I am now on Joshua for my weekly quiet time, and I read Joshua 2 this last Friday night. Here are two thoughts:
1. Why were the spies sleeping at a harlot’s house? I mean, there is a lot of discussion on whether or not Rahab was right to lie, but what about the spies, who were supposed to be righteous, God-fearing people? Is this yet another example of God using imperfect vessels?
2. James 2:25 says, “Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?” Rahab escaped wrath through both faith and works. She believed that the Israelites would triumph, but this belief by itself was not enough to give her security. After all, according to Rahab, most of the inhabitants of Jericho believed that the Israelites would win, but they were later slaughtered in the Conquest, despite their belief. Rahab’s faith was not mere intellectual assent, but it was a conscious decision to side with the Israelites and their God. And her faith was expressed through works, for she hid the messengers and sent them out on another way. When she asked the Israelites to spare her and her family, she appealed to her works. At the same time, the fact that she was asking for mercy indicates that she did not see the spies as totally indebted to her, since she acknowledged that it was their decision whether to spare her or not. And grace was a factor in all of this, since Rahab was a harlot and part of a condemned people, plus the Israelites were forbidden to make a covenant with the people of the land (Deuteronomy 20:10-20). So Rahab’s survival was not entirely based on strict law, which stood against her. Rahab exemplifies salvation. We are all sinners in need of forgiveness. We must have faith in the sense that we believe in God and side with him in his purposes. And our faith is expressed through our deeds, even though our deeds do not merit salvation.