Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 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. 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 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. “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 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.” “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.” – Joshua 2:8-14
It is instructive to compare what Rahab tells these two faithful spies with what the ten faithless spies told Israel nearly a generation earlier. The spies reported …
… the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.” … “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”
The conclusion is key. “We seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” But even 40 years later, Rahab tells a different story with three big points:
- We know that the LORD has given you this land;
- The dread of you has fallen upon us; and
- All of the inhabitants of the land have melted before you.
And isn’t it interesting that Rahab traces this knowledge all the way back to the LORD drying up the Red Sea during the Exodus? The faithless spies, and the stiff-necked people, may have forgotten how great their God was, but the people of Jericho had been terrified of Him for 40 years! They were terrified of the LORD, but only Rahab feared Him with the reverent awe which flows from faith.
By the grace of God, Rahab, with true faith, makes a beautiful confession of the LORD using His covenant name Yahweh: “For Yahweh your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” And as the LORD so frequently does, He will use the faith of one person to ultimately deliver her entire household from death.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 9
Q. What is the work of creation?
A. The work of creation is God’s making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good.