A Parenthesis of Grace
Joshua 2:1-24
And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went…

Let us look at Rahab's faith, and meditate on a few of its phases.

I. Consider the HINDRANCES of her faith.

1. There were hindrances which arose from herself. She was the harlot Rahab. Her character was exceptionally evil. She belonged to a class than whom there are none more hardened, inaccessible, and hopeless. Moreover, she had found her calling profitable, and therefore, naturally speaking, would be the more firmly wedded to her evil ways. Moreover, Israel is coming to Jericho for the purpose of executing the Divine vengeance on the very evils of which she is guilty. The cry of the Canaanites has ascended to heaven; in long-suffering patience God has waited till now, but at last He has sent forth His hosts to consume them utterly. How much, then, was there, in herself, to keep Rahab from trust in Jehovah!

2. There were also hindrances to Rahab's faith arising from her natural friends. The example of all her neighbours would encourage her in a path of unbelief. Her faith would make her an oddity in Jericho.

3. There were hindrances to her faith arising from her natural enemies. Israel, the people of Jehovah, were arrayed against her and her people, and were even now marching onward to their destruction. The mission of Israel is not one of mercy, but of judgment. Their feet are not beautiful upon the mountains, bringing good tidings of peace. They bring no gospel to the Canaanites, but war, disaster, and death are in their invincible path. How black was the outlook for Rahab.

II. Consider THE OPPORTUNITY of her faith. Faith always finds, or rather God always gives to faith, an opportunity for its manifestation. As in the day of Sodom's doom, the Lord delayed till righteous Lot had escaped to Zoar, saying, "I cannot do anything till thou be come thither," so now, if there is a single soul in Jericho groping after Him in the darkness of vice and heathenism, He will delay the march of His destroying hosts, to give that soul the opportunity which it requires and for which it longs. He can do nothing in judgment till that one soul in the doomed city is brought into a place of safety. Thus this pause in the Divine and just act of judgment, this parenthesis of grace, this long-suffering of God, is salvation.

III. Consider THE OPERATION of her faith. Rahab showed her faith by her works. We cannot, and do not, defend the deliberate falsehood by which she misled her fellow citizens in search of the spies; but we must remember that her whole training from childhood had been in lies, and that this was a sudden emergency. She was no well-instructed saint, walking under the light of God's countenance, but a great sinner groping after Him. There is sufficient in her conduct to manifest a heart truly sincere and anxiously solicitous for the welfare of God's people, willing to risk her own life to save theirs.

IV. Turn now to THE CONFESSION of her faith. He that believes with the heart confesses with the mouth. All the believing add to their faith virtue, boldness in confessing the truth; all are witnesses. To the spies Rahab said, "I know that the Lord hath given you the land," &c. She does not say, "I think," "I suppose," "I fear," but "I know." She believes as firmly in the promises of God as any in Israel. And as she believes in the promises of God, so she believes in the God of the promises. How clear and unmistakable is her confession of the name of Jehovah; how high, and exalted, and spiritual; how wonderful, in the mouth of one trained from infancy to worship stocks and stones, trained to think that the power of the different deities was local and circumscribed: "The Lord your God, He is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath"!

V. Next let us ponder THE TRIAL of her faith. Faith is always tested, that it may be manifested as Divine. Had Rahab sought to add anything to the instructions of the spies, had she consulted her own ideas as to the best means of ensuring her safety, she would have manifested her folly, and would have miserably failed. So trust in any other means than those which God has provided, trust in anything but the blood of the Lamb, is a manifestation of folly and a sure cause of failure.

VI. Consider also THE SOLICITUDE of her faith. She was anxious not only about her own safety, but about that of those who were dear to her. She was not selfishly absorbed in looking after her own welfare, content if she herself escaped; but, with true affection, arranged for the rescue of her relatives. The work of Rahab, in bringing in others, is similar to that of every saved soul. After we ourselves are saved we are not to rest content; we are not to sit down in idleness and ease because all is well with us for ever. We are to bear on our hearts those who are still exposed to the Divine judgment; we are to be up and doing, instant in season and out of season, if by any means we may save some.

VII. Consider THE REWARD of her faith. When the dread day of Jericho's judgment came, what a joy must it have been to Rahab to know that all dear to her were safe. But who can tell the rapture of those who have saved a soul from eternal death, and covered a multitude of sins? Surely such a glorious reward, such a monument of everlasting renown, is worth labouring for, worth living for, worth dying for. Rut turning again to the ease before us, why did the multitudes in Jericho thus perish without pity? Was it because the cup of their iniquity was full? Yes, truly, for they had fearfully corrupted their ways. But, while many sins characterised the Canaanites, the Holy Ghost selects one sin as emphatically that which caused their destruction. Which sin? Unbelief. That which distinguished Rahab from the rest was not superior morality, higher intelligence, a more exemplary life, a better natural disposition, but faith in God. She believed; they believed not. Because she believed, she was saved; because they believed not, they perished. Even so, many sins may characterise you, and each one is like a millstone round your neck, fitted to drag you down to endless destruction, but your great, culminating, condemning sin is unbelief (Mark 16:16). But Rahab was not only rescued from the judgment of Jericho, she was also received into the number of God's people. Even so the sinner who believes in Jesus is not only saved from wrath to come, but is received into the Church, the house of the living God, there to be instructed more fully in the ways of God; there to learn all the lessons that the grace of God can teach; to deny ungodliness and worldly lust; to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

(A. B. Mackay.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there.

WEB: Joshua the son of Nun secretly sent two men out of Shittim as spies, saying, "Go, view the land, including Jericho." They went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab, and slept there.

A Mixed Character
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