Summary: looking at one faithful lady, living by faith, knowing and trusting in God for survival
Pentecost 12 The Key to Endurance
Heb. 11:17-40, 12:1-3
† In the name of the Lord, Jesus †
Grace and peace to you, from God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
One story - Rahab
Look with me, for a moment, at verse 32 in our reading. “32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets! I understand the author’s dilemma, for in the first 31 verses, he barely covered the best of the highlights of 5 books, and four chapters of the 39 Old Testament books. Even breaking this passage into two parts, one last week, and one this, I find there is not enough time in our time allotted for church and Sunday School to remind you of these people’s lives. We know some of the stories, I highly recommend you take the time to learn them all.
The common thread, of those mentioned, and those barely hinted at, is found a few verses later, “39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.”
All of these people trusted in God, and that trust was based in a relationship He had established with His people. So how do I explain how God again works, in those He has called to be His people, giving them faith? Of all the examples in this chapter, I chose one. The one who is not normally recognized as a hero of the faith, for it is hard, even in this day, for people to accept one with her background. Yet, here she is, a harlot, the operator of a house of ill repute, and one who realizes her only hope, is in the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. She can only hope, that as she trusts in Him for her own deliverance, that He will answer, and provide that answer through His people.
A little background is helpful, for those for whom, the story is not well known. As Moses dies, the people of Israel stand at the Jordan River. There, they must challenge a city known for it’s powerful walls. It sits there, across the river, impregnable and menacing. In Judges chapter 2, we find two spies of Israel, being hunted by the king and warriors of the city, who find peace, and refuge, in this prostitute’s home.
Faith is Trust in God –
The storm coming for those who don’t trust!
Why is Jericho about to be mowed under?
As Rahab hides these men, here are her words,
8 Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof 9 and said to the men, "I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction.
11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.
12 Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign 13 that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death."
It struck me as I read the passage again, that she has placed her trust in God already. Though she is not yet, by Israel’s standard, part of the people of God, she realizes what God has done. He has rescued His people, He has provided victories for them, setting them to come into the promised land, and dwell there. She trusts in God’s care for His people, even as she realizes her people will not change their ways. Look again at verse 31 in Hebrews,
“By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.”
Now, a little clarification is needed regarding the word, disobedient. It is the negative form of the word which means “convinced”, and usually is in reference to a refusal to take action, because of a lack of proof that action is needed. It is also translated as unbelief, or distrusts, for it is that is where it is determined. Example, Andrew may try to convince me that he is very soon old enough to drive, but if his parents don’t trust him, they won’t take action and hand to him the car keys, or pay for his lessons, or his insurance.