If you had a chance to attend Sunday School as a kid, you probably know the story of Joshua and the Walls of Jericho. Most military strategists would concur that you can’t win a battle with a horn. But in the Old Testament God often did strange things to win battles. He did this so there was no doubt that it was God who was with the victors, that is, Israel. It was all about obedience and recognizing who is truly God in a culture full of gods and goddesses.
Rahab was a prostitute. She had a home built into the wall of the city (Joshua 2:15) and in her trade, men were always coming and going. She was a woman of ill repute but was seeking God. When Joshua sent spies into the land, she already knew of their God. She said to the spies she was hiding in her home, “I know that the LORD has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” (Joshua 2:9-11) Wow! Based on what she had seen and heard, she knew that the city recognized the God of Israel, and she herself makes a profession of faith in His sovereignty.
In rest of the story (you can read it in Joshua 2-6) Rahab hid the spies, helped them escape, was promised safety for her help, was given 2 commands to follow to ensure the safety of her household, watched the army march around Jericho, saw the walls fall, and was carried off into safety with her family and all in her household. We next hear of her in Matthew 1 where she is mentioned as one of the 5 women named in the genealogy of Jesus through Mary.
Rahab was truly a woman of faith. She trusted in what she had heard about God, obeyed the contract, and saved her family. “Now then, please swear to me [Rahab] by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.” The spies answer, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. If any of them go outside your house into the street, their blood will be on their own heads; we will not be responsible. As for those who are in the house with you, their blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on them. But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.”
“Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.” So, she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.” (Joshua 2:12-21)
I always believed she was rewarded for helping the spies and her act of faith was to bring her family into her home and drop the scarlet cord outside the window so she could be easily found and rescued. But then I tracked the timeline. During this whole timeline, Rahab and her family is staying inside her home. Patiently. Waiting to be rescued. It goes something like this:
*Rahab lowers the spies and ties the scarlet cord. She brings her family inside. (2:21)
*the spies hide in the hills for 3 days (2:22)
*the spies go on their way back to camp which involves fording the river (2:23)
*they arrive at camp and report all that has happened (2:23)
*a military decision is made (context between chapters 2 and 3)
*they go to the river and camp (3:1)
*3 days pass (3:2)
*a plan is made regarding ‘tomorrow’ (3:5)
*they break camp and cross the Jordan (3:14-17)
*40,000 military armed soldiers ‘hurry’ across the river (3:17;
*they camp at Gilgal and build an altar of stones to remember (4:1-9)
*the uncircumcised men are circumcised (5:2,3)
*they stay put until these men have healed (5:8)
*the Israelites celebrate the Passover (5:10,11)
*the army arrives at Jericho (5:13)
*they march around the city 6 times in 6 days (6:12-14)
*the 7th day the walls come tumbling down (6:15)
All this time, Rahab’s mother, father, brothers (plural), sisters (plural) their families and all those in Rahab’s household are INSIDE her home, waiting to be delivered. By tracking the dates given, and the events, it would easily be not less than 2 weeks, and more likely a month or more. Her faith—her trust in the promise–was great. For at least 14 days she managed to convince the whole of her family to wait upon the Lord, and to not go outside into the streets lest they be destroyed.
Rahab. A woman mentioned in the lineage of Jesus. A woman with quite the past. A woman who was not beyond redeeming and certainly a woman of faith in a God she had only heard about from the surrounding nations. What a reward to see that same God at work, rewarding her faith and trust, as the walls came tumbling down.
“Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, ‘Go into the prostitute’s house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her.’ So, the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother, her brothers and sisters and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel.” (Joshua 6:22, 23)
May God grant us patience as we wait for Him to fulfill His promises. May we have the faith of Rahab to stay under the umbrella of His care, even though we know the walls are going to come tumbling down all around us. May we have the faith of Rahab to wait not for a day or two, but for however long it takes. For He is faithful, and He will do as He has said.