In our second day studying Rahab, I want to make sure we cover our bases historically. Rahab’s biblical history takes place in the book of Joshua, after the Israelites escape from Egypt, but before the period of the Judges.
Joshua, the Israelite leader and namesake for the book, is appointed by God in Joshua 1:1, upon the death of Moses, to be the new leader of the Israelites. The book of Joshua is centered on his faithfulness in serving God, God’s faithfulness to the Israelites, and the importance of steadfast obedience to the call of the Lord.
Taking the city of Jericho is an important part of Joshua’s rise to gaining respect as a leader, and we see that he is trying to cover all of his bases before attempting to destroy the cultural, sinful land.
Jericho was a mighty city, old and established with incredibly large, thick walls. However, it was located in Canaan, the same area God promised Abraham many years ago. An Old Testament foundational belief was that God created the earth, and thus had rights to all of it. When God declares Canaan the land the Israelites, they have freedom and instruction to claim it.
If you will, read Joshua 6, in it’s entirety.
The walls were the people of Jericho’s fortress. They thought they didn’t need to leave because the walls were enough. Even the military officials trusted in the thickness and height of the walls.
And yet, we see in verse 6:1, they were still hiding. They were cowering. All of the stories they heard about the Israelite’s one and only God, were about to be put to the test, and they were nervous.
Then in verse 6:3, God instructs Joshua to command his men to walk around the city. One time. With all the fanfare: horns, the ark of the covenant, priests, etc. for six days. Quite an interesting strategy. Can you imagine the poor, living against the outer wall like Rahab, staring out of their windows? Scared, but befuddled at what in the world are these people doing??
So in 6:4-5, on the seventh day - they walk around the perimeter seven times, but on the seventh trip, yell. Blow the horns, and yell really loud. That’ll do it. That’s what will bring the legendary walls down.
The number seven is mentioned here three times, and many more throughout the chapter. Seven is a biblical number symbolizing completeness. Joshua and the priests would have understood this as less of a military strategy, but more of a ritual, meant to be carried out by honoring and obeying Yahweh.
Believing in the impossible was possible for Joshua and his men because they followed God’s instruction. At any moment, the army of Jericho could have come to the gate, ready for warfare. So even though they were instructed to march, and march, and march, they were still putting themselves in a position of vulnerability. They did just that in verses 6:6-14: obeyed, marched, camped out, and did it all over again the next day.
It’s the seventh day, and I’m sure the entire army is ready to get on with the thing. In verses 6:16-19, we see Joshua give clear instructions to the men that other than Rahab and all in her house, the city is being put under ‘cherem.’ According to FaithLife Study Bible, “...the Hebrew noun cherem, which indicates things being set apart as sacred property. No one was allowed to profit personally from the attack. The spoils of war belonged to God, so their destruction ensured no one else acquired them.”
The soldiers would have understood and respected that because it wouldn’t have been a new concept to them. Joshua gave strict, clear instructions to the soldiers about the ‘terms of engagement’ Yahweh had given.
Can you imagine the questions? The parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, how did Rahab even get them to come to her for protection? First, they had to enter the house and not leave. Second, they were trusting the daughter/sister/aunt who had brought shame to the family by what went on in her house, and now they are being begged to stay day after day there with her. Talk about a family reunion.
Also, wouldn’t all of that commotion caused suspicion from the guards who came asking her to turn the spies in? What did she say to the officials, but also, what did she say to her family?
They had no idea what to expect. They had no instruction from the Israelites about the plan. The residents of Jericho only knew they were dealing with an unpredictable God, and a fierce leader.
When the wall fell, so did Jericho’s confidence, faith and fate. The soldiers went in to accomplish the terms of cherem laid out by God.
But one house remained alive. One house was offered a future none of their friends received.
6:24-26: It was time to walk away from the old life, and begin a new. A Gentile woman and her family were invited in to the Israelites, like Ephesians 3:6 explains: “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”
And in 2 Corinthians 5:17 as well “therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold, all things are becoming new.”
Old things are passed away. I love that. In Genesis, Lot, his wife, and daughters were offered an escape from their life in Sodom before God destroyed the city. God had already searched the city through for even five righteous people to save. At the incredible urging of angels, the family finally departs. Yet, after clear instruction, Lot’s wife wants one last look at the city she called home for many years. According to Genesis 9:26, Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt.
I think, when we are released from a dangerous, or sinful pattern, we need to remember both Rahab and Lot’s wife. We need to move on, in freedom, and allow ‘all things to become new.’ Because God says "let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." Hebrews 10:22
Jess Connely and Haley Morgan wrote this fantastic book called "Wild and Free," in it, they say: "When you route out darkness in your heart, take it before the Lord and feel him wash you clean again in that very moment." In that very moment. Like with the scarlet cord Rahab hung from her window; we women of faith need to be ready, and act immediately.
- What walls need to break down in your own life?
- What risk is God calling you to?
- What lessons of obedience and faith can we learn from our study of Joshua 2 and 6?
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