Items posted on 1 January 2012
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Joshua 2.1-10 – Being faithful servants of God.
Posted: 1 January 2012 in Joshua

And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there. And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. And the king of Jericho 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. And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof. And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate. And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof; And she said unto the men, 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 ye 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.

Rahab is unusual in the Bible. She is one of the very few Gentiles to whom salvation is made available prior to New Testament times. The Gibeonites in chapter 9 make their peace with Joshua, but that their motive is fear of the Israelites’ military prowess, rather than faith, and a genuine fear of God. There are examples of other Gentiles who are used by God for the accomplishment of his will, but who are subsequently destroyed in punishment for their pride and sin. One such is the King of Assyria in Isaiah 10. Rahab, however, is someone who has been called by God, and who has had it put into her heart to love and serve the Lord of heaven and Earth. As such, she and her family are saved from the destruction which awaits the rest of Jericho’s population. Why Rahab should should have been privileged in this way, and been given the gift of faith, lies hidden in the secret counsels of God. Without faith, the other inhabitants of Jericho continued to rebel against God, even though they had heard how he had defeated the enemies of the Israelites, and subsequently, they received the just reward of their rebellion.

Implicit in the fact that the gift of faith was made available to Rahab alone, is the further fact that it must have been God’s intention to destroy the remainder of Jericho’s population. If it be asked why that should have been so, I suppose the answer must be that given elsewhere in the Old Testament. Namely that they were not to be an ongoing temptation for the Israelites to worship idols. In spite of that being part of God’s intention in history, Israel was nevertheless destined to betray its vocation as the chosen people of God, and consequently Israel too was to reap the rewards of idolatry, when Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians in 587BC.

The lesson for us, I suppose, is that a similar fate could await the Christian Church, unless it remains faithful to its calling, and witnesses to the truth of the Gospel, unpopular though its message may be in the ears of modern man. The one thing it must not do is to accomodate the eternal word of God to the transient spirit of the age, and effectively become guilty of idolatry. Otherwise God’s wrath will fall upon it, and upon the world it has ill served.

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