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ROUTE 66

6 Joshua: Break Free by Faith

October 8, 2017

 

Let’s begin today with a question:

  • Does faith make a real difference in your life?
  • Is your life any different, any better, any more blessed because you are a person of faith?
  • Because you trust in God, because you believe His Word, does that make things occur in your life that wouldn’t happen if you did not believe?

We all hope the answer is yes.  Maybe you are absolutely assured that faith makes a difference.  Or maybe you’re not yet sure.

Today we arrive at Stop 6 on our Journey down Route 66 through all the books of the Old and New Testament.

 

6 - Joshua / Conquest

Author: Joshua          Date: 1405-1380 B.C.

Significant Events: God's Charge to Joshua, Rahab and the Spies, Miraculous Crossing of the Jordan River, Walls Fall Down in Battle of Jericho, Sin of Achan, Deception by the Gibeonites, Conquering Canaan, Division of the Land, Covenant Renewal, Joshua's Death.

Key Verse: “Choose this day whom you will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." – Joshua 24:15

 

The events of the book of Joshua occur around 1400 B.C. after Moses has died and his first lieutenant Joshua has assumed leadership over the people of Israel just as they are about to move into Canaan, their Promised Land, after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.

All the population of Israel is camped on the east side of the Jordan River, and just beyond is the walled city of Jericho, which provides protection and security for that region of Canaan. 

Joshua and the people know that God has told them to cross over the Jordan River and to defeat Jericho and then to move throughout Canaan and settle there.

If you were raised in the church as a child, this is probably one of the great accounts you were taught – how God had Joshua and Israel’s army march around the walls of Jericho silently for six days, and then on the seventh day they marched around the city seven times, and then they gave a mighty shout and the walls came tumbling down. 

God miraculously provided for Israel to defeat Jericho, and He continued to grant them favor as they faced off against all the great powers and kingdoms of that region.  And the Scriptures say that God did this because the Canaanites had greatly sinned against Him and had refused to repent.

They worshiped many false gods.  They practiced child sacrifice.  They were cruel in warring with one another.  And they sanctioned all sorts of immorality.

And God always ultimately punishes those who will not respond to Him.  It was true of the Canaanites, it was true for the Egyptians, and we have seen in these first books of history that tell the story of Israel that God also disciplines even those people who are called by His name when they do not follow His will and His Word. 

This is a spiritual principle that is still in effect today – You Reap What You Sow.  Ultimately people do, and nations do.

So the book of Joshua is a story of Conquest.  Some might say a book of Judgment.  But it is also a record of God’s grace.  And how God stands ready to save and to bless any who will respond to Him in faith.

Before the people of Israel marched around Jericho, Joshua sent two men into the city secretly to see where its strength and defenses lie.  These two spies made their way beyond the walls and began to investigate.  But apparently they weren’t great spies, because soon their presence was noticed and the king of the city was notified.

The two spies took refuge in the home of a woman named Rahab, who operated a kind of inn there along the city wall and offered all kinds of “services” to those who stayed there.  When the king’s soldiers came to look for the Israelite spies, Rahab hid them on her roof underneath stalks of flax that were drying there. 

 

Let’s jump into the story now in chapter two, verse 8:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now this really is an amazing story.  It’s a story of intrigue and betrayal and redemption and it shows how through all the mess of life, God is at work for the good of those who will trust in Him.

Rahab is really remarkable.  Because there were some barriers and challenges for her to have the faith in God that she comes to express here.

She was a Canaanite.  Her upbringing did not teach her to believe in One Supreme God.  She herself lived an immoral lifestyle.  The Scriptures clearly say that she was a prostitute.  And she took a huge personal risk to conceal the whereabouts of the Israelite spies and to believe that they would actually care enough about her to save her family.

It may be hard for us to identify with Rahab culturally.  But I think we can understand that it can always be difficult to live with faith in God.  Even today there are barriers and challenges to living out your faith everyday.

It’s hard to trust God and act in faith when you don’t know what it’s going to cost you.  Or you don’t know how it’s going to turn out.  Or you don’t know if others are going to support you.  Or you’re just insecure about your own knowledge and insight and ability to stay the course.

 

I imagine Rahab had all of those challenges.  But ultimately she chose to put everything she had on God.

Why did she do that?  Why did Rahab act with faith in God when it would have been easier not to?

I think maybe she felt desperate.  Maybe she wasn’t satisfied with her own life and now there was an invading army right on the doorstep.  Things looked dire.  But beyond that, I think she analyzed everything and had clarity about the truth.  She knew what life was like in her setting.  And she knew what God had been doing for the Israelites.  So ultimately she chose the promise of God over her status quo.

That’s what Faith Does.

Here’s the reality about faith.  This is all Scriptural truth.

  • Faith is trusting God’s Character, His Word and His Leadership. (Psalm 33:4; Psalm 84:11; Proverbs 3:5)
  • Faith is lived out or it isn’t faith.  (James 2:14-26)
  • Faith opens the door to God and His goodness.  (Psalm 84:12; Hebrews 11:6)

All this gets brought to life in Rahab’s story.  She and the spies make a plan.  She will hang a red scarlet cord out her window when the city is under attack.  And when the Israelite soldiers see this sign, they will spare her home and all those inside. 

Of course, that scarlet colored rope recalled the blood of the lamb that the Israelite children had brushed on their doorframes as the death angel passed over Egypt the night that Pharaoh would finally relent and let God’s people go on the journey that had led them to Canaan. 

And the red cord spilling from the window would also foreshadow the crimson red blood of Christ that fell from His body when He gave His life as a ransom on the cross to pay for your sin so that by faith in Him you might come to God and find all the blessing that is yours in His eternal family.

 

Let’s check back into the story after the walls fell down:

 

 

 

 

 

In the New Testament record, both the books of Hebrews and James hold up Rahab as an example for us to look to as we strive to understand and live out what it means to have faith in God.

And in Matthew, there’s also one more additional detail, and it’s amazingly significant.  When Rahab had asked for her family to be saved as the city of Jericho fell, she asked for the lives of her mother and father and her brothers and sisters.  But no husband, no children.  Knowing what we do about her lifestyle, it’s not hard to imagine why this was the case.

But imagine with me the morning after the fall of Jericho.  Rahab and her family have no home.  The smoke is rising from the destruction of their city.  All their old way of life is gone.  What lies before?  What will happen to them?  How will they rebuild their lives?

The Gospel of Matthew lets us know that Rahab and her family were brought into the Israelite nation.  She met a man and they were married.  His name was Salmon.  Later, they had a son.  His name was Boaz. 

Boaz married a woman named Ruth, and we’ll cover that gracious story a little later on.  Boaz and Ruth had a son they named Obed.  Obed later had a son named Jesse. 

And Jesse had eight sons, the youngest of them was named David.  Who became King David during the Golden Age of Israel. 

And ultimately from that same line came Jesus, conceived by the Holy Spirit, the son of Joseph and Mary – our Savior and Lord.

Does it make any difference to your life when you live by faith?

This is what I want us to take away from this account.

God is always working for your good.  And His plan reaches farther than you can ever imagine.  He has more blessing planned for you in this life and in eternity than you and I can fathom.

How do you realize that blessing?

Trust God’s Heart. 

Believe His Word. 

And Live by Faith.

Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 9 and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 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 Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.

11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

12 “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them — and that you will save us from death.” – Joshua 2:8-13

23 So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother, her brothers and sisters and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel . . . 25 Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho — and she lives among the Israelites to this day.” – Joshua 6:22-25

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