Today’s reading includes Joshua 3:1-4:24, Luke 14:7-35, Psalm 80:1-19, Proverbs 12:27-28.
Today, I find my thoughts still back in Joshua 2. It is important to note an important story in that chapter because it tells the story of the black sheep of the lineage of Jesus. I just love that God chose imperfection to be part of the Perfect Son, the one who would make all things new, even in His own family and certainly in ours. What if we do sin? Is all then lost? Where is the hope? We must know and believe that our Covenant God is a Redeemer. He loves to restore that which is lost or damaged. He will restore when repentance comes. Total restoration. Total redemption. That is the beauty of the gospel. To examine the truth of this, we can look at the beautiful story of Rahab.
Joshua sent spies to check out the land—especially Jericho. They went to the house of Rahab, a prostitute, and hid there. Why would these holy men on a mission from God want to associate with a prostitute? Whatever the earthly reasons for selecting Rahab’s house, it becomes clear in history that God had already selected her house.
You see, Rahab believed. She was not a believer—yet—but she did believe. Despite her sinful life, she recognized the holiness and the power of God. She was more fearful of God, whom she did not even follow, than the leaders of Jericho, who would surely take her life if she was found out.
She knew what the risks were—she could lose her home, her family, her very life. But her sinful existence paled in comparison to the hope she felt upon meeting these holy spies. They truly had presence evangelism. We do not know what they spoke to her, but it appears that their very presence gave her more hope and more courage. A glimmer of truth began to shine, and she could no longer deny it nor escape it.
Even though she had not yet taken the Lord as her God, she could not deny the truth of who He is. This knowledge gave her hope she had never experienced before. It gave her a reason to risk everything.
And recognizing the truth of who He is motivated another emotion we would not normally associate with a prostitute—love. Her boldness was motivated by truth and by love. She loved her family. Her courage to confront these holy men and make a deal with them was fueled by realizing the truth of who God is and what He is capable of doing and by love for her family. This courage had to be extreme, for she was a mere woman. In those days, a woman was barely higher than a slave in the social and influential ladder. And she was a poor, tainted woman, which plunged her even further down this ladder. But love motivated her to ask for favor on behalf of her family.
All of these observations make me wonder: how did she come to be a prostitute anyway? Was it love for her family that plunged her into this hopeless lifestyle?
We won’t know these answers this side of heaven, but my guess is based on what I have seen in others like her. No one leads such a desperate, hopeless life unless they feel they have no other choice. Maybe that is the only way she could think of to deal with her hardships.
But then the holy spies came. When she saw and believed the truth, it sparked the hope that perhaps there was another way. Perhaps deliverance could come to lift her out of the dirty water of life in which she was slowly drowning. She had heard the stories.
She had heard how the Lord had dried up another dirty body of water, the Jordan River. She had heard about all the other miracles as well. She thought that if their God could do something as impossible as those miracles, maybe the favor of that God could dry up her own helpless situation, and she too could walk away on dry land. Maybe she wouldn’t drown after all. Maybe He could deliver her from the desperate life that held her captive.
Can you relate to her situation? Have you ever felt trapped in a sinful existence? Maybe there are reasons why—maybe life seems to have dealt an unfair hand to you. Regardless of all of the reasons you are there, regardless of where you try to place the blame, the fact is you are trapped. You are now a prisoner to a life of sin or depression or hardship, and it appears there is nothing you can possibly do about it. But listen very carefully. I have good news for you.
In Isaiah 61:1-3, we find this prophecy of the coming Savior. Jesus declared in his first sermon that He was the fulfillment of the prophecy and I can testify that He has done this in my life:
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
What if you have already found the Deliverer, as I have? Where does that leave you in your responsibilities to others who are still drowning and trapped? Can you allow the Holy Spirit to use you to spark hope, even if it is only through your presence? As Saint Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.” Please don’t give up on people. Please don’t assume that you or anyone else is too far-gone. Sometimes those who appear furthest away are really the ones closest to the cross, just a step away from accepting the love of the Savior.
In the end, Rahab married Salmon from the tribe of Judah. She was the mother of Boaz, and the great-great grandmother of King David. Praise God for His redemptive plan.