1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there.
Before the conquest of Canaan commenced, Joshua wanted to know the best way to go about it. He sent spies into the land so they could report on where the best place would be to attack, especially on the great fortified city of Jericho. The writer does not explain how they decided to stay with Rahab, however it was this choice that later saves them. A point to note about Rahab was that she was a prostitute. God does not play favorites when He shows mercy, nor does He reveal His reasons. 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” Romans 9
2 And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” 3 Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” 4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” 6 But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. 7 So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out.
Although Rahab lies to the king, she is doing what is right in God’s eyes. Her words protect the men that are part of His chosen people. In Ecclesiastes 3: 8 it says there is a time for love, a time for hate, a time for war, and a time for peace. God has all things planned to work for a greater purpose, and this is no exception. War was on the horizon, and God had given revelation to Rahab so she would protect the spies, and in turn her life would be spared. Because of her faith in a God she had not known until this point, she is mentioned again in the New Testament, as part of the lineage of Christ.
Principle: God’s words and commands are of higher authority than man’s.
8 Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 9 and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 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 Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.
Rahab expresses her fear in the Israelites because of their relation to God. She knows that God is the one who is leading them, and the stories of how they had left Egypt and conquered other kings, and that is why the entire city is fearful for their lives. Her act of faithfulness in helping the spies becomes a legacy to her name. “By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.” Hebrews 11:31
12 “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.”
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.”
15 So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. 16 She said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.”
17 Now the men had said to her, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us 18 unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. 19 If any of them go outside your house into the street, their blood will be on their own heads; we will not be responsible. As for those who are in the house with you, their blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on them. 20 But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.”
21 “Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.”
So she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.
22 When they left, they went into the hills and stayed there three days, until the pursuers had searched all along the road and returned without finding them. 23 Then the two men started back. They went down out of the hills, forded the river and came to Joshua son of Nun and told him everything that had happened to them. 24 They said to Joshua, “The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.”
A deal was made, and Rahab was going to live up to her side of the bargain, as were the Israelites. This would have brought them all great assurance that what God had promised was about to be realized. Until this news from what transpired from with Rahab, the camp must have been in increasing nervous anticipation about what would befall them when they began to storm the land. This news would have brought great peace to all the Israelites because this meant that God had already prepared a way for them, by way of an ‘insider’. She already knew what God was trying to tell His people; that He was continuing to deliver on His promises.
Principle: God will deliver on His promises.
In summary of this chapter it is important to see the why in all of this. Why is this story even mentioned? Why not just tell us the story of how the Israelites sacked Jericho.. who cares if one woman and her family were saved?
Rahab is a shining example of what it means to see the end, and know that the only way out is through God. She exemplifies placing faith in someone unseen by examining the evidence of what that someone has left behind. She hears the stories of how the Israelites miraculously overcome trial after trial, and deducts that this God they worship is the real thing. What evidence can we deduce by the world around us?
Application: Believe that God is real. He is an ever present source of inspiration, satisfaction, and help in time of need. Don’t forget that in all things we must honor Him. While the world crumbles around us we must stand for what we know is true, because it has been revealed to us. We must cling to Him, and His promise that He is our refuge.