For the week of June 12, 1999 / 28 Sivan 5759
Torah: Bemidbar / Numbers 13:1-15:41
Haftarah: Joshua 2:1-24
The LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below (Joshua 2:11).
In preparation to overtake Jericho, Joshua sent in two spies to survey the land. They took lodging in the home of a prostitute named Rahab. God had decreed that everyone in Jericho was to be destroyed and yet only she and her household was spared.
The Bible is God's written revelation. Through it we learn who God is, his dealing with humankind, and his requirements of us. The stories of Scripture graphically illustrate what is truly right and good.
Here we see how Rahab is treated differently from the rest of the city. What was it about her that God esteemed? This is a very important question, since the Jericho story foreshadows the day when similar judgement will fall upon the whole earth. By learning what we can from Rahab, we too can escape the coming destruction.
Rahab not only gave lodging to the spies, she also protected them from the King of Jericho's messengers. Her reason for doing this was explained to the spies. Having heard of what had happened in the history of the people of Israel, she acknowledge that the God of Israel was "God in heaven above and on the earth below" (Joshua 2:11).
Rahab had come to understand that the God of Israel was the true God. As a result she helped the spies. Instead of taking pride in her own people and background, she chose to support the plan of God. As a result she and her family received God's blessing by being spared.
If we equate godliness with morality, this story becomes a problem. If we believe that God only uses nice moral people, we might have great difficulty with this story. Why would God honour a sinful person like Rahab? And if Rahab was currently practising her profession, why would the spies lodge with her?
Nowhere does this story affirm Rahab's lifestyle. It makes no comment at all. That's because it is not the issue here. We need to see how God esteems faith. It was Rahab's belief in God that saved her and her household. This is not to say that moral issues are not important or that God does not address them. But first things first. It is faith in God that is the way to way to life.
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