This sermon is number 1 in a series of 5
Little Women - Part 1
by David Legge | Copyright © 2007 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Now I have a number of readings for you this evening, and I want you to turn with me to all of them. First of all we're turning to the book of Joshua, the book of Joshua chapter 2 - and the first two readings are the ones I want you to mark particularly, but it wouldn't do any harm to mark them all because we'll be referring to them as we go through in our first study: 'Little Women', lessons from lesser known women of the Bible.
Joshua chapter 2 verse 1: "And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there. And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I know not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof. And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate. And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof; 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. 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, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have showed you kindness, that ye will also show kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token: And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death. And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the LORD hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee. Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall. And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and afterward may ye go your way. And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear. Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father's household, home unto thee. And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him. And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear. And she said, According unto your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window".
Then turning a couple of chapters to chapter 6, please, and verse 17: "And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD. So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword. But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot's house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her. And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel. And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho".
Now put a marker please in those two portions, and then come with me to Matthew's gospel chapter 1, and we are given the genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ as Matthew presents it. In verse 1 it begins: "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab" - which is 'Rahab', the Authorised Version puts a 'c' in there to help us translate, but really it is 'Rahab', which is the same person - "and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias".
Then turn with me to Hebrews chapter 11 please, that great 'Hall of Faith', Hebrews chapter 11 verse 31 - I should hear more pages going over than that! Hebrews 11:31, just one verse: "By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace". Then one final verse, James, just after Hebrews, chapter 2 and verse 25, James chapter 2 and verse 25: "Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?".
One of the best sellers in fiction literature must surely be espionage, spy thrillers. Now I know confession is good for the soul, but you don't have to tell us whether it's your favourite or not tonight - but many people enjoy a good spy thriller, and the 'James Bond' phenomenon is proof in point of that fact. People love them, simply because there is often an exciting cocktail of danger, intrigue, mystery, even romance. I suppose there is a desire in all of us for that type of escapism, and maybe we even imagine ourselves in the mix of such an adventure. Well, if you love a thriller with intrigue, danger, mystery and romance, look no further: there is one here in this great story of Rahab - but the only difference is, it's not fiction, it's true.
Now if this were a movie, I imagine that the opening caption would tell us the location of our story: Jericho, Canaan. Perhaps the opening scene, probably, would take the form of a camera shoot scanning across Jericho to show us what it's like: a well-watered oasis, a beautiful cultured city that is surrounded by desert and rocky ravines. You would probably notice that there is a dark shadow that is cast on its inhabitants, because towering around the city of Jericho are her massive walls, promising security, protection, defence from invaders to its people. Archaeologists have done a great deal of research at Jericho, and they tell us that the city covered about 8 acres, it had inner and outer walls. The inner wall was 12 feet thick, the outer wall was 6 feet thick, and both walls stood approximately 30 feet high. The ramparts on the walls were as broad as a street, so broad that you could build houses on them, and there were such houses built on it.
Now if this were a film, I imagine that the director at this moment, after showing us where the setting is, would very slowly begin to focus in on one lone figure of a woman standing on these great walls outside one of these elevated houses. She, of course, is the central character in this saga: Rahab the harlot. Now running parallel to this great personal story of Rahab is the story of General Joshua and the Israelites. So for a moment our attention is now taken away from that scene in Jericho to another place called Acacia Grove, which is east side of Jordan, just a little bit north of the Dead Sea. There the Israelite army is camped with their General, and they are planning to invade this great city of Jericho, because Jericho is the gateway to the land of Canaan, which was the land that God had promised the Israelites. So Joshua, according to that plan and the promise of God, sends two spies out to scout out for intelligence before they go in for the assault.
Now here is the point at which our three main characters, the two spies and Rahab the harlot, encounter one another. Verse 1, the spies found shelter in the house of a harlot, Rahab. Now we, in our Christian age, with our teachings on holiness - which, sadly, are lacking in these particular days, yet we still believe Christians should be holy people - we can't understand why these two spies would have went to a harlot's house. Some have even insinuated that they were up to no good when they were doing it, even Bible scholars. Now, the Hebrew far from indicates that, and indeed the whole point of the story is that this was the ideal place for two foreign spies to hide. Harlots often were innkeepers, but apart from that fact - and I don't believe that this was an inn, but her own house - two foreign strangers away from home, entering a brothel, would not have raised any suspicion whatsoever. It was quite normal, and indeed it was probably one of the best places for these two men to hide inconspicuously.
Now of the many, many people that lived in this ancient city of Jericho, we know only the name of one: Rahab the harlot. The reason is, as this great story transpires, Rahab comes to believe in the God of the Israelites. Then, subsequently, she shelters these spies, and by doing so she commits high treason against her own nation. Then she lies about the whereabouts of those spies who she is hiding up on the roof, and then she goes up to them and she does a deal with them to save herself and her family. It's such an adventure, it's a roller coaster ride that ends with Rahab being accepted by Israel, almost as an honorary Israelite! She marries a man called Salmon, who may well have been one of these spies that stayed in her home. She gives birth to a baby boy who becomes King David the Great's great-grandfather, and if that's not enough - wonder of wonders - this harlot Rahab is recorded in the family tree of Jesus Christ in Matthew chapter 1 verse 5, and in the hall of faith in Hebrews chapter 11. What a woman! What a story! But you see, it's more than a story of just Rahab, General Joshua and the Israelites, this is the story of every soul that is saved by grace through faith, because this is the story of salvation. Hopefully, by the end of this evening, you'll be rejoicing in it once more if you're a Christian, and if you're not: please God, that you may experience this wonderful salvation yourself, just as Rahab did.
Now first of all what I want us to look at is: who was Rahab? What was she? Now the name 'Rahab' means 'storm', or it could mean 'insolence', 'fierceness', 'arrogance', it can also mean 'broad' or 'spacious'. Now I'm not going to go into too much detail of what those things might mean, but I think they're self-explanatory, and without interpreting too much into a name, they certainly speak well of one who is a harlot. Now I want us to think of what she was and who she was under three headings. First of all there is her nationality, then there is her religion, and then there is her occupation.
Let's look first of all at her nationality: she was a Canaanite, and resided in the city of Jericho. Now the Canaanite was of a race that was inherently wicked, and is condemned right throughout Scripture as immoral and idolatrous. Jericho was a Canaanite city, and because of that it was a condemned city - judgement was coming to the city. If you were an inhabitant of Jericho, whether you felt judgement was coming to your town or not, it didn't matter, because it was definitely coming! Let me show you why we know this, if you turn with me to Genesis chapter 15, beginning to read at verse 13. You remember that God promised Abraham this land of Canaan as his own, and promised him an inheritance of a great seed - verse 13 of Genesis 15: 'And God said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs', that is the land of Egypt, 'and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full'. God was waiting until the iniquity of the Amorites, or I could put in there 'Canaanites', was to such an extent that He judged them, put them out of the land, and gave Israel that land.
Let me just say as an aside, many of the enemies of the word of God and the Gospel today accuse God of cruelty when He purged the Canaanites out of the land to give the Israelites the land of Canaan as His promise to them. Now let me say that that is absolutely fallacious, and these people are ignorant, and do not believe them because they do not know the Scriptures! The verses you have just read from Genesis 15 show that God waited 400 years before He judged the land of Canaan. He gave these people 400 years to turn from their idolatry, and believe in Jehovah, the God of Israel. After those 400 years, when the Israelites were delivered out of Egypt, they walked through the desert 40 years. So God gave them an extra 40 years to change their ways and believe in God after the exodus. Now in the additional days of waiting, while Israel camped around Jericho, where we are now, we see from chapter 4 and chapter 5 that these were extra days that were given so that Jericho could look out their windows and see the Israelites encamped, realise that they were coming to sack the city - they could have repented! They could have believed! But they didn't! If that were not enough, then there came the week when Israel marched around the city, chapter 6 and verse 14 - and then they had again, as Canaanites, an opportunity to flee from the wrath to come, but they didn't! I'm left thinking: what a patient, long-suffering God we have! Don't you swallow this fly that 'God is a cruel, vicious God, who killed all these men women and children and put them out of the land'. These were wicked people who hardened their heart against God and, after many many opportunities of long-suffering mercy and grace, shunned God's invitation.
But it was during this period of grace that Rahab was saved. I don't want to go into too much detail just now, but there may be someone, or some folk in this meeting, and you're just like these Canaanites. Many folk say: 'How could a God of love send people to hell?', when that same God of love sent His Son to the cross, and for the last 2000 years has presented a Gospel of grace and love and mercy to people, if they would only believe in Him. Maybe you're one of these people, 2000 years later, who is still refusing His offer of mercy - well, you need to know that judgement is coming, and the day of grace, God's offer, is coming shortly to a close! May you take His offer now. But what I do want you to see tonight is: in her nationality she was condemned, in the city she lived she was condemned.
Then look with me at her religion, because the Canaanites were infamous idolaters. Their chief gods were many, some of them were 'El', 'Baal', 'Dagon', 'Ashteroth', and these gods and goddesses were gods and goddesses of sex and of war - very similar to the things that people worship today: sexual immorality and violence. This is what was worshipped! The religious practices of these forms of worship involved ritual prostitution, and even sacrificing their own children to the fire, to their false gods.
So this woman, Rahab, was condemned because of her nationality - Canaanite - she was condemned because of her religion, she was an idolater. Then thirdly I want you to see her occupation: she was a prostitute. Now a prostitute, I don't need to define that for you I'm sure, but maybe I do need to say that a prostitute in this day and age that we are speaking of could engage in sexual relationships outside marriage as a profession either for mercenary gain for herself, or out of religious devotion. There were ritualistic prostitutes in the Baal and Astheroth worship of the Canaanites, just as there are in some religions even today across our world. But the word 'harlot' here in relation to Rahab seems to indicate only that she was a mercenary prostitute, she was in it for the money. We imagine that she had a good vantage point for her trade, because this house of hers was on the top of the wall, and she was able to see when the strangers were coming in who would be obvious candidates for her services. So she was condemned because of her Canaanite nationality, she was condemned because of her religious idolatry, and she was condemned because of her occupation of harlotry.
Let me just remind you what the Bible says about the profession of a prostitute. The law says that a priest's daughter who was a prostitute was to be burned, Leviticus 21. An ordinary woman, if she was found to be a prostitute, Deuteronomy 22 says, was to be stoned to death. The Levite's were forbidden to marry a prostitute, Leviticus 21, and money earned from prostitution was forbidden to be offered in the temple as a payment for a vow, Deuteronomy 23. Right throughout Scripture prostitutes are seen as adventuresses who lead men to ruin, Proverbs 23, Revelation 17. They are seen as those who frequent public places in order to seduce others, often wearing seductive dress, 1 Kings 22, Proverbs 7, Isaiah 3. They are seen as those who are loud and have an unrestrained manner, Proverbs 7, Isaiah 3, Jeremiah 2. They are seen to be those who have beguiling tongues, Proverbs 6 and 24. Do you see the picture of what this woman was? In her nationality, in her religion, in her occupation, she was a sinner in every possible understanding of the word.
But hold your horses! Please do not make the mistake of looking down your nose at her! Because we, as people of the New Testament, should know all too well, as Romans 3:23 tells us, that whether we are religious or irreligious, moral or immoral, clean or dirty in that sense, there is no difference: for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Please, if you have this distinction in your mind that you are somehow better than she is, you have missed the whole point of what it is when the Bible teaches that we are all sinners by nature - however that sin comes out.
Now that we have looked at who she is and what she is, let's look at what happened to her. There are four things that I want to share with you tonight that happened to her that are so instructive, and I trust will be to your eternal benefit. First of all we see that she heard about God. She heard about God! As well as entertaining the locals of Jericho, Rahab, because of where she was situated on the wall, would have often welcomed guests from various caravans who, along their route, crisscrossed with the city of Jericho. So all sorts of men were coming through her premises, men from all over the East, and as they swarmed the gates of Jericho they would be telling about the folk who were camped outside the city. They would be telling stories of years gone by, of how the Israelites were so strong and God defeated their enemies, how they crossed the Red Sea and so on and so forth. Indeed, from archaeological finds from pottery, we find some pieces that were imported at this time that history was written on, and they were sent all over the particular empire of the day. There are other international diplomatic letters that have been found, so there was a lot of communication going on, and it is feasible to imagine that Israel's exodus, the great conquests, could have been widely reported throughout the then contemporary world. They didn't have Internet, they didn't have TV and radio, but the word got around as it gets around today.
So Rahab was party to many of these marvellous stories about the exploits of the Israelites and their God. She testifies, look at verse 10, 'For we have heard how the LORD', this is chapter 2 of Joshua, verse 10, '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, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed'. So she had heard about this, how the Lord cleared the Red Sea and delivered the Israelites from Egypt across into the wilderness. Then we read further that she understood the mighty power that God had over nature, over the Egyptians, even over their judgement and very death. She understood the ownership of the Israelites by Jehovah, she understood that the Israelites knew what it was for Jehovah to intervene for them and deliver them from their enemies. She also says that she heard about how God destroyed Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites - if you want to read about that, it's found in Numbers 21. All of these events that she quotes here happened over the space of about 40 years ago, and she still remembers them, they are still talked about! She heard about God: 'I have heard', 'We have heard'.
What does Romans 10 verse 17 say? 'Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God'. Do you think I'm pushing the application a little? Well, come with me: not only did she hear about God, she believed on Him. Look at verse 9: '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'. 'I know' - what did she know? First of all, God had given Canaan to the Israelites. Secondly, in verse 9 we see that she knew that a great fear of the Israelites had fallen on her land. Thirdly, from verse 9, she knew that her own inhabitants were fainting with fear of the Israelites. If you look at verse 11: 'As soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath'. She knew that the people of Jericho's heart melted, they lost courage. Verse 11 tells us, fifthly, that she knew that Jehovah - it's translated there 'the LORD', which is the name 'Jehovah', which really is not a true translation because the name is four letters 'YHWH', with no vowels, you can't pronounce it - but that is the proper name of God! 'I AM', and Rahab knew that name! She knew that this One was the God of heaven and the God of the earth. Could I put it in New Testament language for you? She knew whom she had believed! Isn't that what Paul said in 2 Timothy 1:12: 'I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day'.
Sixthly, in verse 13, she knew something else: that she and her family would perish, unless they found refuge in God. She had heard a message of who the real living God was in all of His holiness, wrath against sin - in other words, she had heard a message of judgement, and that led her to faith in Jehovah God. We need to remember this evening, lest we forget that it is faith that saves, Romans chapter 4 and verse 5: 'But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his', or her, 'faith is counted for righteousness'. She believed: she heard, and she knew, and she was saved! She was able to say: 'I know', and that is the assurance of her salvation that was also brought by her faith in this great God - 'I know'! The writer to the Hebrews, as we read, speaks of Rahab's great faith. Hebrews 11:31: 'By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace'.
Now I know she lied, and I'm not going to go into a whole discussion about whether it was right or wrong for her to lie in such a circumstance, but the fact of the matter is: the Bible nowhere commends her lying, but it does commend her faith. She was a prostitute who, I'm sure, had been used to lying a lot about the whereabouts of men, but what God commends to us tonight is not the etiquette of her profession, but the confession of her faith in God. She heard about God, she believed in God, and then we find that she showed her faith in God to others.
Of course, the story goes that the rumours spread that the two spies were in her home, and a summary of it is there for us in chapter 2 verse 2. The King of Jericho sent some messengers, and said: 'We've heard that you're holding these two boys in your brothel. We want you to bring them forth'. The woman quickly took the two men and put them on the roof, and hid them beneath some flax, and she came and said to these messengers: 'Well, they have gone, and I don't know where they've gone to, but you better go out and catch them now. You might be able to get them if you go quickly'. As soon as they left the city walls, they shut the gate behind them, and then she ran up to these two spies and made the deal with them: 'If you save me and you save my family, I'll keep you safe, but when you come don't destroy us for my lovingkindness towards you'. That's what the word is 'hessed', 'I want to enter into a covenant with you, that you will agree with me, when you come to take the city, that you will not wipe us out, that we will be saved'.
The story goes that she kept these men safe, and then she let them go, and told them to stay around the outskirts of the city for three days, and then escape and bring their message of intelligence back to the Israelite army and General Joshua. Now we read this evening James 2 and verse 25, let me remind you about what it says: 'Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?'. Now that phrase 'justified by works' grates on us, simply because - as we have just read - we are so used with Romans and Galatians and other portions of the New Testament telling us that it is not by him that works, but him that believes that the ungodly are justified. What we need to understand is the intention of the writer of Romans and the writer of James. The writer of Romans is wanting to show us that salvation is by faith apart from the law, by faith alone in Christ alone; but the writer of James in his epistle is wanting to teach us how we are justified not before God, but before men, how we can show our faith to others so that they might believe also.
Now this is important: the Bible teaches clearly that we are justified before God by faith alone; yet James teaches that we are justified before men by works - faith without works is dead. We are better to show people our faith by our works - chapter 2 of James, if you want to read that, verses 17 and 18. Then James gives us an illustration of this by the character Rahab, telling us that she was justified before men and women - the Israelites, that is, who eventually she went and lived among - because she kept these two spies and she let them go, proving her faith. Now please notice the difference of emphasis: Hebrews 11 and verse 31 that we read says, 'By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace' - it links her faith to the receiving of the spies - but James talks about how she received the spies, and then let them go out another way. The emphasis there is that she was justified before the Israelites by letting them go. Let me reinforce this, what I'm talking about here is the fact of the matter that, right up to the moment she let them go, she could have betrayed them. She could have killed them, she could have blown the whistle on them, and we read from the passage in Joshua 2:20 that these two spies had lingering doubts about Rahab. Verse 20 of chapter 2: 'If thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear'. So in order to justify herself before the rest of Israel and these two spies, she not only had to receive them, but let them go another way - and by doing so, she proved that she was a friend of God, and proved that she was a friend of theirs.
Is that not true of us? We hear about God, and we put faith in God, but we have a duty to show that faith to others, show that our faith is alive and not dead. Side with God's people, and God's ways, and God's word; rather than with this world. She heard, she believed, she showed her faith to others, and fourthly: she was saved. We have heard in recent days how salvation is not just a once in a moment experience: we have been saved, that's our justification; we are being saved, that's our sanctification; and one day we will be saved in our glorification and the consummation of all things. So, though she was justified by her faith, what she heard about God, that day of deliverance had still to come. We read of it in chapter 6 and verse 25: 'And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho'.
Before the spies came she believed. What does John 1 verses 11 and 12 tell us? 'He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name' - and she believed in that same God, and she was justified by faith because she had received the message. Then, when the judgement came, that great salvation deliverance was fully realised. Friends this evening, what a great type, what a lovely, wonderful picture of our salvation we have. If you look at chapter 2 and verses 18 and 19: 'Behold', here were their instructions to her after they had made this covenant, 'when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father's household, home unto thee. And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him'.
So the spies promised Rahab and her family: 'If you hang the scarlet cord in the window of your home, and if everyone remains indoors during the attack of judgement, you will be saved'. Now you can't tell me that this harlot who had been hearing all the stories about exodus and conquest, didn't know about the Passover, and didn't know about the children of Israel in Egypt taking the hyssop and putting the blood from the basin on the lintel and the door posts, sheltering beneath the shed blood of the lamb while the Angel of Death went through in judgement - she knew all about it! She had heard about their deliverance, and do you not think that she realised that this speaks of the same salvation by grace, through faith that the Israelites have known? Picture the scene: there it is, hanging from the concrete windowsill of Rahab's house, a scarlet cord, as scarlet as her deep-dyed sins, and it dangles down the outer wall of Jericho, scraping against it with every wisp of wind. To and fro it goes, marking the days until the judgement comes. Watch, as Rahab daily comes to that window, and peers across the wilderness from her wall vantage point, saying: 'Perhaps today, Lord, perhaps today'. Then, one day, she sees in the distance a sea of men like a darkening storm. Perhaps she asks in her mind: 'Here are the Israelites coming! Will these fierce soldiers remember the word of the two spies? Will this powerful God honour the promise that they gave me? When they said', in verse 14, ''Our life for yours', will they honour their word?'.
Maybe she runs into the house again, and she reminds her mother and her father, and her sisters and her brothers, and maybe some children in the family to stay inside the house, to not even go one step outside the door lest they perish. That first day Rahab watches, and seven priests carry an ark, the Ark of the Covenant, led by thousands of men around the city. She braces herself, she thinks it's coming now, but nothing happens. The next day comes, and the next day, and five more days this continues - and then, on the sunrise on the seventh day, the men of Israel march again. They encircle Jericho seven times, and suddenly there is the blowing of a rams horn, and the thunderous cry of the people, and the city walls are shattered! The Israelites rush in and sack the city, and when the smoke of the battle of Jericho settles, miraculously one house is still left standing - Rahab's.
We believe, by inference, that that was the only section of the wall that did not fall - of course, it was burned when they burned the city down, the two spies had to go and get them and bring the family out - but the promise was that their house would be saved, and they in it. I couldn't help thinking, and I'm sure some of you are already doing it now, of the words of our Lord Jesus when He said: 'Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock'. The Lord there in the Sermon on the Mount was talking about judgement, that the only way to be safe from judgement is to have your life built on the word of Christ:
'On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand'.
As the Israelites' salvation had been secured by the scarlet strip of blood on the door posts and lintel in Egypt, Rahab's salvation had been secured by that scarlet strip of cord. All that scarlet typology was pointing towards the shedding of the scarlet blood of Christ in which we put our faith - for, as Paul says, our Passover, Christ, has been sacrificed. Sure, it's the red thread right throughout this whole book, for blood circulates on every page from cover to cover, for without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Whether you take it from Abel's slain lamb at the gate of Eden, right to the Lamb sitting on the throne in the book of Revelation in the Heavenly City, and the redeemed throng singing praise unto the Lamb that was slain and has loosed us from His sins in His own blood. I ask you tonight: are you trusting in the heavenly Joshua? 'Joshua' means 'Jesus', 'Jehovah', 'the Saviour' - you could read chapter 6 and verse 25 and substitute the word 'Joshua' for 'Jesus': 'And Jesus saved Rahab the harlot'. It was Joshua then, but it was faith in Jehovah Saviour that saved her.
Most likely people walked by her window, and hadn't a clue what this red thread was, just like people mock and scorn Christianity, and laugh at it - they don't understand it today. The cross is foolishness to them, but it is the only way to be saved. No one was laughing at Rahab when hers was the only family that survived! Is your family trusting in the heavenly Joshua? Are you seeking to save your family with this Gospel? You know, this story tells us that this salvation is good enough for a whole household, just like the Philippian jailer who experienced an earthquake in his situation, and he thought it was the end of all for him, and he was going to kill himself. He said to Paul and Silas: 'What must I do to be saved?', they said, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house' - and they believed as well and were baptised.
Oh, there are many things that we can learn from this lesser known little woman, Rahab. We can learn, one, the importance of women in redemptive history. Do you know that along with Sarah, Abraham's wife, Rahab is the only one that is recorded in the hall of faith in Hebrews chapter 11? A harlot who wasn't even an Israelite! It can tell us secondly that the grace of God knows no bounds - hallelujah! Thirdly, it tells us that salvation is through faith alone in Christ alone. Fourthly, that salvation, by faith alone in Christ alone, brings you into the family of God and His Son. Matthew 1 verse 5 tells us that this harlot, Rahab, went to live in Israel, and married an Israelite, Salmon, and was the mother of Boaz - the mother-in-law of Ruth, the great-great-grandmother of David, and eventually came in the line of the sinless Saviour whose blood was shed for us all! What a story! Is it yours? Did you hear me? Is it your story?
'There is a story sweet to hear,
I love to tell it too,
It fills my heart with hope and cheer,
'Tis old, yet ever new.
It tells me God the Son came down
From His bright throne to die,
That I might wear a starry crown
And dwell with Him on high.
They say He bore the cross for me
And suffered in my place,
That I might always happy be,
And ransomed by His grace.
Oh wondrous love, so great, so vast,
So boundless and so free!
Lo, at Thy feet my all I cast,
And covet only Thee'.
May it be your story by faith tonight. Do come back next week, and we'll be looking at the little woman 'Abigail' from the scriptures.
Father, we pray that every heart here tonight will be fully trusting in the Lord Jesus alone, and have the assurance of that faith - that He has said: 'Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out'. Lord, we thank You for a wonderful salvation, that all manner of sin and blasphemy is forgiven of men, for the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanseth from all sin. Thank You, Lord, thrill us again tonight with the wonder of it all. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the first recording in his 'Little Women' series, entitled "Rahab" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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