1 Saved By Grace Through Faith
Joshua 2:1-22; 6:16-17, 22-26; Matthew 1:1-6; Hebrews 11:31-33
"By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace" (Hebrews 11:31).
The story of Rahab, the harlot, is one of the most remarkable narratives in Scripture. From the human standpoint this story teaches us something of the baseness of human nature. For Rahab was certainly an exceptionally evil character, and would present, apart from divine intervention, a hardened, inaccessible, hopeless case. But from the divine standpoint, the story of this debased woman teaches how wondrously grace superabounds where sin abounds; and how God can save through a faith that is reasonable, relevant, and responsive. See in the first place how God, in grace, saves through:
I. A Reasonable Faith
"For 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 the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed" (Joshua 2:10). By this we mean a faith which comes through:
A. The Appreciation of Certain Facts
"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 the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed" (Joshua 2:10). Rahab appreciated:
1. How God Delivered His People
When the Israelite's were delivered from Egypt, she saw the love of God manifested toward a people who were in bondage, a love which did not rest until it had provided a deliverer to emancipate the children of Israel from the thralldom of Egypt.
2. How God dried up the Red Sea
She recognized the power of God, which defeated enemies and swept aside every barrier to the progress of the Canaan-bound pilgrims.
3. How God destroyed the enemies of His people
She appreciated God's righteousness and judgment, for Sihon and Og who represent the power and far-reaching effects of sin, were utterly destroyed. These were facts which she heard, and the Word of God tell us that "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). So a reasonable faith in this dark woman's heart found its origin through the hearing of facts. In a like manner, every sinner who seriously considers the wondrous facts of the Gospel message will become the possessor of a reasonable faith that is necessary before God can save. This reasonable faith also comes through:
B. An Acceptance of Certain Facts
"I know that the LORD has given you the land" (Joshua 2:9). Here we see the acceptance of the facts that she had heard. Faith had accepted all that God had done. She believed with all her heart that God, in love, would deliver all who trusted in Him; and that in righteous judgment, He would utterly destroy all who deliberately disobeyed Him. Such reasonable faith finally comes through:
C. An Acknowledgement of Certain Facts
"The LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath" (Joshua 2:11). Here was an acceptance and acknowledgement of faith. She not only believed the promises of God, but also believed the God of the promises.
C. H. Spurgeon used this story to illustrate faith. A child is trapped in an upper level of a burning building. A strong man standing beneath the window where the child is crying calls up: "Jump! Drop into my arms!" Then Spurgeon observed: "It is a part of faith to know that there is a man there; still another part of faith to believe him to be a strong man; but the essence of faith is in trusting him fully and dropping into his arms." So it is with the sinner and the Savior.
Let me point out that the faith-begetting facts for today are the very same facts that fell on the hearing of Rahab of old. They are:
1. The Fact of God's Love
God, in love, has provided a means of salvation from the effects and power of sin. The great antetype of Moses is the Lord Jesus, the Savior of sinners. "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," (1 Tim. 1:15).
2. The Fact of God's Power
God has manifested his power in providing a new living way to the land of promise. "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way'" (John 14:6).
3. The Fact of God's Righteousness
God, in righteousness, has decreed judgment on all sin. "[God] has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness" (Acts 17:31). Have you appreciated these facts? Have you accepted them, made them your very own? Are you ready to acknowledge them as facts that you really believe? In the second place, God in grace saves through:
II. A Relevant Faith
"Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father's house, and give me a true token" (Joshua 2:12). By this we see faith that relates divine grace to human need. This is just what Rahab did. She realized her desperate need and that the visit of the spies was her opportunity to have that need met. "Now, therefore, I pray you . . . give me a true token." Careful consideration of each of these words shows us the relevance of faith to:
A. A Pressing Need
Rahab knew that there was no time to be lost and said, "Now, therefore, I pray you" (Joshua 2:12). She realized that Jericho was a doomed city, on the ground of divine judgment, and that very soon Jehovah's marching hosts would utterly destroy both city and people. So she made no delay in asking for a true token that would assure her to safety in the coming day of wrath. If only you knew how close the day of wrath was upon you, you too would relate God's grace to your need. "Do not boast about tomorrow" (Proverbs 27:1). "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2).
A lady received a summons that required her to appear in court on a certain day to answer a charge brought against her. She intended to secure a fine lawyer recommended to her by a close friend. However she procrastinated until the court date was just a few days away. At last she contacted the attorney and asked him to defend her. Regretfully he replied: "Madam, had you called me last week I should gladly have represented you. However several days ago I was appointed your judge!" The Lord Jesus Christ offers now to be the advocate of anyone who believes on him. However the day is coming when he will become the "judge of the living and the dead" (2 Tim. 4:1).
We see again the relevance of faith to:
B. A Personal Need
"Now, therefore, I pray you . . . give me" (Joshua 2:12). Rahab made a personal application for this true token of salvation. She was conscious of her personal need and was determined that she would have that need met. Finally, we see the relevance of faith to:
C. A Practical Need
Rahab asks for something practical and real. "Give me," she said, "a true token" (Joshua 2:12). And she was provided immediately with a practical and sure way of salvation. She was told to tie a scarlet line in the window. Salvation today is equally as practical and sure. The Lord Jesus is the "scarlet cord," dyed with the blood of His sacrifice. He is a "true token," a real living person, a Savior who has qualified by His death, burial, and resurrection to meet your every need and save you completely. You have the opportunity of proving him to be real, vital, and practical in your salvation now. Now in the third instance, God in grace saves through:
III. A Responsive Faith
"'According to your words, so be it.' And she sent them away, and they departed. And she bound the scarlet cord in the window" (Joshua 2:21). Rahab bound a scarlet cord in the window. It was a response that was:
"She sent [the spies] away, and they departed" (Joshua 2:21). There was no time to delay. The spies had no sooner gone than she tied the cord in the window. Would to God that the response of your faith would be as speedy right now!
"According to your words, so be it" (Joshua 2:21). Believing the testimony of the spies (God's servants), she was assured of deliverance in the coming day of wrath. The precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and the testimony of the Scriptures concerning its power are the outward tokens which bring assurance of salvation to the heart that trusts Christ.
"She bound the scarlet cord in the window" (Joshua 2:21). This was a simple act of faith. A child could have done this. This is why Jesus said, "Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). Man complicates, but God simplifies!
A boy was trying to comfort his younger brother who was dying and afraid. He told him to trust in Jesus. "What does that mean? What shall I do?" the frightened child asked. "Pray to him!" the older boy replied. "I don't know how," cried the child. "Then just raise your hand. Jesus will know what you mean" the older brother urged. Great theologians could not improve on that uplifted hand as a beautiful illustration of the simplicity of faith.
There was nothing complicated about tying a scarlet thread in the window. As we have observed, a child could do this. But it was God's way, and He saved her. In that grand word "saved," I include the whole sweep of God's work in grace, for Rahab was granted:
"She bound the scarlet cord in the window" (Joshua 2:21). Although a vile sinner under the sentence of death, she was saved the moment she tied the red cord in the window. Remember that if you want the scarlet thread of salvation to float from the window of your heart, you must trust Christ now.
If you look at Matthew 1:5-6 ("Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king"), you will see that Rahab was received into the royal family! This could be true of you if you respond to the gospel; for the Word says, "As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12).
"What more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of [those] who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises" (Hebrews 11:32-33). In a very real sense, she was used to bring Christ into the world! Do you want to have a life of true purpose in service? Find it in Christ, as you give Him the whole response of your faith.
If there is anyone who lightly regards the matters we have been considering, remember that the multitudes of Jericho fell and perished because of one sin in particular. You will find that sin recorded in connection with this story in Hebrews 11:31. It was the sin of unbelief. That which distinguished Rahab from the rest of the people of Jericho was not her superior morality, not her higher intelligence, nor her more exemplary character, for it appears that she was devoid of these qualities. It was rather her reasonable, relevant, and responsive faith in God's "true token". Because she believed, she was saved; because the rest disbelieved, they perished. Make this your response:
Jesus, I do trust Thee,
Trust Thee without doubt,
Thou wilt not cast out;
Faithful is Thy promise,
Precious is Thy promise,
Precious is Thy blood, -
These my soul's salvation,
Thou my Savior God!
—Proclaiming the Good News