Lesson 1 Rahab and the Spies
Joshua 2:1-24

There was a time, more than three thousand years ago, when a scarlet cord saved the lives of two men, a woman, her father and mother, her sisters and brothers, and perhaps others. Thousands died because they did not have a scarlet cord.

On the other side of the Jordan River and several miles from the Israelites’camp stood a large city called Jericho. A high wall had been built around this city to keep out the enemies of the many people who lived there. The city of Jericho had idols or gods of its own which the people worshiped.

One day word came to the king of Jericho that a great host of people, the Israelites, were marching up from Egypt toward them. The people living in Jericho had heard about them. Word came that these people had a LIVING God who worked for them…a God who separated the water of the Red Sea so that they could walk across on dry land. Everyone in Jericho was frightened and waiting to see what would happen.

After Moses died, God spoke to Joshua and told him to lead the Israelites into the land of Canaan. While the people were getting ready to start, Joshua sent two men across the river to visit Jericho and learn all they could about that city. Because Jericho was such a large city, Joshua believed that the Israelites would need to capture it before they could go farther into Canaan.

When the two spies came to Jericho, they found the gate standing open, so they walked in. They came to a house where a woman lived whose name was Rahab. Rahab was a sinner like you and me, but by God’s grace she had believed in Jehovah, the God of Israel, and we shall see that Rahab showed her faith by her actions.

When the two strange men came to Rahab’s house and asked to stay there, Rahab did not know that they were spies sent by Joshua to learn everything they could about the city. She took them in. Someone must have seen them going into the house, for a messenger went to the king and said, “There are two spies from the children of Israel here” The King sent soldiers to Rahab’s house to arrest them.

Soon at Rahab’s door there was a strong loud knock “Open in the name of the king.” Rahab rushed over to the two spies. Rahab wondered what to do and she said, “Come with me to the roof.” When they got up to the roof, there were great big piles of flax there. Now, flax is a grain which they grew, and they made linen out of it. It was drying on the roof, and Rahab just piled that flax right on top of the two men. Do you think the spies ever imagined that there would be somebody right there in Jericho that would take care of them? God had sent them to the right house.

When Rahab came to the door, the soldiers asked about the two men. Rahab said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. But they have gone. If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them. Without searching the house, the king’s officers hurriedly left and went through the city and out the gate toward the Jordan River, feeling sure the spies must have gone that way. It never dawned on them that one of their own people would protect spies from Israel. Since the city gates were now locked, this meant that the two spies were now trapped in Jericho and would not be able to return to their camp.

Rahab hurried back to the roof where she had hidden the men. She said to them, “I know that your God is going to give my country to you. We have heard how your God has worked miracles for you, and we are afraid. I believe that your God is the true God of Heaven and of all the world.

Do you remember how God had promised His people that He would go before them? Well, wasn’t this just what He had done? Look—He had already made the enemy believe there was no use fighting. They were so scared because the God of Israel was great. This woman Rahab, a woman of Canaan, told them that she didn’t believe in her idols anymore. (Rahab’s heart was changed by God. Rahab was not saved because she was good, nor by doing good works. She did not deserve to be saved, but God in his mercy had worked in her heart and gave her life and faith toward God.) Now she believed that the God of Israel was really the true God.

What is faith? Believing that what God says, He will do. Rahab had heard about God. She hadn’t seen any of the things that He did, yet she believed that God was going to do what He said, and Rahab showed her faith by her actions. Even though it was risking her life, Rahab helped God’s people.

So now Rahab had something to ask the two spies. “I beg you for this one thing, she said, because of my kindness toward you, promise me that when Jericho is conquered, you will let me live along with my family.”

Because Rahab had faith, the spies promised and said, “We will deal kindly and truly with you, and just as the spies showed mercy to her, the Lord Jesus shows mercy and compassion to anyone who calls upon Him.

When the spies were getting ready to leave Rahab, they gave her a token and made an agreement with her: (1) She must keep their visit a secret.(2) She must hang a scarlet cord out her window, and (3) She would have to bring every member of her family into her house for safety during the attack. If she did all these things, their lives would be spared.

Of course Rahab agreed, and then she helped the spies escape over the wall by a scarlet cord hung from the window. Soon after that, Rahab went out to find her mother and father, her sisters and brothers, and perhaps cousins as well. To each one she told her story: “Jericho is going to be destroyed, and everyone in it will die. But I have the word of two of the men that they will spare my life, and yours too, if you come to my house for they gave me a scarlet cord and said, “Whosoever will be with you in the house shall be saved. Rahab’s family believed her. (Joshua 6:23) and went with her to her house on the wall. There they, too, could see the scarlet cord in the window which made them safe, even though all around them were people who were frightened.

After three days the spies returned safely to Joshua, and told him about all that had happened to them. And they said, “Surely God has given that beautiful country to us for the people are afraid of us, and they are too weak to fight against us and drive us out of their land.

Do you know why God had the rope colored scarlet red? This is another Bible picture for you and me. You see, God teaches us in Hebrews 9:22b and all through the Bible that “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (or remission) of sins.” God says in His Word there is only one way sins can be forgiven. This is through the offering of a blood sacrifice in the place of the sinner; so the red cord was pointing ahead to the fact that it was the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ which cleanses from all sin.

When did Jesus shed his blood? When he died on the cross and took the punishment for sinners (in their place). He became the perfect sacrifice so sins can be forgiven. And then, did he stay in the grave? No. He rose from the grave the third day, He’s a living Savior. So the scarlet cord speaks to us of the blood of Jesus, through which we can be safe from God’s wrath.

We need never be afraid of God’s judgment if our trust is in Jesus Christ. The spies said, “Whosoever shall be with thee…in the house…shall be safe.” The Bible says, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13) Saved from what? Saved from the wrath of God to come.

Has there ever been a moment when you have trusted Christ for the forgiveness of your sins? Do you know that you are a sinner? Have you done and said things that are displeasing to God? God says in His Word, “All have sinned.” Today you can thank the Father for sending Christ.

So once saved, God wants Christians to learn to live by faith day by day—believing what He says is true...claiming God’s promises. Rahab showed her faith by her actions.

1. She put her life in God’s hands and helped God’s people.
2. She was obedient, wasn’t she? She did what she was told.
3. She witnessed to her family. She told them about the scarlet cord.

May we have a faith like Rahab.


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