After a week off, we resumed our Joshua study with Lesson 2 this morning, which coincidentally focused on Chapter 2. Joshua 2 tells of the account of Rahab and the spies. At the end of chapter 1, Joshua receives his charge, and in chapter 2, he begins to "take charge." (that clever sentence was stolen from the ESV study bible notes.) His first action is to send two spies into Jericho to do some recognizance in the land of which they are about to take possession. And where do these spies go first? To the house of a prostitute. huh? To us, the readers, this seems strange, but clearly this was quite a strategic move. According to scholars, Rahab's house must have been located in a logical place to gather information, and most likely because of her profession, she was "in the know." She knew the area & the people of Jericho, and in turn, she was well known because the king even knew her.
Being a fairly new student of covenant theology, this story amazes me. This was not random (a word I love, but use a little too much) encounter, the spies didn't just happen to stumble upon Rahab's house and think, "hey, let's stay at the prostitute's house. that'll be fun." They went because it is part of the bigger picture. The BIG picture, in fact. The chapter continues and Rahab tells the spies that she knows why they are there, she knows what God has done, and that the land she is living in is the land he has promised to the Israelites. So she knows that God is powerful and vengeful, and the inhabitants of her land are melting away and will all soon die. But she also knows that God is merciful, so she asks the spies that if she helps them, will they help her. She risks her life to help the spies because she believes in the Lord. In return, her life is spared when Jericho falls.
She was an unbelieving prostitute in an unbelieving land, but was given a heart of faith in the one true God.
But wait, there's more!
In the New Testament, she is listed as one of the ancestors of Christ (Matthew 1:5) and for her good works (James 2:25). A prostitute! Clearly, God is gracious and will save all who come to a genuine faith.
Another neat observation that you may or may not have ever noticed is that the symbol she put in her window to alert the soldiers to preserve her household was a scarlet cord (2:18). This is very similar to the procedure in the first Passover (Exodus 12:22). Interesting, isn't it?
At the end of each lesson, the last day is usually self-reflecting. This week we were asked to write down ways in which God's steadfast love and mercy extend to you (much like how in Rahab's story, we see God extending his mercy to the nations, even as he promised) using the following verses:
I encourage you to click on each of those verses, read them, and prayerfully consider how God's promises reach all the way down to us.