Grace—what a sweet
fragrance. It is the greatest theme in the Bible.
Abounding grace, wondrous
grace, boundless grace, fountain of grace, unfailing
grace, unmeasurable grace, electing grace, matchless
grace, overflowing grace, redeeming grace, pardoning
grace, plenteous grace, unfailing grace, the
fullness of grace, efficacious grace, magnified
grace, refreshing grace, sovereign grace, and
salvation by grace, grace rich and free!
"Oh to grace, how great a
God is exceedingly
gracious to sinful man. Grace is the unmerited and
undeserved favor of a holy God upon sinful radically
depraved human beings.
Grace is the very
opposite of merit. It is totally undeserved favor of
God toward the sinner. However, it is more than
that, it is favor shown to the one who has deserved
the very opposite.
"I'm so glad that God
chose me before the foundation of the world, because
He never would have chosen me after I was born!"
wrote Charles Haddon Spurgeon. The God whom we
worship is the God of grace. No where is it more
evident than in His Word. In Joshua chapter two we
see the grace of God in action in the life of a
When I was in the Baptist
seminary in New Orleans I did my field mission work
in the heart of hell. Every Tuesday and Thursday a
group of us graduate students would go down town to
Jackson Square and Bourbon Street in the French
Quarter and we would share Christ with people. On a
daily basis we encountered radical depravity in its
In Joshua chapter one the
author introduced us to the new commander in chief.
Moses is dead. Joshua will be the general who will
take the children of Israel over the Jordan River
into the Promised Land. The basic theological
message of the Book of Joshua is that the LORD God
has given the land to Israel.
Nothing is said of Joshua
in chapter two. Another person is introduced to us
and what a contrast. We see the LORD God preparing a
woman and two spies for a divine encounter.
GOD AT WORK IN JERICHO (2:1-11)
Jericho was in the heart of hell.
The Canaanites in Jericho
were pagans. The city of Jericho was inhabited since
about 8000 B.C. and it was located six miles west of
the Jordan on a rich oasis. Archaeologists have
discovered that the city was surrounded by double
walls twelve feet between them. Simple houses were
built on top of the timbers laid on top and spread
between the two walls. When the city was destroyed
by Joshua the walls fell out and down.
The inhabitants were
immoral, offered child sacrifices, priestesses were
temple prostitutes, Sodomites were male temple
prostitutes, etc. The Temples of Baal, Ashtoreth and
other Canaanites were centers of vice. Baal was the
principal god of the Canaanites, and his wife
Ashtoreth was their goddess. She was the
personification of the reproductive principle in
nature. Her Babylonian name was Ishtar, Astarte her
Greek name. What made Canaanite worship of Baal so
appealing to Israel was it was held to be the god of
the weather and fertile crops. The worship of these
Canaanite gods consisted of extravagant orgies in
their vice centered temples. Immoral indulgence was
a means of worship for the pagan Canaanites, and
they murdered their first–born children as a
sacrifice to the same gods.
One archaeological find
revealed a number of jars containing the remains of
children and new born babes who had been sacrificed
God sent spies to Rahab's house.
God sent the spies into
the heart of hell to the house of Rahab. "Then
Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as spies secretly
from Shittim, saying, 'Go, view the land, especially
Jericho.' So they went and came into the house of a
harlot whose name was Rahab, and lodged there."
Rahab was a prostitute. It is possible she was also
the owner of an inn. Keil and Delitzsch refer to
zonah as "a harlot, not an innkeeper." That
would have been the best place to find out the
latest gossip and tidbits of information spies are
interested in. No one would have been highly
suspicious of men coming and going from there.
The New Testament
references to Rahab clear up all misunderstanding or
misinterpretation about the lady. She was a
prostitute. That is the only way you can translate
porne. The writer of Hebrews in the chapter
on the great Faith Hall of Fame says, "By faith
Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who
were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies
in peace" (Hebrews 11:31). James 2:25 also mentions
"Rahab the harlot" when referring to this same
woman. We are dealing with a radically depraved
sinner and a great God of grace.
The lies Rahab told the
king were recorded by Joshua, but not approved by
him. Wrong is wrong even if deception is a vital
part of spying. When Rahab hid the spies she placed
herself at great risk and was guilty of treason.
God at work in Rahab's heart.
God was at work in this
pagan woman's life. God's grace always takes us
right where we are in whatever condition it finds
us. God does not tell us to get our life
straightened up and then He will accept us. He
doesn't say clean up your act and then I will save
you. God comes into our sinful lives and changes us
from the inside out. God's grace is for those who
need it. Only sinners qualify. Self-righteous people
need not apply.
The king of Jericho also
had his spies around Rahab's place (Joshua 2:2-7).
In the context God kept Rahab safe from the King of
Jericho and his spies.
It may have been that
where Rahab lived was a tavern or hostel where
travelers boarded overnight. We know that Jericho
was on the caravan trade route which ran between
Babylon and Egypt. The people of Jericho can see
Israel off in the distance camped across the Jordan
It was told the king of
Jericho, saying, “Behold, men from the sons of
Israel have come here tonight to search out the
land.” And the king of Jericho sent word to
Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to
you, who have entered your house, for they have come
to search out all the land.” But the woman had taken
the two men and hidden them, and she said, “Yes, the
men came to me, but I did not know where they were
from. It came about when it was time to shut
the gate at dark, that the men went out; I do not
know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for
you will overtake them.” But she had brought them up
to the roof and hidden them in the stalks of flax
which she had laid in order on the roof. So the men
pursued them on the road to the Jordan to the fords;
and as soon as those who were pursuing them had gone
out, they shut the gate (Joshua 2:2-7).
The spies God sent were
not interested in her professional services; they
were interested in the Promised Land. They were on
the roof, not in the bed. The Israeli spies have
come to spy out the land. "The text carefully avoids
implying a sexual liaison between the spies and
their hostess," writes Richard Hess (Joshua,
p. 83). Verse eight, "Now before they lay down, she
came up to them on the roof . . ." Flax stalks,
three or four feet in length, were piled up on the
roof to dry in the sun. They were used to weave
linen. Perhaps her family made their living by
agriculture. If so they had a marginal lifestyle.
Rahab the spy!
Rahab has been spying
herself! She has also been hearing the rumors. The
king of Jericho and the people did not want to know
the LORD God. Rahab was different. She had heard
about the God of Israel (vv. 9-11).
From whom had she heard
about the LORD God? We are not told. My guess is
from the foreign travelers who passed through her
hostel. The foreign visitors would have told about
what was happening across the river. They would tell
what they heard about Yahweh delivering the Jewish
slaves from the Egyptians. Rahab's conclusion was
the LORD God had given Israel the land of Canaan.
Moreover, there is
something deeper going on in this passage. God is at
work. God was preparing Rahab and the two spies for
a "divine encounter." James Boice reminds us how
Jesus "had to go through Samaria" to meet the
Samarian woman in John 4:4? Jesus entered Samaria to
save a similar woman. The two spies were sent to
Jericho to save Rahab. God was preparing Rahab's
heart to lead her to true faith in Yahweh, the LORD
God of Israel. Now He sends messengers who spy out
the land and deliver Rahab and her family.
Listen to the reasoning
of her faith in Joshua 2:8-12. She said to the
“I know that the Lord has
given you the land, and that the terror of you has
fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the
land have melted away before you. 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 utterly
destroyed. When we heard it, our hearts
melted and no courage remained in any man any longer
because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in
heaven above and on earth beneath."
W. E. Sangster said, "The
very craving after God, is in itself, a signal mark
of His presence, for these desires are not generated
in our hearts by ourselves."
The LORD has given
Israel the land.
Rahab concludes: "the
Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on
earth beneath. Now therefore, please swear to me by
the Lord, since I have dealt kindly with you, that
you also will deal kindly with my father’s
household, and give me a pledge of truth" (Joshua
2:11b-12). Rahab committed her soul to the true and
living God of Israel.
Keil and Delitzsch
observed, "Rahab was convinced of the truth of the
miracles God had wrought for His people, and acted
in firm faith that the true God would give land of
Canaan to the Israelites." The omnipotence of God
had been visibly displayed.
"The fear of the Lord is
the beginning of wisdom." God was at work in the
heart of this pagan woman before the spies arrived!
God strangely moved her heart. Where was God at work
in Canaan? Right here in Rahab's heart. He set up
His camp in the heart of a prostitute. That is what
God's grace does. There is nothing strange here. God
chose Rahab! Who would you have chosen? No one is
good enough for God the way he or she is.
"Should any here,
supposing themselves to be the children of God,
imagine that there is some reason in them why they
should have been chosen, let them know that as yet
they are in the dark concerning the first principles
of grace, and have not yet learned the gospel" (C
God has placed deep
within this woman's heart a growing spiritual
attitude sensitive to His work in her life. God's
grace, His pardon, His eternal love was working in
this pagan's heart.
"If God would have
painted a yellow stripe on the backs of the elect I
would go around lifting shirts. But since He didn't
I must preach `whosoever will' and when `whosoever'
believes I know he is one of the elect," C. H.
If you have an intimate
love relationship with God, He will show you where
He is at work all about you. How do you know God is
at work around you? Jesus said, "No one can come to
Me unless the Father who sent Me drawn him" (John
6:44). Rahab didn't choose to get up and go to God.
He chose her. No one seeks God on his own
initiative. When a man or a woman begin asking
spiritual questions listen carefully because you
know the Holy Spirit of God is at work in that
person's heart. If someone asks you spiritual
questions ask yourself what God is doing in that
person's life. Give your undivided attention to that
person. Listen to the Holy Spirit. He is drawing
that person to Himself. God works in people's hearts
to cause them to seek after Him. When they ask
questions about God, or make observations about Him
you know that He is at work. When men come under
conviction of sin, the righteousness of God, and
eternal judgment you know God is doing something in
GOD CHANGING LIVES IN JERICHO (2:12-16)
Just like the children of
Israel God insists that we depend upon Him. He opens
the doors to sinner's hearts, and He will lead us to
them if we are yielded to Him.
Rahab was willing to help
the spies escape (Joshua 2:4, 12-16).
Now therefore, please
swear to me by the Lord, since I have dealt kindly
with you, that you also will deal kindly with my
father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth,
and spare my father and my mother and my brothers
and my sisters, with all who belong to them, and
deliver our lives from death.” So the men said to
her, “Our life for yours if you do not tell this
business of ours; and it shall come about when the
Lord gives us the land that we will deal kindly and
faithfully with you.” Then she let them down by a
rope through the window, for her house was on the
city wall, so that she was living on the wall. She
said to them, “Go to the hill country, so that the
pursuers will not happen upon you, and hide
yourselves there for three days until the pursuers
return. Then afterward you may go on your way.”
The word "kindness" and
"kindly" is Chesed in the original and means
covenant love, loyalty or love, faithfulness (v.
12). It is a pledge of faith, faithfulness, and
Saved by grace through faith
The scarlet rope is tied
in her window (Joshua 2:18). The spies told her, "We
shall be free from this oath to you which you
have made us swear, unless, when we come into the
land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the
window through which you let us down, and gather to
yourself into the house your father and your mother
and your brothers and all your father’s household"
(Joshua 2:17-18). If this was the same rope with
which they were let down the wall it could be the
deliverance of the spies. Her response, “According
to your words, so be it.” So she sent them away, and
they departed; and she tied the scarlet cord in the
window" (Joshua 2:21). The people of the land had no
idea what that piece of rope was for in her window.
All believers are
protected and sheltered from the wrath of God by
God's scarlet cord that symbolizes the blood of
Jesus. The world sees the cross every day and does
not understand the meaning of it. There is cleaning
power in the blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse every
sin (1 John 1:7-9). Jesus is the Lamb of God that
takes away our sins (John 1:29, 31), and not only
our sins but also the sins of the whole world. He
gave Himself as a ransom for our sins, (Titus 2:14)
"knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable
things like silver or gold from your futile way of
life inherited from your forefathers, but with
precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and
spotless, the blood of Christ" (1 Peter
This great truth runs
like a scarlet thread through all the Scripture from
God providing garments of skin to cover the naked
bodies of Adam and Ever after they disobeyed God and
Abel's lamb slain to the Lamb on the throne in
heaven. C. H. Spurgeon said cut the scriptures at
any point and it will bleed the blood Christ.
All who are in Christ are
sheltered by His precious blood. Christ died for me,
therefore my soul is safe. Christ is the security
for all who put their trust in His precious blood.
Romans 10:9-10 sounds
like Rahab in Joshua. Paul wrote, "that if you
confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and
believe in your heart that God raised Him from the
dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person
believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the
mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."
Rahab committed her soul
to the LORD. Trusting in Jesus Christ alone saves
you. You confess because you already believe. You
are not saved by confessing Christ. You re saved by
trusting Christ. You confess before men because you
have put your faith in Him alone to save you. You
confess because you are saved.
How do we know she was
saved by grace through faith? Rahab exhibited her
faith in the LORD to save her and her family. It was
demonstrated by the fact she tied the scarlet rope
in the window, hid the spies, and helped them
escape. It is faith in action. She acted on what she
knew to be true. The scarlet rope in the window
anticipates the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the
cross to atone for the sins of the world.
Evidence of Rahab's salvation
In Hebrews 11:31 Rahab,
not Joshua is the person whose faith is honored.
Matthew 1:5, 6 informs us she married Salmon. She is
in the genealogy of the Messiah. She is the
great-grandmother of King David! She was ancestor of
Joseph, husband of Mary the mother of Jesus. Wow!
What a savior!
Rahab had nothing going
for her except for the abounding grace of God. She
was a Gentile. She was a foreigner to the "covenants
of the promise, without hope and without God in the
world" (Eph. 2:12). Moreover, she was an Amorite,
the most corrupt, vile people who sacrificed their
children in religious worship. She was a pagan
prostitute. But God in His grace saved her.
James 2:21, 25 reads:
"Was not Abraham our father justified by works when
he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? . . . In
the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also
justified by works when she received the messengers
and sent them out by another way?" Keep in mind the
context of both Joshua chapter two and James two.
Harry Ironside made this keen observation:
When she hid the spies,
she showed that real faith that was in her heart.
Her faith was manifested by her works in hiding them
and sending them away safely. Whenever there is
genuine faith in God it will always be accompanied
by good works. We are not saved by works. Let no one
make a mistake as to that. Scripture is absolutely
clear that we are saved by grace alone through
faith, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of
God. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the
Word of God." "Not of works, lest any man should
boast." But on the other hand, where there is
genuine faith, where people really believe God,
where they truly receive His testimony, their faith
will be manifested by their works, and that is what
the Apostle James stresses (Harry Ironside,
Addresses on the Book of Joshua. New York:
Loizeaux Brothers, 1950, p. 29).
The God of grace is
interested in the Rahab's all about us.
Rahab is a burning log
snatched out of the fire. She is an example of
sinners whom Jesus Christ came to save. She was dead
in trespasses and sins, and was quickened by the
saving grace and mercy of the true Joshua, the Lord
God doesn't say clean up
your act and then I will save you. That is legalism.
God approaches the lost sinner and begins working in
his heart. God seeks the lost to save them. God is
interested in sinners, not self-righteous people.
Rahab is a sinner. I am a sinner. What matters is
who Jesus Christ is, and what He has done for the
sinner. Will I humble myself and trust in Christ
alone to save me?
James Boice candidly
observes, "Rahab was no worse than we are, and yet
God saves us. It is not the righteous, but sinners
whom Christ redeems" (Joshua, p. 30).
Joshua 2:21 tells us
Rahab was a home missionary. She was concerned that
her family was brought to safety when Israel invaded
Jericho. When you are truly saved you want your
loved ones to come to Christ.
Go and sin no more!
Jesus was teaching in the
Temple one morning when the scribes and Pharisees
brought a woman caught in the very act of adultery.
The Jewish law said such a woman should be stoned to
death. They wanted to know what Jesus thought. It
was a set up. They wanted to trap Him. Jesus stooped
down and began to write on the ground. God was
writing. What would He say? They "persisted in
asking Him." It was push, push push. We'll get you
yet. Jesus stood up and said to them, "He who is
without sin among you, let him be the first to throw
a stone at her" (John 8:7). Then He stooped down and
wrote on the ground again. His listeners began and
continued to go out one by one until Jesus was alone
with the woman. Jesus stood up and asked her,
"Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?" She
answered, "No one, Lord." Jesus responded, "Neither
do I condemn you; go your way; from now on sin no
more" (John 8:10-11).
That woman could also go
out saying to herself, "No condemnation! Sin no
more! What grace!"
You and I say with all
our heart, "I am secure because of the scarlet
thread in the window. I am secure in the precious
blood of Jesus. Saved by grace!"
Salvation is by grace
through faith. Rahab the sinner was saved by placing
the rope in the window. The rope was a symbol of her
faith. It pictured the blood smeared above the door
in the home of Israelites on their last night in
Egypt. It is a marvelous picture of what God has
done for us in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Have you had a divine
encounter lately? Has He brought into your life
someone whom He has prepared for an encounter with
His saving grace? And now He wants you to be that
messenger to share the good news of Christ's saving
CONFORMATION OF GOD'S WORK (V. 24)
There are some beautiful
spiritual principles in this great chapter.
It is a reminder of our
spiritual depravity and the grace of God for all
sinners. "And you were dead in your offenses and
sins, in which you previously walked according to
the course of this world, according to the prince of
the power of the air, of the spirit that is now
working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we
too all previously lived in the lusts of our flesh,
indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind,
and were by nature children of wrath, just as the
rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His
great love with which He loved us, even when we were
dead in our wrongdoings, made us alive together with
Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us
up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly
places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come
He might show the boundless riches of His grace in
kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you
have been saved through faith; and this is not of
yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of
works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:1-9).
Who are the names of
members of your family who are lost? Will you make a
commitment to pray over them everyday until they are
Rahab was concerned about
others in her family. When God shows mercy to one
person in a household, it is an indication that He
wants to save every member of that family. God is at
work in the AWANA program. Acts 16:31 is a promise
for all of us to claim. Paul and Silas told the
Philippian jailer and his family, "Believe in the
Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your
household.” No the family was not saved
automatically when the jailer was saved. He
put his faith in Christ and then one by one all the
rest of the members of his family trusted in Christ.
Where is God at work in your Jericho? Pray that God
will take the whole family of all of our AWANA
Rahab made a commitment
of her life. She made a decision to side with Israel
against the king of Jericho. She would have been
guilty of treason in his sight if he knew what was
going on. Where do you stand in your commitment to
Christ? Have you sided with Him? How do you know? Do
you have the security of knowing that if you were to
die today you would be saved from the judgment of
God? Why? There is eternal security only in the
redeeming blood of the Lamb of God who gave Himself
for our sins. A scarlet cord runs through the
Scriptures. His blood and nothing else will save us.
"Surely the LORD has
given all the land into our hands" (Joshua 2:24a).
On which side of the Jordan do you chose to live? If
you know Christ as your personal Savior please do
not be content with just being saved. Let's go on
into a mature intimate love relationship with Jesus
"All the inhabitants of
the land, moreover, have melted away before us" (v.
24b). That is what happens when God is at work in
your heart. Are you ready to go across this Jordan
and take Jericho? You are not ready if you have
never come to Jesus Christ. That is where the new
life begins. Since you know Jesus as your savior
let's cross the Jericho in our lives, go into Canaan
and kill some giants.