By Henry Mahan
Joshua 2:1-22: Joshua 6:17, 23, 25
My interest in Rahab, the harlot, and her story is enhanced by the number of times she is mentioned in scriptures. Besides the attention given her in the book of Joshua, Matthew identifies her as the wife of Salmon (a prince of the tribe of Judah), mother of Boaz, and great-great grandmother of King David (Matt.1:5-6).
Hebrews lists her in faith's hall of fame along with Abraham, Isaac, and Moses (Heb. 11:31). James gives two illustrations of true faith evidenced by obedience--Abraham and Rahab (James 2:20-25).
Israel was camped across Jordan; and their commander, Joshua, sent two men to spy secretly the land. They would be taking, especially, the city of Jericho. Jericho was a large city-- the city nearest to them and first in importance, for it must be taken. Judging from information that we have, several things are evident. Rahab's house was upon or in the wall which circled the city (Joshua 2:15). Her house was one where a person could find food and lodging. This was why the spies stopped there (Joshua 2:1). It is mentioned several times that she was a harlot. In those times and countries, women who kept public houses and inns were also prostitutes.
Word got to the king of Jericho that these Israelites were seen at Rahab's house, and the king sent word to her to deliver these men to him. She hid the spies up on the roof of the house and sent word to the king that, although the Israelites had been to her house, they had fled earlier and might be overtaken if the king would send someone after them, which he did. As soon as the king's men left Jericho to pursue after the spies, the gate of the city was closed. Rahab came up on the roof where the spies were hidden and set forth in such a beautiful manner her faith in the living God (Joshua 2:8-11). She then sought the mercy of the Lord to be upon her and her household when the people of God took the city (Joshua 2:12-13). The men promised her that she would be spared provided that she keep faith in not telling anyone of their business (Joshua 2:14), that she hang outside her window this scarlet line by which she let them down the wall (Joshua 2:18), and that she and her family remain inside the house while the battle raged (Joshua 2:18).
Her house was upon the wall with the front toward the city for the entertainment of persons who came there, and the back was on the outside of the wall. She let the spies down the wall by the scarlet cord, and they fled in safety to the mountains.
When Israel took the city, Joshua commanded that Rahab be spared (Joshua 6:17, 22-25).
1. Rahab is a picture of God's mercy and grace to sinners
She was a sinner by birth and by practice. All of the explaining by moralists and legalists will not make Rahab anything but what she was--a notorious sinner. But the Lord Jesus came to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15; Matt. 9:10-13; Rom. 5:6-8). His mercy is to the miserable and his grace for the guilty.
2. Rahab is an example of electing, distinguishing, and efficacious grace.
It was not by accident that the spies stopped at her house. They were led there by the Spirit of God. Her speech to the spies (Joshua 2:8-11) indicates a heart enlightened and taught by God. Faith is not the product of natural thought and logic; it is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9). She was one of the Lord's own: and her testimony is proof of her knowledge of the true God, her faith in him, and shows her to be a believer (John 6:44-45).
3. The scarlet cord she put out the window was an emblem of the blood of Christ, by which salvation is accomplished.
That scarlet cord which she, by faith, dropped from her window is as decisive and clear a picture of Christ's blood as Abel's lamb, or the Passover blood on the door, or the sin-offering in the tabernacle. It is by his blood and faith in his blood that sinners have redemption, forgiveness, atonement, safety, and protection from the avenging justice and wrath of God. 'When I see the blood, I will pass over you.' When they saw the scarlet cord in the window of the harlot, they passed by her house and destroyed all others.
4. Rahab and her family were told to come into her house where the scarlet cord was hung, and there only would they be safe.
As the Israelites were told to stay in their houses where the Passover blood was sprinkled, Rahab and her family were to remain under the protection and safety of the blood of Christ. To venture without was to be destroyed (Joshua 2:18-19).
Under the blood of Jesus, safe in the shepherd's fold;
Under the blood of Jesus, safe while the ages roll:
Safe though the worlds may crumble,
safe though the stars grow dim;
Under the blood of Jesus, I am secure in him.