Joshua: Go and Get the Harlot



Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the harlot’s house and bring the woman and all she has out of there, as you have sworn to her.” So the young men who were spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and her mother and her brothers and all she had; they also brought out all her relatives and placed them outside the camp of Israel…However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. Joshua 6:22-23, 25

This morning we look again at Rahab the harlot. We were first introduced to Rahab in Chapter 2 when she met the spies from Israel and saved them from certain capture. She believed in the God of Israel because she had heard of all the great things He had done. All of Jericho had heard about the God of Israel and their hearts melted in fear, but she was the only one who responded in faith. Rahab confessed her belief and hid the spies at great risk to herself. At the right time, she let them down the wall out of her house. This was accounted to her as great faith:

By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace. Hebrews 11:31

When the spies were sent on a mission to Jericho, they thought they were on a mission to get a firsthand look of the city, but they had a great mission which they did not understand. The spies were on mission for Rahab, the harlot.

This is a beautiful example of God’s love and desire for each one of us. The whole city of Jericho rejected God, except for one woman of questionable reputation who lived in the wall, above the trash and the unwanted. God sent a special envoy to meet her for her salvation. God does what He does for the sake of each one of us. God does not abandon His own, and He never leaves those who truly seek Him. God will be found if we are truly seeking Him:

“But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29

‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. ‘Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

If people truly want to know God, they will find Him when they seek Him.

and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; Acts 17:26-27

Why did God create us at this time and this place? So that we would seek for Him, so that we would grope for Him and find Him, and He is not far off from us. There are times in our lives that we wonder, “Where is God? What is He doing? Why am I here?” You’re here because God determined, before the foundations of the earth, this time and this place for you, that you might seek Him and find Him.

When we truly seek God with our heart, God makes Himself known. God desired a relationship with Rahab, and Rahab was truly seeking God. God desires a relationship with you, and if you seek Him, you will find Him.

The spies were God’s messengers, and they brought a test of faith to Rahab:

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

What Rahab didn’t understand is that her faith would be tested, and that testing of her faith changed her life. We don’t like to be tested, but testing is necessary for our faith to grow. It’s like a couple who is hiking in the woods. They come to a stream flowing too fast and too deep to cross, so they walk upstream and find a tree that has fallen across the stream.

Do we put our faith in this log? Do we walk across this log? Who goes first? It’s not necessarily the faith that will save those two hikers, but what they have faith in. If they have faith in the log and it’s solid, then their faith is appropriately placed. But if that log is rotted out and the inside is weak, then they’ve placed their faith in something that can’t hold them.

How often do we misplace our faith? Where do we put our faith? Do we put our faith in ourselves, in our own abilities, and in our own resources? Or do we put our faith in God? It’s not about the amount of faith we have, but in whom we place our faith. Was Rahab placing her trust in the right place?

As Rahab was letting the spies down the wall, they made a deal:

“Now therefore, please swear to me by the LORD, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth, and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” 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.” 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. She said to them, “Go to the hill country, so that the pursuers will not happen upon you, and hide yourselves there for three days until the pursuers return. Then afterward you may go on your way.” The men said to her, “We shall be free from this oath to you which you have made us swear, unless, when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household. “It shall come about that anyone who goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be free; but anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him. “But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be free from the oath which you have made us swear.” She said, “According to your words, so be it.” So she sent them away, and they departed; and she tied the scarlet cord in the window. Joshua 2:12-21

Rahab was putting her faith in God and asked for protection for herself and her whole family. The spies agreed, but said that she must tie a cord of scarlet thread in her window. That cord represents the blood of Christ, the scarlet thread of redemption found throughout the scriptures. Rahab placed her trust in that red cord. The spies gave her another test, and said that they would only spare the lives of those inside her house.

Rahab knew that an attack was imminent, but she didn’t know exactly when it was coming. Days later, she saw the army of Israel approaching and called her family into her apartment. They watched the army march around the city, and then head out. This went on for a week until the seventh day, when the army marched around Jericho seven times. They heard a shout and the walls crumbled around them as the city collapsed.

How much faith did it take for Rahab and her family to stay inside that apartment in the wall when everything was falling down around them? How much did Rahab believe that God was all-powerful and able to split the waters, part the sea, and defeat the enemies? Rahab may not have had a clue about how God would save them, but she believed God could save them. Even though everything in her being and everyone around her probably shouted, “We’re going to die today!” she believed that God could save. The wall was falling, yet Rahab contended for her relatives by her faith. She trusted in God, and she was a true believer:

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? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. James 2:25-26

If you really believe, your faith will affect what you do. If you have faith in God, there’s going to be something that changes in your life. There’s a difference between knowing about God and placing your faith in God.

All of Jericho knew about God – they knew He was great, that He was mighty, that He split the Red Sea, that He parted the Jordan River. They knew things about God, but they did believe in God or have faith in God. God did these things in their own land and in their own time, yet they did not have faith in Him.

What are we putting our faith in? What motivates our actions? When we live by faith, that’s where God works. Acting in faith initiates the work of God in us and through us. Without faith, it’s impossible to please God. Without faith, we can’t walk with Him. God tests our faith to bring us into His presence.

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

Do we believe that? Or do we believe in our bank account? In our skills? In our job? What do we trust in to bring us our identity? What do we trust in to bring our satisfaction? What do we trust in for the future? What are we placing our trust in? What moves our behavior? When we make decisions, what do we base our decisions on? Do we base them on the character of God, or on what we can know and feel and touch and smell?

All of Jericho had heard the wondrous works of God, but they did not believe. Faith brings forth action, and Rahab’s faith was proven in that wall. Today you may feel like you are in some kind of wall and that things are crumbling all around you and you don’t know what to do. Do you believe that God can rescue you when the walls are falling and the things that brought you security have fallen away? What are you going to depend on in those times? Are you going to try to make it work on your own, or place your faith in God and trust in Him to save and rescue you? Are you going to trust in the promises of God, no matter what is happening all around you? What is God calling you to do today? What is your wall? Is He calling you to engage with your neighbors, to engage at work, to serve, to forgive, to show love to someone undeserving?

Five Things We Learn from Rahab’s Faith

1. The object of faith is essential, not the amount. We exercise faith everyday, but we don’t always place our faith in the correct place. We tend to trust in trees that look firm and strong, but are rotted on the inside. We often place our faith in things that look good, but there’s no substance to them and they break because we have misplaced our faith.

We trust in our own morality, we trust in our own strength and abilities, we trust in others, we trust in our finances, we trust in our looks. These things are all rotting trees – for a moment, they seem solid until we get out in the middle and the tree breaks and lets us down.

Rahab didn’t have much to trust in – she was a harlot, who sold her body for money. She didn’t have her reputation to trust in, or a fancy house. She had nothing left to trust in except God. Rahab heard of this God who could part waters and defeat kings for the sake of an oppressed people. Israel was an oppressed people, living in Egypt as slaves. They didn’t have their own land, freedom, or economy, but God saw them, heard them, and rescued them. Rahab believed God could rescue her because she saw what He had done for Israel.

Rahab didn’t have anything to put her faith in. On the other hand, we have much to put our faith in. It’s a blessing to have all the good things that we have, but it’s also a curse because it’s so easy for us to put our trust and faith in things that are not God. We need to put our faith in the appropriate place: the God of Israel, our God, Jesus Christ. Without faith in Him, it’s impossible to please Him. It’s not the faith that brings victory, it’s God who brings victory.

2. Faith must be tested. There’s no faith if there’s no test. We need trials and testing of our faith, and God needs to test our faith to produce endurance in us. We don’t like trials, but it’s through the trials that our faith grows and becomes perfected and complete. If you are not walking in faith in some area of your life, then you are not walking with God.

And in amazing seasons of life, what are we going to trust in? Are we going to trust in the amazing season? Or are we still going to go to God as our foundation, strong tower, and hope?

Without the testing of our faith, we don’t have faith. As James said, faith must be accompanied by works. Faith without works is dead. If you have true faith in God, it will produce works – there will be an action in response to your faith. Many know God but do not have faith.

3. Faith causes us to contend for others. Rahab fought for her family in faith. She wanted them to experience God’s salvation. The scripture does not address this issue, but her family probably needed to be convinced to remain in the safety of her house as Israel marched around Jericho. In Romans, Paul wrote about contending for others:

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8

We’re to contend for one another. The only thing we’re to owe one another is love. Paul told the Thessalonians that he gave them not only the Gospel but his very life – Paul contended for those he loved! He told the Ephesian elders that he contended for them night and day for three years with tears (Acts 20:31).

This is what it means to contend for one another in faith. Knowing God should cause us to contend for our family, our friends, our coworkers, and our neighborhood. Our God is not far off and He wants to have a relationship with them. They need someone to bring that message, and Jesus sent us all to go and make disciples. Paul contended for others, just as Rahab did. In Romans 9, Paul said that he might even give up his own salvation for the salvation of his countryman. His faith in God was great and his love for others was great.

4. Faith has unseen results. By faith Rahab was placed in the lineage of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. We do not always know how God uses our acts of faith. She had no idea the significance of her faith and obedience that day – that 18 generations later, the Messiah would be born. We have no idea how our act of faith will impact eternity; most of what we do in faith is unseen. Yet eternity is changed when we act in faith!

5. By faith Rahab the harlot rose above her name. Faith changes who we are. Joshua told his men to go get the harlot. Joshua and the people of Jericho all viewed her as the harlot, and that’s how she’s referred all throughout history. But God did not view her as just Rahab the harlot – this was Rahab who He loved, and He wanted to save her, and He had a place for her in history in the lineage of the Messiah, Jesus, our Savior. She is a daughter of the King, saved and sanctified and in the presence of the King today.

Rahab did not allow her circumstances or other people to define her; she allowed God to define her. Who are we allowing to define who we are? We’re told in Corinthians that if any person is in Christ, they are a new creation, the old things have passed away, and all things have become new. You are a new creation in Christ – what are you letting define you? Are you letting the world define what you can and can’t do? Are we letting the world, the circumstances, our past experiences, or our present experience define who we are? Or are we letting God and His character define who we are?

We are hidden in Christ. Who are we letting define us? We allow the world, our own insecurities, and the enemy of our souls to define who we are. We believe lies everyday, but that is not what God created us for. The character of God should define you. We’re not rejected and worthless; we can do all things through Christ. We can be who God calls us to be because He gives us the strength to do it. It’s an act of faith to let God define who you aren and He has made you a new creation in Him!


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