Summary: Based on History Channel's epic mini-series, The Bible, this five-part expository sermon series highlights five key events in the story of Scripture from Abraham to Jesus, using video clips from the show.
The Bible: The Scarlet Cord
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 3/10/2013
Nearly every family has a set of beloved stories they tell over and over. It may be how Grandpa came to this country with five dollars in his pocket. Or of an ancestor who fought in a famous battle. It may be the story of a romance, or a child’s rescue, or a moment of accomplishment. I enjoy telling the story of Ashley proposing to me.
In some ways, the stories we remember—and tell—shape us. They explain where we’ve come from. They shed light on who we are. They guide our steps as we move forward in life. That is one of the reasons the Bible is so important, or should be, because it is the story of all of us, from the first words of Genesis to the last lines of Revelation. And the stories of the Bible are more than just stories—they are the history of God’s relationship with humanity.
That’s why, all through the month of March, we are revisiting some of the most compelling and dramatic Bible stories, with the help of clips from the made-for-television miniseries called, appropriately enough, The Bible. It started airing last Sunday night on The History Channel and will continue tonight and through Easter Sunday evening. I hope everyone got the first episode. And, if you’re like me, then the most disappointing part of the series is how much of the Bible wound up on the cutting room floor. The first episode spends about an hour on the life of Abraham and an hour on Moses and the exodus. So many more stories could have been told, but then each episode would have to be six or eight hours long.
Tonight, one of the stories you’ll see and the story we’ll focus on today is the story of Rahab, a story almost hidden away in the first chapters of the sixth book of the Bible––the book of Joshua. But in many ways, it is also my story—and yours—and it’s as current as this morning’s headlines.
But in order to fully appreciate Rahab’s story, we must understand the backstory, which involves the Exodus––the deliverance of God’s people from slavery in Egypt. So as today’s story begins, the background is this: God’s people had been delivered from slavery in Egypt, led through the Red Sea, and had wandered in the Sinai wilderness for forty years. There, they had received God’s Law and coalesced as a nation, but they were still nomads. They still had no home.
The Promised Land was not yet theirs. In order for that to happen, they had to conquer the most heavily fortified city in the entire land—Jericho. And so Joshua sent some spies into the city to scout things out, which is where this clip picks up.
NEXT SLIDE—CLIP WILL PLAY AUTOMATICALLY
For those of you familiar with this story, you probably noticed some artistic liberties and a little more action than what the Bible describes. But we’ll dig into the Scriptures to get a more complete picture of Rahab’s story as we go. And, as I’ve said, this story isn’t just Rahab’s story; it is yours and mine, too, at least in several ways, and the first way is this—Rahab’s story begins with a sinful choice.
• A SINFUL CHOICE
The Bible says that Joshua sent these two spies from the Israeli camp across the river to check out the situation on the other side. And “They arrived at an inn operated by a woman named Rahab, who was a prostitute” (Joshua 2:1 TLB). All through the Bible, whenever her name is mentioned, right there next to it is that word—prostitute. Interestingly, the Hebrew word for prostitute and innkeeper is the same—Rahab was apparently both. They say the key to a successful business is location, location, location. And Rahab couldn’t have asked for a better one.
With her inn built right against the city wall, she could see whenever travelers came to the gate and all she had to do was call down and bat her eyes at attractive young customers to get their attention.
Now, it’s very likely that Rahab was a widow and sadly many widows in those days resorted to prostitution just get by. But Rahab, unlike other women, wasn’t without resources. She owned an inn which could have been run as a legitimate business. She had family living right there in town with her. Yet, she was still soliciting sex. She was trading pleasure for profits. What I’m saying is that she wasn’t a prostitute because she had to be, she was a prostitute because she wanted to be. And that tells us something about her character. Rahab chose to live sinful lifestyle. She made a sinful choice.
But before we look down our noses at Rahab, let’s be honest—we’ve all made some sinful choices. And sometimes those choices get us into trouble, like the burglar who chose to break into a nice house in a wealthy neighborhood.