Summary: The world is, for the most part, is in panic mode concerning the coronavirus. As Christians, what should be our response?
Do you remember the story in the book of Joshua about the two men who were sent secretly to spy out land that included the fortified city of Jericho? After ending their reconnaissance, they spend the night at the house of a harlot named Rahab. Word gets back to the king that two men from Israel had been spotted in the land at several locations and that they were now spending the night at Rahab’s.
So the king sends soldiers to Rahab and demands that she bring the men out so that they can be taken to the king and interrogated. But she disobeys the order and hides the men in separate places among the drying flax stalks on her roof. She then tells the soldiers that the men are gone and that they should pursue them to the city gates before they are closed.
Why would Rahab lie to the king’s men for two foreigners? Let’s pick the story up in Joshua 2:8.
(8) And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof; (Now read carefully what she says.)
(9) And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.
(10) (Now listen closely to what she says.) For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Simon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.
(11) And as soon as we heard these things (I want to emphasize “we heard these things” because it’s so-o-o-o very important.) our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of the you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in the earth beneath.
Rahab tells the spies that Jericho is already defeated. The people had heard the story about how Israel’s God takes care of them, how He fights for them. And now they were terrified – no courage, no mental or emotional strength to fight (“our hearts did melt”).
The Red Sea
When Rahab tells the spies that Jericho had heard how the Lord had dried up the Red Sea for Israel, she was talking about an event that had happen 40 years ago!
Over the years, as I’ve meditated passages of scripture, the Lord has helped me understand the depth of many spiritual principles as I put myself in the passage.
How Jericho hears about the Red Sea
After the Lord delivers Israel by bankrupting Egypt (Exodus 7-12) and destroying its army in the Red Sea (Exodus 14), the people with firsthand knowledge of the events began to migrate to other parts of the region. They would talk about the incredible events with relatives and friends, who in turn retold the story with their neighbors and friends, who did the same. Because of the mind boggling destruction of Egypt, the story was told again and again and again for years.
Imagine Grandpa Henry gathering the family to tell them about what had happened to the Egyptians. See the wide-eyed looks and open mouths of wonder and amazement. He talks about the 10 plagues with such theatrics that you hear gasps and some say out loud “What?” And then a hush comes over the family as they lean in to hear him describe, in a barely audible voice, how the first child born in every family died in one day. Mothers screaming and crying and looking at the dead in unbelief. Now see the members of that one family going out and retelling the story.
We have no way of knowing the multiplication process involved in the telling and retelling of Egypt’s destruction.
Egypt was a little over 6,500 miles from Jericho. That’s like making a round trip from the west coast to the east coast here in the US. In a span of 40 years, Jericho had heard about Egypt’s destruction – from different travelers. How many times did they hear the story? I don’t know. But what I do know is this – Jericho had heard the story enough times from different sources that they had no doubts, whatsoever, that what was said to have happened to Egypt really happened.
And not only that, Rahab had settled in her heart that even with the walls the city had built, if the God of the Israelites had given them into their hands, then no wall would be able to stop them. It was a done deal!
Faith comes by hearing.
Now here is the spiritual principle that the Lord helped me to understand with a new depth of clarity – “So then faith cometh by hearing …” (Romans 10:17a) Jericho had heard about the destruction of Egypt enough times that it produced in the people a terror of Israel and their God. Jericho had come to the place of believing – of having absolute faith in – the fact that it truly happened! Are you following me? In 40 years’ time, they had heard the same story from different travelers again, again and again.