GOD USES THE AVAILABLE
Lord, Your methods continue to amaze us.
Read JOSHUA 2:1–16
Rahab and the Spies
2 Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.
2 The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” 3 So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”
4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. 5 At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” 6 (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) 7 So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.
8 Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 9 and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea[a] for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.[b] 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.
12 “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.”
14 “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.”
15 So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. 16 She said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.”
a. Joshua 2:10 Or the Sea of Reeds
b. Joshua 2:10 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them.
Jesus said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me’ (Mark 8:34).
Joshua must be looking back some forty years, spying with Caleb (Num 13), as he now sends out his own spies. Joshua is not being speculative here, but is planning for the possession of the given land (14). Clearly, God has gone before them. The citizens of Jericho have heard the harrowing stories about the God of Israel, and the vast encampment across the river has a devastating effect on them. Rahab attests to an almighty God, a God who ends up using her: a most unlikely character. Perhaps this hinders our perception of God – or perhaps it enables us to hope! For here is Rahab, who in so many ways did not fit the mold. A Canaanite, a woman (culturally outcast), a liar, and a prostitute: in so many ways unclean and unacceptable; nevertheless, we see the hand of the Lord upon her. She knows the battle is won, that the Israelites will take the land, and she decides to throw in with the winning team.
As one who has experienced grace for my own depraved past, I rejoice in the eternal hope that God can make the most unacceptable person acceptable and that His ways are not our ways. From King David to the disciples, we consistently see God’s hand upon those we would reject. In Rahab we see God’s provision for her and her family, but we can also look forward to the ongoing blessing in and through her changed life. She is one of just four women mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy (Matt 1:5), commended for faith and good works (Heb 11:31; James 2:25) and mother to Boaz. Questioning God’s methods or His anointing is to elevate our own position, something Jesus constantly warns against (Matt 19:30; 20:16), for the lowest will inherit the kingdom (James 2:5).
‘My chains fell off, my heart was free, / I rose, went forth, and followed thee’ (Charles Wesley, ‘And can it be’, 1738). Thank God for his salvation, which saves and uses us, despite our rebellion.
Lord, thank You for using people we would spurn as candidates for high profile workers in Your vineyard.