The Book of Joshua is an amazing book of Joshua’s conquests of the Promised Land for the Lord. The most famous battle, the Battle of Jericho, is a great example of God’s divine hand at work for His divine plan. One of the most important people in this mighty victory for God, is Rahab, the harlot (prostitute). The story of Rahab is an amazing testimony of faith, courage, and redemption. This incredible story gives us great insight into how God uses flawed people, like you and me, for His divine purposes.
Isaiah 55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."
Sometimes, the people society condemns the most, like Rahab, God uses for His divine purposes. Only the Almighty knows what is in each of our hearts. As we read this incredible story, let us remember that God Almighty is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."
No matter what sins we have committed in the past, if we ask for forgiveness, and surrender our lives to Him, He will use us for His will, just as He did Rahab.
This story begins with God’s commandment to Joshua.
Joshua 1:1-9, “After the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: ‘Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.‘"
This would be the Israelites second chance to enter the Promise Land. The first time God commanded them to enter, ten of the twelve spies brought back a bad report because of fear (Numbers 13 & 14). Only Joshua and Caleb trusted God’s word and had the faith to enter the Promised Land. God punished the children of Israel by not allowing them to enter the Promised Land because of their disobedience of His will. The Lord kept them in the desert for forty years, until that disobedient generation died. Not one of them, besides Joshua and Caleb, were allowed to enter the Promised Land with the new generation. It does not matter how big the obstacles are or how big the challenge may be, we are to trust and have faith in the Lord, just like Joshua and Caleb. If He commands us to do His will, He expects us to understand that He will win the battle for us.
Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."
Because of the first failed attempt to enter the Promised Land, God told Joshua three consecutive times to be “Strong and Courageous.” The Lord wanted to remind Joshua He was in control, but more importantly, to remind the children of Israel that He was in control.
God Commands Joshua to Cross the Jordan
Joshua 1:10-18, “Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, ‘Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess. And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh Joshua spoke, saying, “Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God is giving you rest and is giving you this land.’ Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side of the Jordan. But you shall pass before your brethren armed, all your mighty men of valor, and help them, until the Lord has given your brethren rest, as He gave you, and they also have taken possession of the land which the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and enjoy it, which Moses the Lord’s servant gave you on this side of the Jordan toward the sunrise.” So they answered Joshua, saying, “All that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we heeded Moses in all things, so we will heed you. Only the Lord your God be with you, as He was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your command and does not heed your words, in all that you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and of good courage.”
Joshua made it clear to the Israelites that the Lord had “given the land to them.” All they had to do was trust and obey, and the Lord was going to show them great things at Jericho.
Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
This generation of Israelites did not witness God’s divine hand at the Red Sea. There was no doubt, they were about to witness God’s mighty hand at Jericho. The Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh had asked Moses if they could settle east of the Promised Land. Moses agreed to their request, but only on one condition. They had to help conquer the Promised Land first, and then they could settle in that land that was agreed upon with Moses.
Rahab, The Faithful Servant
Joshua 2:1-11, “Now Joshua, the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there. And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, “Behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country.”So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country.” Then the woman took the two men and hid them. So she said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.” (But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.) Then the men pursued them by the road to the Jordan, to the fords. And as soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate. Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men: “I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. 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. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath."
Here we see Rahab’s faith in God. Why did the spies stop at Rahab, the harlot’s house? God directed them there because He knew Rahab’s heart was open to Him, and that she would be very instrumental in Israel’s victory over Jericho. Apparently, God had been working in Rahab’ life and strengthening her faith so when God’s timing was right, she would be ready to fulfill her purpose and do His will. She did not allow her past life-style to restrain her from performing God’s will. Like Rahab, we must have faith in God’s purpose for our lives so when He calls us to do His will, no matter what, we will have faith that He will use us and provide everything we need to accomplish His will. In Rahab’s day, it was common to build houses on the city walls, with a window that faced the outside wall. This would have made it easy for the spies to escape. Also, with Rahab’s profession as a prostitute, she lived on the “outskirts” of the city, one stop short of rejection, as she was looked down upon. Men coming and going to her “house” was normal, so the guards would not have thought anything about these men going to her house, making the spies “blend in” with the others. Furthermore, the flax that had been harvested and stored to dry on the rooftops was a perfect hiding place for the spies. When she spoke to the two spies on the roof, we see how Rahab gained her faith in the Lord. Hearing the stories of what God had done for the Israelites, Rahab had no doubt that the God of Israel is the one true God! It is fascinating that once Rahab heard about the God of Israel’s mighty hand at work throughout the land, she put her faith and trust in Him. As she stated, “For the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”
Joshua 2:12-24, “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, and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.” So the men answered her, “Our lives for yours, if none of you tell this business of ours. And it shall be, when the Lord has given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you.” Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall; she dwelt on the wall. And she said to them, “Get to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you. Hide there three days, until the pursuers have returned. Afterward you may go your way.” So the men said to her: “We will be blameless of this oath of yours which you have made us swear, unless, when we come into the land, you bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you bring your father, your mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household to your own home. So it shall be that whoever goes outside the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we will be guiltless. And whoever is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him. And if you tell this business of ours, then we will be free from your oath which you made us swear.” Then she said, “According to your words, so be it.” And she sent them away, and they departed. And she bound the scarlet cord in the window. They departed and went to the mountain, and stayed there three days until the pursuers returned. The pursuers sought them all along the way, but did not find them. So the two men returned, descended from the mountain, and crossed over; and they came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all that had befallen them. And they said to Joshua, “Truly the Lord has delivered all the land into our hands, for indeed all the inhabitants of the country are fainthearted because of us.”
The faith and courage Rahab showed is remarkable. One could say she showed more faith then the Israelites did on their first opportunity to enter the Promised Land. The Holy Spirit convicted Rahab, and she knew without a doubt, that the God of Israel is an extraordinary God! She was willing to lose everything, including her life, in order to do the Lord’s will and save her family from death. Are we willing to sacrifice our lives for the Lord’s will?
Mark 8:34-38, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
If the leaders would have found out about her “treason,” she would have been stoned to death. After she heard of the God of Israel, she turned from her sinful past and put her faith in Him, regardless of the consequences. Messiah stated in John.
John 8:11, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."
This is exactly what Rahab did, and this is exactly what Messiah commands us to do as well.
Matthew 5:48, “Therefore you shall be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect."
None of us will ever be perfect, but Messiah wants us to live the best life we can for Him and strive for perfection. The scarlet cord is symbolized throughout the Holy Bible. It’s meaning is tied directly with Messiah. The first Passover, the children of Israel placed blood on their doorposts so when the Angel of the Lord came to kill the firstborn of all of the families of the Egyptians, the Angel would know to pass over the homes of the children of Israel. Also, it symbolizes our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’s death on the cross.
The Commander of the Army of the Lord
Joshua 5:13-15, “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” The man replied, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.”
This could have been the angel Michael, or could have been Messiah. Whomever it may have been, it was another great sign of victory. Obviously, Joshua knew he was in the glory of the Lord as he fell on his face and took his sandal off. The God of Israel was about to show the Israelites His mighty hand at the Battle of Jericho.
Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
The Destruction of Jericho
Joshua 6:1-14, “Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in. And the Lord said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.” Then Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.”And he said to the people, “Proceed, and march around the city, and let him who is armed advance before the ark of the Lord.” So it was, when Joshua had spoken to the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord advanced and blew the trumpets, and the ark of the covenant of the Lord followed them. The armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while the priests continued blowing the trumpets. Now Joshua had commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout.” So he had the ark of the Lord circle the city, going around it once. Then they came into the camp and lodged in the camp. And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. Then seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord went on continually and blew with the trumpets. And the armed men went before them. But the rear guard came after the ark of the Lord, while the priests continued blowing the trumpets. And the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. So they did six days.”
The Lord told Joshua that the enemy was already defeated! There was no doubt Joshua had the confidence that God had given Jericho into their hand. With Rahab’s faith and courage, the Commander of the army of the Lord, and with the Almighty telling Joshua “See, I have given Jericho into your hand,” it was time to conquer this “mighty” city. The city of Jericho, one of the oldest cities in the world, was built thousands of years before Joshua’s time. It was built in “fortress strength,” meaning the fortified walls were approximately 25 feet high and 20 feet thick. At that time, the massive walls were a symbol of strength, and everyone considered pagan Jericho invincible, except God. There was no question, the Almighty was about to show the Canaanites who was invincible. God gave Joshua very specific instructions to follow, and if they followed them, they would destroy Jericho. The number seven is God’s number; It is the number of completion, and is used many times in the Holy Bible, (7 days, 7 years (Shemtiah), 7 millennia, Daniel’s seventy seven’s, 7 year tribulation, etc). “Seven” is a holy number God has used throughout history and will continue to use in the future. Also trumpets are significant, as well as the sounding of the shofar (ram’s horn). The shofar is blown and used as an instrument of “spiritual warfare” throughout Israel’s history.
Numbers 10:9, “When you go to war in your land against the enemy who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the Lord your God, and you will be saved from your enemies."
The trumpets and the shofar also means “awake from your sleep,” and is connected directly to the rapture of the church.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
1 Corinthians 15:51-52, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
The shofar is also connected with the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), and the Year of Jubilee (Every 50 years).
Joshua 6:15-27, “But it came to pass on the seventh day that they rose early, about the dawning of the day, and marched around the city seven times in the same manner. On that day only they marched around the city seven times. And the seventh time it happened, when the priests blew the trumpets, that Joshua said to the people: “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city! Now the city shall be doomed by the Lord to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the Lord; they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.” So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword. But Joshua had said to the two men who had spied out the country, “Go into the harlot’s house, and from there bring out the woman and all that she has, as you swore to her.”And the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, her mother, her brothers, and all that she had. So they brought out all her relatives and left them outside the camp of Israel. But they burned the city and all that was in it with fire. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. Then Joshua charged them at that time, saying, “Cursed be the man before the Lord who rises up and builds this city Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn, and with his youngest he shall set up its gates.” So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout all the country.”
Can you imagine following these instructions and witnessing this incredible victory?! Obviously, God’s mighty hand collapsed the walls at Jericho. The instructions the Israelites were given by the Lord were very precise, to the last detail. Why did God give them these “detailed” instructions? He wanted to test them to make sure they had faith in Him and see if they would carry out His will. Also, God wanted the Israelites to understand it was His mighty hand that won the battle, not theirs. God promised Joshua and the Israelites that the battle was won, they just had to trust and obey His instructions for victory. During the climax of the battle, Joshua remembered the promise to Rahab, and by her faith and courage, He protected her and her family.
Hebrews 11:31, “By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace."
Joshua’s instructions from the Lord were to destroy all people who were in Jericho, except for Rahab and her family. Why did God destroy all of the people, including women and children? First, the Promised Land belonged to God, and He promised it to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their descendants.
Genesis 13:14-16, "And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered.”
Second, the Canaanites (Jericho) were wicked and lived in rebellion to the Almighty.
Deuteronomy 18:10-11, “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.”
The people of Jericho were not innocent, they were wicked sinners. Third, the ancient Canaanites practiced blood retribution, meaning that as long as one member of a family remained, man, woman, or child, that person was bound by cultural law to attempt retribution against the Israelites. So, in those days, this was common practice with all people. Because of this, the Israelites were bound under the commandment in the Torah (The Law) to destroy the evil people (mentioned above). If they did not follow this command, God would discipline them.
Deuteronomy 28:63-68, "And it shall be, that just as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good and multiply you, so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you and bring you to nothing; and you shall be plucked from off the land which you go to possess. Then the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known—wood and stone. And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place; but there the Lord will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul. Your life shall hang in doubt before you; you shall fear day and night, and have no assurance of life. In the morning you shall say, ‘Oh, that it were evening!’ And at evening you shall say, ‘Oh, that it were morning!’ because of the fear which terrifies your heart, and because of the sight which your eyes see.”
The curse Joshua stated at the end of the story was fulfilled in 1 Kings 16:34 when Hiel, rebuilt Jericho and consequently lost his oldest and youngest sons. Every written word and every prophesy of the Holy Bible will come true.
The story of Rahab, the Harlot, is one of faith, courage, and redemption. Through her faith in God, she was courageous when confronted by the leaders of Jericho. Because she was faithful and courageous, God protected her and her family from the destruction of Jericho. This is truly an amazing story! Like Rahab, we are commanded to have faith and be courageous, and the Lord will redeem us as well! Today, most people would assume Rahab, a heathen harlot, would never be interested in God or that God would use someone like her. However, only God knows the hearts of men.
Acts 15:8, “God, who knows the heart."
Rahab was willing to risk everything, including death, for a God she just started believing in. This story also teaches us that God will use any person for His will, regardless of their past life-style, appearance, or sins. All we have to do is accept Messiah into our life, turn from our sin, trust and obey, and He will lift us up from our sins to do His will, as He did with Rahab. She is one of two women (Sarah) listed in the Faith Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11. The most incredible thing about Rahab, is that she is an ancestor to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! (Matthew 1). Amen, Amen, and Amen