August 06, 2012

Help From an Outsider?

Joshua 2:12-24

She tied the scarlet cord in the window.
—Joshua 2:21


In this story it can look as if Rahab and the spies are just helping each other, scratching each other’s backs. But why wouldn’t they? Isn’t that how you survive in this world?

Actually, this story is about the new knowledge Rahab had. “Now then …” Rahab says to the spies, after acknowledging the true God. Her new knowledge leads to a new loyalty and new commitments for Rahab and her family.

In her new faith, Rahab promises to hang a red cord from the window of her house on Jericho’s wall. It will let Israel know she has kept faith with the spies. Frightened Jericho will remain behind its tightly closed gates, doomed by its rebellious faith in false gods. Rahab’s dangerous new loyalty, however, will bring life to her and her family.

After the spies escape, they return to Israel’s camp and inform Joshua of Rahab’s commitment. Through an outsider, the Lord helped Israel see that God would surely give them the promised land!

This was an example of the important help that Israel sometimes received from people from other nations. It was a sign that God wants people from all nations in his family. In fact, we learn later that Rahab became one of Jesus’ ancestors (see Matthew 1:1, 5). She was an outsider who came into God’s family by grace, and through faith. Is that true of you too?

Lord, thank you for the gift of faith. Grant me the strength to declare my loyalty to you, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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