Today you should read: Joshua 2
Harlot: to fornicate; to whore; to commit fornication; to play the role of a harlot; to commit adultery; to have intercourse with false gods or foreigners; to seduce.
As Easter approaches this passage is clearly marked by God’s grace in the life of a woman whose entire livelihood came from her sin. Rahab the harlot played a major role in protecting God’s people.
How in the world do you handle such a passage? As I write, I think to myself, “This passage is very hard to work through”, but as I reflect on my own life, I see that the providence of God and that His almighty, sovereign plan is so much bigger than any one person’s sin. Here is my take on Joshua 2:
Joshua sent out two spies as a part of a military strategy to check out the land they were to invade. These two spies found shelter in the house of Rahab, the hooker. You may think, “God’s people finding shelter in the house of a hooker? Say what?!” At first glance, this might seem a little odd, but take another look at the passage. It is clear that Rahab had heard of all the incredible things God had done and all the victories He had given the Jewish people (v.8-11). With this knowledge, Rahab must have understood that their God was the One True God and her action of providing shelter for the spies communicated her faith in the One True God, even though it meant betraying her own country. There is no way she would ever do such a thing unless she had true faith in God.
Because of her faith and actions of protecting the spies, Joshua’s men make it clear that if she tied a scarlet thread on her door and remained indoors, Rahab and her family would not be killed when Joshua’s men invaded and took over the city.
This promise then leads to Rahab lying to the king of Jericho about where the spies had taken refuge. Rahab flat out lied with no remorse. Now the Bible does not commend her deceit (v.4-5), but Rahab’s “works” and not her “words” justified her. Read that again: “Rahab’s ‘works’ and not her ‘words’ justified her” (James 2:25). The Bible does not commend her deceit, but it does commend her faith (Hebrews 11:31). Rahab risked her life in order to protect the spies because she believed in the sovereign God of Israel.
Please do not hear me say that this is a work-based salvation. I am saying that the faith Rahab had overflowed into her actions, or “works”, which made it clear that her actions were fueled by faith in God. She first had faith, which led to her works. Remember this: “Great faith, wherever it is found, is always rewarded, for it is pleasing to God” (Hebrews 11:6).
*Note: In order to handle this passage correctly I used Bible Believer’s Commentary whose author is William MacDonald. This is a very helpful resource that I turn to when dealing with difficult passages of the Bible.
Posted by: Zach Monroe