Joshua
Introduction 1-7 The Spies with Rahab 8-11 Testimony of Rahab 12-13 Rahab Pleads for Her Family 14-21 The Rescue Plan 22-24 Return of the Spies
Introduction

Before the crossing takes place, we meet Rahab in this chapter. The New Testament speaks about the “faith” of “Rahab the harlot” and about the “works” of “Rahab the harlot”:

“By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace” (Heb 11:3131By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.).

“In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?” (Jam 2:2525In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?).

Rahab connects herself with the people of God even before Israel has achieved a victory. By her attitude she gives up her connection with Jericho. She believes that the judgment comes on the city. But she also believes in the mercy of God. Her request to save her whole family from judgment was met.

We need this kind of faith to enjoy the blessings God has given us. On the one hand we belong to the church of God and on the other hand we separate from the world which is under judgment. To make this true, it must be a reality for us what Rahab says in verse 11b11When we heard [it], our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.: “For the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”

Besides the practical application for us, in the history of Rahab there is also an application for the future for the people of Israel. The same can be done with the book of Acts, in which the origin and the first years of the church are described. Before the people enter the land, God shows us in Rahab that He thinks also of the Gentiles to enter into His people.

When God’s people are about to take possession of the blessing, this history shows that God also opens up this blessing to the Gentiles. Rahab belongs to “the nations in the flesh” who have no right to or share in anything (Eph 2:11-1211Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” [which is] performed in the flesh by human hands—12[remember] that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.), but to whom the blessing of God comes as well as to His earthly people. And among these nations it takes a place that is too abhorrent: that of a harlot. In its incorporation into the people of God, God’s grace shines in a great way.

In the passage through the Red Sea we don’t see a figure like Rahab, because after that journey the people enter the wilderness. The wilderness is not part of God’s counsels. When God speaks to Moses from the bush about His plan to lead the people out of Egypt and bring them to the promised land, He does not speak about the wilderness either (Exo 3:88So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.).

The land is the land of blessing. The people are on the verge of entering into the counsels of God, which contain only blessings. And when it comes to blessing, God involves the nations and they may participate in it. It is as with the law and grace. The law is given to one people: Israel. Grace is not limited to one people, but goes further: to all people. Thus, all people can participate in God’s blessing if they have a faith like that of Rahab.

When Israel will be in the land in the future, after it has been converted, there will also be a great mass of nations sharing in blessing. The nations will be given a share in these blessings through the messengers which the Lord will send out (Mt 25:31-4031“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.32All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;33and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.34“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.35For I was hungry, and you gave Me [something] to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me [something] to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;36naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’37Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You [something] to drink?38And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?39When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’40The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, [even] the least [of them], you did it to Me.’). The beginning of the church also shows that the nations are given access to the blessing (Acts 8:26-3926But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert [road].)27So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship,28and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah.29Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.”30Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”31And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.32Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this:
“HE WAS LED AS A SHEEP TO SLAUGHTER;
AND AS A LAMB BEFORE ITS SHEARER IS SILENT,
SO HE DOES NOT OPEN HIS MOUTH.
33“IN HUMILIATION HIS JUDGMENT WAS TAKEN AWAY;
WHO WILL RELATE HIS GENERATION?
FOR HIS LIFE IS REMOVED FROM THE EARTH.”
34The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please [tell me], of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?”35Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.36As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch *said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?”37<And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”>38And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.
; 10:44-4844While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message.45All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.46For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered,47“Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we [did], can he?”48And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.).

The first application is that God in the present Christian time gathers His people from all nations to connect them with the glorified Head, Christ, in heaven. The church, the body of Christ, is not only connected with Him, but made one with Him in heaven. That is why we have our place there.

In Acts the first Gentiles of whom we read that they come to faith are those with a high social place. We read about a eunuch who is the treasurer, or minister of finance, of the queen of Ethiopia (Acts 8:2727So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship,) and about a Roman centurion (Acts 10:11Now [there was] a man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort,). But here a harlot is presented to us. So she is mentioned twice in the New Testament (Heb 11:3131By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.; Jam 2:2525In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?). That she is taken up in God’s people shows God’s special grace. That grace shines all the more when we notice that she even becomes the ancestor of the Lord Jesus (Mt 1:55Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse.).


The Spies with Rahab

1Then Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as spies secretly from Shittim, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lodged there. 2It was told the king of Jericho, saying, “Behold, men from the sons of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” 3And the king of Jericho sent [word] to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” 4But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them, and she said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5It came about when [it was time] to shut the gate at dark, that the men went out; I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” 6But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them in the stalks of flax which she had laid in order on the roof. 7So the men pursued them on the road to the Jordan to the fords; and as soon as those who were pursuing them had gone out, they shut the gate.

Joshua send two spies. The sending is not necessary to decide on a possible entry into the land. That decision has already been made (Jos 1:1111“Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you are to cross this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you, to possess it.’”). So why is it necessary? And does not the LORD himself go out before them? Sending to spy is not like it happened in the wilderness before. There it is because of the unbelief of the people. Here it is because God wants to show us that He wants to engage His own as His instruments and that our responsibility remains fully intact. We have to look at the situation we have to face in order to act with understanding and dependence on Him.

By spying out, it is revealed that the hearts of the inhabitants of the land have melted (verse 1111When we heard [it], our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.). To know this will encourage Israel. It is also God’s intention to save Rahab and her family. He has started a work in her heart. The spies are used by Him to complete that work.

The land and Jericho must be spied out. Jericho is the door to the land and must be conquered before the land can be taken. Jericho is a picture of the world. She presents the world as the system through which Satan wants to hinder us to take possession of our spiritual inheritance. The world exerts great attraction on us. As long as that is the case, we are weak. We must therefore first condemn it in our hearts, so that we are free from any bondage to the world.

The spies have to spy out the land. Does that mean that we also have to examine the world first, because only then do we know what to turn away from? No. In the way God sends the spies, we see how these two men are doing. In this way we learn the lesson of spying the world.

The two men enter the land to spy out the power of the enemy. But they don’t get to see that power. Instead they met the power of God in Jericho in Rahab. God leads the spies straight to Rahab’s house. They did not go far into town. Maybe they entered the first house they can enter. And that’s all. They have been only in the house of Rahab. There they saw the work of God in the heart and life of Rahab. God is able to do such a powerful work in that city and in the heart of such a woman. In this way they come into contact with God’s work in power and testimony.

This action of God teaches us that, to see the real character of the world, we must look at the cross. In rejecting the Son of God when He is in goodness on earth, we see the true nature of the world. There we also see God’s judgment of the world. There is no longer any connection between Him and the world. Whoever sees this, gives up the world (Gal 6:1414But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.). This can only be realized by people in whom God has worked the new life. A huge change can be seen in them. First there is love for the world and God’s people are hated. Now there is love for God’s people and the world is hated. That is the power of the gospel. That power the spies in Rahab. That is why they do not have to go further into the land.

Forty years earlier, twelve other Israelites have spied out the whole land. Ten of them returned in unbelief and “gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out” (Num 13:32-3332So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of [great] size.33There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”). So we have to spy out in the right way and that is: see what God does in lives. That convinces. A God Who is so powerful that He can change people so completely, is also powerful to give the whole land.

It is mentioned of Rahab that “she had welcomed the spies in peace” (Heb 11:3131By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.). That is diametrically opposed to the intentions of the king of Jericho. He is looking for the spies to kill them. The kings of Canaan, including those of Jericho, are a picture of the demons. They hate God and His ambassadors.

Rahab lies about the spies. That is her old nature. We should not put this in a good light. God does not bring anyone in circumstances to sin (Jam 1:1313Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.). But we should not condemn her too harshly either. What would we do in a situation that involves life or death for others and ourselves? And have men of God like Abraham and David not lied in threatening situations (Gen 12:11-1311It came about when he came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman;12and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live.13Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may live on account of you.”; 1Sam 21:22David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has commissioned me with a matter and has said to me, ‘Let no one know anything about the matter on which I am sending you and with which I have commissioned you; and I have directed the young men to a certain place.’) for more selfish motives than Rahab?

With all understanding for the behavior of Rahab it must be clear to us that lying does not belong to the new man, but to the old man (Eph 4:20-2520But you did not learn Christ in this way,21if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus,22that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self [lit man], which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,23and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,24and put on the new self [lit man], which in [the likeness of] God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.25Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one [of you] with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.). We are still in danger of showing the works of the old man. What Rahab does is part of the works of Canaan. If she had spoken the truth, God could have somehow prevented her and the spies from being harmed (Gen 19:1111They struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied [themselves trying] to find the doorway.; Jer 36:2626And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king’s son, Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel to seize Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet, but the LORD hid them.).

God allows Rahab to lie. He doesn’t depend on her lie to save the spies. For the men it is clear which side Rahab is on. At the risk of her own life, she has taken them in. When the soldiers come to catch them, she warns them and hides them. This act is her creed.

Rahab hides the spies because she knows these men are her only hope for salvation to escape the upcoming judgment. Her liberation depends on their hiding. She not only believes in the God of Israel, but here she makes herself one with the Israel of God. She makes herself one with them, while the people still own nothing but God.

Rahab hides the spies under stalks of flax. This has a beautiful spiritual meaning. Flax is the raw material for linen. Linen speaks of the righteous deeds of the believers (Rev 19:88It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright [and] clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.). The fact that Rahab has flax at her disposal and does a good job with it, indicates in the spiritual sense that in her debauched life a reversal has already taken place earlier. She has been diligent in the good (Pro 31:1313She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.
). By doing so, she has in her house means with which she can protect the spies against the murderousness of the enemy.


Testimony of Rahab

8Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, 9and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. 10For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11When we heard [it], our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.

By confessing “I know”, she gives testimony of her personal faith. It shows a greater faith than the ten aforementioned spies. Furthermore, she confesses in the name of all the inhabitants of the land (verses 9b-11a9and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you.10For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.11When we heard [it], our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.). She confesses that terror has fallen on all and that they all have melted away. This is what Moses predicted when the people were passed through the Red Sea: “No man will be able to stand before you; the LORD your God will lay the dread of you and the fear of you on all the land on which you set foot, as He has spoken to you” (Deu 11:2525No man will be able to stand before you; the LORD your God will lay the dread of you and the fear of you on all the land on which you set foot, as He has spoken to you.; cf. Exo 15:14-1614“The peoples have heard, they tremble;
Anguish has gripped the inhabitants of Philistia.
15“Then the chiefs of Edom
Were dismayed;
The leaders of Moab,
Trembling grips them;
All the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away.
16“Terror and dread
Fall upon them;
By the greatness of Your arm
They are motionless as stone;
Until Your people pass over, O LORD,
Until the people pass over whom You have purchased.
).

The mere observation that their hearts have melted away because of what God has done is not a profession of faith that frees them from judgment. We also know from the demons that they believe “that God is one … and shudder” (Jam 2:1919You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.). This faith is not the saving faith as it is personally present in Rahab. Demons are represented in the kings of Canaan. Their faith, like that of the demons, is a belief in the power of God, while they at the same time hate this God. The king of Jericho shows this, because he wants to kill the spies. He can only hate God.

Not all people who live in Canaan are a picture of the demons. Many are only slaves of demonic powers. Such a person is also Rahab. For her is hope, not for the demons. Rahab speaks in faith that the LORD has given the land to His people. That brings no hatred in her heart, but trust. She also believes in the LORD Himself and not as the God of any particular people only, but as the God of heaven and earth (verse 11b11When we heard [it], our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.). This confession is strongly reminiscent of what Moses told the Israelites and what he wants them to take to heart: “Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other” (Deu 4:3939Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.).


Rahab Pleads for Her Family

12Now therefore, please swear to me by the LORD, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth, 13and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.”

Rahab doesn’t only ask for salvation for herself. Although she is not the head of a family, she still asks for salvation for her all of her family. That is her wish. She makes this known. She trusts in the goodness of God. It is God’s thought to save families. That does not take away our responsibility to tell them about it. Rahab must also go to her relatives to tell them what is needed to be saved. We must go out to announce the means of salvation.

Caring for her family is proof that she has already broken with her harlotry. For a harlot, family relationships established by God mean nothing, no matter how much she herself may sometimes claim the opposite. When there is a real conversion, we also notice a desire for broken family relationships to be restored.

There is no valid motive for God we could imagine why someone goes or stays in prostitution. Nowhere in the Bible is there any mention of harlotry with any respect or even understanding. It is always strongly condemned. All sins are very bad, but God describes fornication as a special sin (1Cor 6:1818Flee immorality. Every [other] sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.). But also for a harlot there is grace. We see that in Rahab.


The Rescue Plan

14So the men said to her, “Our life for yours if you do not tell this business of ours; and it shall come about when the LORD gives us the land that we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.” 15Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall, so that she was living on the wall. 16She said to them, “Go to the hill country, so that the pursuers will not happen upon you, and hide yourselves there for three days until the pursuers return. Then afterward you may go on your way.” 17The men said to her, “We [shall be] free from this oath to you which you have made us swear, 18unless, when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household. 19It shall come about that anyone who goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood [shall be] on his own head, and we [shall be] free; but anyone who is with you in the house, his blood [shall be] on our head if a hand is [laid] on him. 20But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be free from the oath which you have made us swear.” 21She said, “According to your words, so be it.” So she sent them away, and they departed; and she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

When Rahab has expressed her wish, she needs words of salvation. Those words are spoken by the spies. She doesn’t have to come perish with the people of Jericho. The means is offered to her. If she really wants to benefit from it, then it is necessary that she believes the testimony of both spies and does what they have said.

Rahab believes the testimony of the men. She also has the faith that her testimony will be accepted by her family. When she tells her family that there is salvation in her house, her family believes her. They come to her house and are saved (Jos 6:22-2322Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the harlot’s house and bring the woman and all she has out of there, as you have sworn to her.”23So the young men who were spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and her mother and her brothers and all she had; they also brought out all her relatives and placed them outside the camp of Israel.). Because they believe her words, they are saved. How are we known, do they believe our testimony?

Long ago two men, angels, also gave testimony of the judgment that would come upon Sodom to a man who lives there: Lot. They warned him of that judgment and asked him who else he has in his house. When it comes down to it, his sons-in-law will not come along. They do not believe the testimony of Lot (Gen 19:1414Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, “Up, get out of this place, for the LORD will destroy the city.” But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.). The testimony of Lot is in stark contrast to that of Rahab. This is because Lot is a believer, but does not live accordingly at all, while Rahab has radically broken with her old life and puts herself on the side of God and the side of God’s people.

In the two spies who bear witness to salvation, we can see a picture of the two Witnesses God has given us in our time: the Word and the Spirit. God’s Word gives us the certainty of judgment and salvation. Rahab has believed what the spies, the witnesses, have said. That is how she was saved. Thus the faith in what God has said gives the certainty of salvation.

The second Witness is the Holy Spirit. The Word and the Spirit bear witness to a Man in heaven. That speaks of a finished work. The Lord Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to testify of Him: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose [it] to you” (Jn 16:13-1413But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.14He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose [it] to you.). If the enemy wants to attack us, we may see on Him.

Rahab shows two works of faith, both mentioned in the New Testament. The first work of faith is that she had “welcomed the spies in peace” (Heb 11:3131By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.). The second work of faith is that she “sent them out by another way” (Jam 2:2525In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?). In Hebrews 11:31 there is talk of her faith. In James 2:25 there is talk of her works in welcoming the messengers, who she sends out by another way. Both testimonies complement each other. Faith without works is dead (Jam 2:1717Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, [being] by itself.). Rahab proves her faith through her actions.

She lets the spies go in relying on their promise. James speaks of “messengers”, although they are spies. But for Rahab they are men who have come to her with a message from God. They speak words of salvation she needs. She is convinced of the coming judgment, but does not yet know how she can escape it. They told her that.

The spies entered through the door, but Rahab leaves them outside through another way, the window. She lets them go, but in the confidence that they will come back. Rahab stays behind with a happy and hopeful heart. She no longer lives by the door, but by the window: she is looking forward to salvation. The window of Rahab is not directed to Jericho, but outward, to the people of God.

The name of Rahab appears in two remarkable lists of names in the New Testament. First in Matthew 1, in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus (Mt 1:55Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse.). She is one of the four women mentioned in that genealogy. The second list of names is that of the witnesses of faith in Hebrews 11: Sarah and she (Heb 11:11,3111By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.31By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.). In this way she is connected in a special way with the wife of Abraham.

Her mention in James 2 links her to Abraham whose work of the faith is quoted in the preceding verses (Jam 2:21-2521Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?22You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected;23and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.24You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.25In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?). Both Abraham and she are quoted by James to show how the present but invisible faith becomes visible through the works. Saying you believe is not enough. The confession of faith is only justified if there are works that come from the faith and therefore provide proof that there is real faith present (Jam 2:2626For just as the body without [the] spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.).

By the way, the acts of faith of either Rahab or Abraham are not directly acts that are admired by the world. In the eyes of the world, Rahab is a land traitor and Abraham a child murderer. That is why it is not the world that determines what works of faith are, but God.

As soon as the spies have left, she hangs the cord out of the window (verse 2121She said, “According to your words, so be it.” So she sent them away, and they departed; and she tied the scarlet cord in the window.). She does not wait, as the spies have told her, until the people of God enter the land (verse 1818unless, when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household.). She immediately bears witness to her faith. The cord means her salvation. In this way she is in contact with the people of God. Her house is on the wall, on the outside. There she lets the spies leave her house. The scarlet cord symbolizes the work of the Lord Jesus. Scarlet is a red dye obtained from a specific type of worm. This is in connection with a statement prophetically referring to the Lord Jesus on the cross: “But I am a worm and not a man” (Psa 22:66But I am a worm and not a man,
A reproach of men and despised by the people.
).

Scarlet speaks not only of the suffering of the Lord Jesus, but also of His kingdom. Kings go dressed in scarlet. He obtains His kingship through suffering. It is remarkable that the Gospel that presents the Lord Jesus as King, the Gospel according to Matthew, as the only one of the four Gospels speaks of “a scarlet robe” that is mockingly put on Him (Mt 27:2828They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him.).

The red color speaks of the blood. Not only the words of the spies, but also the foundation of the shed blood gives the certainty of salvation. Rahab and her family hide, as it were, behind the blood (cf. Exo 12:7,12-137Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.12For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment—I am the LORD.13The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy [you] when I strike the land of Egypt.).


Return of the Spies

22They departed and came to the hill country, and remained there for three days until the pursuers returned. Now the pursuers had sought [them] all along the road, but had not found [them]. 23Then the two men returned and came down from the hill country and crossed over and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and they related to him all that had happened to them. 24They said to Joshua, “Surely the LORD has given all the land into our hands; moreover, all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before us.”

The spies have been in the land for three days. The number three, which occurs more often in the first chapters of Joshua, refers to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. He rose from the dead on the third day after his death (Mt 16:2121From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.; 17:2323and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.” And they were deeply grieved.; 20:1919and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify [Him], and on the third day He will be raised up.”; Acts 10:4040God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible,; 1Cor 15:3-43For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,4and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,). To know the blessing of the land, it is always important to remember the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

The testimony that the spies give to Joshua about the situation in the land is the testimony that they have heard from Rahab’s mouth and seen in her actions. In her they have seen what God does.


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