Joshua 2 – Preached @ Ebenezer Church on 27 Sep 2009
A wife was very eager to cook a sumptuous dinner for her husband.
She brought him to the fridge, opened it and showed him the exciting array of food that they will be having.
Instead of appreciating the good intent and wonderful spread in the fridge, the husband saw some dust on the hinge.
Very sad situation, but in the same way, some people come to Joshua 2 and have the same problem.
They are excited about all the information provided there.
But some things just created a mental block in them.
And they get disturbed by these things and cannot see the bigger picture of God’s progressive redemption plan.
For example, they are disturbed by why the spies ended up in a harlot’s house.
And they further get disturbed about Rahab’s apparent lie in Josh 2:4.
Was this lie legitimate?
Is the passage telling us that it is permissible to lie to bad guys only?
Why does the bible allow such things to be recorded?
We will provide answers to these questions later.
But before you get mired in all these details, I want all of us to take home 2 key points in Joshua 2:
1) God knows when to encourage His people
40 years before this incident in Joshua 2, Moses also sent 12 spies to spy out Canaan in Numbers 13.
Although all the 12 spies sent in Num 13 returned safely, 10 of them reported that Canaan was too difficult to conquer.
Their report led to Israel murmuring and complaining against God.
And so, God punished them with 40 years of wilderness wandering.
The entire generation (except Joshua and Caleb) perished in the wilderness in those 40 years.
Now 40 years later, Joshua sent 2 spies to check out the land of Canaan and the city of Jericho.
A lot must have changed in the 40 years that passed.
There are probably more people living in Canaan now – in other words, they face a larger enemy.
Jericho, the first city to be conquered, had high walls that made it difficult to penetrate.
And the King of Jericho had sent men to hunt down the 2 spies.
All these things did not happen in the last spying mission in Num 13.
So these experiences could have easily discouraged the spies.
They could have brought back another bad report.
But God used Rahab to tell the spies that the Canaanites were fearful of Israel because God was with them.
And He also used Rahab to preserve the lives of the spies.
And it was in this way that Joshua and the Israelites were assured of God’s presence with them as they exercised faith.
I want you to realize that Joshua lived at a time in history where he only knew what happened from Gen to Deut.
He did not have the benefit that we have in reading about Israel’s eventual victory and occupation of Canaan.
As he took the step of obedience to God’s direction, God provided tokens of encouragement to spur him on.
God knows when we need encouragements, just as He knew when Joshua & Israel needed encouragements.
Christians, as you walk in obedience, be assured that our Heavenly Father knows when we need to be encouraged.
And He will bring those needed encouragements to come to past as you walk in obedience to His word.
2) The second important thing to take home from Joshua 2 is that “God’s ways are not our ways”.
Of all places, the spies had to be hiding in a harlot’s house.
Couldn’t the spies have hidden in a more dignified or glamorous place?
And of all people, a harlot had to be the one who rescued the spies.
And of all ways, God brought it to pass that Israel’s first encounter with Canaan had to be like that.
Why not let the spies capture the King of Jericho and bring him back as a ransom?
Why not let the spies win a hand-to-hand battle so that they can gain more confidence in fighting?
Well, all these simply remind us that God’s ways are just not our ways.
1 Cor 1:27-28 reminds us that God “uses the foolish things of the word to put to shame the wise, the weak things of the world to put to shame the mighty, the base things of the world, the things that are despised and the things that are not to put to nothing the things that are”.
And the purpose of all these is so that no man may glory in His presence but that all glory goes to Him alone.
God used Rahab to encourage His people.
God used Rahab to preserve the Godly family line that Jesus would eventually come from.
And Joshua chapter 2, for all the details you can get lost in, essentially records the mysterious predestined will of God engrafting Rahab into the nation of Israel.
And that is the major link in God’s redemptive plan in the preservation of the Godly line.
Rahab eventually became the grandmother of King David – which Matt 1:5 confirms for us.
The next time you pray for something with a specific desired outcome, please remember: God’s ways are not our ways.
Job put it this way in Job 42:3 – “I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me that I did not know”.
So, remember these 2 things in Joshua 2: God knows when to encourage us & God’s ways are not our ways.
Now, let us turn to addressing the “mental blocks” that I indicated earlier.
I want to draw our attention to the following 3 sets of characters:
1) The 2 spies sent out by Joshua
2) Rahab, who hid the 2 spies
3) The King of Jericho & his men
Let us begin with the 2 spies sent out by Joshua.
What is the mission of the 2 spies?
Verse 1 – Joshua told the 2 spies: Go view the land, especially Jericho.
The purpose, therefore, was to gather information on Jericho and the land of Canaan.
They were to get information regarding the best route to be taken there.
They were to get information regarding whether there are any obstacles on the way.
They were to find out about the Canaanites – their state of morale, weapons they use and readiness to fight.
They were to find out what kind of strategy they would use in defending against Israel’s attack.
So, if that was the purpose of the mission, why did they end up in a harlot’s house?
Were there any sinful intentions in the hearts of these 2 spies?
I can respond with absolute confidence that the answer is no.
Let me give you 3 reasons I see in this record that tells us that the spies did not have sinful intentions.
1) Verse 15 tells us that Rahab’s house was on the city wall.
It is right at the edge of the city of Jericho.
In other words, it would be the first place you would reach when you approach Jericho.
It would also be the last place you will be at when leaving Jericho.
Hence, it would certainly be an area to check out if you are planning an attack.
As such, I believe it was legitimate for the spies to pass through Rahab’s house.
2) Secondly, God will not tolerate sinful intentions when we are on holy duty.
You may try to hide things, but the bible tells us in Numbers 32:23 that “your sins will find you out”.
If the spies were trying to satisfy their sinful desires while on holy duty, God will not tolerate it.
In Joshua 7, Achan tried to hide some of the things he found pleasing to his eyes after a battle.
He knew he was supposed to destroy everything that he captured, but he didn’t.
And by that sinful act, he brought failure upon the whole of Israel.
If there were sinful intentions in the hearts of these spies, they may have brought the same failure upon Israel.
But this did not happen.
And the scriptures also did not indicate that there were any such evil intentions on the part of these spies.
When they reported about their mission to Joshua, they had nothing to hide.
They had no problems telling Joshua about Rahab and where they went.
This shows that their conscience was clear.
It shows us that they were men of integrity and consistency.
They were not inclined to such intentions and no one would therefore suspect their intentions at all.
We thank God that He took care of the spies and brought them back safely to Joshua.
We thank God that they were men of integrity and consistency.
3) Thirdly, I want you to observe what I call “the work hazards of spies”.
What is the job of a spy?
It is to find out what the bad guys are doing.
And where must you be to find out what the bad guys are doing?
You must be where the bad guys would hang out.
You must mingle with them.
Sometimes you may even have to act like them so that you will not be suspected to be a spy.
I am not surprised that this could be one of the reasons why these 2 spies were found at Rahab’s house.
Because this will likely be where the corrupt Canaanite Generals and soldiers would hang out.
And that would be where they can get the information they needed.
But we thank God that these are honourable men sent by Joshua.
They are single-minded to fulfill their mission and not to satisfy their lust.
Friends, not everyone is cut out for this type of work.
You need to know yourself very well and be honest with yourself when you make career choices.
There are some jobs that will be more hazardous to your souls.
There will be some jobs that will often put you in the presence of bad company.
There will be some jobs that will require you to be stationed in different parts of the world.
There may be some jobs that may make you misrepresent information.
There are some jobs that are clearly not meant for Christians.
You need to know your own weakness.
You need to know the potential hazards of the job.
And with much prayer and seeking of the Lord, go only for that job that you can do with a clear conscience before God.
Yes, we need Christians to act as the salt of the earth in every sphere of society.
But you must not try to be a hero doing a job you are not cut out to do.
Now, I hope we are clear as to why the spies probably ended up at Rahab’s house.
Above all, it was God’s providence and His way of engrafting Rahab into the nation of Israel.
Now, the second character that I want to give attention to is Rahab.
Rahab was a harlot.
Rahab told a lie to the men seeking out the spies hiding in her home.
Let us be very clear about this:
By being a harlot, she has broken the 7th commandment and every other associated implication from that commandment.
By telling a lie, she has broken the 9th commandment and every other associated implication from that commandment.
These are not to be tolerated; these are not for us to emulate.
Never spend any time trying to think or debat about whether these things were justifiable.
What is more important in this chapter is the fact that Rahab made a clear profession of faith to be on the side of God.
Now, we must not take this lightly.
If she was found out to be hiding the spies, she could have been put to death.
Hence we see that under direct fire, her profession of faith was tested and she was faithful to the people of God.
The real test of a person’s profession of faith is not when things are rosy and well.
The test of a person’s profession is not whether he/she can pass the elders/deacons’ interview during membership application.
The test of a person’s profession of faith is when the going gets tough.
When trials and tribulations come your way.
When sin and temptations stare at you in your face.
That is the time when you can tell whether one’s profession of faith is real.
Will you succumb to the temptation? Will you deny your faith in the time of trial?
And to such a test, Rahab was placed.
And she stood firm in the face of death, standing on the side of the people of God.
There is therefore no doubt that she was a believer.
And as we see Rahab engrafted into Israel, we see the mercies of God working in her life.
Such is the grace of God that even the worst of sinners can be turned into a saint.
And Rahab is hailed as a hero of faith in Heb 11:31
Who would have guessed that the Godly line to Jesus Christ would have been preserved with Rahab being part of it?
Friends, remember that salvation is totally a work of God.
This is the triumph of sovereign grace where even a harlot can be saved.
The next time you look at someone and try to make a judgement as to whether he/she can be saved, think again.
God’s ways are just not our ways.
God will save those whom He has chosen to save.
Let us now turn to the 3rd set of characters – the “King of Jericho and his men”.
Rahab told the 2 spies in verse 9 to 11 that the Canaanites were fearful of the Israelites.
The Canaanites knew that Israel will be attacking them soon.
They feared Israel because of what they heard regarding what God had done for them.
But notice the response of the King of Jericho and his men to this matter.
Instead of finding out about this God who had done all these, they went to hunt down the spies.
Instead of making peace with Israel, they were preparing themselves for a war they could never win.
Friends, this is a sad example of the hardening of the heart.
It is just like Pharaoh of Egypt in the book of Exodus.
He had seen all the miracles of God done via Moses.
He knew he could not win against this God.
Yet, he would not turn to Him and worship Him.
Instead, he continued to go against Him even more.
And this is exactly what the man in the world is doing.
They have no answers about their own existence.
They have no answers about life after death.
Yet, they pride themselves in research, discovery, inventions, entertainment and other pursuits.
You invite them to Church and they refuse.
And they refuse to submit to the truth in the scriptures.
They refuse to acknowledge their sin and humble themselves before God.
Why is this so?
The bible tells us that the “god of this age” has blinded their eyes – 2 Cor 4:4
It is not because the gospel is not clear or too difficult to understand.
Even a harlot like Rahab can cry out for salvation.
Surely the King of Jericho and his men had more training and education than her.
Yet, they are the ones who wanted to go against God and Israel all the more.
Instead, it was Rahab who was willing to humble herself and turn to this God and be on the side of Israel.
2 Cor 4:3 tells us that a veil hangs over the eyes of unbelievers.
And this veil prevents them from seeing and understanding spiritual matters unless the Holy Spirit opens their eyes.
Friends, are you in such a situation where you are just indifferent to things about religion?
Perhaps you have been coming to Church but you have not made any clear stand about your position.
If that is the case, you would be just like the king of Jericho and his men.
I urge that you pray for yourself even as we continue to pray for you as a Church.
Pray that God the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to these wondrous things that you just don’t appreciate at this point.
If you remain in your current state, know well that only doom and destruction are installed for you.
You will end up like the king of Jericho and his men when their city will be taken over soon.
Unless you have the mark of God upon you.
Unless you act like Rahab, who dropped a scarlet cord from her window to be identified with the people of God.
Please think about this carefully.
Do not end up like the king of Jericho and his men.
We have spent some time looking at the 2 spies, Rahab and the King of Jericho & his men.
I want to close today’s meditation by reminding you of the 2 key things you should take away from this passage:
1) God knows when to encourage His people; 2) God’s ways are not our ways.
I want to encourage our members who have persevered in our Church over the last 15 years.
15 years ago, we did not know what our Church will be like today.
As we progressed, God gave us specific encouragements we needed along the way to bring us to this stage.
Hence, we can indeed say as in 1 Sam 7:12 – EBENEZER! Thus far, the LORD has led us.
Now, we will not know what our Church will be like 15 years from now.
Who will be the next generation of Church leaders?
Will we still have this premise to use for our worship?
How long can our reserve last us?
I do not have the answers for you today.
And I know that such uncertainties can easily discourage us and even cause us to stumble.
But what we can be certain of is that our God who has brought us thus far will continue to lead us forward as long as we are obedient to His word.
Our God who has led us thus far also knows when we will need tokens of encouragement.
His ways will never be our ways; we must never limit the work of God to only what we can imagine with our minds.
And just as He preserved the Godly line in the most unimaginable way, He will preserve His work in this Church in His own way.
Joshua lived and saw only up to Joshua 2 at that point in his life.
Yet he went forth fully convinced, motivated, strong and of good courage, not turning to the right or left in his obedience.
God did not fail him and God’s divine redemption plan came to pass.
Today, we have the priviledge of seeing how Joshua 2 fitted into God’s divine plan.
Surely, this should encourage us to entrust our future into God’s hand and obey Him not turning to the right hand or to the left?
Let us heed this call and be encouraged.