GOD ASSURES HIS PEOPLE OF VICTORY BY EXPOSING THE FEAR AND DEFEATIST ATTITUDE OF OUR ENEMIES
(HERE HE USES A PROPHETIC PROSTITUTE = RAHAB)
INTRODUCTION: TURNING THE TABLES
Bad report given by initial 10 of 12 spies:
“we became like grasshoppers in our own sight” (Num. 13:33)
I had an interesting experience earlier this week at my conference for Caterpillar dealers out in Las Vegas that directly illustrated the main point we want to grab hold of in today’s message. We had over 300 management representatives from most of the 58 dealerships in North America gathered together in one large ballroom to get pumped up and to think big about where our business is headed (in this case talking about our rental business and our sale of compact equipment). Cat corporate just achieved their overall goal of $30 billion in annual revenue … a couple of years ahead of schedule. The Cat executive opening up the conference challenged the group with this line of thinking:
“We are the 800 pound gorilla in the industry. Nobody can stand before us. We will be victorious in what we set our mind to accomplish. If one of our competitors were to walk into this ballroom right now and see what combined resources he was up against, he would be quaking in fear … knowing that he didn’t stand a chance.”
(Well maybe if I worked for John Deere … I’d say the same thing … I’d be wrong of course … just kidding … that’s not the point)
The point of Joshua chapter 2 is that we can’t have a Grasshopper Mentality – God has called us to an agenda of spiritual victory and we need to move out in faith with an expectation of success. We as the church of the Lord Jesus Christ are much more than the 800 pound gorilla … we will see the testimony of Rahab in this chapter … we are Connected … our God is the Master of the Universe –“the God in heaven above and earth beneath.”
Turning the Tables: We are not the ones who should be in fear and trembling. The victory has been won for us; Satan was defeated at the cross. Our enemies know that they cannot stand against the power of the Almighty. They are ready to be driven out. We must step out in faith and take the land that has been promised to us.
Richard Hess: The story about Rahab functions in several ways in its place in Joshua. From the perspective of the literary context, it provides a view of the Canaanites as chapter 1 did of the Israelites. As in chapter 1, one particular ﬁgure is highlighted. In this sense, Rahab corresponds to Joshua as the faithful one of her people who is chosen to lead them to salvation, or at least to offer it to those who are interested. Joshua 2 also anticipates the conquest of Jericho in chapter 6. In the broader context of the Pentateuch, ties are obvious with Numbers 13–14 and Deuteronomy 1 and the sending of the scouts from Kadesh Barnea with its disastrous results. In the contrasting account of Joshua 2, the role of Joshua is magniﬁed as one who follows God and who leads the people. Joshua 2 thus justiﬁes the character of Joshua as a leader concerned for his people, for he gathers intelligence before leading them into hostile territory. It also describes how Joshua gives Rahab and her family an opportunity to deliver themselves from the coming destruction. Finally, Joshua 2 afﬁrms a theology of the mission of Israel. This is speciﬁed in the two longest monologues in the story: the confession and request of Rahab (vv. 9–13) and the conditional promise of the scouts (vv. 17– 20). Together these provide the justiﬁcation for war, the provision of mercy for deliverance, and the expectations of Israel.
Jerome Creach: Joshua 2 is one of the richest and most intricately woven narratives in the book. It employs irony, humor, and folkloric qualities to create an irresistible plot in which a prostitute outsmarts two groups of men in order to preserve herself and her family during the Israelite attack on Jericho. The narrative has suspense, sexual innuendo, and an underdog who triumphs—everything a modern audience expects in a great story! Because of these features, Joshua 2 can and should be appreciated for its literary artistry. This chapter is also extremely important, however, for the theology of the book of Joshua.
Kenneth Gangel: Strangers in the Attic –
This chapter centers not on the spies or Joshua himself but on Rahab the prostitute. She demonstrates for us the wisdom and value of choosing faith and acting upon that choice. Her reward was enormous.
I. (:1-7) PROVIDENTIAL PROTECTION MAKES US UNTOUCHABLES AND FRUSTRATES OUR ENEMIES
You can’t be thinking Grasshopper thoughts when you realize that God protects us against all odds
KING OF JERICHO TRIES TO CAPTURE THE TWO SPIES BUT FAILS
Most powerful leader in the land extremely frustrated by his inability to accomplish his mission of capturing the two spies
(like trying to squish 2 little grasshoppers)
- he had the right intelligence on the ground – those spies were right under his nose … still couldn’t find them … sort of like WMDs
- he had all the cards in his favor; home field advantage; the world vs 2 = pretty good odds
- snookered by little old Rahab the harlot
“some trust in horses and some in chariots but we will remember the name of the Lord our God” – no room for grasshopper thinking
A. (:1a) Visualizing Victory –
Top Secret Reconnaissance Mission of the Two Spies
“Then Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as spies secretly from Shittim,
saying, ‘Go, view the land, especially Jericho.’”
SPIRITUAL RECONAISSANCE: SWOT ANALYSIS
(STRENGTHS / WEAKNESSES / OPPORTUNITIES / THREATS)
Timing Issue: when did this take place in the context of chaps 1-2
Remember 1:11 – the date was set – 3 days of preparation and then they would enter the land … so things are being presented out of order here chronologically … The spies had already returned with the critical intel info before Joshua set this timetable
Helene Dallaire: Joshua understands the value of spying and scouting out territory. Decades earlier, Moses had sent him along with eleven other men to examine Canaan’s population, strength, agricultural conditions, and habitability (Nu 13:17–25). Joshua had learned that twelve spies were much too numerous to bring back an accurate and helpful report. He had learned that only two spies could do the job well (as he and Caleb had done); consequently, he sees fit to send only two men to scout out the area of Jericho.
Acting in FAITH is consistent with being SMART about it; acting with PRUDENCE —
- Extremely dangerous mission for these 2 spies
- no support or fallback – on their own to fend for themselves; had to be very brave and resourceful
- Joshua must have selected 2 very heroic leaders for this important mission; He remembered what was required from his earlier heroics with Caleb
- tried to slip into the country unobserved and blend in
- must have been good swimmers! No parting of the Jordan for their crossing
- Extremely sensitive mission
- didn’t communicate up front to the rest of the nation
- Leadership needs to present the right message at the right time – here Joshua still wanted to get his ducks in a row before going public
- Extremely strategic mission
- Significance of Jericho as the necessary stronghold from which to further invade the land
- A small city (maybe 6 acres) on the plains just West of the river Jordan and Northeast of Jerusalem.
- A city of great power and wealth guarded by a great 30’ tall wall. In fact a double wall … 12 feet between the walls (inner wall very thick, outer wall very thin);
- People felt secure; impenetrable / Fortress mentality
B. (:1b) Friends in Low Places – the Assistance of Rahab the Harlot
“So they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab,
and lodged there.”
- Selection of Rahab
Why or How did they end up here?? Providence of God – unexplained to us
Rahab’s house accustomed to having male visitors come and go; reputation well-known; the spies needed somewhere to stay
Keathley: Rahab’s house was the only place where the men could stay with any hope of remaining undetected and where they would be able to gather the information they were seeking. Moreover, her house afforded an easy way of escape since it was located on the city wall.
Richard Hess: Why then do the spies choose the house of a prostitute? This house was more likely a tavern, hostel or way station, which could be used by visitors, than a brothel. There is evidence for such overnight places of accommodation and their use by travelling caravans and royal messengers in Canaan of the fourteenth to twelfth centuries BC.
- Significance of Rahab
A model of Gentile faith – Commended highly in the NT
- Commended for her faith in welcoming and protecting the spies in 11:31
“By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were
disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace”
- Commended for her model of faith in action; living faith in James 2:25
“And 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?”
- Commended most importantly by being included in the royal line of Joseph – 1:5
Establishing the legal right of Jesus to be the promised Messiah of the
Seed of David; Her descendants became the kings of Israel and Judah!
Robert Massey: Isn’t it interesting that in Matthew’s account of the linage of Jesus, the only three women mentioned were all involved in sexual sin, Rahab, a prostitute, Bathsheba, an adulteress, and Tamar, who committed incest with her father-in-law. Oh the amazing grace of God.
- Surprising Model of Rahab… who does she represent??
– she is a Canaanite – “while we were yet enemies Christ died for us”
The Canaanites were the enemy. According to God’s own command they were to be exterminated. All of them. Yet here is one of the enemy showing kindness and compassion to the Israeli spies.
– she is a woman – second class citizen; but not in God’s eyes
– she is a prostitute – could never amount to anything; beyond
Forgiveness in the eyes of most; tainted forever
– she is a trophy of God’s grace – the type of instrument He loves to use to accomplish His purposes
Did you notice how the designation is “Rahab the harlot” … our sense of God’s grace would be greatly magnified if we were labeled according to our past as well …
Here is Paul the self-righteous; Clyde the drunkard; Wilma the gossip … we tend to look down on certain sins … but the Holy God recognizes the same root depravity and rebellion against His righteousness.
Here is the least impressive member of society being selected by God to play a critical role in world history (HIS Story) … by grace through faith made some key right choices (despite having an embarrassing history of making incredibly destructive choices).
You think you are a nobody … that God can’t use you for something impressive?? Think again; we can never try to excuse ourselves from some mission God is calling us to by claiming to be too small and unimportant for the task – the gifts and calling belong to God – He is the one who equips and enables.
C. (:2-3) Enemies in High Places — Blown Cover
- (:2) Mission Exposed to King of Jericho
“And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, ‘Behold, men from the sons
of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.’”
David Howard: The action in vv. 2–8 moves along quickly and is described in rather choppy Hebrew. It is a straightforward account, however, of events setting the stage for the dramatic conversations of vv. 9–14 and 16–21.
Satan has always been the accuser of the brethren – whether it is bringing lies into our minds to try to make us deny the truth God has revealed about who we are and our relationship to Him (e.g. we are not grasshoppers!); or whether it is accusing us in some fashion by galvanizing opposition to us and to the program of God.
He is active in the world behind the scenes right now – going about as a roaring lion; seeking whom he can devour – we don’t want to treat him lightly – but remember: the tables have been turned and he is the one who should be cowering in fear … not us
- (:3) Intimidating Ultimatum Issued to Rahab
“And 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.’”
Watershed decision: Who is on the Lord’s side; who will serve the king?
Will Rahab remain loyal to Baal and to the king of Jericho; or commit treason
and align with the God of Israel? — both a political and religious decision
D. (:4-6) Providential Protection — Risky Protection Provided by Rahab
“But the woman had hidden the two men”
Dangerous game of Hide and Seek – a lot at stake
Rahab had made a lot of bad choices in her life … but she turned things around
when she risked everything and started making choices of faith
No matter how stained our past; no matter how humiliating; what type of
bondage sin has created … there are oppts today for choices of faith
but will require repentance – casting off certain aspects of one’s lifestyle
* * * * *
Aside: Don’t want to get off track here debating the issue of Situation Ethics …
Was it OK for Rahab to be deceptive in this situation?
Simple Answer: Yes – (many won’t agree … I don’t want to debate … not the point of this account) – just two quick observations:
– Rahab consistently commended in the Scriptures for her brave behavior here
– The Spy Game in the context of warfare brings with it a different set of rules
than what we would be dealing with in the case of Situation Ethics when it comes to our personal behavior
Enough said… we are moving on
Richard Hess: The ethical issue is not the concern of the narrative. It stresses the deception, not in order to condemn Rahab but to magnify her personal risk in hiding the spies.
* * * * *
E. (:7) Futile Opposition — Rabbit Trail Pursuit
“So 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.”
The fortifications and weapons of our spiritual enemies cannot frustrate the sovereign plans of God.
The king of Jericho thought he had all his bases covered … but he was clueless.
II. (:8-11) PROPHETIC INSIGHT REVEALS THE DEFEATIST STATE OF THE ENEMY
God wants His people to wake up and appropriate the victory He has already secured. Note how long the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness when they could have already been enjoying rest in the land of milk and honey. The enemies are quaking in their boots … have been for a long time … wondering when their defeat will be executed.
A. (:8-9) Summary Admission of Defeat
- Intellectual Acknowledgment of Defeat
“I know that the Lord has given you the land”
- Emotional Dread of Defeat
“and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the
inhabitants of the land have melted away before you.”
Sometimes our enemies don’t look scared:
Why wasn’t Goliath scared when David approached him? Enemies can be just plain dumb and uninformed as well … but where they are clued in … they know their fate.
B. (:10) Conclusive Examples of the Power of the Lord
- Removing all Obstacles — Crossing of the Red Sea
“For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red
Sea before you when you came out of Egypt”
What are the huge obstacles that prevent you from claiming God’s promises for spiritual victory? You need to give those over to God in faith
Trent Butler: The prostitute gives them the late night news: the city is in a state of panic and terror, knowing the God of the Israelites has given his people the land. The people of Jericho have cause to fear because they know the story of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt through the Reed Sea (Exod 14–15) and of the total defeat of Sihon and Og (Num 21). “Rahab confesses that what was foretold by the celebrants of the exodus (Exod 15:1–18) has come to pass.” She confesses what she heard, though the source of the message is not given. Rahab becomes the first prophetic figure in the historical books as well as the first inhabitant of the land to join Israel and Israel’s God.
- Defeating all Enemies who stand in our way –
Destruction of Sihon and Og (two kings of the Amorites)
“and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were
beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.”
Deut 2:24-25 “shall tremble and be in dread because of you”
Deut 3:21-22 – important principle – God is fighting for us
Imagine a tag team fight where whenever you need help, God jumps into the ring and delivers the knockout blow
Satan knows what Christ accomplished on the Cross
Back to Gen. 3 – the serpent bruised the heel of the seed of the woman;
But the promised Messiah crushed the head of the serpent—He is finished.
We sell compaction equipment that does a pretty good job if you want to use it to crush something … while I was off in Vegas this week, I imagine most of you spent Valentine’s evening listening to a special promotion on 98 Rock …
There you would have heard jilted lovers bringing momentos of past relationships gone sour to a touching event where they could have our big yellow machine crush those momentos to smitherines and thus gain some sense of closure for their bitterness …
Real high class stuff
God specializes in Crushing His Enemies … not just slapping them on the wrist …obliterating them
“It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” — (Heb 10:31)
Matt. 8:29 – demons cast out into the herd of pigs
“Have you come to torment us before the time?”
Col. 2:15 – “made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him”
James 2:19 – the demons intellectually acknowledge the existence of God and shudder
C. (:11a) Losing All Heart
“And when we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man
any longer because of you”
since they heard of this they have been expecting defeat
What would you think of someone who was given an inheritance of $25 million dollars and then took 40 years to get over to the bank to sign the papers so they could start using the funds?
The enemy was wondering: what took you guys so long to get here?
D. (:11b) Confession of Absolute Sovereignty
“for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”
Significant testimony for one raised in a culture of polytheism and idolatry.
Same lesson that King Nebuchadnezzar had to learn the hard way …
This is where we need to hang our hat – Psalm 139 – Romans 8 —
Smart to get with the program.
Do God’s people act like they truly believe this?
Goins: This powerful confession of God’s absolute sovereignty suggests that Rahab isn’t just gripped by fear, but deep inside she has a growing spiritual sensitivity to the supernatural God at work through all of these events.
Schaeffer: How did she know that? We are not told. Often in Scripture we find that people knew things, though we are not told how they came to know them. But Rahab knew! And what she knew was totally against her culture. She believed in a new God, a God totally and diametrically opposed to the gods of Jericho but a God above all other gods, a universal God. In the midst of the Canaanites, the Ammonites, the Amorites – in the midst of their horrible, polluted worship, laden with sex symbols and sex practices – Rahab affirmed a true theological proposition about who God really is.
III. (:12-21) PASSOVER TYPE DELIVERANCE (REDEMPTION) COMES FROM A SIMPLE COVENANT COMMITMENT
You can’t help but see here the parallels to the Passover account where God delivered His chosen people from out of the bondage of Egypt.
Here God both delivers the two Jewish spies from the clutches of the enemy and then pledges deliverance for the Gentile family of faithful Rahab.
We won’t ever think like grasshoppers if we remember our powerful redemption.
We are precious to the one who has gone to such great lengths to redeem us
A. (:12-13) Plea for Covenant Mercy
- Based on mercy shown by Rahab
“since I have dealt kindly with you” Heb. hesed
Think of the huge reward that would have been hers for turning in the spies
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” Matt. 5:7
- Extended to Her Household
“that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household”
Not just saving her own skin
B. (:14) Brokering the Deal
“So 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.’”
Look at the Compassionate Heart of God – now we have more insight into why this reconnaissance mission was necessary – God didn’t need any help with the logistics of how to knock down the walls at Jericho; but He was giving this gracious opportunity to deliver a Gentile family from judgment and destruction.
C. (:15-16) Logistics of Escape for the Two Spies
- (:15) Logistics of Escape from Jericho
“Then 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.”
– Providential that she was living on the wall
- (:16) Logistics of Escape from the Pursuers
“And she said to them, ‘Go to the hill country, lest the pursuers happen
upon you, and hide yourselves there for three days, until the pursuers
return. Then afterward you may go on your way.’”
– Significance of three day wait
D. (:17-21) Logistics of Deliverance for Rahab and her Family –
Symbol of God’s Promised Blessing upon the Gentiles (part of Abrahamic Covenant)
The Sign of the Scarlet Thread
Turning the shame of the scarlet letter A for adulteress into the trophy of the scarlet thread of God’s redemption and deliverance
Keith Andrews: She was told to leave a scarlet rope, the color of blood. This was no coincidence. Throughout the Scriptures blood is shown to cover our sin. Without the shedding of blood there is no redemption of sin. It is the blood of Christ that rescues us from destruction.
Helene Dallaire: Scholars have offered several interpretations for the scarlet thread. Some have interpreted it symbolically, pointing back to the Passover night in Egypt when God instructed Moses to put blood on the doorpost in order to spare the inhabitants of the house from certain death (Ex 12:7). Others point to the future messianic fulfillment, when the blood of Christ is shed for the redemption of all mankind. This type of symbolism must be handled with caution since nothing in the text of Joshua mentions the events of the Passover night. A christological interpretation obviously comes much later and represents prophetic insights that could not have been intended by the original author of Joshua. Nonetheless, an allegorical interpretation of Joshua 2 is not impossible in retrospect.
(:22-24) CONCLUSION: SPIES REPORT BACK TO JOSHUA WITH MESSAGE OF ASSURANCE OF VICTORY
“And they said to Joshua, ‘Surely the Lord has given all the land into our hands,
and all the inhabitants of the land, moreover, have melted away before us.’”
Successfully completed their very difficult mission.
What mission lies before each of us?
What spiritual battles for victory do we face ….
- Against Satan and our foes
- Against the world and its attractions
- Against our flesh and its enticements
Don’t forget the irony of this passage:
the inhabitants were looking at Israel’s God and were shaking in their sandals. The Israelites, who had seen the mighty works of God over and over again, were looking at their problems rather than God and were terrorized into unbelief. (Keathley)
As we leave here this morning, let’s leave behind any grasshopper thinking and have the Vision of Victory and the assurance that God has provided for us.