Rahab Is Misunderstood (Josh. 2)

When the Israelite spies come to Jericho, they’re housed and protected by a prostitute (not sure why that’s relevant–seriously, there’s no context for it in Joshua) named Rahab. She promises to protect the spies in exchange for amnesty during the attack. The spies then return safely to Joshua and report that

24 They said to Joshua, “The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.” (Josh. 2:24)

After the “battle” of Jericho (which Greg recently reviewed) the Israelites hold to their oath and spare Rahab and her family. Thus, as the sermon goes, because of her willingness to recognize the power of God and submit to him, she escaped judgment (at least for the time being). A quick Google search reveals the popularity of Rahab’s story in sermons about redemption (she was a prostitute who chose the Lord after all) and the necessity of choosing salvation in light of life’s uncertainties.

At best, that message is a stretch.

If you actually take the time to read what Rahab said, it’s very clear that she was afraid for her life, not because this god can part seas (though she does mention it), but rather because his followers leave no survivors:

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[a] 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.[b] 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.” (Josh. 2:9-13)

So what’s the simpler answer: that God is giving the land to the Israelites, or that they are winning it through war? I suppose you could answer that both are correct, but that scenario is anything but right and just. An all powerful, loving, perfect God–if such a thing can exist–would not seek legitimacy through fear and murder.

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