Joshua 2:1a (NIV) 1 Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.”…
On verse 1: Before commanding his troops to enter the land they are planning to conquer, Joshua first sends two spies to look over the land.
What can we learn from this? Before making a big decision, do your due diligence first. Whether it’s a relationship, a financial decision, a job opportunity, or something else that will involve a major investment of your time, heart, energy and resources, look before you leap. Know what you’re getting into before getting into it.
Joshua 2:1b-7 (NIV) 1…So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there. 2 The king of Jericho was told, “Look! Some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” 3 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.” 4 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. 5 At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, the men left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” 6 (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) 7 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.
On verses 1b-7: Upon entering Jericho, Joshua’s two spies enter the house of a prostitute in Jericho called Rahab. Rahab hides the two spies and then lies to the king’s messengers, pretending not to know the whereabouts of the spies when questioned. Her answer sends the king’s messengers in a different direction, keeping the Israelite spies safe.
Was it okay for Rahab to lie in this situation, since it was meant to protect the Israelite spies? Though the Bible does not make any express negative comment about Rahab’s lying, that does not mean that God approved of Rahab lying in this way. Keep in mind that in the Old Testament there are numerous examples of a person lying where there is no express statement later on saying that what that person did was wrong. But over and over, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, the Bible is clear on its teaching that God detests lying lips and that we are not to lie (for example, see Leviticus 19:13; Proverbs 12:22; Ephesians 4:25; Matthew 5:37). So I believe that instead of condoning or approving of Rahab’s lie, God simply had mercy on Rahab, who, as the following verses will show, clearly had faith in the Lord and a heart to protect God’s people.
Joshua 2:8-13 (NIV) 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 this land to you 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 and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. 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.”
On verses 8-13: Here we learn why Rahab had hidden and protected the Israelite spies: it’s because Rahab had faith that the Lord had given the land in which she lived to the Israelites. A non-Jew, Rahab even declares that “the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (v11). She also requests that the Israelites spare her family and protect them (v12-13). In the New Testament, Rahab is repeatedly commended for her faith (see Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25), and is even mentioned as an ancestor of Jesus (Matthew 1:5).
What can we learn from this? God used, blessed and saved Rahab, who was a prostitute, a Gentile (a non-Jew) and who also lied in this story. It goes to show that God is willing to use and save people regardless of their background, their past or their imperfect record. It’s not because we earn God’s approval by our good deeds. Rather it’s by faith in God’s mercy and love, which are greater than our mistakes.
Also, just as word traveled to the city of Jericho about the great things God was doing on behalf of the Israelites (v9-10), when God is doing great things in your church community, as a leader you don’t need to stress about trumpeting it or boasting about it before others. Naturally the word will get around.
Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us, bless us, save us, and have mercy on us despite our past mistakes. Thank You that it is Your mercy and love at the end of the day that cover us and protect us. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!