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.
Joshua 2:1 (NASB)
The book of Joshua is hard on modern readers. It is a book of nearly constant warfare, in which God commands the absolute destruction of entire cultures. We cringe at the thought of such an order, and modern atheists use it as a key point in their dismissal of God. So often, we fall back on the right of God to do as He will, without the need to answer to us about it. And that’s true, but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t give us some light on the topic anyway. One such glimpse behind the curtain is the story of Rahab.
See, there are a lot of questions that aren’t answered about Rahab in the Biblical account. Was she justified in lying (a sin) in order to further the work of God (2:4-5)? Where did she hear about the Lord’s deliverance of the Israelites and His command that the land would belong to them (2:9-11)? What, exactly, were two Jewish spies doing at a prostitute’s house, anyway, and how did they slip that detail into the story without raising ire? There’s a lot of discussion that can be had about these things, but the first thing that should be remembered is that the Bible serves to teach us about God and His interaction with us. So, really, the first question that needs asked isn’t what we can learn about Rahab from the account, but what Rahab’s story can teach us about God. And, it turns out, the story of Rahab is a picture of salvation in Christ.
Jericho was doomed. The Israelites knew it, the king of the city knew it, the prostitute living in the wall knew it – this was no secret. People all over this story are talking about the matter that a terrible fate awaited the city. It would be judged by God and find lacking. The only real issue that mattered at the time was what people were going to do in response to that fact. Some chose to fight it. The king sends out his military to seek out the spies, running headlong to chase after rumors of them out of his disbelief in the coming destruction. The Israelites themselves are preparing to go to war in God’s name and enjoy victory. Rahab is seeking deliverance.
Likewise, the world is doomed. People the world over know about it. Many religions discuss an eventual end of the world, sociologists cry out that mankind will destroy itself, various false prophets try to predict the last day. It’s not a secret. The world will be judged by God and found lacking. The only real issue that matters in the discussion is what we’re going to do about it. Some fight it, diving headlong into causes and reforms to make mankind right and prevent our destruction. Others prepare to go to war in God’s name and enjoy victory. Some, however, seek deliverance.
God, however, doesn’t send the Israelites to do battle with Jericho. He sends them to sing. To worship, to make His name known, to announce the coming of His judgment. They obey this command, and get to watch God achieve victory and deliver the city into their hands. They couldn’t do it themselves, and God doesn’t want them to. He wants them to trust Him with the conquest of the land. What He wants from them isn’t a sword; but obedience, trust, and worship. Those who took it upon themselves to fight the coming judgment fall. Those who follow God rather than trusting in their own strength get to enjoy victory.
Again, this is seen in the gospel message. God doesn’t send us to make our own salvation or to manually conquer the world. He sends us to worship, to make His name known, to announce the coming if His judgment. We can’t do it ourselves, and God doesn’t want us to. He wants our obedience, trust, and worship. Jesus Christ died and rose again to win this battle. Those who stand in defiance, who try to battle against the coming judgement, will fail. Those who seek to reach salvation on their own strength fail. Only those who put their trust in God and follow Him get to enjoy victory.
Rahab, specifically, exemplifies the salvation of Christ. See, the Isrealites were already God’s people. They weren’t being saved from anything at this point in the story. That had already happened. They were inheriting a kingdom reserved for them, and as such, are very easily comparable to the end days described in Revelation. Rahab wasn’t looking for a kingdom, and one wasn’t being offered to her. Her story is the story of the lost.
This article is part of a series. For others in the series, please follow the links below. This list will be updated as articles are published:
Rahab (Part 1) < You are here
Rahab (Part 2)