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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary
Joshua 2

 

 


Verses 1-17

Preparing to Possess the Land

Joshua 2:1-17

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

1. The men who fell by the way. The closing verses of Joshua 1:1-18 , give the story of Joshua's preparations to carry out God's instructions, and to enter in and possess the land. The men, who thirty-eight years before had come up to Kadesh-barnea, and who had refused to enter in, had all died with the exception of Caleb and Joshua.

Those men whose carcasses fell, and whose bones were strewn across the wilderness, are also a warning to us upon whom the end of the ages have come, lest we also fall after the same example of unbelief.

We need to be on the alert lest we fail of the rest that remaineth unto the children of God. See 1 Corinthians 10:1-12 and Hebrews, chapters 1 and 2.

2. The men who were ready to go in and possess the land. There were just as many obstacles facing the Israel whom Joshua commanded to enter in, as there were facing the men of Moses' day.

However, the people were now ready to obey their leader, and to follow the word of the Lord. They said to Joshua, "We will hearken unto thee: only the Lord thy God be with thee, as He was with Moses."

With such a spirit of loyal obedience the people were ready to obey their Lord and His leader, and to enter in and possess the land.

Today we need a loyalty as true, and a faith as strong as was theirs, if we are to accomplish anything worth the while for God.

3. The spirit of reciprocity. The tribes of Reuben and Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh had been granted the privilege of making their abode and their inheritance on "this side Jordan." Joshua, however, said unto them: "Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land * * this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour."

This was eminently right. They had been helped into their inheritance by the other tribes, so they should now, in turn, help their brethren into their inheritances. This they did.

Beloved let us not always be on the receiving line; let us pass over to the giving and helping line.

4. The only place to stop pursuing. Joshua said, "Help them; until the Lord have given your brethren rest."

Why should we stop until we reach the Glory rest? We told a man who had made plenty of money, and who had expressed his desire to quit and live in nonactivity upon what he had earned that was no place for him to rest until his brethren had reached a like place of comfort. So long as there were saints toiling on, he should keep his shoulder to the wheel, that he might, by his making money, help others to win the day.

My rest is in Heaven, my rest is not here,

Then why should I idle, when toil still is near?

While thorns and the thistles around me still grow,

I dare not lie down upon roses below:

I seek not my portion, and claim not my rest,

Till service all over, I lean on His breast;

Let troubles or danger my pathway oppose,

I'll serve till in Heaven my pathway I close.

I. THE STRATEGY OF A HEATHEN WOMAN (Joshua 2:1-4 )

1. Joshua sent forth two spies to get a "lay out" of the city of Jericho, and to discover the temper of the people. The spies stopped at the home of Rahab. Soon their presence was discovered, and word was sent to the ruler of Jericho, "Behold, there came men in hither to night, of the Children of Israel to search out the land."

2. The king's command. The king of Jericho quickly sent command to Rahab, saying, "Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house."

3. Rahab's deceptive strategy. Rahab was quick to hide the spies, and to send word to the king. She said that the men came, but that she knew not whence they were gone. She asserted that just before the time to close the gates of the city the men went out, whither, she knew not. Then she urged the king to send out a posse to overtake the men en route toward their land.

What does all of this mean? We certainly may overcome evil with good; but not good with evil.

Rahab, however, told a lie, yes she acted a lie, and thus sought to deceive her king, and to deliver God's servants. She is not to be justified, and yet she was living out her normal conception of things. To her it meant nothing to deceive. Her motive was right, her method was wrong. She acted as one who had been engulfed in sin, and yet, withal, was seeking to do the right.

Her ruse was successful, she accomplished her purpose. Not only that but God looked through her past sinful life, as well as her immediate deception, and saw her awakening faith as it began to take hold of His power.

II. SEEKING THE SPIES (Joshua 2:5-7 )

1. Rahab hiding the spies. Here is the next step in Rahab's double purpose. She brought the men up to the roof of her house and hid them with the stalks of flax which she had laid in order there.

2. The pursuit. While the men were safely hid, the posse of the king was hastening away to run them down in their supposed flight.

"The men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords." Beyond this they dared not go. Their search was useless, because the men were hid away. There are two lessons for us just here.

(1) Satan is going about seeking whom he may devour. He is a ravenous and a roaring lion in his search. He is ruthless, and rabid, and ready to trap every soul that seeks to follow the Saviour.

Now, that God was about to lead His people Into Canaan, by the way of Jericho, Satan was alert to do all in his power to break down their attempt.

So does Satan seek to destroy all saints. He lays snares, and pitfalls on every hand, if he may by any means entangle the saints.

(2) The Lord is ever preparing a place of succor for His children. He is, Himself, our Covert from the storm of Satan's attacks. There is always a Divinely prepared way of escape for tempted believers. He will hide us in. the brightness of His countenance.

There are still Cities of Refuge especially built for us, and these are ever near.

III. THE FAITH OF RAHAB (Joshua 2:9-10 )

1. Rahab's statement number one "We have heard." Rahab was anticipating New Testament truth. Here is a Scripture, "Faith cometh by hearing." What had Rahab heard? She had heard how the Lord had dried up the waters of the Red Sea for Israel to pass over before Pharaoh. She had heard what God had done unto Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites.

And, what have we heard? We have heard of all of the mighty miracles of God "in the days of old; of the Lord Jesus Christ, of His being mighty in word and deed. The grave could not hold Him. We have heard of the early Church her victories of faith; of the conquests of Christ through the ages and even in our own day.

2. Rahab's statement number two "I know that the Lord hath given you the land." Here Rahab spoke as though Israel's occupation of the land of Canaan was already an accomplished fact. The voice of faith speaks with assurance, "I know." It speaks with a present tense, giving substance of things not seen as yet. Faith says, "I have" as well as "I know." It even says, "I have" before it actually obtains.

It is written: "He that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord."

3. Rahab's statement number three For a moment let us get back of Rahab's faith and see if there was any "thus saith the Lord" for it. She said, "The Lord hath given you the land." Perhaps she did not know that when God had divided unto the nations their inheritance, He divided the lands according to the number of the Children of Israel. Perhaps she did not know that God had said to Abraham, "I will give unto thee, and to thy seed * * all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession." Nevertheless her faith was builded upon the more sure Word of "God's promise.

IV. RAHAB'S CONFESSION OF FAITH (Joshua 2:11 )

We now look at another phase of Rahab's faith her credo concerning Israel's God. It was a twofold confession.

1. "The Lord your God, He is God in Heaven above." The heavens in Rahab's day were as wonderful as they are in our day. Her God and our God is God in Heaven, and God of the heavens. "All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made."

We love that Scripture, "When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers."

He who considers the skies, whether with the naked eye, Or with the aid of a great telescope, is overawed with the bigness and grandeur of it all. Our little earth sinks into insignificance as we view its size as compared to millions of other spheres, so marvelously bigger. When we look at the "milky way" through the telescope and we behold untold myriads of planets whirling in their orbits, we cannot but worship God.

2. "The Lord your God, He is God * * in earth beneath." Rahab believed that the things under the sun were under the control and guidance of the God of Israel. Do we believe it? Do we believe that God setteth up and putteth down whomsoever He will?

The world and its governments are under the sway of Satan inasmuch as he is the god of this cosmos. However, back of him, and back of all the governors of the nations, is the Lord our God.

V. THE FEAR OF THE PEOPLE (Joshua 2:9 ; Joshua 2:11 )

1. Rahab said: "Your terror is fallen upon us." This expression was exactly what the two spies were glad to hear. Half of the battle was won before the first step of the march had been taken.

In Revelation 6:1-17 we discover that, prior to the Lord's advent, the nations of the earth will be filled with fear, when they see the face of Him that sitteth upon the Throne and when they realize that the great day of His wrath is come. The kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bond man, and every free man, will hide themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains for the fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty when He arises to shake terribly the earth.

2. Rahab said: "All the inhabitants of the land faint because of you." It has been said, "Satan trembles when he sees, the weakest saint upon his knees." It seems that men and the devil are cowards when God unsheaths His Sword. Even saints cause the devil to flee when they resist him. The ungodly will flee when no man pursueth.

3. Rahab said: "Our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man." There is a vast difference between faith and fear. Those who have faith wax valiant in the fight. They subdue kingdoms, stop the mouths of lions, quench the violence of fire, and out of weakness are made strong.

Those who believe go to their death in faith.

Those who believe not, rush shrieking to their doom. Their fear knows no bounds, their despair no limit. "To whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever."

VI. THE PLEADINGS OF FAITH FOR PROTECTION (Joshua 2:12-14 )

Rahab now demonstrates her faith in her pleadings for protection.

When the unsaved come to the Lord seeking salvation they acknowledge themselves lost and under condemnation by the very fact of their coming to the Saviour. They acknowledge that the Blood of Christ is a sufficient basis for redemption, by accepting its cleansing power.

Let us examine the basis on which Rahab placed her plea for pity.

1. She plead for kindness, because of her kindness. "Since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father's house."

2. She plead life, for life. "That ye will * * deliver our lives from death." "And the men answered, Our life for yours."

Some one will immediately say that Rahab was seeking salvation on the basis of her own worth and work. The truth is that Rahab was in the realm of rewards, pleading that the God of all the earth would do right. This is preeminently proper. Even the wicked, when they stand before the great white throne, will be rewarded according to the things written in the books.

God does recognize the righteous acts of both the godly and ungodly. However, He never reckons them in the realm of redemption. God could save Rahab's physical life, because she saved the spies. He could give life for life and kindness for kindness. He not only could, but He did. All of this, however, had nothing to do with the fact that Rahab was a lost sinner in need of the Blood. Let no one among the unsaved imagine that they can buy eternal life with the paltry works of their own hands.

VII. THE TRUE TOKEN (Joshua 2:12 , l.c.; 2:18)

We now come to that which was indeed a true token to Rahab, and which is a true token to us in the realm of eternal redemption.

1. The scarlet cord. In that scarlet cord God saw the Cross.

If we are going to speak of the physical redemption of Rahab and of her household, we may rightly plead her hiding the spies. If we are going to talk of her eternal redemption, which we believe was fully established afterward, we are going to plead that apart from the Blood there is no remission. We must remember that Rahab, the harlot, became Rahab the mother of Boaz, who was the father of Jesse, who was the father of David. Rahab, therefore, was in the lineage from Adam to Christ.

The thing, therefore, that the scarlet cord pleaded, was the fact that through the Blood of Christ the sinner may be washed and made as white as snow. "Though your sins be as scarlet"; through the scarlet Blood of Christ, they may be made as white as snow.

2. The basis of safety. In the 18th verse we read: "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."

According to all of the above, the safety of Rahab and her people depended on their being housed behind the scarlet cord.

The sinner does not plead merely the Blood of Christ as his salvation. His plea is the fact that he has received the atonement.

AN ILLUSTRATION

Israel learned that God will provide. "There is an interesting and very helpful story told in connection with the painting known as 'The Angel Uriel,' the work of one of our really great American artists, Washington Alston. He had asked what seemed to be a modest price for his production but had failed to find a buyer. Like many another great painter till his worth was really known, Alston had been reduced to very straightened circumstances and his family was really in want. He was a Christian painter and believed in seeking help from God 'in the day of trouble,' and thus carried his distressing situation to God in prayer. It is said that while he was yet on his knees a man came knocking at the door and inquired as to the price of the somewhat celebrated painting, for it had received one of the prizes at the Royal Academy.

"'Has it been sold?' inquired the stranger.

"Receiving a negative answer the man asked Alston how much he wanted for the picture.

"'I have already fixed the price quite too low, and yet have not been able to dispose of it. What is it worth to you?' was the answer.

"'How about two thousand dollars?' asked the stranger, "'Why,' said Alston, 'that is even more than I asked.'

"But the gentleman, who afterwards became one of the painter's best patrons, paid the two thousand dollars. The artist, whose fame soon after spread around the world, testified in later years that the encouragement which came to him in the sale of 'The Angel Uriel' had more than anything else to do with starting him on the way in his brilliant career.

"Oh, my brother, is it not true that if you have had any worthwhile Christian experience at all it has proven to you that ours is a prayer-hearing and a prayer-answering God? 'Call upon Me in the day of trouble,' He says, and 'I will deliver thee.' Is it too much to believe that God knew the needy artist was going to pray and had his benefactor on the way before the painter was on his knees?" Unknown.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Joshua 2:4". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lwc/joshua-2.html.

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Tuesday, December 1st, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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