(Joshua 2:1-24 Written as if the spy who went into Jericho and later married Rahab were saying this.)
It’s interesting to ask people how they met their mate. Everyone has a different story. God brings people together in many different ways. Moses watered some camels and ended marrying the oldest daughter of the owner. Boaz paid off a distant relative’s debt by buying their land and got Ruth with it. The Benjaminites grabbed women at a party and carried them off. Jacob worked seven years for Rachael and got her sister instead on his wedding night. Xerxes held a beauty contest and married the winner – Esther. Onana married his sister-in-law after his brother died. Hosea married whom god told him to and she later became a prostitute. I married a woman who was a prostitute when I met her.
My name is Salmon (Matthew 1:5). I was a descendant of Abraham, but my wife was not. She was a Gentile, outside God’s promised provision. As a Canaanite she was under special condemnation (Deut 7:1-2). A Canaanite, a female Canaanite, a female prostitute Canaanite. Surely apart from God’s grace there could be no hope of deliverance. Still, God’s grace was very evident in her life as well as mine. But I’m getting ahead of my story here.
Moses led my parents out of Egypt. I was born while they were wandering because of their disobedience. Egypt, the Red Sea, Mt Sinai – all these were just stories to me. Now the crossing of the Jordan, that was a very real experience to me! When we arrived there Joshua sent me and a friend to spy out Jericho. What an event that was!
It was a privilege to be chosen. We were young, strong, intelligent, knew the culture and language of the people in Jericho, and we had no families. This was important because there was serious danger for us, the real possibility we wouldn’t make it back. Joshua knew the importance of knowing your enemy ahead of time, so he sent us to gather information (Joshua 2:1). If we failed that would demoralize the whole nation and army. We would have failed if it hadn’t been for God’s grace.
He led us to the home of a prostitute, Rahab (2:1). Eight times she is mentioned in the Bible and six she is called a prostitute (Josh 2:1,3; 6:17,23,25; Mt 1:5; Heb 11:31; Ja 2:25). Now those who ran what you would call an inn also were often prostitutes. An in would be where visitors went, where we would be less likely to draw attention, and where we could listen to the talk to gather information. Despite our precautions, however, word soon spread that we were at Rahab’s home (Josh 2:2-3).
Everyone assumed she would turn us in, for we were their enemies. Instead she hid us (2:4-11) because of her faith in our God. She had been searching, we knew she was different when we first met her. God always reaches out to every heart that seeks Him (Job, Melchizedek, Ruth, Ethiopian Eunuch, Luke, etc.). She asked question after question about Jehovah. We could watch her faith grow and grow as we talked to her. In her heart she became one of us, and therefore everyone else in Jericho became her enemy, too. Immediately she risked her own life, and her own family, to fight on the side of the God of Israel. No wonder she is used as an example of faith (James 2:25; Heb 11:31). In effect she joined our spy team. All she wanted was life for her and her family (Joshua 2:12-21), assuming they would be spared to be slaves for us instead of killed with everyone else.
How would all the soldiers know who to spare? She would hang a red cord in her window for us to see. Red. Like we marked our doors at Passover. Red stood for blood. Red meant safety. We had no way of knowing then that one of our very descendants (Matthew 1:1-6) would fulfill that picture by paying for the sins of the whole world with His very own red blood! Now that’s grace at its greatest!
A few days later, when we destroyed the city of Jericho, the red cord was there and Rahab and her family were spared (Joshua 6:22-23). Since I didn’t have a family I became part of their family, helping them settle in with us. Before long we were married, and, well, the rest is history. Still, there is much to learn from this bit of history.
Not only do we learn that God protects and provides for His own out of grace, as He took care of us, but we also learn that God chooses and uses the most unlikely people (I Cor 1:27-29)! Just as Jesus went out of His way to contact another immoral Gentile at Jacob’s Well (John 4), so God went out of His way to reach and save Rahab. She had faith, and that faith was shown by her actions (as all faith must – James 2:17-25). Besides Sarah, she is the only woman in the famous faith chapter of Hebrews 11. James uses her to show that faith without works is dead. It wasn’t her ability that was so great and impressed God, but her availability. God gave her a new life, as He gives all His people (Eph 2:1-10). Despite her sin, God’s grace is greater than His wrath (Psalm 103).
God’s grace means that our standing with Him does not depend on who we are and what we’ve done. It depends on who He is and what He’s done. Salvation is by grace (Eph 2:4-9; Rom 3:23-24; Rom 11:6). All any of us ever have had or will have is by grace. Anything short of being in hell at this minute is grace. Grace – where would you be without it?
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)