Summary: If you travel to a new country, you'll need to change your currency to the local currency in order to comfortably do transactions. Faith is the currency of heaven. If you want to do spiritual transactions, you'll have to operate by faith.
The Power of Faith
“By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.”
The people who didn’t believe mentioned in the above verse are the inhabitants of Jericho during the time of Joshua’s conquest. If they didn’t believe, it means they had the opportunity to believe but decided not.
Since the Bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17), for them to not have believed, they must have had the opportunity to hear the word, and then make the choice not to. Moreover, the Bible says in Rom. 10:14, “…And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?”
In other words, what I’m trying to bring forth is that the inhabitants of Jericho who perished, heard the message but chose not to believe, while the harlot Rahab and her family heard the same message, but chose to believe and therefore were saved.
An important question arises: How do we know they heard the word? Well, when Joshua sent out the two spies, they lodged in the house of Rahab the harlot. She hid them from their pursuers, and then we read in Joshua 2:8-13:
“Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men: “I know that the LORD has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.”
Faith is the Assurance or Conviction of Things Hoped For
I want you to mark a few phrases that are very important to this message. She said in verse 9, “I know that the Lord has given you the land…” That’s a strong personal conviction. She seems to have had more faith than the spies, or Israel for that matter. She says in Joshua 2:9, “I know that the LORD has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us…” Compare that with the spies’ view in Joshua 2:14, “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land.”
According to Rahab, the Lord had already given them the land, but according to the spies, they still hoped for the Lord to give them the land. The land still had the great wall surrounding it for protection but Rahab didn’t trust in the wall but in the Lord.
They Had Heard
And then she proceeds to talk in plural, “us,’” “we,” “all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you.” And why were they fainthearted? Because, she says in V. 10 “For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you when you came out of Egypt…”
So all the inhabitants of the land had “heard” what the Lord did. But what was their response? They were afraid and fainthearted. They didn’t necessarily believe and turn to God but were fainthearted. I am reminded of what James says about demons’ faith. “ You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19). They believe and tremble, not believe and repent. That’s why they perished.
You see, what God did in Egypt and the Red Sea was not just for Israel, it was a very strong message to the inhabitants of the world, then and even now. God was speaking and saying He is the only true God who can either save or judge. He can save not only Israel but anyone who believes in Him.
That was the message that Rahab got. She also, like the inhabitants of Jericho, heard the same message, but what was her response? We read in V.11b, “for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” That’s a wonderful and great confession. She acknowledges that Yahweh, the God of Israel, He is God, in heaven above and earth beneath.