International Sunday School LessonStudy Notes
Lesson Text: Joshua 2:1-4, 8-14; 6:22-23, 25Lesson Title: Rahab’s Commitment
The news of the Lord's actions in Egypt had reached Jericho. Rahab and the people of Jericho were terrified. Rahab willingly accepted what she had heard about the Lord and sought His favor. The spies were sent to find any weakness in the walled city of Jericho, even though God had already promised to give them the land. There's a bit of humor in this story, for while the spies are hiding at Rahab's, she is the one who declares the faithfulness and power of God!
After the spies encounter with Rahab, they gain confidence that the Lord is indeed delivering the land into their hand, despite their own apparent fears. When we first read about the conquest, it doesn't seem like a blessing to the nations, especially the conquered ones. But there are several things to remember. First, these nations could have responded as Rahab did, and indeed, there may have been other individuals who acknowledged the Lord God. Second, many of these nations were wicked and ungodly and they refused to acknowledge Jehovah God. So, Israel’s conquest was intended to drive out evil from the land. Third, we must also remember that the focus at this point in redemptive history is on establishing Israel as a great nation, from which the covenant promises could go forth.
As we study Rahab, we see clear evidence of God's redemptive hand. Because of her commitment and faith, Rahab became a part of God's family. Later we learn that King David was a descendant of Rahab (Matthew 1:5-6). Eventually this lineage led to Jesus Christ! In Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25 Rahab is held up as an example of faith. Because of what she had heard about God, she was committed to protecting the spies and God rewarded her commitment.
Rahab’s Condition (Joshua 2:1-4)
“And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho” (Joshua 2:1). In preparation for the conquest of Canaan, Joshua, the leader of the nation, did a reconnaissance mission before Israel attempted to take Jericho. “Two men” (Joshua 2:1) going to the house of a harlot would not cause suspicion among the citizens of Jericho. “And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there” (Joshua 2:1). These words are more than information. They reveal the condition of a woman who is an alien from Israel and the promises of God (Romans 3:23). Who was this woman? The Bible says she was a “harlot” (Joshua 2:1). A “harlot” was a woman who engaged in sexual relations outside of marriage for professional, religious or financial reasons.” She was a prostitute, a practitioner of the vile Canaanite religion, which raised immorality to an act of worship. God’s law demanded that a “harlot” be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 22:21). Rahab, because of her condition was marked for death by the Law of Moses. It was no coincidence that the spies were sent to Rahab. God had a plan.
“Rahab” (Joshua 2:1) means “fierceness, broad, spacious.” According to Doctor Herbert Lockyer in his book, “All the Women of the Bible,” the “Ra” part of her name is rooted in Egyptian idolatry and comes from the Egyptian sun god, “Ra.” Rahab’s “house” (Joshua 2:1) was located in the walled city of “Jericho” (Joshua 2:2) just west of the Jordan River. Rahab’s house was in one of the city walls (Joshua 2:15). Because of her lifestyle, Rahab’s house was probably near the gate for easy access (Joshua 2:5). She had a mother, father, and brothers and sisters who lived with her (Joshua 2:13; 6:23). Indeed, her condition is less than desirable. Her past is horrible and her present is hopeless, but God is about to offer Rahab an opportunity to start over. Grace and mercy will be offered to Rahab and she by faith will accept.
Question: Would you like to have a new start? Do you hunger for a new beginning? The “king of Jericho” (Joshua 2:2) received word that two men of the “children of Israel” had come to “search out the country” (Joshua 2:2). Sounds like Jericho had a pretty good security system in place. The king “sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country” (Joshua 2:3). Upon receiving the king’s orders, Rahab “took the two men, and hid them…” (Joshua 2:3). She then told the king “I wist not whence they were” (Joshua 2:4) or, she didn’t know where they went but they might catch them if they would go quickly before the gates were shut (Joshua 2:5).
Rahab betrayed her loyalty to the king of Jericho when she lied. Her lie to the king was evidence of her lost condition and her weakness of character. While that doesn’t excuse her actions, we must remember she was ignorant of a lot of things. Obviously, God was working in her heart and while she didn’t understand everything that was happening, she knew she wanted to live and spare the lives of her family.
Rahab’s Confession (Joshua 2:8-14)
Rahab hid the two spies on the “roof of the house” under “the stalks of flax” (Joshua 2:6). Before the spies laid down, Rahab “came up unto them” (Joshua 2:8) and gave a marvelous confession of why she had decided to protect them. “I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when you came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed” (Joshua 2:9). The drying up of the Red Sea had probably occurred over 40 years earlier so there would have been time for news to have traveled to Jericho. The destruction of Sihon and Og occurred during the early years of Israel’s wondering in the desert.
Rahab’s confession is that she heard and believed (Joshua 2:11). She believed that God would prevail against the Canaanites and that God had “given” Canaan to the Israelites (Joshua 2:9). She knew that a great fear had fallen upon the “inhabitants of the land” (Joshua 2:9) and there was no “more courage” (Joshua 2:11) among the Canaanites. “For the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath” (Joshua 2:11). Rahab knows that Israel is God’s nation and she wants to be a part of what God is doing. That is her confession! What is yours?
Jericho was soon to face the judgment of God and Rahab was afraid to die. In spite of all that is said about the love of God, there is spiritual value in fear. The same God who wants to love us into heaven is the same God who will assign us into hell if we reject His mercy and grace. The bottom line is that Rahab was afraid to die like the inhabitants of Jericho and she is willing to do something about it!
Rahab’s confession is a cry for help. “…Swear unto me by the Lord, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token: And tht ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death” (Joshua 2:12-13). Rahab is admitting she cannot live with God. She is responding to light received and the truth she has heard about God. Rahab wasn’t the only one in Jericho who heard but evidently she was the only one who believed.
The response of the spies to Rahab’s confession and request to live was, “Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business” (Joshua 2:14). In exchange for sparing their lives, they would protect Rahab and her family from death when Israel destroyed Jericho. She “let them down by a cord through the window” (Joshua 2:15) and was told to “bind this line of scarlet thread in the window” (Joshua 2:18) to identify her home when the attack on Jericho began. The “scarlet line in the window” (Joshua 2:21) would be a sign to the invading Israelites not to touch the occupants of that home. Rahab was secure.
Rahab’s Compensation (Joshua 6:22-23, 25)
Between the events of Joshua 2 and Joshua 6, the spies return to the Israelite camp and tell Joshua everything that has taken place. God miraculously parts the waters of the Jordan and takes the children of Israel across to the land of Canaan. In Joshua 6, the nation faces Jericho and receives instructions on how the walled city will be conquered (Joshua 6:1-7). When Israel obeyed, “the wall fell down flat” (Joshua 6:20) and the army of Israel “utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword” (Joshua 6:21).
“But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot’s house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her” (Joshua 6:22). By her confession, Rahab committed herself to God and to be identified with God’s people. She made a covenant and agreement with the spies. She submitted to the terms of the agreement. When death came to Jericho, she was spared (Joshua 6:21-22). “And the young men that were spies went in and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel” (Joshua 2:23). This verse reminds me of the words of Jesus when He said, “…him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).
“And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho” (Joshua 6:25). Almost sounds like “and they lived happily ever after.” But this is no fairy tale. Rahab was one of the first Gentile converts. She was saved physically but also spiritually because she put her faith in the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. “Dwelleth in Israel” (Joshua 6:25) indicates Rahab made her home among the Israelites after the invasion. She became a mother in Israel and a Gentile in the lineage of Christ (Matthew 1:5-6).
What can we learn from the commitment of Rahab? First, it doesn’t matter what your condition is today, there is a future in Jesus Christ and His redeeming grace. Second, salvation is the work of God. Rahab was just a lost Gentile living a wicked life until she heard about the God of Israel. God always takes the initiative in changing lives. Third, faith is required for salvation, but faith is simple. Rahab didn’t want to die under the judgment of God, so she believed. Fourth, character and commitment are never perfect. Only God knows why people do what they do. We must leave judgment to Him. Finally, Rahab’s life demonstrates that there is a reward for those who commit themselves to doing the will of God. From a prostitute to being a part of the genealogy of Christ. Now that’s a distant only grace can cover!
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