Sunday Sermon: ‘Spies, Lies and Saving Faith’

Standard

“A congregation ordered beautiful stained glass windows for the building of their new sanctuary, but when the windows arrived, the people discovered that many of the windows had been broken during the shipping. The people were crushed. It had taken months for the windows to arrive and they knew that reordering them would delay their use of their new sanctuary. Then a man in their congregation asked if he could have some time to take the broken pieces and try to repair them. No one believed that he could, yet finally they agreed. After a few short weeks the artist unveiled the first of the windows he had refashioned. It appeared that he had taken various pieces from each window and fabricated beautiful scenes from the Bible. The new windows were a million times more beautiful than the originals. Everyone was amazed that what was once broken had been remade into something so beautiful.”

“Grace is the glue that takes the pieces of our broken lives and binds them into something new and beautiful.”

The Bible contains story after story of how God has taken broken lives and by His grace, made something new and beautiful. There’s the story of a woman at a well who had been involved in multiple relationships, yet by the grace of God she became an instrument that God used to reach her entire village. There’s the story of a tax collector who had a reputation for swindling people and who after his salvation, was willing to give back four times as much to everyone he had cheated. There was a man who had been filled with demons, who after coming to Jesus, the Bible says was sitting at the feet of the Savior, clothed and in his right mind. And there’s the story of a harlot who became an important part of the kingdom of God.

Matthew 1:1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; 3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; 4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; 5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; 6 And Jesse begat David the king;

‘Rachab’ is Rahab and her story is found in the second chapter of the book of Joshua. As I have spent a great deal of time thinking about her life, I have been blessed to see how God took a broken life and made something beautiful.

There are three points to my message today:

  • Spies
  • Lies, and
  • Saving Faith

I. Spies

Joshua 2:1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying , Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there.

A. How in the world did these two Jewish men wind up in the house of a harlot named Rahab? There are several possibilities.

1. We could say that they were out for a night on the town. Just two old boys, a long ways from home, and no one is looking. However, I don’t think that’s the reason.

a. Apparently these two men were of great character for Joshua to entrust them with this assignment. Perhaps you will remember the last fiasco from sending spies into the land. For Joshua to send in men of low degree would be asking for trouble. No, I believe that these were honorable men.

b. As a matter of fact, some have suggested that one of the two spies was named ‘Salmon.’ Where have you heard that name? Matthew 1:5 says that Salmon became the husband of Rahab and the great-great grandfather of king David. We don’t know if Salmon was one of the two spies, but it makes for a great love story.

2. We could say that they came upon her house by accident, but that’s not likely and we’ll see why. The more you read God’s Word and study the way He works in men’s lives, the more you realize that there is no such a thing as luck or chance.

3. Some say that they chose her house because it would be the least conspicuous place in town.

a. Often the house of a harlot and a motel were one in the same.

b. Being a public place is both good and bad.

i. It’s good if you think that you can blend in with the crowd.

ii. It’s bad because you’re going to come into contact with a lot more people and that’s exactly what happened.

Joshua 2:2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying , Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. 3 And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying , Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country.

iii. If laying low was their plan, it didn’t work. Someone saw them there and immediately went and told the king.

4. Another reason for them being there is because it was at a strategic location. Where was Rahab’s house located?

Joshua 2:15 Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall.

All of these reasons might be a possibility, however, I believe that there was something much deeper and more meaningful that caused these two men to end up in Rahab’s house.

5. I believe that it was the hand of God.

a. God knew that there was a woman there that could be saved and He guided His men there to find her.

i. The fact that this woman was a harlot might surprise us. We might think that the one who could be saved would be the king or one of his officials. Someone of great worth and notoriety.

ii. Yet Jesus told the religious leaders of His day – “tax collectors and harlots shall enter the kingdom of God before you.”

b. Heaven will be adorned with broken lives made beautiful by the grace of God

II. Lies

In this story there are spies, and there are lies. If you know the story of Rahab, you know that she lied, big time!

Joshua 2:3 And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. 4 And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: 5 And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. 6 But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof. 7 And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out , they shut the gate.

A. A lot of people struggle with Rahab’s lying and rightly so –

1. The Bible is very clear concerning how God feels about lying –

    • Pr. 12:22 “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord”
    • Jn 8:44 “the devil is a liar and father of it”
    • Rev 21:8 “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

a. Make no mistake about it, Rahab lied and lying is sin.

b. God never told her to lie and He didn’t need her to lie. She did that on her own.

2. “Why did she lie?” someone might ask.

a. Well don’t forget who she is and where she is coming from.

i. Rahab wasn’t raised in Sunday School.

ii. She had been raised in a godless culture.

b. Luke 12:48 …For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”

iii. Only God knows all the circumstances and that’s why it’s good that He is the judge and not us.

B. What I find most amazing is that the Bible doesn’t talk about Rahab’s failures. The Bible talks about her ‘faith’.

III. Saving Faith

A. The Bible

1. Doesn’t focus on Rahab’s falsehood and failures

2. Focuses on her faith

Hebrews 11:31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

James 2:25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

B. Twice the Bible refers to Rahab’s ‘receiving the spies.’

1. Book of James teaches us

a) That her receiving the spies vs. rejecting the spies

b) Was evidence of her faith

2. Writer of Hebrews tells us that Rahab ‘perished not with them that believed not’

C. There are three elements to her conversion experience.

1. She Feared God

Joshua 2:8 And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof; 9 And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. 10 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. 11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

a. Jesus illustrated Rahab’s kind of faith in a parable.

Matthew 21:28 “But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. 30 Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go. 31 Which of the two was obeying his father?” They replied, “The first, of course.” Then Jesus explained his meaning: “I assure you, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. 32 For John the Baptist came and showed you the way to life, and you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to turn from your sins and believe him.”

b.Who really fears God?

i. The person who claims to fear God but their actions don’t show it?

ii. The person whose fear has an impact upon who they are?

2. She Sought Mercy

Joshua 2:12 Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token: 13 And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death. 14 And the men answered her, Our life for yours , if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the LORD hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee. 15 Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall. 16 And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned : and afterward may ye go your way. 17 And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear . 18 Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by : and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee. 19 And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him. 20 And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear. 21 And she said, According unto your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window.

a. Ephesians 2:4 tells us that ‘God is rich in mercy.’

b. Recently I wrote a devotional about the Pharisee and the Publican.

Luke 18:9 Then Jesus told this story to some who had great self-confidence and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a dishonest tax collector. 11 The proud Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else, especially like that tax collector over there! For I never cheat, I don’t sin, I don’t commit adultery, 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For the proud will be humbled, but the humble will be honored.” (NLT)

3. She Put Her Faith in God

Joshua 2:12 Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token: 13 And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.  14 And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business.  And it shall be, when the LORD hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee. 15 Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall. 16 And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and afterward may ye go your way. 17 And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear.

20 And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear. 21 And she said, According unto your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window.

a. Many have said that we should not put any emphasis on the ’scarlet thread.’ No where else is it mentioned in the Bible.

b. Yet there is a thread of scarlet that runs from Genesis to Revelation

i. Began with the sacrifice of an animal to clothe Adam and Eve

ii. Continues in the ‘more excellent’ sacrifice of Abel

iii. There with the ram caught in the thicket and that kept Abraham from offering up Isaac

iv. Woven into the fabric of the Tabernacle and the garments of the priest who ministered there

v. It was tied around the head of the scapegoat released into the wilderness

vi. It made up the fabric of the robe that they draped upon Jesus just before His crucifixion

c. Scarlet is a very intense shade of red and often in represents in scripture – ‘blood.’

i. Hebrews 9:27 – “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin”

ii. Though Rahab most likely had no idea of the symbolism of the scarlet rope, I’m sure the two spies did

Joshua 2:18 Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by : and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee. 19 And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him.

d. Did Rahab realize the symbolism of the scarlet thread?

i. Probably not

ii. But I assure you that the spies did

(I) No doubt they remembered the night of the Passover Feast and the blood over the doorposts

(II) God’s promise – ‘When I see the blood I will pass over you.’

D. Stories with a happy ending

1. Matthew 1:5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; 6 And Jesse begat David the king;…

2. Some say that ‘Salmon’ was one of the two spies

Conclusion

The Bible tells us that it is appointed unto men once to die and after this the judgment. When you stand before God, will He see the blood over you? Is the scarlet thread of salvation a part of your life?

Comments are closed.