How Big Is Your God
As we enter chapter 2 of the book of Joshua, we are getting set up for the conquest of the promised land. Perhaps the most famous of all the victories of the Israelites is the one that took place right after crossing the Jordan River – the battle of Jericho.
However, though the battle is famous, it is not mentioned much in the Bible. Perhaps because the real story is not about the city, but the people, and one person in particular.
Joshua 2 || 1 Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two men as spies from the Acacia Grove, saying, “Go and scout the land, especially Jericho.” So they left, and they came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab, and stayed there. 2 The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelite men have come here tonight to investigate the land.” 3 Then the king of Jericho sent word to Rahab and said, “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, for they came to investigate the entire land.” 4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. So she said, “Yes, the men did come to me, but I didn’t know where they were from. 5 At nightfall, when the city gate was about to close, the men went out, and I don’t know where they were going. Chase after them quickly, and you can catch up with them!” 6 But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them among the stalks of flax that she had arranged on the roof. 7 The men pursued them along the road to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as they left to pursue them, the city gate was shut. 8 Before the men fell asleep, she went up on the roof 9 and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and everyone who lives in the land is panicking because of 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 Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings you completely destroyed across the Jordan. 11 When we heard this, we lost heart, and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below. 12 Now please swear to me by the Lord that you will also show kindness to my father’s family, because I showed kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father, mother, brothers, sisters, and all who belong to them, and save us from death.” 14 The men answered her, “We will give our lives for yours. If you don’t report our mission, we will show kindness and faithfulness to you when the Lord gives us the land.” 15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, since she lived in a house that was built into the wall of the city. 16 “Go to the hill country so that the men pursuing you won’t find you,” she said to them. “Hide there for three days until they return; afterward, go on your way.” 17 The men said to her, “We will be free from this oath you made us swear, 18 unless, when we enter the land, you tie this scarlet cord to the window through which you let us down. Bring your father, mother, brothers, and all your father’s family into your house. 19 If anyone goes out the doors of your house, his death will be his own fault, and we will be innocent. But if anyone with you in the house should be harmed, his death will be our fault. 20 And if you report our mission, we are free from the oath you made us swear.” 21 “Let it be as you say,” she replied, and she sent them away. After they had gone, she tied the scarlet cord to the window. 22 So the two men went into the hill country and stayed there three days until the pursuers had returned. They searched all along the way, but did not find them. 23 Then the men returned, came down from the hill country, and crossed the Jordan. They went to Joshua son of Nun and reported everything that had happened to them. 24 They told Joshua, “The Lord has handed over the entire land to us. Everyone who lives in the land is also panicking because of us.” [CSB]
Joshua sent out 2 spies, without the rest of the nation knowing it. Joshua was a spy at one time, and knew the importance of information. He was particularly interested in the condition of the city of Jericho.
So, two spies, who remain anonymous and are known simply as “the two men”, go into Jericho and stay with a prostitute. Most likely, this was an inn that Rahab ran and offered rooms and other services.
The king of Jericho, who also remains nameless, finds out that there are spies and sends messengers to Rahab. IF it was found out that she was hosting spies she would have most certainly been found guilty of treason.
She did the following:
- Hid the spies in her roof
- Lied to the king’s messengers and sent them on a wild goose chase
- Lowered the spies through the window, down the outside of the city wall
Meeting Rahab was not a coincidence.
Rahab is the main character that is actually NAMED in this chapter. The spies are not, the king is not, her family is not, but SHE is. And God makes a point to include that she is from Jericho (and Gentile) and that she was a prostitute (very unclean according to God’s laws and worth y of death)
I supposed the first question we might ask is, “Why would Rahab choose to hide and lie for her enemies?” These two spies represent impending doom for Jericho. Why not turn them in and make a spectacle of them and perhaps help the city regain it’s fighting spirit?
It was no accident that the spies showed up at Rahab’s door. God had this meeting planned. God had something bigger in mind.
You and I need to constantly remind ourselves that the people we come in contact with are not just random meetings, but divine appointments. God may have been working in their lives before we ever connected with them.
God was not only working in the lives of all of the people of Jericho – putting fear into them, he was also working in the life of Rahab in a greater way. Let’s look at her little dialog with the two spies:
Joshua 2:8–13 || 8 Before the men fell asleep, she went up on the roof 9 and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and everyone who lives in the land is panicking because of 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 Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings you completely destroyed across the Jordan. 11 When we heard this, we lost heart, and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below. 12 Now please swear to me by the Lord that you will also show kindness to my father’s family, because I showed kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father, mother, brothers, sisters, and all who belong to them, and save us from death.” [CSB]
Rahab had faith.
Joshua 2:11b … For Yahweh your God is God in the heavens above and on the earth below. [LEB]
Did you catch that? This gentile woman with a disreputable lifestyle makes some amazing declarations:
- Yahweh – first, she knows the NAME of God!
- Your God – second she recognizes that God has selected Israel and will bless them
- Is God of heaven and earth – third she recognizes the dominion of God over all creation
She had a clear understanding of God. She did not have the law of Moses to read, she did not have to Levites to teach her, she was not there to experience the crossing of the Red Sea. She heard about God and believed in Him. Her actions proved it when she hid the spies.
We further see this faith when the spies told her to tie the scarlet thread to the window, and:
Joshua 2:21 || 21 “Let it be as you say,” she replied, and she sent them away. After they had gone, she tied the scarlet cord to the window. [CSB]
She believed God would spare her, so she hung the cord on the window.
There is yet a third passage that shows that she had faith in Yahweh:
Hebrews 11:31 || 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she welcomed the spies in peace. [LEB]
Wait? This is the FAMOUS Faith Chapter! It includes Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses… and it includes a prostitute from Jericho named Rahab.
The Abrahamic covenant stated that God would bless those who bless Israel. I believe Rahab blessed them by protecting the spies. And God blessed her and her family by sparing their lives (like He did at the Passover, which this is a picture of)
Rahab’s lived out her faith.
When the battle was over, Joshua sent the two spies to Rahab’s place to collect her:
Joshua 6:22–23 || 22 Joshua said to the two men who had scouted the land, “Go to the prostitute’s house and bring the woman out of there, and all who are with her, just as you swore to her.” 23 So the young men who had scouted went in and brought out Rahab and her father, mother, brothers, and all who belonged to her. They brought out her whole family and settled them outside the camp of Israel. [CSB]
Notice that her occupation is stated yet again. Also notice that she had to live outside the camp. That would most likely be due to them being unclean.
Joshua 6:24–25 || 24 They burned the city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house. 25 However, Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, her father’s family, and all who belonged to her, because she hid the messengers Joshua had sent to spy on Jericho, and she still lives in Israel today. [CSB]
Rahab ended up in Israel. Living with them. And I believe living for God. How can I say that?
For Rahab, God was BIG. He was:
- the God of all creation
- the God who blesses and protects His people
- the God who saves
- The God who restores and cleanses
- The God who is pleased to use us if we let Him
Let’s look at Matthew 1:
Matthew 1:5–6 || 5 Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab, Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth, Obed fathered Jesse, 6 and Jesse fathered King David. David fathered Solomon by Uriah’s wife, [CSB]
She married a Jew named Salmon and was the mother of Boaz, who was a Godly man that followed God’s laws and redeemed Ruth, the Moabite – which portrays the work that Jesus came to do.
She was actually the great grandmother of David, the famous king of Israel.
And she is listed in Matthew because she was one of the ancestors in the line of Jesus, the Messiah who came to redeem mankind from the curse of sin that was pronounced in the Garden to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3)
The Abrahamic covenant stated that through Abraham all the nations of the earth would be blessed. How was that accomplished? Through the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. Rahab was a part of the family that Jesus came from!
In Joshua, Rahab is known as a prostitute. In Matthew she is one of the few women named and she is recognized not by her former occupation, but by her prominent position in the lineage of the Messiah. But in Hebrews, her occupation comes up again. I do not believe this is to shame Rahab, but rather, it is to point our the amazing grace and power of our loving God.
How Big Is Your God?
Do you believe God is big enough to change lives like this today? Do you believe that God sees no one as too far gone, too bad, too anti-God to be reached? Do you believe that God wants to change the lives of people around you and is already working in their lives? Do you believe that God can use you to point someone to God? Do you believe that God can use you – even though He knows your background and your current situation?
How big is your God?
Lessons you and I need to take home:
- Everyone, regardless of ethnicity, race, occupation, family background or position is made in the image of God and God sent Jesus for them, too
- Every encounter with other people has the potential to be a divine encounter.
- God wants to use each of us, regardless of our past, to join Him in His work of reconciliation and bless others by sharing His love with them
- What matters is faith – trusting God enough to follow him.