We just finished the Pentateuch, the 1st 5 books of the bible, written by Moses, who also happened to be the leader of the nation of Israel in 4 of the 5 books. We’ve seen God’s faithfulness throughout all of human history up to this point. And starting in Genesis 12, he picks 1 guy – Abraham – to build a nation. Abraham has a kid, who has some kids, and Abraham’s grandson Jacob has 12 boys who become the founders of the 12 tribes of Israel. In Exodus we see the tribes become a nation, and after telling them how to be a nation dedicated to God in Exodus and Leviticus, God then tries to give them the land he promised them in the book of Numbers. They freak out and say No, so they spend the rest of Numbers wandering around the desert for 40 years. In Deuteronomy, they are back on the border of the Promised Land, and Moses, their trusted, revered leader, tells them he’s done – he’s going home. Deuteronomy is his last address to the nation he’s been leading for 40 years, reminding them of God’s faithfulness and calling on them to be faithful.
So here we are – back again on the border of the Promised Land. The generation that said No is dead, now it’s their kids’ chance – they are the adults now. And Moses is gone. He named his replacement, Joshua, and now Joshua gets to take over as leader, to bring the people into the land the Lord has promised them. Let’s see what happens…
1 After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant.
- “Assistant” – better word = “servant” – Joshua was qualified for leadership because he was willing to serve
- Smith: Now after the death of Moses, God elevated him from Moses’ servant, to the servant of all of the people of Israel.
He said, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. 3 I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you— 4 from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ 5 No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.
- Moses: some big shoes to fill
- Q: How would you be feeling if you were Joshua right now?
- Sanders?: irreplaceable vs. indispensible
- Joshua was not supposed to be Moses; Joshua was supposed to be Joshua
6 “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. 8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.
- Joshua was qualified to lead God’s people because of his relationship with God (remember how he would linger in God’s presence?) And he needed to keep that as the primary feature in his leadership.
9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
- This is encouraging – Joshua, already a great military leader, picked to lead the whole nation, needs to be told not to be afraid
- Q: How can you tell when you’re afraid of something?
10 Joshua then commanded the officers of Israel, 11 “Go through the camp and tell the people to get their provisions ready. In three days you will cross the Jordan River and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
- Makes it sound so easy!
12 Then Joshua called together the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. He told them, 13 “Remember what Moses, the servant of the Lord, commanded you: ‘The Lord your God is giving you a place of rest. He has given you this land.’ 14 Your wives, children, and livestock may remain here in the land Moses assigned to you on the east side of the Jordan River. But your strong warriors, fully armed, must lead the other tribes across the Jordan to help them conquer their territory. Stay with them 15 until the Lord gives them rest, as he has given you rest, and until they, too, possess the land the Lord your God is giving them. Only then may you return and settle here on the east side of the Jordan River in the land that Moses, the servant of the Lord, assigned to you.”
- Reuben, Gad, half tribe of Manasseh had a lot of herds – they wanted to fertile land on the east side of the Jordan. But they agreed to fight to capture the land, and it was also trusting God to protect their families and goods.
16 They answered Joshua, “We will do whatever you command us, and we will go wherever you send us. 17 We will obey you just as we obeyed Moses. And may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. 18 Anyone who rebels against your orders and does not obey your words and everything you command will be put to death. So be strong and courageous!”
- God will often use his people to be an encouragement
- Do you encourage your leaders?
2 Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove.
- Remember Kasdesh-Barnea, Numbers 13? The spies go out, see the land, freak everyone out with their reports. This time Joshua keeps his reconnaissance on the DL.
He instructed them, “Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.” So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night.
- Head straight to the Red Light district, where people don’t ask a lot of questions and no one wants to be noticed.
- Rahab: listed in the faith hall of fame, which has led some commentators and teachers to conclude she must not have been a prostitute, which belies their belief that God could never use ‘sinners’ in his plan
- Women were not prostitutes by choice back then
- And is it probable that a prince of Judah would have taken to wife such a person as our text represents Rahab to be?… To all this may be added, that as our blessed Lord came through the line of this woman, it cannot be a matter of little consequence to know what moral character she sustained; as an inn-keeper she might be respectable, if not honorable; as a public prostitute she could be neither; and it is not very likely that the providence of God would have suffered a person of such a notoriously bad character to enter into the sacred line of his genealogy. – Adam Clarke’s Commentary on Joshua 2 (http://www.godrules.net/library/clarke/clarkejos2.htm)
2 But someone told the king of Jericho, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” 3 So the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab: “Bring out the men who have come into your house, for they have come here to spy out the whole land.”
- Expositors: The king would have assumed that the spies were staying with Rahab. In antiquity too, as in modern times, prostitutes frequently were involved in intelligence activities. The king expected Rahab to do her patriotic duty and turn the spies in. The ancient law code of Hammurabi contains the following provision: “If felons are banded together in an ale-wife’s [prostitute’s or innkeeper’s] house and she has not haled [them] to the palace, that ale-wife shall be put to death” (S.R. Driver and J.C. Miles, The Babylonian Laws [Oxford: Clarendon, 1956], 2:45).
4 Rahab had hidden the two men, but she replied, “Yes, the men were here earlier, but I didn’t know where they were from.
- Expositors: When Rahab hid the spies, she sided with Israel against her own people. It was an act of treason!
5 They left the town at dusk, as the gates were about to close. I don’t know where they went. If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them.”
- Expositors: Rahab told the king’s men to “go after them quickly.” She made it clear that if the king’s men tarried, the spies would escape. She did not want to take a chance on having her house searched, because she knew that anyone suspected of collaborating with the spies would be put to death.
6 (Actually, she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them beneath bundles of flax she had laid out.) 7 So the king’s men went looking for the spies along the road leading to the shallow crossings of the Jordan River. And as soon as the king’s men had left, the gate of Jericho was shut.
- She lied – good for her
- Lying to protect yourself – bad. Lying to protect others – good. If an axe murderer comes into my house and asks if no one else is there, I would be a terrible person if I told him about my kids’ bedrooms. Lie! Lie well!
8 Before the spies went to sleep that night, Rahab went up on the roof to talk with them. 9 “I know the Lord has given you this land,” she told them. “We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror. 10 For we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. 11 No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below.
- Expositors: The high point of this chapter is Rahab’s confession of her faith. Her statement, “The Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below,” is remarkable for a pagan and is evidence of her conversion to faith in Israel’s God.
12 “Now swear to me by the Lord that you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you. Give me some guarantee that 13 when Jericho is conquered, you will let me live, along with my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all their families.”
- Q: What does Rahab’s confession show that she believes about God?
- Q: What happens to our knowledge and beliefs if we don’t act on them?
14 “We offer our own lives as a guarantee for your safety,” the men agreed. “If you don’t betray us, we will keep our promise and be kind to you when the Lord gives us the land.”
15 Then, since Rahab’s house was built into the town wall, she let them down by a rope through the window. 16 “Escape to the hill country,” she told them. “Hide there for three days from the men searching for you. Then, when they have returned, you can go on your way.”
17 Before they left, the men told her, “We will be bound by the oath we have taken only if you follow these instructions. 18 When we come into the land, you must leave this scarlet rope hanging from the window through which you let us down. And all your family members—your father, mother, brothers, and all your relatives—must be here inside the house. 19 If they go out into the street and are killed, it will not be our fault. But if anyone lays a hand on people inside this house, we will accept the responsibility for their death. 20 If you betray us, however, we are not bound by this oath in any way.”
21 “I accept your terms,” she replied. And she sent them on their way, leaving the scarlet rope hanging from the window.
- We’ll see that before crossing the Jordan, the Israelites were to celebrate the Passover – the remembrance that instead of God’s judgment, they received God’s mercy because a lamb had died in their place. And as the Israelites were killing and eating their Passover lambs, Rahab was hanging a scarlet rope from her window.
22 The spies went up into the hill country and stayed there three days. The men who were chasing them searched everywhere along the road, but they finally returned without success.
23 Then the two spies came down from the hill country, crossed the Jordan River, and reported to Joshua all that had happened to them. 24 “The Lord has given us the whole land,” they said, “for all the people in the land are terrified of us.”
Chapter 1: Joshua. Chapter 2: Rahab. Two very different people. Let’s compare and contrast.
- Q: What are some differences between the 2?
|Powerful leader||Powerless woman|
|Celebrated leader||Rejected prostitute|
|Steps of faith were public||Steps of faith were private|
- Q: What are some similarities?
- Both had a lot to fear
- Both had to act on God’s promises and character
- Both became great examples of faith
- Q: Which step of faith do you think was more impressive?
- Joshua – a great hero, commended in the NT for his leadership
- Rahab – commended in the NT for her faith, and adopted in the family is Israel
- Joshua 6:20-25 – the Israelites charged straight into [Jericho] and captured it… 22 Meanwhile, Joshua said to the two spies, “Keep your promise. Go to the prostitute’s house and bring her out, along with all her family.” 23 The men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, mother, brothers, and all the other relatives who were with her. They moved her whole family to a safe place near the camp of Israel…25 So Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute and her relatives who were with her in the house, because she had hidden the spies Joshua sent to Jericho. And she lives among the Israelites to this day.
- Matt 1:5-6 – Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab). Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth). Obed was the father of Jesse. 6 Jesse was the father of King David.
Conclusion – most of us are not going to be Joshua, although some of you might. And we can all identify with Joshua’s fears and insecurities. But all of us can be Rahab. We can all admit that we deserve God’s judgment, we can all turn to him for salvation, and we can all act on our faith in ways that serve God’s purposes. Rahab’s faith was expressed in a way that was impressive but not showy, yet she single-handedly did as much for God’s cause as Joshua did.