Summary: Believers can be confident in joining with God in His purposes, because He redeems wrong choices we make because of our human weakness
The Story of “Rahab the Harlot”
Who is God? He is a God of mercy
How is He revealed in this text? God extended His mercy to Joshua and the two spies, and redeemed the wrong choices they made.
(You may want to tell this as a dramatic story) Joshua 2:1-24
Felt Need: Doesn’t God only use perfect people?
Deep Need: Believers can be confident in joining with God in His purposes, because He redeems wrong choices we make because of our human weakness.
1. Joshua’s Worldly Wisdom
2. The Spies’ Misguided Mission
3. Rahab’s Firm Faith
Horses in the Salad—Readers’ Digest Online, Reader Contributions, Hazel Boone, Kelowna, BC, 1999
"I took Spanish lessons every day while my husband and I lived in Argentina. After a month, my tutor encouraged me to ’speak to the shop clerks, the maid. Speak to everyone and practise, practise.’ A few days later my husband and I went out for dinner. I studied the menu carefully, and in a confident manner gave the waiter my order in Spanish. His eyes widened ever so slightly. ’Señora, I believe you want onions in your salad, not horses.’"
God wants us to go with him, and not be afraid of messing up.
II. The Story of Rahab the Harlot
God is still teaching Joshua; we see this in these 10 chapters.
A. Joshua’s Worldly Wisdom
1. God is absent from this story.
In every other chapter, from the beginning until the fall of Jericho in chapter 6, God speaks to Joshua.
Joshua is acting on his own here.
2. Joshua gets the idea of sending in spies from his past, when Moses sends the 12 spies into the land.
3. In Joshua’s mind, Jericho is a huge obstacle that represents his inability to overcome fear and weakness.
See verse 1, “especially Jericho.”
He is sizing it up, wondering how he’s going to assault it.
He acts out of fear.
God had already given him almost unconditional promises:
“Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you… No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life” (Joshua 1:3, 5, ESV)
4. God gives Joshua instructions for taking Jericho later.
In chapter six; there was no need of this espionage.
Of course, hindsight is 20/20.
5. God hands them over to the consequences of their actions.
They are discovered almost as soon as they entered the city.
21st Century Truth: As believers we sometimes give in to weakness and fear by trying to accomplish God’s purpose with human wisdom and strategy.
Or not acting in the absence of human wisdom and strategy.
We hang back, sizing things up, wondering how we’re going to do what God wants us to do.
We rush in, often messing things up, presuming on God even out of good intentions.
The Lord Shall Be My God—Leslie Williams, Night Wrestling, p. 12
"…how often does God have to redeem a mess we’ve gotten ourselves into? Who is in control anyway?"
B. The Spies’ Misguided Mission
The spies make an agreement based on taking the city by force.
The scarlet rope was a sign to incoming Israelite soldiers not to harm those in the house.
They had no communication with God in this matter—this is not the way it would eventually happen.
21st Century Truth: As believers we sometimes act en-thusiastically, but outside of God’s commands and will, in our own strength.
C. Rahab’s Firm Faith
By way of contrast, Rahab had faith.
God was preparing her heart; she was the one He spoke to.
“By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient” (Hebrews 11:31, NIV)
“In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:25-26, NIV)
It was Rahab who was acting in faith, not the spies or Joshua.
1. She is the one speaking God’s word to them.
2. She becomes the one who acts in faith, helping the spies.
3. God used her to redeem their bad decision.
The scarlet cord becomes for Rahab a symbol of God’s salvation, the object of her faith.
21st Century Truth: God extends His mercy to us by re-deeming our mistakes and rebuking our weak faith.
There is a rebuke in all of this at the end of the chapter.
The whole bumbling expedition simply affirms what Joshua should have already known: “The LORD has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.”