you a recipient of God’s blessings.
3. Faith will give you a greater Purpose in Life, an Eternal Fulfillment (Matt. 1:1 & 5).
Rahab is listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. She was connected or joined to the chosen line of the Messiah by grace through faith, not by works.
You can be related to Christ too, through faith. Through faith you can become an heir of God and co-heir with Jesus Christ. You can become Jesus’ brother and Jesus can become your Lord and savior. This is the ultimate fulfillment in life. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). All these benefits come to us by faith in Jesus Christ.