Joshua had been appointed, after the death of Moses, to lead God’s people into the land of promise. Canaan was to be their inheritance according to the covenant given to Abraham. The Canaanites were to be expelled from the land, not because of the righteousness of the people, but because of the “wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out” (Deut. 9:4–5). This inheritance should be remembered by each of us by these words of God’s Scripture: Abraham “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. …But now they desire a better (country), that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Heb. 11).
The promise of victory comes from the Sovereign Lord who speaks to Joshua, saying, “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Joshua is to “Be strong and of a good courage.” This strength comes from the Lord’s promise to have a land for an inheritance, as well as the promise that He will be present with His people. Joshua is also to be strong and “very courageous,” so that he may observe God’s law given to His servant Moses. Strength and courage come from the Lord who promises his people that He will be with them, that He will keep His promise, and that the Book of the Law of God will be observed. Therefore success is granted, fear is dissipated, and anxiety is laid to rest (Joshua 1).
We should note the similarities of promised victory in the Lord’s commission to His disciples: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matt. 28:18–20).
Joshua, having the promise and presence of God to be strong and of good courage, moves ahead as a good commander and sends out two spies, or scouts, to find the best place of attack against Jericho. Joshua responds to the Lord’s promise by sending two men to find the best way into the city of Jericho. Joshua was to lead God’s people into the Promised Land. The promises of the Lord, whether it be to conquer the land of Canaan, or to make disciples of nations, do not negate the use of wisdom, but encourage diligence in the obedience of His commands. Joshua is encouraged to command according to the promises and will of His Lord and Sovereign King.
The servants of Joshua travel across the Jordan to the city of Jericho. They “came into a harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there.” The king of Jericho heard of the coming of the spies and sent a message to Rahab that she was to turn the men over to him. Rahab hides the spies, and sends the king’s servants on a false trail.
We should take a moment to see who Rahab was in the light of God’s covenant. She was an adulteress, a sinner in sight of the law. She was an owner or operator of an inn which was attached to the city’s wall. Therefore many people passed through her lodgings.
However, she was more than that. She had a place in covenant promise of the true King of kings. She heard of the deliverance of Israel by the Almighty God. Moved by the activities of God, she was granted the marvelous gift of faith, and therefore came to know the grace of the forgiveness of sins. Rahab would become the wife of Salmon, the mother of Boaz, and the great grandmother of David (Matt. 1:5). Her life was made pure by the blood of her Savior, who, before the foundation of the world, died for the sins of His chosen ones. She is honored to be of the lineage of David, and so of the Christ. Her deceiving of her own countrymen only shows the deliverance she herself had experienced. She is justified in the New Testament, first for her faith and then for the works, but for her faith would have been dead: “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace” (Heb. 11:31), and, “Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?” (James 2:25).
Rahab goes to the two men on the roof. She proceeds to give a statement of faith that seems puzzling because of her position in Jericho, but not so because of her position before Jehovah: Her testimony declares more than just knowledge of the mind. The Scripture reveals just what kind of knowledge Rahab had when it quotes her as saying, “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.” The word, ‘know,’ means to perceive, to understand, to discern. It is the work of God in the heart of Rahab that we are witnessing.
She further states what she has heard, of “how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt.” Rahab speaks of herself, and others, declaring a faith which can only come from the Lord God, saying, “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.”
From the idols of man, Rahab turns to the God of Israel. To receive Christ as our Savior is not only an acknowledgement of our sin and Christ’s sacrifice on behalf of us, but is also a firm repudiation of the idols of man. Whether those idols be carved from stone, or whether their world view is that there is no god, their authority rests in man alone. Rahab embraces the Lord God of Israel, and begins her pilgrimage, “surrendering herself to his power, she gives proof of her election, and that from that seed a faith was germinating which afterwards attained its full growth” (Calvin).
Rahab urges the men to pledge by the Lord to show kindness to her as she herself has shown kindness to them. She entreats them to also save her family that they too would be delivered from death. The spies urge Rahab not to tell of their business in Jericho, saying, “And it shall be, when the Lord hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee.” The men are let down by a cord through a window, reaffirming their oath to Rahab.
Rahab is told to do three things that will secure for her the deliverance she is expecting. She is to tie the scarlet rope to the window by which the men are to be lowered to the ground. She is to have all of her family with her, all those she wishes to be kept from harm, not allowing anyone to go outside to perish by the sword of Israel. And she was to keep faithful counsel with herself, not saying anything to betray the trust given to her. She agreed and tied the scarlet line to her window, while the Israelites fled to the safety of the mountains.
Shall we not also keep faith in light of the salvation that is ours in Christ Jesus? We are to remember the death of our Savior until He comes. Just as the sprinkled blood was placed on the door posts of the families in Egypt, and the scarlet cord of Rahab was tied to the window, so, in true deliverance from the death of sin, Christ’s blood is sprinkled upon our hearts, declaring that we belong to Him. Our life is His, and no one shall take it from His hands. For “if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
So the two men returned to Joshua and told them the things that had happened. They gave this testimony: “Truly the Lord hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us.”
The enemies of God will fall before the Almighty God. The testimony of victory comes before the battle; recognizing that it is the Lord alone who delivers. The gates of hell will not prevail. The evil forces of this world will not stand before the armies of righteousness. King Jesus rides the white horse, while the forces of this earth lay buried in His trail.
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