The two spies were sent to look over the city of Jericho and to gather inside information for the Israelite invasion. For the last four decades, God's people had wandered around the desert experiencing futility, failure, and funerals because of the previous twelve spies and their failure (Numbers 13:1-33; Numbers 14:1-45). The two unnamed spies were determined to do better than those twelve spies sent out forty years earlier. The only problem was that the two spies' future was literally hanging by a thread as they hid under flax on the roof of the "harlot's" house. Their lives and the success of their people were now dependent upon the word of a "professional woman" from this enemy city!
Our heroine is known throughout the Bible as "Rahab the harlot." Yet the story makes clear that she wanted something different for her life and she wanted deliverance for the life of her family. So here she was risking her life and the lives of those she loved to protect two foreigners who were intent on destroying her city. She risked everything because of her faith in Israel's God and her trust in two spies to keep their word!
The spies' trust in Rahab and Rahab's trust in God proved to be beneficial to both. The spies learned valuable information and God's people won a great victory. Rahab was protected from the destruction and brought into the people of God. In fact, the testimony of Scripture is universal praise:
- She lives among Israel to this day (Joshua 6:25).
- By faith she was preserved (Hebrews 11:31).
- She was considered righteous because of what she did (James 2:25).
- She is included in the genealogy of Jesus, the Messiah and is the great, great grandmother of the great King David (Matthew 1:5-6).
The last of these truths is surely the most remarkable!
Why put Rahab in the list of Jesus' ancestors? They normally didn't put the women's names in a genealogy unless she had done something stunningly important. But there she is in Jesus' list of ancestors: Rahab the harlot! Why include this problem in the list? Why introduce this mess out of Jesus' past — a non-Jewish woman who had been a streetwalker!
The answer is simple: the mess is the message. God is not afraid of messes. In fact, God enters the world of our messes and redeems us! That is the message of Jesus. This is also the message of the two spies, a harlot, and the victory of Jericho.
When a red-light district pro (really a scarlet cord pro) and two spies (sick of funerals and sand) believed in the God of deliverance, their worlds and their futures were changed ... and so was ours!
- Faith is often found in people we often think are the least likely to believe. We don't share Jesus with them because we think they will not believe. We forget that those most lost are desperately looking for a better way, a different way, to live their lives. But Scripture is full of these "least likelies" becoming devoted followers of Jesus. Remember Saul of Tarsus the murder and persecutor of Christians who becomes his greatest missionary? (Acts 9:1-31). Remember the rejected woman at the well that leads her whole village to faith in the Messiah? (John 4:1-42). We must never write someone off our prayer list for potential believers because they appear unlikely to respond. Jesus himself reminds us that he came to save those we regard as the worst of sinners! (Luke 5:27-32).
- Faith changes everything, especially for those caught on the dark side of the mountain! How many lives were changed simply because Rahab believed in God? Surely more than just two spies! Wasn't it a whole nation? Wasn't it a whole line of people descended over the years? Isn't it even us, who came to believe Jesus who descended from Rahab? And what about Paul? How many thousands upon thousands have come to believe through Paul? And what about the woman at the well? Didn't the whole village come to faith? And how many more who have heard that story and realized they could be included, too?
So here's the deal. Let's believe! Not just think something is true in our head, that's not faith. Let's act on what we think is true — that's belief, that's trust, that's real faith!
Let's believe even if the darkness is so deep we can't see a glimmer of light on the dark side of our mountain. And let's trust that as we believe, God will furnish that light for us to find our way home and know that untold thousands will follow our footprints to deliverance!