Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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When Mothers Intercede

Dannah Gresh: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says belief matters.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: What you believe about God determines whether you will make it in your battle against sin. It determines whether you will be willing to stand for God, not only when you are tempted, but when to stand for God means that you have to take risks in the culture.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, for Wednesday, August 5, 2020. I'm Dannah Gresh

Our emphasis in the month of August is “Fresh Starts.” We want to drive home this concept: Everyone can be rescued;meveryone can be reached; everyone can be redeemed . . . even me! Nancy's in a series about the surprising way God chooses people to draw to Himself and call for His purposes. It’s called “Rahab and the Thread of Redemption.”

Nancy: Well, we’re studying the life of an Old Testament saint who didn’t start out that way. Who of us does start out that way? We are born sinners and only the grace of God can make us saints.

I just think it’s a wonderful thing to look at the life of Rahab, who in both the Old and New Testaments is referred to as a prostitute, and to think of what God made out of this woman’s life by His grace. As we continue in this series, you’re going to see it’s just astounding. It is amazing grace—the way God found her, chose her, put faith in her heart, and brought her into the community of faith.

We’re still in the midst of the story as it’s unfolding. If you have your Bible, we’re reading in Joshua chapter 2.

You remember that the two spies from Israel had come into the land and had found her house on the city wall of Jericho and the king had heard that there were some spies who had come from Israel. He sent some men to her house and said turn over the spies. She sent the king’s men away, but she had hidden the two spies on the roof under some flax that was drying up there.

We pick up now in verse 8 of Joshua 2. I want to just re-read the passage we talked about yesterday because it leads us into what we want to talk about today.

Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt.”

That had probably taken place when Rahab was just a child because it had been forty years earlier, but she had heard it.

And [we have heard] what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.

So she has just made this incredible declaration, statement of faith. “I have heard and I believe. I don’t know much, but what I know I believe is true.”

Then picking up at verse 12, she says,

Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that, as I have dealt kindly with you . . .

How had she dealt kindly with them? She had dealt kindly with them by not turning them into the authorities, by hiding them, by protecting them, by sending those who were searching for them away. 

As I have dealt kindly with you [I’ve spared your life; I plead with you], you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.

And the men said to her, "Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the LORD gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you." Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall. (vv. 8–15)

Now let’s just unpack that last paragraph there. First of all, let me start by saying that for years biblical critics, those who were trying to debunk the Scripture, claimed that there was no evidence that the story of Jericho actually took place. One of the reasons they said was that there was no evidence that there were houses built into the city walls in that part of the world—until 1907.

Two German archaeologists excavated portions of the city of Jericho and their findings confirmed much of the biblical record that we have today. They confirmed that this was a city that was heavily fortified. We learned from those archeologists and some others since then that Jericho was built on a mount, a Tel it’s called in archaeological terms.

The city of Jericho was surrounded by a great embankment, a steep hill. At the base of that embankment there was a stone retaining wall that was about twelve to fifteen feet high at the base of the city. There’s this retaining wall. On top of that retaining wall there was a mud brick wall that was six feet thick and twenty to twenty-six feet tall on top of the retaining wall that was twelve to fifteen feet tall.

Then at the top of the embankment above the retaining wall and the mud brick wall there was another mud brick wall that at its base was about forty-six feet above the base of the outside retaining wall. So here is a city with double walls built on this embankment. Of course you can see that it was built this way to fortify it against intruders.

When these German archaeologists did their excavations in the early 1900s, they found these double walls and then they found a short segment of the lower city wall that was still standing. All the other walls had crumbled, but there was a short segment in the north part of the city that was still standing and had walls that were up to eight feet tall.

There were houses built on top of timbers that were spread between the two walls and these houses were built against the outer wall and some of them were still standing. They found this in these excavations. It’s possible that this is the exact spot where Rahab’s house was located.

So verse 16, Rahab says to these men,

Go into the hills, or the pursuers will encounter you, and hide there three days until the pursuers have returned. Then afterward you may go your way.

Now here’s a woman who, young in the faith, God gives her courage—courage to stand alone, courage to go against the flow of her culture, to go against the tide. She’s a counter-cultural woman. That’s what we’ve been asking God to do in women’s hearts through the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, to make us willing to have the courage to go against the flow of our culture.

It was a courageous thing she did because it was treasonous for her to hide these spies who were representing Israel that was going to come in and conquer Jericho. It occurs to me that the only way she had courage to stand against the tide of her culture was because of what she said to the spies: “I believe that your God is the God. He’s the God of heaven above and earth beneath.” As a result she was willing to risk her life for something that she had very little knowledge of.

Now we know so much more today. We have the whole Word of God. We have stories and accounts of God’s ways and works that Rahab never dreamed of having, things that hadn’t even happened yet that we have in our Scripture.

There are times when we have to face the culture and be willing to take risks to do what is right to defend God and His people if we really believe, as Rahab did, that God is sovereign over heaven and over earth. That will give us the courage to make these difficult choices for the sake of Christ and His kingdom.

Her courage was rooted in her view of God. I want to tell you, ladies, your view of God determines everything. What you believe about God determines:

  • whether you will make it in your battle against sin
  • whether you will be willing to stand for God—not only when you are tempted, but when to stand for God means that you have to take risks in the culture.

This woman, Rahab, knows that God is sovereign. She knows that God has given this land to the Israelites. She knows that she is under the sentence of death and is marked for destruction, as is everyone else in Jericho. She says, “I know that God has given the land into your hands.”

She knows that she deserves to die. There’s something in her conscience that tells her that. She knows that the city of Jericho is going to be taken over and she deserves to die, as does every other person who’s ever lived. The wages of sin is death.

I think that’s why the Scripture is clear to tell us that she was a woman who was a sinner. It emphasizes again and again that she was a prostitute. What’s the point of saying that? God wants us to remember that she was a sinner who deserved His judgment.

Now whether the name or word prostitute could be applied to you or not, the fact is we are all born sinners under the judgment of God. If God can save this woman and redeem her life from destruction, surely He can do that with your life or mine. God wants to use her as an example of His incredible grace.

So she says in verse 12, “Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house.” She knows Jericho is going to be wiped out. She knows God’s people are going to take over the land. She knows she deserves to die like everybody else in Jericho, but she’s pleading for mercy.

Don’t give me what I deserve but would you have mercy on me? Give me a sure sign [promise me] that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.

What is she doing? She’s begging to be spared from the wrath to come. She’s asking that these men who represent the God of Israel will allow her to live. She wants to find salvation within the Jewish covenant community.

She realizes that this will mean leaving her people. They’re all going to die. They’re all under judgment. She’s under judgment. She’s just asking to be spared. She’s asking for mercy. She realizes that in doing that she’s going to have to separated from the people that she’s grown up with all her life.

She’s going to have to become a part of the Jewish covenant community, and that’s what she wants. She realizes that is her only hope, to cast in her lot with the God of Israel and the people of that God.

So they’re like a lifeline to her, a life preserver. She feels that these men coming to her house are like throwing out a life preserver to a drowning man. She grabs it. She knows that apart from that life preserver, she is not going to live. So she begs for mercy. She asks for kindness to be shown to her family as she has shown kindness to these two men.

That word kindness or kindly is used two or three times in this passage. It’s related to the Hebrew word hesed. In the English transliteration, it would be spelled H-E-S-E-D. That’s a fabulous word in the Hebrew. It’s a word that is impossible to translate with one English word, but it’s one of the richest words in all of Scripture. It’s a word that speaks of loyal, steadfast love. Faithful love. It’s love that is based on a promise or a covenant.

When we speak of the hesed of God, sometimes in your English translations it’s translated His lovingkindness. That word alone doesn’t convey all the meaning. It speaks of God’s covenant-keeping, faithful love. The lovingkindness of God, the hesed of God, that finds you when you’re a sinner and rescues you and redeems you and brings you into His covenant community and will never, ever, ever let you go.

She’s appealing to receive that hesed, that mercy, that lovingkindness. She says, “I have dealt kindly with you. I have made a covenant with you not to turn you in. I’m going to keep my covenant. Now will you deal kindly with me?”

In his commentary on this passage, Matthew Henry says,

Those who truly believe the divine revelation concerning the ruin of sinners and the grant of the heavenly land to God’s Israel will give diligence to flee from the wrath to come and to lay hold of eternal life by joining themselves to God and His people.

That’s exactly what this woman did. She knew that wrath was coming and she said, “My only hope is to join myself to God and to His people. That’s what I want to do.” So she pleads for mercy.

Now of course she’s thinking of her own life. She wants to be spared from judgment. God has put faith in her heart and has given her the courage and the boldness to approach Jehovah God and to ask to be saved from destruction.

But notice she doesn’t ask just for herself. As she asks to be spared herself from judgment, in the same breath she’s concerned about her family. She asks not only that she would be delivered, but that they would be saved and preserved with her. She wants her family to be saved.

She had to tell them this news. After these men left, she was going to have to go find her family members, tell them what had happened and who knows? Did she have to plead with them to come into her house where they would be safe? We don’t know, but there’s a sense of urgency. She knew that they were in danger, too. She knew this was their only hope.

She didn't know how long they had until the threatened judgment was to come about. It probably didn't matter to her a whole lot as she appealed to them and pleaded with them what they thought about her. She wanted them to be saved. She knew judgment was coming, and she knew God had provided a means of escape. She knew if they did not come into her house, that all of her family would perish.

One evidence of genuine faith in our hearts is that God gives us a concern for others, a desire for them to be converted as well.

George Whitfield who was one of the great leaders of the First Great Awakening in this country, a great preacher, said,

As soon as I was converted, I wanted to be the means of the conversion of all I had ever known. There were a number of young men that I had played cards with that I had sinned with and transgressed with. The first thing I did was I went to their house to see what I could do for their salvation. Nor could I rest until I had the pleasure of seeing many of them brought to the Savior.

That’s the description of someone who has become a genuine believer. They’re concerned not only for themselves, but they’re concerned for their family and for others. We see the impact that Rahab has on her family. Somehow she is able to bring them to faith to the point where, as we’ll see as the story unfolds, she brings them into her house with her where they will be spared.

Charles Spurgeon—I’ve quoted him a number of times in this series—has three wonderful messages on the life of Rahab that he preached through the course of his lifetime. Three that we know of. In one of those messages he says, “Unless we desire others to taste the benefits we have enjoyed, we are either inhuman monsters or outrageous hypocrites.” Then he said, “I think the last is most likely.”

When we’ve tasted the benefits of God’s mercy and His grace, His hesed, His lovingkindness, His covenant-keeping love, would we not want others who are under the wrath of God as we once were to taste and experience those benefits as well?

I had a woman come up to me in church a few weeks ago. God’s done a great work of grace in her own heart, has redeemed her life from destruction and from some very strong, sinful bondages. She’s now growing in her faith and experiencing the hesed, the lovingkindness of God.

She came up to me and told me about a neighbor, someone who lives I think next door to her, a woman who is very religious, steeped in religion, but doesn’t know Christ, has not been born again and doesn’t know that she doesn’t have Christ.

My friend said, “I’m just so burdened.” She said, “I’ve been praying. I’ve been asking the Lord to show me how can I reach this woman? How can I help her to see the truth? What kind of study can we do together? She’s taking classes, religious instruction in her church, but she’s blind. She’s not seeing the truth. How can I show her the truth of God’s Word?” That’s the heart of a Rahab who has believed, has been redeemed, and now wants others to be redeemed with her.

We receive letters and emails from Revive Our Hearts listeners—moms who pour out their heart about their burden for their children, for their husbands, for their parents, for their friends. That’s the heart of a redeemed believer who wants others to be brought into faith. That burden for your children, that burden for your family to know Christ as you have come to know Him is an evidence that you are a child of God.

I ran into a dad recently, and we were catching up. He told me that his family had just come back from vacation. They had a great time together. He told me how they had gone putt-putting and watched movies together. This is a Christian family, a family that loves the Lord.

So I said to him, "When you were on vacation, did you have any conversation about spiritual things? Are you reading the Word to your children?"

He kind of groaned and said, "No. I want to read the Bible to my kids but it's hard. In the morning they have to get off to school. It's hard for me when I get home at night because I'm tired from work."

As I listened to him, I was thinking about the story of Rahab. I shared with him what we've been reading in this passage about the concern that Rahab had for her family—not that she would come to know that Lord, but that her family would come to know Him as well.

One of Charles Spurgeon's messages on Rahab was preached when he was just twenty-three years old, eight years after his conversion to Christ. He makes an application to his listeners and said,

Young woman, you have a father, and he hates the Savior. Oh, pray for him! Mother, you have a son. He scoffs at Christ. Cry out to God for him. My friends, we know little of what we owe to the prayers of our parents. I feel I shall never be able to sufficiently bless God for a praying mother. I thought it was a great nuisance to be had to have a time to pray and to cry as my mother used to make me cry. I would have laughed at the idea if anyone else had tried to talk to me about these things. But when she prayed and said, "Lord, save my son Charles" and then was overcome and could not get any further for crying, you could not help crying too.

Are you pleading with God for the spiritual lives, the hearts, the souls, the redemption of your family members? Now, you can’t save them. You can’t make them believe. But you can cry out to God as this woman cried out to those two spies and said please save their lives, too. Who is it in your immediate circle—family member, close friend—that needs the Savior? Have you given up praying?

A woman said to me the other day—she told me about a sister and brother-in-law. The brother-in-law is now dying of cancer, and she said this couple has been ardently, earnestly opposed to Christ for years and years—forever—and scoffing at the gospel. Now the husband is dying.

She says, “I used to pray for them so earnestly and then I finally gave up. I said there’s no way. They’re never going to believe.” She said, “A few years ago God convicted me to start praying again, to plead with God for their salvation.” Now, there’s still no evidence that their hearts have turned, and he’s dying. But she says, “I am clinging to the Lord. I am pleading with God daily, please bring them to faith.”

Lord, don’t just save me. Save my family, too. Show Your hesed, Your lovingkindness to those I love.

Dannah: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will be right back to pray for you and me that God will give us strength to battle in prayer for the next generation.

The series she’s in right now, on the life of Rahab, forms the foundation of a brand new Bible study from Revive Our Hearts. It’s the most recent one on the Women of the Bible. The title is Rahab: Tracing the Thread of Redemption.

And this month, as a thank you for your donation to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll send you a copy of the study on Rahab. You can donate by heading to ReviveOurHearts.com. You’ll find more information there about the study, and you can make your donation there, too. If you’d rather call, here’s the number: 1–800–569–5959. Ask about the study on Rahab when you get in touch with us.

Well, how do you know that your faith is genuine? Nancy will address that tomorrow. She’ll pray with us now.

Nancy: Lord, as I look around this room in the eyes of women I see tears and I know that many of them are thinking of someone they know and love who doesn’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Lord, I want to just join them in crying out to You and saying O Lord, would You have mercy on these that we love? Would you plant seeds of repentance and faith in their hearts? May they one day be able to say it was the tears, it was the prayers of my mother, my sister, my friend that wore me down, that brought me ultimately to faith in Jesus Christ.

Thank You, Lord, for Your incredible hesed, Your lovingkindness, Your covenant-keeping, faithful love. May we not only enjoy it for ourselves, but may we see You also bring it about in the lives of those we care for. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to draw attention to the amazing grace of God. It's an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

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About the Speaker

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

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