Lectionary Calendar
Friday, June 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
Tired of seeing ads while studying? Now you can enjoy an "Ads Free" version of the site for as little as 10¢ a day and support a great cause!
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries
Joshua 2

Ironside's Notes on Selected BooksIronside's Notes

Verses 1-24

Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the Lord, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token.

Joshua 2:12

By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

Hebrews 11:31

Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

James 2:25

Israel’s crossing the Jordan River speaks to us of our death with Christ. Joshua sent spies over to Jericho to find out the exact state of affairs, and we are told that these spies entered the city and came to a harlot’s house, whose name was Rahab, and they lodged there.

A good many have questioned the immoral character of this woman Rahab and have pointed out that the word translated “harlot” does not necessarily mean an immoral woman but might mean simply a woman keeping a place of public entertainment, that is, an innkeeper; but the New Testament leaves us in no doubt as to Rahab’s real character. She was like so many of her sinful sisters in that heathen land-a woman who had departed from the path of chastity and was living a wicked, unclean life. Yet God in His infinite mercy sent His messengers to this woman’s house and brought not only deliverance to her own soul but to those also of her household. What a great salvation!

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, not good people, not people who fancy they are good enough for God as they are, but those who are ready to take their place as lost sinners needing a Saviour.

A woman went to Charles Wesley, the great hymn writer, and said to him, “Mr. Wesley, I have come to ask you to pray for me, for I am a great sinner.”

Mr. Wesley answered, “Indeed, you certainly are a great sinner, and I will be glad to pray for you.”

The lady exclaimed, “Who has been talking about me to you? I am just as good as anyone else in this community!”

So many people have this attitude when they go before God. God is saving sinners-those who will confess and forsake their sins.

The spies came to Rahab’s house and she received them. She hid them because she knew that the authorities would soon be seeking them. In fact, it was not long until they came to her house. We read,

The king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them.

Now Rahab did something that manifested the new attitude that she had taken toward the God of Israel. She was an idolater; she had been worshiping idols all through the years, but she had heard of the wonderful power of Jehovah, as had all her people. They had heard of how God had delivered Israel out of Egypt, and of the drying up of the Red Sea, and the way He sustained this multitude throughout their journeying in the wilderness. And Rahab’s soul was strangely moved. There was something about the stories which she heard that appealed to her heart, and she felt it was a divine providence that she had the representatives of the God of Israel in her house. She did what she could to protect them. She took them to the top of her house and hid them with the stalks of flax.

Rahab did not tell the truth in regard to the spies; and one might ask, “Does God commend this woman for her lying?” No, not at all, but remember her background. She had never heard the word of the law of God, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” She was brought up in a system that made no distinction between truth and lying. She was a poor, heathen woman who sought to know the true God by taking the wrong method in order to shield His messengers. Of course, it was wrong for her to lie, but God saw her heart, overruled the blunder she was making to protect His servants, and eventually revealed Himself to her.

“But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof.” In the Epistle of James we are told that “Rahab the harlot was justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (2:25, 26). When she hid the spies she showed the real faith that was in her heart. Her faith was manifested by her works in hiding them and sending them away safely. Whenever there is genuine faith in God it will always be accompanied by good works. We are not saved by works. Let no one make a mistake as to that. Scripture is absolutely clear that we are saved by grace alone through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” “Not of works, lest any man should boast.” But on the other hand, where there is genuine faith, where people really believe God, where they truly receive His testimony, their faith will be manifested by their works, and that is what the Apostle James stresses.

And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof; and she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.

All the people had heard about the God of Israel, and they were filled with terror, but they had no desire to know Him. In this Rahab was different from the rest. She wanted to acquaint herself with the God of Israel, and she grasped this wonderful opportunity that had come to her in order that He might be made known to her.

She continued to say,

We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon, and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

A wonderful confession, “The Lord your God, He is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath”! By faith Rahab the harlot made this confession. She had committed her soul to this true and living God. We are told in Romans 10:9-10, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Do not make any mistake. There is no merit in the confession. You are not saved by confessing Christ; you are saved by trusting Christ. You confess Him because you are saved. God is calling upon all who are still in their sins to put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, to turn to Him and then confess Him as their Saviour and Lord. He says, “Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32). I am sure there are people who have trusted Christ but do not say anything about it to other folk, but I know that they are not triumphant and happy. Victorious Christians are those who delight to confess the name of Jesus. Rahab had no difficulty about confessing her faith in the one true and living God. But she wanted assurance of future security, so before these men left she said to them,

Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the Lord, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token.

Is that what your heart is saying? Are you crying, “Oh give me a true token; give me definite, positive assurance that God has really saved me”? Well, thank God, He gives such a true token in His Word. Rahab was concerned not only for herself, but for her household as well. And when people really know the Lord then they are concerned about the salvation of others -those whom they love, their own household. She continued,

And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.

In this Rahab showed a remarkable understanding of the desires of the God of Israel, for all through Scripture we see it is the purpose of God, His desire and will to save His people in families, in households. If He shows mercy to one person in a household it is an indication that He wants to save every member of that family. You remember what He said of Abraham, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?” (He was speaking of the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah.) “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him” (Genesis 18:17; Genesis 18:19Genesis 18:19). Oh, Christian fathers and mothers, what about your attitude toward your households? Have you recognized your responsibility? Are you acting for God in the home to command your children after you? I know we live in a day of self-expression when we are taught that we should not quell the natural desires of our children, and most of us have given way to this teaching. As a result we have unconverted children in our homes, whose ways are the expression of their vile, wicked, corrupt natures. Scripture says, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15).

Mrs. William Booth, wife of the first general in the Salvation Army, who reared a large family of eight children, claimed every one of them for God before they were born. She used to say, “I refuse to bring any child into the world to be damned in hell at last.” She claimed every one of her children for God. In their early days some of those children thought their mother was rather stern and hard because she would not allow them to go into the things of the world like other children, but the day came when every one of them thanked their mother for standing between them and the world, and all grew up to preach Christ and seek to bring others to Him.

A tremendous responsibility rests on parents in these matters. Too many parents say, “I will let my child go just so far in the ways of the world, and I hope eventually he will come to God,” only to learn that later on he does not desire to know God at all. Your child may rebel against your correction, but he will thank you for it later on when he has come to know the Lord. Your child may look upon you as old-fashioned, but when at last he has turned to Christ for salvation then he will indeed thank you for ever having sought to lead him in the way of righteousness.

Rahab was a poor woman who had gone down into the depth of sin, but now had turned to God, and her heart cried out for the deliverance of her loved ones. So she pleaded for her household.

The men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the Lord hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee.

In the New Testament we read of the Philippian jailor who came, thinking only of himself. He cried out, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Apparently his family was gathered about him. Paul said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:30-31). That night there was great rejoicing in that house. The whole household was brought to faith in Christ and they confessed His name in baptism.

If you are the only saved member in your household, lay hold of God and in faith cry to Him for salvation for the other members of your family. Live Christ before them and look to God to bring them all to Himself. In this we may closely emulate the faith of Rahab.

Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall.

I could not help but wonder, a few years ago, whether I was looking over Rahab’s house. I went to see the ruins of the very Jericho destroyed under Joshua. That ruined city was uncovered a few years ago and they found that the walls had fallen outward. As I looked at a ruined house I wondered if it might be that of Rahab, from the window of which she had let down the spies.

She bade them:

Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and afterward may ye go your way. And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us to swear. Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee. And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him. And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear.

What a beautiful picture of God’s salvation!

They gave her a scarlet cord. I take it that it was the very cord with which they had been let down. She was to bind the scarlet cord in the window so that anyone could see it. The people of the land beholding it would not have any idea what it was for, no more perhaps than an ordinary ornament. In His Word God has given to us a scarlet line and saves all who are in the house that is thus marked off from the rest of the world.

Rahab was commanded to get her father, mother, brethren, her friends and relatives, and bring them into the house. They were all protected by the scarlet cord and they would be safe in the day when the judgment should fall upon Jericho. They were sheltered by the red cord in the window.

All who are in Christ are sheltered by His precious blood. That is the true token, for the Father looks upon that. Christ has died for me; therefore my soul is safe.

And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him.

In other words, they said, “Rahab, we will be your surety, and you and all in your house will be saved if protected by the scarlet cord.” Christ is the surety for all who put their trust in His precious blood. But if Rahab or anyone else in the house left the protection of the scarlet cord, it was at their own risk.

Dear friends, if you refuse to trust the Lord Jesus Christ, if you refuse to find shelter beneath His precious blood, in the day when God arises to shake terribly the earth and all the things that men have trusted in go to pieces, you will be left a poor, lost, ruined soul, and your blood will be on your own head because you despised the sacrifice offered by our Lord Jesus Christ.

And she said, According unto your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window.

Later when the armies of Israel began crossing the Jordan and the people of Jericho were on the wall, their hearts trembled as they saw the great army coming, and when later on the priests bearing the ark marched around Jericho, blowing their trumpets, people watched and no doubt thought it was some strange enchantment, and they were filled with terror. Rahab would look out the window and would say to herself, “Our city will never be able to stand against the God of Israel.” But she could say, “There is the scarlet cord in the window and I am secure.” And all who will put their trust in Christ are secure through His precious blood. Such can well afford to sing:

Under Thy wings, my God, I rest

Under Thy shadow safely lie;

By Thy own strength in peace possessed,

While dread evils pass me by.

It is the will of God that all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ should have this definite assurance, knowing that they are eternally secure because of the atoning blood of the Lamb.

The truth of this runs like a scarlet line all though Scripture, from Abel’s lamb slain at the gate of Eden to the Lamb on the throne in the heavenly city, where all the redeemed join in the new song of redemption by His blood. If we would sing that song in heaven let us be sure we learn it here on earth.

Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Joshua 2". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/isn/joshua-2.html. 1914.
Ads FreeProfile