“Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.” Joshua 2:12-13
In the second chapter of the Book of Joshua we read how an unusual woman in a despised profession changed the trajectory of her future generations because she took sides with God. History is replete with stories of people who were thrust with opportunity, optimised the moment, and became history makers. That was the story of Rahab.
God had promised Israel the land of Canaan though there were still inhabitants in the land. It meant that they had to fight and conquer those nations. Joshua had just taken over the leadership of Israel after Moses had died. One of the first things Joshua did was to send out spies to the land God had promised them. Jericho was the immediate territory they had to confront after crossing the Jordan. Two men were sent as spies to Jericho.
Meanwhile, the people of Jericho were aware of the advancing army of Israel and had ensured that their nation was secured. When the spies got into the city, they went into Rahab’s house understandably because of her trade. Rahab was a prostitute, so her house provided the necessary cover that the spies needed. But unbeknownst to the spies, Rahab was already aware of their mission and was ready to take a calculated risk for their sakes.
TAKING SIDE WITH GOD
All Rahab needed to do was inform the king about the presence of the spies in her house and the mission would have been over. Expediency would have required that of her, but she rather chose to be on God’s side. She was willing to sacrifice immediate gain for something eternal. Whenever you are faced with a situation in life, ask yourself, where is God in this matter? Once you identify where God is, stay there no matter what it may cost you. That is what Rahab did. She knew that the safest place in life is God’s side.
Rahab knew that Jericho was doomed. She wanted to be spared from the impending destruction. But Rahab did not only think of herself, she also considered her own family. What joy would she have if she was saved but her own family destroyed? She had such a large heart that was uncommon with people in her profession! She sought for their safety as well.
THE SCARLET THREAD TOKEN
Before the men lay down Rahab went to make a deal with them. She wanted a guarantee that her family would be safe when they have taken over the land of Jericho. The men assured her that they would do so if she did not reveal their mission. Furthermore, Rahab was to hang a scarlet thread over her house to make it identifiable. It was a token, a sign of the deal that the men had cut with her.
The scarlet thread was not only to make her house easily identifiable to the spies when they later arrived to take over Jericho, it also had a more spiritual significance that had its antecedent in the Passover in Egypt.
God instituted the Passover through Moses (Exodus 12). It was God’s means for Israel’s deliverance from the captivity of Egypt. Each family was to slaughter a lamb. “And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.” Exodus 12:7. The blood on the doorpost was to be a covering for everyone within the house. “For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” Exodus 12:12-13.
So, when the spies asked Rahab to place the scarlet (red) thread on her window, they knew that it meant more than a mere piece of cloth. It was a shadow of the redemptive blood of Jesus Christ.
FAMILY ON LOCKDOWN
Rahab was given a difficult task, to “bring your father, your mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household to your own home.” Joshua 2:18. Rahab’s family was to be in a lockdown for as long as it took for the children of Israel to come and rescue them. The spies did not give her date or time when they would be coming but Rahab and her family were to just wait until the day came.
Let us imagine the sort of conversation that would have taken place between Rahab and a family member. She goes to a brother who is really doing well in Jericho. He has a lucrative job, a lovely house, and drives a nice car. He has huge investment in stocks to guarantee the future of his family. Life has been good to him. Now, Rahab tells this brother, “Jericho is doomed, everything here is about to be destroyed, the only safe place is in my house. You need to bring your family and come into my house until the day we are delivered from the impending calamity.” What do you think the brother’s response would be? He must have felt that Rahab was out of her mind. For him, everything looked good in Jericho.
It is not as if it was easy for all those who were huddled in Rahab’s house. As inconvenient as it must have been, they had to stay put until the promised day came. They had to live one day at a time, share whatever resources were available and tolerate each person’s idiosyncrasies. Again, let us imagine one of Rahab’s sisters getting impatient and asking Rahab, “where is this promise of the coming of the people of Israel? We’ve been here with you for these number of months and yet nothing has happened?” No doubt, such questions would have arisen. Some of them may have felt frustrated and moved out of the house. But the condition was, “So it shall be that whoever goes outside the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we will be guiltless…” Joshua 2:19.
THE LAST TRUMPET
The children of Israel were told how the city of Jericho would be taken: “You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.” Joshua 6:3-5. The day came when the children of Israel arrived by the walls of Jericho. It must have seemed ridiculous to Rahab and her family as they peeped through the window each day and watched the children of Israel march round the city.
Then on the seventh day, at the final blast of the trumpet, the walls of Jericho fell down flat! Whether it was an earthquake or whatever happened, the city came down. There was only one building that was still standing, the one that had the scarlet thread on it, the house that was covered with the token of the blood. Rahab and her family were rescued, and the city of Jericho was burnt down. “But Joshua had said to the two men who had spied out the country, “Go into the harlot’s house, and from there bring out the woman and all that she has, as you swore to her.” Joshua 6:22.
When the city came down and was in flames it didn’t matter what anyone had, how rich, how poor, how well etc, what made a difference was whether you were in the safe house or not, whether your household was covered with the blood or not. Those who left the house would have been gripped with the regret of how different it would have been for them if they had only continued in the house.
THE WORLD IS LIKE JERICHO
Peter was speaking about a similar event that will take place at the coming of the Lord Jesus. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?” 2 Peter 3:10-12. There will be a day too when the last trumpet shall sound and the earth, as we know it, will cease to be. On that day, it would not matter where you live, what you have, or anything else; all that will be important is if you have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus.
When the deluge took place in the time of Noah, only those in the ark were safe. Everything else perished. “And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man. 22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died. 23 So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive.” Genesis 7:21-23.
Rahab was a woman that saw the future and took steps to secure herself and her family. She was a prudent woman. “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself; the simple pass on and are punished.” Proverbs 27:12. Because of the steps she took, not only was her family spared from imminent destruction, but she became a progenitor of David and the Lord Jesus and made her way into faith’s hall of fame. What steps would you take today to secure the future and destiny of your own family?