Daily Update #238

Josh 2:1-14                             Psalm 23                                 John 8:1-11

Which side are you on?
 For once I’m going to turn down the opportunity of writing about our Shepherd King (Psalm 23) and reflect on Rahab the harlot!
Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. ‘Go, look over the land,’ he said, ‘especially Jericho.’ So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.
The king of Jericho was told, ‘Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.’ So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: ‘Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.’
But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, ‘Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.’ (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.
Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, ‘I know that the Lord has given this land to you 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 sank 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.’
14 ‘Our lives for your lives!’ the men assured her. ‘If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.’ If you have been reading the book ‘Gentle and Lowly’ by Dane Ortlund, or following Matt’s Lenten reflections on a Wednesday, you might have been overwhelmed by the truth that Jesus’ mercy extends infinitely beyond our sins. The book brings to light many mind-blowing insights into how generous our God is toward us. Today’s reading from the start of the book of Joshua, outlines how the Jews took possession of the promised land. It points to an example of how Jesus’ gentle and lowly characteristics are also seen in God the Father too.
The spies were sent undercover into Jericho, although God did not need any intelligence gathering for his plans. The action was to provide encouragement to the Jewish people on the eve of their invasion campaign. I wonder if one of the two spies was called Salmon?[1] It was probably a clever move hiding in a house of ‘ill repute’, as different men coming and going would have been quite common, so therefore less noticeable.
The encouragement today is how Rahab recognised God which resulted in turning her life around, and quite literally saving it too! She declared the truth of who the God of Israel really is (verse 11). Rahab clearly recognised which side she should be on in the forthcoming conflict. There is little detail of her life subsequent to the sacking of Jericho, although she is recorded as being the mother of Boaz (with the father being Salmon). Doesn’t that name ring a bell? Boaz married Ruth, who was also a Gentile who recognised the true God and became the great grandmother to King David. Follow the blood line down to Jesus in Luke 4 or Matthew 1.
Rahab’s acknowledgement of the true God and her actions was credited to her (see James 2:25).
So, if today you are feeling that your past is unworthy and have let God down, remember God’s infinite capacity for forgiveness when we repent and acknowledge our sins and shortcomings. The powerful forgiveness from our gentle and lowly saviour releases us to move forward with the joy and hope to do the work he has set before us.
Amen

Prayer
Dear Lord,
We choose you! We praise you for the sheer abundance of your provision to us. Despite our past and our failings, you have provided access to the heavenlies through the blood of your dear son Jesus. Help us to declare, .like Rahab, that you are the God of heaven above and the earth below, Hallelujah!

Amen


[1] “The name’s Ben-Nashon, Salmon Ben-Nashon”, spy Number 001

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