Summary: Rahab proves that you cannot out-sin God’s grace. When God saves us from hell, He then gives us much more. Rahab went from harlot to royalty.
Rahab: God Loving the Unlovable
Joshua 2:1-21; 6:20-25
Purpose: To show God’s grace toward a harlot.
Aim: I want the listener to be overwhelmed by God’s grace.
INTRODUCTION: ➔God is so great that He can forgive and use anybody!
One pastor recently wrote about one of his heroes: “Nate Babcock is one of these whom God has used in my life. He was a young man in the church where I was raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was one of the few men in the church who was willing to teach Sunday school at the elementary level, because, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, this was mostly viewed as a woman’s Job. But Nate faithfully taught me and my little group of buddies. He’d take us on special outings and would even bribe us to memorize Bible verses. I can still quote Psalm 103 over three decades later, although the brand-new major league baseball that he gave me as motivation is long lost. Not many people have heard of Nate Babcock. I’m sure there were more charismatic personalities, more knowledgeable men and women, people more mature in their grasp of theology and more inspirational in their potential impact upon youngsters. There were those with greater reputations. But these people were not available; quiet, modest, unassuming Nate was. His impact on my life has been profound.” [ Huffman, J., John A., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1986). Vol. 6: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Volume 6 : Joshua. Formerly The Communicator’s Commentary. The Preacher’s Commentary series (53). Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc.]
God used Nate Babcock, but our text today shows us that He can take even the worst sinners, forgive them, change them, and use them.
➔ Strike one: Rahab was an outsider. She was a Canaanite and a woman, not a man or a Jew. Jericho was part of the Amorite nation. They were a violent pagan culture that pursued every kind of evil imaginable. Because of their great wickedness God had ordered the Jews to completely wipe them out. (Deut.20:17)
➔ Strike two: Rahab was immoral. She was a prostitute who was profiting because she lived in a wicked city. Her home was right on top of the city’s wall. This is where the more expensive houses were. Portions of Jericho’s walls were 12 feet thick, allowing for individual dwellings to be built into them.[Spirit filled life study Bible. 1997, c1991 (electronic ed.) (Jos 2:15). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.]
She probably had a lot of money. It is pretty safe to assume that Rahab was a temple prostitute. This would explain why the king’s messengers were willing to take her at her word.
➔ Strike three: Rahab was dishonest. She lied to protect the spies. Just because she used a lie to do the right thing does not mean that there are times when lying is OK. The Bible commends her for her faith, not for her ethics. She was a new believer who had much to learn.
Before we look at the details of this story, let’s review what has happened to the Jews up to this point. Moses is dead. All of the Jews who crossed the Red Sea were dead too. They refused to obey God’s command to take the Promised Land so they wandered in the wilderness for almost 40 years until all the adults had died. This was true for everyone except for Joshua and Caleb. Moses had given his final instructions to the nation and also gave personal words of encouragement to Joshua. Then God took Moses home.
As the Book of Joshua opens, about 1 ½ million Jews (the population of Philadelphia) are at the door step of Canaan. They were about 7 miles east of the Jordan River with Jericho dead ahead only another 7 miles further. Joshua orders an undercover intelligence operation by sending two spies to determine Jericho’s defenses. This is much different than the first time when Joshua was one of the 12 spies sent into Canaan. These spies were only to report to Joshua. They weren’t going to report to the nation so they could hold a vote and decide whether they should invade or not. Joshua wasn’t going to make that mistake again. Joshua was only concerned about God’s will – not popular opinion.
Now let’s look at the text. First, notice:
Vs.1-7 I. Rahab’s Faith
The NT put Rahab in the great “Hall of Fame of Faith” in Hebrews 11:31 By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace. (NAU) What made her faith so great?
We can learn at least two things about Rahab’s act of faith.
A. She was willing to risk her life
If the king discovered that she was protecting spies she would be killed, so we know she was willing to risk her life.