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.).