In last week’s lesson on faith from the Hebrews 11:29, we learned that though we are all allotted a measure of faith, this faith must grow and expand so that we can be opened up to God’s expanded work around us. The way to grow and expand our faith is by exercising it, and if we, like Israel, are faithful in working out our faith, it, too, will grow to the point that God will be able to bring down the walls of our lives as well! Now let’s go on to Heb. 11:31 for the next lesson in faith brought to us by none other than a chief of sinners-Rahab the prostitute:
“By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” (Heb. 11:31 NIV)
The story takes us back to the time before Israel crossed over the Jordan. Two spies were sent into the land of Canaan to check things out. They weren’t exactly given a warm welcome in the city of Jericho: “‘Look! Some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.’ 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.'” (Josh. 2:2-3 NIV)
Now if you had been Rahab, and your king brought it to your attention that visitors to your home were dangerous, what would you have done? Rahab didn’t know these two spies. In fact, all she knew about Israel was their reputation of overthrowing the people of the land! In Rahab’s own words: “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 and everyone’s courage failed because of you . . .” (Josh 2:10-11 NIV)
But there was one other thing that Rahab knew: She recognized a Force behind Israel, a Deity, One that was stronger than any deity she knew: “I know that the LORD has given this land to you 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 . . . For the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” (Josh 2:9,11 NIV)
Rahab’s knowledge of the God of Heaven, though scanty at best, made her fear God rather than her fellow man. She stood up against her own people. She protected the two spies. And in return, when Jericho was destroyed, she and all of her family were saved.
But how she was saved is also an interesting lesson in faith. The spies told Rahab: “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 . . .” (Josh 2:17-18 NIV). It seemed such a strange request. How could a mere scarlet cord save her and her family? But Rahab’s scanty knowledge was fueled by a tiny amount of faith. (Remember Matt. 10:17? It only takes faith the size of a mustard seed to move a mountain?) And this tiny bit of faith not only saved her, but her entire family as well. Though her home was on the wall, it was miraculously spared when the wall collapsed, and “the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel.” (Josh 6:23 NIV)
A scanty knowledge of the God of Israel spurred Rahab into two mighty acts of faith: To go against her own people in order to save the lives of the spies; and to hang a scarlet cord from her window. It also earned her a spot in the book of Hebrews: By faith, Rahab . . .
Friends, sometimes faith in God requires that we go against our people, our families and our friends. It sometimes even requires that we go against the opinions of the best Christian influences in our lives. What do we do when this happens? We take lessons from Rahab. We stand up for what is right!
And sometimes we are asked to do something that seems pretty silly in our own eyes, something like hanging a red ribbon from our window when there is financial difficulties or illnesses or trouble with friends or family. What do we do when this happens? We do that “silly” thing, and trust God to turn it all around.
Enough to ponder, friends. But do ponder this: Faith sometimes requires that we go against family and friends, pastors and teachers; faith sometimes requires that we sit back and do nothing, or that we do something that seems silly and senseless to us; however, if we stand firm, God’s will WILL be done in our lives!
Join us next week to learn what lessons in faith can be taught to us by not just one person, but many: Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets!
God bless you!
Lyn Chaffart, Author, Moderator, The Nugget, Scriptural Nuggets website, www.scripturalnuggets.org , Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org .
(To access tne entire “Faith” mini-series, please click here.)