Originally published Wednesday, 28 August 2013.
When we began our Hebrews’ study six weeks ago, we started in Hebrews 11:1 – learning that faith, is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen. So far we’ve seen this conviction of things unseen fuel Abel, by faith, to offer a more pleasing sacrifice, take Enoch, by faith up to Heaven, and convince Noah, by faith to construct an ark for the saving of his family. Abraham, by faith moved his family to a foreign land and later offered up the son he’d waited so long to welcome as asacrifice on the altar. We’ve looked at the faith of Jacob, Joseph, and then last week, Moses and the (sort of faithful) Israelites.
This week, we look to faith that crumbles walls and honors prostitutes.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. Hebrews 11:30-31
After Moses’ death, the Lord appointed Joshua to lead the Israelites into the promised land. But one very giant, fortified, strategically standing city stood in their way. Jericho sat at the mouth of the Jordan river. The city’s walls were so wide in places, that two horse-drawn chariots could drive side-by-side. It was easily the most impenetrable city of its time. Inside the walls, lived a wickedly sinful people. They were sexually immoral, murderous, and had been known to sacrifice babies by placing them alive, inside jars and building them into the wall as sacrifices.
And now, the Israelites must overtake Jericho and the godless people living within the city walls.
By Faith Rahab
Joshua sent out two spies to gather information. The men hid inside the house of Rahab, a prostitute. Because the city was located by a ship channel, traders and other outsiders were frequently coming and going through the prostitute’s doorway. Perhaps they found they could stay easily hidden in the house where men were coming and going all the time. When these particular foreigners came to lodge, Rahab noticed something different about the men.
She’d heard the stories of the Israelites and their God (again, perhaps from the traders who’d traveled and then visited her home with stories from afar) and she admitted her heart melted away in fear of their God. She recognized the God who parted the Red Sea and destroyed the Amorites was indeed the God of the heavens and the earth. And then she asked, “please swear to me by the Lord that as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with me and my house, and give me a sure sign that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death (Joshua 2:12-13).”
The men promised to deal kindly and faithfully with her in exchange for her discretion and secrecy. After she hides them and gives them a way of escape, they uphold their promise by instructing her to gather her family into her home, hang a scarlet cord out of the window, and wait for salvation. The instructions are reminiscent of the instructions the Israelites received during the first passover. The Israelites and Rahab must act by faith, placing a sign outside their door, and wait by faith for their salvation.
By Faith Joshua
Next, we jump to Joshua who is visited by “the commander of the army of the LORD,” standing above him on a wall with a drawn sword. When the commander instructs Joshua to remove his sandals, for he is “standing on holy ground,” Joshua realizes these same words had been spoken to Moses when the LORD visit him in the burning bush – and this was indeed the LORD. The LORD assures Joshua that he has given Jericho (Joshua 6:2) into Joshua’s hands, and Joshua’s faith is strengthened to obedience.
The battle plan seemed ridiculous. The Israelites were to march around the city for six days and then on the seventh day the priests would blow their trumpets, the people shouts, and the wall of the city would fall flat. Surprisingly, without any documented complaint or doubt, the people obeyed Joshua and marched without a word. On the seventh day, Joshua said to the people, “Shout, for the LORD has given you the city (Joshua 6:16). And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the LORD for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent.”
The Result of Faith
The Israelite’s part in the falling walls was purely symbolic. The Lord’s commands had been explicit and required implicit obedience on their part. And by faith, the walls fell down.
Rahab’s faith was amazing: a prostitute living a sinful life, among a city of debauchery, somehow believed the LORD was God. Her faith was noteworthy; her willingness to hide and protect the two spies, placed her in the hall of faith alongside faith giants such as Noah, Abraham, and Moses. And Rahab believed after hearing only stories from the wilderness.
We have more than stories. We have generations of prophecy fulfilled through the coming of Jesus. We have the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. How much more faith should we have? How much more should we believe?
What are your Jericho walls today? Are there situations that seem too high to scale and too strong to knock down? By faith, do you believe God can bring those walls down too?