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Joshua Chapter Two, Wide Open

In our study of Joshua chapter two, we will look at the story of Rahab the prostitute and see a demonstration of the fact that salvation is for all who believe in Jesus Christ.

Joshua 2:1

Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. 'Go. look over the land,' he said, 'especially Jericho.' So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.

In Hebrew, shittim means "acacia trees" and this was the sight of the headquarters for the Israelite people. Jericho was an early center of worship for lunar dieties. The Israelites were preparing to take the promised land and to remove all the false gods from the land. We see that, prior to attacking Jericho, Joshua sent two spies to check out the land. Joshua was quite familiar with the land as he had been a part of the team that was sent to check out the land at the direction of God through Moses (see Numbers 13). The spies went to the house of Rahab who was a prostitute. In Hebrew, Rahab means "wide" or "broad". She basically ran a brothel and an inn for travelers (it was common at that time for an inn and brothel to be combined).

Joshua 2:2 & 3

The king of Jericho was told, 'Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.' So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: 'Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.'

It was noted that the men had entered Jericho and went into Rahab's inn. The king sent men to arrest them for being spies.

Joshua 2:4-7

But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, 'Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don't know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.'(But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.

When confronted by the authorities, she lied to them in order to save the lives of the two spies. She had already hidden them in flax that was laid out to dry on the roof. We might ask ourselves why she would put herself in such danger to protect these men. If caught, she would probably be killed along with them.

Joshua 2:8 & 9

Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 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.

Now, we get to see why Rahab would risk her own life for the Israelite spies. We see that the people have heard that the Israelites are God's people and that He has already given them the land.

Joshua 2:10 & 11

'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. 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.'

We see that she had simply acted out of fear because she feared the Lord more than she feared the king of Jericho. That, my friends, is the key to salvation for us as well. We must fear life and death without Christ more than we fear the persecution that comes with the faith.

Joshua 2:12 & 13

'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 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.'

Rahab pleads for her family as well as herself. This is a picture of how we are to pray for those that do not fear (worship) the Lord.

Joshua 2:14

'Our lives for your lives!' the men assured her. 'If you do not tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.'

So, it was agreed that her family would be spared in exchange for her cooperation. Rahab had believed that God had given Israel the land and she cooperated with them to save the lives of her family. This is a picture of the way that we come to salvation in that we simply must believe that God sent His Son (Jesus Christ) to pay for our sins.

Joshua 2:15 & 16

So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. 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.'

Rahab let the men out of the city without letting anyone know about them. She also told them to go in the opposite direction of the men that were out searching for them. In the three days that they were to stay there, we see a picture of the fact that Jesus would be raised from the dead in three days. The spies were as good as dead if they had been caught but, at the end of three days, the men would have given up and their lives would be saved.

Joshua 2:17 & 18

Now the men had said to her, 'This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us 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.'

There were two additional responsibilities that Rahab had in order for her and her family to be saved. First, she had to tie a red cord to the window that she had let the spies out through. This was a marker for the men to identify the house when they came back into the city. It reminds us of the fact that there is only one way to be saved and that is through the blood of Jesus Christ. The second thing that she had to do was to get all of her family into her house. This is an important fact in that many people think that, since their mom or dad have been a part of the church for years, they are as well. But, as we see it was not their relationship with Rahab that was going to save them, but their location (being in her house).

Joshua 2:19 & 20

'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. But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.'

Rahab could only tell her family to come in and stay but she could not tell them about the spies and their deal. This reminds us that it is by faith that we are saved through grace. Her family would have to believe her and trust that she was looking out for them. Faith is an individual thing and we cannot be saved through another's faith. In this, we see the fact that we, as Christians, do not have the power to save anyone. We can tell them how to be saved (accepting Jesus Christ) but everyone has to make their own choice. We are to share the gospel with those around us but, if they refuse the blood of Jesus, then, they must pay for their sins with their own blood.

Joshua 2:21

'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.

So, the terms of the contract are agreed to and Rahab sends the spies off and ties the cord to the window. This verse reminds us that we come to salvation on God's terms. Like Rahab, He gives us the free will to accept or reject the terms but we cannot alter the terms. Just as the spies gave her a cord to identify her house, Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit to identify us.

Joshua 2:22 & 23

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. 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.

Timing is critical in all things and we know that God's timing is perfect. The spies were patient and followed the advice of a prostitute and hid out for three days. It would have been easy to get all excited and try to immediately run to Joshua and tell him the good news but they waited.

Joshua 2:24

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.'

At the appointed time, they delivered the good news to Joshua.

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