Summary: Rahab’s conversion
Rahab – A Trophy of Grace:
This evening in our studies of the book of Joshua we come to what is probably one of the most well known incidents in the whole of the book – the salvation of the prostitute Rahab from Jericho. From a purely literary point of view chapter 2 is not essential to the record of Israel entering into and possessing the land of Canaan. In fact it would seem more logical to move from the end of chapter 1 to the beginning of chapter 3. The narrative runs more freely, it is more coherent and the expectations the reader has at the end of chapter 1 are immediately fulfilled when one goes straight to chapter three. At the end of chapter 1 the C.O.I. have given their commitment to Joshua that they will be fully behind Joshua in his God given role to lead them into their inheritance. They are ready to do whatever he says. Chapter 3 opens with them being told what they must do and goes on to record how they cross the Jordan river and set foot in the land of Canaan. So in a sense you could skip out chapter two and not loose out on the continuity of the story.
What then, you might ask, is the purpose of chapter 2 being included in the story of Israel conquering Canaan? Well I believe the purpose is twofold.
First of all to put on record the fact that, before He commanded them through Joshua to actually step out in faith and begin their assault on Canaan, (chapter 3) God had already given them tangible evidence that he was already at work on their behalf in that city that would be the focal point of their first onslaught against their enemies. The spies had learned from Rahab that the people of the land were afraid, their hearts were melting within them at the thought of the forthcoming conflict with Israel because of their knowledge of the power of Israel’s God. Far from being confident of victory the people in Jericho were afraid of Israel. God wanted Israel to know these things. For such a knowledge would be a great encouragement to them. And so the spies on their return, as we learn from v24 reported these things to Joshua who no doubt told the people. What an encouragement this would have been to them before they even set out.
So the people who crossed over in chapter 3 are people who have just had a real confidence booster given to them by God. They are in the right frame of mind psychologically to undertake this challenge. God has greatly encouraged them.
So that I believe is one reason for chapter two’s inclusion. It shows us does it not how gracious God is towards his people. He could have taken them immediately from chapter 1 to Chapter 3 so to speak and made them go forward simply on the basis of His spoken promise without giving them any further encouragement. But knowing their natural fears and human weakness God in love for his people encourages their faith and inspires their confidence by giving them extra assurance through the reconnaissance mission of the two spies. Although God’s promise was sure, He wanted them to feel sure of his promises. It’s a bit like a husband who buys his wife a bunch of flowers and on the little card that accompanies it tells her that he loves her very much. She shouldn’t need him to do that, she knows he loves her, but although she knows he loves her and doesn’t need him to buy her flowers, that little gesture is greatly appreciated and strongly reinforces what she already knows. And God wants it put on record that he had encouraged his people and given them assurances before calling them forth into battle.