Introduction: Faith that saves is a sermon based on Joshua 2 that speaks about the faith of Rahab that saved her from the destruction of Jericho. The quality of saving faith.
Joshua 2:1 Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.
Moses had died. The children of Israel had spent 40 years in the wilderness after their exodus out of Egypt. It was now time for them to enter the new and promised land under the leadership of Joshua. Joshua sent two spies to the city of Jericho which was the border town on the very banks of the Jordan River.
These spies were to assess whether or not Jericho was a formidable city and whether it could be taken and how. Joshua sent them secretly, that is not even to the knowledge of the Israelites, let alone the Canaanites. He didn’t want his people to know either lest it would start some furor among them and some debate about whether this was the proper tactic. And so these men would have to swim the Jordan probably at night, approach the strongly fortified city of Jericho, early morning get inside the gate when it opens and find a place to lodge to assess the situation.
They found a place, a harlot’s house. We can assume they didn’t know they were in a house of prostitution. God wanted them there because there was a woman there who was a ready heart to receive the truth. And so they were led to this house not only because it was apparently an available place, not only because there was a ready heart there, but because the house was located with its backside on the city wall and there was a way of escape should they be found out.
Illustration: On July 15, 2015; a group called ‘The Impact Team’ hacked Ashley Madison website. This website also called as adultery facilitation site which was designed for married people who want to cheat on their spouses. The website’s motto is “Life is short, have an affair.”
But after it was hacked, there was a public posting on-line of about 37 million users with their names, home addresses, financial data and message history that has caused tremendous uproar.
Avid Life Media, the Toronto – based company that runs this extramarital website Ashley Madison offered a $500,000 reward for the information leading to the arrest of those who hacked the website. Also, several multi-million dollar lawsuits have been filed against Avid Life Media for inadequate security in protecting its customer’s data. But this hacking led to numerous extortion attempts, several unconfirmed suicides, lots of divorces, and marital problems.
Why is there such an alarm for those whose names were in the Ashley Madison website? Because of the devastating shame, the guilt and embarrassment of their sins being made in public. There is a damaging ripple effect with the exposure of infidelity. Their past had haunted them and severely affected their integrity and their future.
There is a good news. Any sin can be very devastating but there is a God who can forgive, give life, and restore. That is what we are going to talk about today.
Joshua 2:2 The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” They weren’t very good at spying, they hadn’t done any of it in their lifetime. This was their first shot and they were seen.
Joshua 2:3 So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.” He was obviously frightened by the thought of invasion. He was very much aware that on the other side of the Jordan River was camped a massive multitude of people, the children of Israel, who were known to all of the inhabitants of the country for their wanderings and for many of the inhabitants of Jericho the history of how they escaped Egypt was somewhat common knowledge. And so here is a man who is trying to maintain his power in this city and he sees himself facing a massive multitude of people.
Joshua 2:4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from… She hid them before the messengers of the king arrived and when the messengers of the king came, she said…I don’t know from where they were:
Joshua 2:5 At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them. This is a common behavior among heathen, it’s known as lying. She was probably unconscious about the guilt of a lie because it was so much a way of life. But even more so because the laws of eastern hospitality perhaps even surpassed the laws of honesty. When someone came into your house even if it was your greatest enemy, you were bound to save their life whatever that meant. Honoring your guest was the highest moral law.
But anyway, she lied about them. It wasn’t necessary to do that. God would have saved them without a lie but she lied and thus she and they and all of us missed what miracle God might have used to save them.
Joshua 2:6 But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof. At this particular time of the year flax after harvesting was spread out on the roof for the purpose of being dried in the sun. And after it was dried for a period of time it was then pulled together and tied into bundles. Those bundles would be three to four feet high and they would be stacked on the roof and the spies were hiding behind the bundles.
Joshua 2:7 So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut. They left and the gate was shut. They shut the gate to make sure that if they were still anywhere in the city they wouldn’t be able to get out.
Joshua 2:8-9 8Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 9and said to them, “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.
The promise that had been made to the Israelites somehow had come into her knowledge. Maybe it was even common knowledge that this group of people that had been brought out of Egypt and delivered, and they were going to possess Canaan, as promised by God.
Joshua 2:10-11 10We 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. 11When 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.
Here is a believing heart. Joshua 2:12-13 12“Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13that 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.”
She shows the panic and the fear of the Canaanites and she shows amazingly strong faith in the true God. She was sure of Jehovah’s supremacy and she seeks a solemn pledge.
Joshua 2:14 “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.” This is the pledge, you keep quiet, we’ll do our part.
Joshua 2:15 So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall.
Joshua 2:16 She said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.”
Now the mountains were west and north, the Jordan was east and south. So she is saying, in effect, go the opposite direction of your pursuers. There are limestone hills and caves toward the northwest of Jericho with a height of 1200 to 1500 feet where they would find a place to hide.
Joshua 2:17 17Now the men had said to her, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us 18unless, 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.
Get all your family in your house and put this red cord out the window. There may have been a whole lot of red cord hanging out of that one window. She wanted to be sure not to be missed.
Joshua 2:20 But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.
In other words, if the word gets out that we’re going to do this, obviously they could wait there to capture us and our part of the bargain is over.
Joshua 2:21-22 21 “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. 22When they left, they went into the hills and stayed there three days, until the pursuers had searched all along the road and returned without finding them. So, a pledge made to a believing woman.
Now, come to Joshua 6. The Israelites are around the city of Jericho. You remember the Lord said go seven days, march around it seven times and on the seventh day when you’ve done that and the seventh time around, when the trumpet sounds and they shout, the walls will fall down and you can go in and capture the city.
Joshua 6:20 When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city.
Joshua 6:23 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.
They brought them out, didn’t let them enter in to the camp of Israel, kept them outside. That’s a temporary exclusion. Because they were Gentiles they needed to be properly cleansed of any defilement and made ready for entry into the society of God’s people.
Joshua 6:24-25 24Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house. 25But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.
Now here’s a marvelous story. God comes in to judge a society. He comes in to destroy an entire city, but He spares a woman of faith even though she was equal to the worst sinner in the city, she was a prostitute.
It was that kind of life style which brought about the judgment of God on the Canaanites and on the city of Jericho, yet this woman escapes that judgment because she was a sinner who believed in the true God. And that’s the essence of the gospel, isn’t it? All of us are equally worthy of the judgment of God, some of us by His grace exercise true faith and are spared that deserved judgment.
Two things we learn here.
1. Sin will be punished.
If any city was ever a city of destruction, Jericho was. There was no escape and frankly there was very little warning. Young and old, one day in possession of wealth, one day in sin and enjoyment and the next day captured and absolutely destroyed. Now that is a picture of the reality of the penalty of sin.
Israel was God’s chosen people and the nation of Canaan was His rejected because of their immorality. The nation was characterized by wickedness. Sex was a part of their worship. Babies were buried alive. They were a cancer on human society. And it was not only an act of God’s judgment but it was an act of God’s mercy on human civilization to remove such a cancer.
And the point is, God punishes sin. The eating of any forbidden fruit always has the penalty, the loss of Eden and the presence of judgment. The Canaanites were destroyed, their lives were lost.
Anybody who thinks that God won’t destroy sinners is wrong. God must act against sin.
There are many people, I guess, that we could say are like Jericho. They live fat, they live secure in their walled city that they themselves have built, rejecting God, rejecting Christ, living in sin and they are really fools waiting to see the crash of God’s judgment which is inevitable.
Illustration: Adam Duran tells the story of a man in the open country of Scotland. And one day the man was looking into the sky and he was watching an eagle soaring around. That eagle would mound into the sky on its mighty wings and it was a magnificent sight. And then as he continued to watch that eagle, he was amazed because something was wrong. The king of birds didn’t continue to rise into the sky. The flight looked somewhat hampered and then it came to a stop and then it helplessly started to flutter and then the great bird fell like a rock out of the sky and crashed to the ground right in front of the wanderer’s feet. Looking closely, the man saw that the eagle was dead and searching still closer he observed that a small weasel which the eagle had taken for its own food as it ascended with that weasel in its claws, the weasel had dug its own claws into the abdomen of the great bird and the splendid eagle, as it soared upward trying to escape, was having its life blood drained away. A picture of the sinner who thinks he soars when in fact sin is literally bleeding him to death and the judgment of God absolutely inevitable. When a man thinks he flies the highest, sin is draining his life blood and he is doomed to a tragic death.
In Jericho, we see the judgment of God on sin. The horrors of sin are only exceeded by the horrors of judgment.
Illustration: There was a pagan artisan who crafted goblets (drinking glass with a foot and a stem) and things and he crafted a certain goblet in the bottom of which he fixed the face of a serpent. And it was actually sculpted inside the bottom of the goblet, coiled for the cruel spring, a pair of burning eyes in its head, its fangs ready to strike, it lay beneath the ruby wine. The cup was made of gold and beautifully done at that. Never did the thirsty man who lifted the cup to quench his thirst and taste the delicious liquid suspect that laying below that when he reached the dregs would be a head that rose and gleamed with terror and menace before his startled eyes.
This is about sin. Men look at the brimming cup of temptation and sin and they see it only as something to welcome until they have drunk it to its dregs and there is the serpent ready to bring about a deadly sting.
And so, in Jericho they thought they were drinking the cup of pleasure and when it was empty they found only judgment. The first thing then we see in the story of Rahab is judgment on sin. The penalty is so sudden and so complete, it shocked that whole city and to be truthful and they were dead before they could react.
2. True faith is a saving faith.
What a beautiful example of saving faith. A prostitute, a professional deviate, a woman of the worst order came to believe in the true God, so much so that she put her life on the line. She is a fascinating woman to me. She had no spiritual advantages. She knew no Sabbath days. She had no Scriptures, no teachers. She lived in a vile, pagan city. She had the heart of a prostitute. She was, though, in spite of all of that like some beautiful pearl lying within the rough ugly shell somewhere in the weeds and rocks at the bottom of the sea. But God could see all the debris to the true faith and her true faith drew her to the truth of God, drew her to accept the warnings of God, to fear the judgment of God, to long to be spared by God’s mercy. And her faith is most seen in the statement that she made, “I know that the Lord has given you the land and I know that the Lord God is supreme.”
Now if it’s true faith, true faith can stand a test, right? And her faith was tested. She had to put her faith to work. She had to be willing to put her life on the line. And she was willing. This was not fair-weather faith. This was faith that was tested. You see, what distinguished Rahab from the rest of the crowd in Jericho was not her superior morality…no. It was not her higher intelligence, it wasn’t her more exemplary life, it wasn’t her better disposition, it was simply her…what?…her faith. The message that we find here is that God judges sinners but spares those who believe in Him. That’s the simplicity of the gospel.
You know, the color of that scarlet cord is the symbol of what? The scarlet cord looks back to the Passover. The children of Israel put scarlet blood on their doorposts and here is a woman who in the same kind of symbolism puts a scarlet cord out her window and was saved. The scarlet cord looks forward to the blood of Christ shed on Calvary. And everyone who is covered with the scarlet blood of Jesus is saved from destruction and condemnation. Are you having the blood protection?
Yes, God punishes sin but God saves sinners who believe. Rahab believed and she was saved.
Rahab’s faith that saved her. What is the faith that saves?
1. Faith that saves: Faith hears about God and believes.
Joshua 2:9 and said to them, “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.”
The first thing we could learn about Rahab is that she was a woman who had the knowledge of God’s plan. She heard about Jehovah God. She knew about God’s plan and purposes for Israel. She knew that God will have total victory over the enemy nations. She knew that this land will eventually become theirs.
And then, she talked about how her people has reacted to this truth: “a great fear of you has fallen on us.” That means there is a great alarm and horror among her people because of their presence in the land. Truly, this verse exposed that her heart and intention was on the side of Israel. These spies were actually fearful to face their enemies, but now, the tide has turned in their favor. They could not believe that it was their enemies who actually feared them most. They have not yet done anything so far. The news about their conquest and accomplishments traveled so fast.
How could Rahab, the harlot knew all these things information regarding the Jews? It was probably from some of the travelers that Rahab sinned with that she came to learn these facts. She heard about the Exodus of Israel from Egypt, the miracle of the Red Sea and the overthrow of Sihon and Og. She took the information and kept it in her heart until the time comes when she will need them. So, when these two spies from Joshua sought cover in her house, she knew that sooner or later, their town would be next.
You see, whatever information that we have acquired about God and His purposes will be very helpful to grow our faith and save us from the corruption of this world.
The Bible reveals our original condition of our mind. 2 Corinthians 4:4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
We were blinded from the knowledge of the truth by the god of this world. But God wants all people to be saved. God has opened our mind to understand God’s truth. 1 Timothy 2:3-4 3It is good and pleases our savior, 4who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. And so, it was God who opened our eyes to the truth of God’s Word so that we will have faith. It was the same God who opened the eyes of Rahab and her perspective of God that opened our minds.
When we come to Christ, He will open our eyes regardless of our sinful condition and allow us to see the light of the spiritual truths. That is what happened to Rahab. Christ’s blood is able to save us completely.
Do we have the faith in God? Paul urges the church in Corinth to examine their faith. 2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?”
There is a series of tests in 1 John that we can use to examine ourselves and our faith. As we look at them, remember that no one will perfectly fulfill all of them all the time, but they should reveal a consistent trend that characterizes our lives as we grow in grace.
Test of a Believer’s Faith.
- Enjoy having fellowship with Christ and His redeemed people. 1 John 1:3
- Walk in the light, not in darkness. 1 John 1:6-7
- Being continually cleansed. 1 John 1:8
- Obedient to God’s Word. 1 John 2:3-5
- Love God rather than the world. 1 John 2:15
- Life characterized by doing what is right. 1 John 2:29
- Maintain a pure life. 1 John 3:3
- Decreasing pattern of sin in your life. 1 John 3:5-6 Note: This refers to not continuing in sin as a way of life, not a total absence of sin.
- Demonstrate love for other Christians. 1 John 3:14
- Walk the talk. 1 John 3:18-19
- Have a clear conscience. 1 John 3:21
- Have victory in your Christian walk. 1 John 5:4
2. Faith that saves: Faith produce fruit at all times.
Joshua 2:15-16 15So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. 16 She said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.”
It was a tough decision to hide the spies and help them to escape in the shadow of the night. She put those who sought after them on a false trail until the spies could reach Joshua with their report.
Her courage was admirable and praiseworthy. Her willingness to risk her own neck for the sake of these spies was commendable. Surely, if those spies were discovered by the soldiers hiding in her house, she would have died in the hands of the king of Jericho. It was treason to hide the spies that was a crime punishable by death. At the same time, Rahab had a calm behavior. There was no slightest trace of inner agitation or hesitation.
By her action, Rahab was actually betraying her own country and embracing the enemy. But because of her knowledge about the truth, she looked at the faces of these spies and assured them that she was on their side.
She had a daring faith. She had the courage to make tough decision. She was calm when she went through uncertainties. Faith stays strong in calamity.
Writing about this incident, the James commented of Rahab. James 2:25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?
Rahab was considered righteous for what she did. Her strong faith made her to embark on those tough decision even if this will endanger her life. Indeed, she was practicing her faith. Faith without works is dead. Our transformed life is demonstrated by our good works. Real saving faith is shown by good works.
Good works are the evidence of salvation. Therefore, the person who claims to be a Christian but lives in willful disobedience to Christ with a life that shows no works has a dead faith.
That is why Christ said that Matthew 7:16 By their fruits you will recognize them.
Fruits are important to Christ. We are to bear fruit that is pleasing to God. And what are these fruits that we are to bear?
Test of a believer’s fruit.
Christ-like character. Galatians 5:22-23. Developing a Christian character that reflects His character in us.
Life characterized by good works. Right character will result in right conduct. Colossians 1:10
Faithful witness. Those who come to Christ through our witness are fruit. Romans 1:13
Lips that Praise God. Our lips will bear fruit when we offer thankful acknowledgment to God. Hebrews 13:15
Generous Giving. We bear fruit when we give for those who are in need. Romans 15:28
If we have Christ as the root, good works are the fruit that will follow. Good works are always our love-offering as our gratitude to God’s salvation. And that is what happened to Rahab. She now had the courage to make tough decision in life because her faith has bore fruits. In the same manner, we must examine the fruits that we have produced in Christ. May our fruits last for our lifetime.
3. Faith that saves: Concern for other’s salvation.
Joshua 2:12-13 12Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 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 third lesson we can learn from Rahab the harlot is that through her faith, she now had deep concern for the salvation of others. With the shadow of death and destruction coming over Jericho, Rahab extracted a promise from the two spies. She interceded for them to spare her and also those who are connected to her family. Even if her life of sin and shame has brought her apart from her family, yet, her new faith in God has brought her closer to them.
She is now requesting for their protection and safety. She desired that all her loved ones will be protected from the destruction at hand. The Christian therefore who desire with all his might to see others saved is the one who has the true and genuine faith. Just like Rahab, such person will be burdened about others’ destruction. Do we have the same passion as Rahab for the salvation of our friends and family?
There was a mighty change that took place in the heart of Rahab. Rehab heard about God. She believed about God and produced the fruit of faith. Rahab was concerned about others salvation. There was an inner transformation that changed her from a harlot to a worshiper of God. When she received and hid those spies, her tribute to God’s power and authority grew her faith even more.
See the honor given to Rahab. In addition to her salvation, she was rewarded beyond measure through her generational offspring. She was brought into the family of Israel, made a partaker of all the covenants and the promises of God. And ultimately, she became the mother of Boaz, the great grandmothers of King David, and an ancestress of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Her name is included in one of the four women listed in Jesus’ genealogy of Matthew 1:5Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse.
Rahab even entered the 11th chapter of Hebrews containing the impressive list of the heroes of faith. Hebrews 11:31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
Amazing. A prostitute who was saved because she had faith to believe. Don’t think for a moment that God cannot do the same thing for you. If you will come to Him, you too will be saved, regardless of your sins. You will be changed and made ready for heaven! Your future generation will be transformed as well because of Christ’s redemption through His blood.