One of my favorite books of the Bible is Joshua. The book of Joshua is dramatic and contains well-known miracle-filled episodes of the courageous leader Joshua who was used mightily for the glory of the Lord. An important theme of the book of Joshua is repeated in the beginning: “As I was with Moses, I will be with you” (Joshua1:5, 3:7). God assures Joshua He will be with him always. “I will never leave you or forsake you.” This theme is developed as Joshua is compared to Moses, and repeats many of his actions throughout the book. Joshua is a leader without hesitation, valiant and bold. He reminds me of an audacious robin hood type character who is enflamed and empowered by the Spirit of God. Joshua braves impossible feats of courage, rescuing and caring for the meek and helpless, and fearlessly crushing great evil and despair through the hand of God. Joshua is portrayed as a prototype for future Kings and one who keeps the teaching of Moses in its entirety (1:7-8, 11:15).
The interesting figure of Rahab is introduced in Chapter 2. This chapter reveals the exciting story of a brave prostitute and innkeeper, living in the evil city of Jericho. Rahab was a dauntless woman who risked her life and the lives of her family to hide Joshua’s spies from the King of Jericho. In return for her service Rahab survived the conquest of the city. Joshua’s spies had instructed her to gather her family and stay in her house till the battle and wrath of God passed. You might even say that Rahab was told to “shelter in place.” This reminds me of another passage along the same order in Isaiah 26:20 when God brings judgment on the wicked and protects the people of God. He says: “Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by.”
Rahab was also told to hang a scarlet cord over her window to distinguish her and protect her. Just as the blood of the lamb covered the doorposts of God’s people in Egypt and protected them, a scarlet cord symbolized the blood covering for Rahab. Today as we “shelter in place” it is the actual blood of Christ that covers us. We don’t need the blood of a physical lamb or a scarlet cord in the window to “shelter in place.” We are covered by the precious blood of Christ.
Even though Rahab had a really dark and dirty past, her great faith in the Lord gave her a significant role in history. Surprisingly she is later listed in the lineage of Christ. Rahab proves to be a woman of authentic faith: she had heard what the people of God had done in crossing the Red Sea and in defeating other nations. She recognized and trusted that this was the true God who would lead Israel to victory over Jericho and deliver her family from the coming wrath.
Most remarkably we see the fruit of this faith in the grace Rahab shows her family. Women did not become prostitutes in the ancient world unless they had no other options. It was only if a woman was a captive, had no family, or was abandoned by her family, that she would turn to prostitution. Since we know Rahab’s family was alive and well, the fact that she negotiated for their salvation, despite the fact that they left her to this lifestyle, demonstrates Rahab’s incredible grace in saving them. To risk her life to save her family was/is a sign of her faith in this great God, the one true God. And the spies, far from despising Rahab (a social outcast and traitor to her country), they not only offer her protection for protecting them, but, they offer her hesed. “Hesed” is the Hebrew word used in this chapter of Rahab and throughout Scripture to refer to the kind of love God shows His covenant people. It is not just affection, but it is the loyal, unrelenting love of God. It is God’s love that never stops pursuing His people until they are safely with Him. When the spies hear Rahab’s testimony, they recognize a person of faith and offer to her and her family not only physical protection, but also offer her a place in the covenant community. One might call it an adoption of Rahab and her family into the people of God.
This is so exciting to me! No matter what terrible mistakes we have made in our lives, no matter how dark the city, the state or the nation we live in, there is hope for adoption in the family of God. Who would have ever thought that Rahab, a prostitute and an outcaste, basically a leper in her own city, would be found in the lineage of Christ. She lived in Jericho, the most evil place around! Horrible influences! Words can’t even describe the depth of depravity there! And yet, through it all, God made a way for Rahab and all of her family. God allowed her to HEAR of Him and His great testimonies. And Rahab, through a thick veil of darkness, dared to LISTEN and HEAR. She saw the LIGHT and dared to BELIEVE! What a merciful God we serve! What HESED! How truly blessed we are!
“Sheltered in Place” or not, God can cut through the darkest of evil! He can cut through the worst environments! Nothing can hold God back! He can cut through the deepest despair! He can cut through the deadliest of viruses! He transcends time and space! He will use us even in a gripping season like this one.
Yield yourselves to Him, allow Him to use you even now!
For He says to His anointed, to all of us who believe in Him (Isaiah 45:2-3):
“I will go before you
and will level the mountains;
I will break down gates of bronze
and cut through bars of iron.
I will give you hidden treasures,
riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lord,
the God of Israel, who summons you by name.”