Revive Our Hearts Podcast

An Unconventional Battle Plan

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss says that the story of an Old Testament prostitute gives us a lot of hope.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We live in a world that has declared war on God. This fallen world is under His judgment, and one day it is going to be utterly destroyed. But 2,000 years ago, God sent Jesus to visit our sinful, fallen world, and He sought us out—even as those spies found that woman, Rahab the prostitute. He sought us out to let us know how we could escape the coming destruction.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, February 27.

Our current series, Rahab and the Thread of Redemption, has been so refreshing. If God chose the prostitute Rahab and was willing to offer her a chance for salvation, He can do the same for you.

If you’ve missed any of the series, you can hear past broadcasts at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now, Nancy’s here to tell us more of the story.

Nancy: As we come to the end of Joshua chapter 2, we’re picking up in the story of Rahab. She has just appealed for mercy to the two spies who represent the God of Israel and has said, “I know God is giving this country into your hands, and when judgment comes, would you spare me, and would you spare my family?”

They have told her, “Yes, we will. We give you that promise. We make you an oath that we will spare you, but you have to put the scarlet cord, this cord, you have to hang it from your window on the outside wall so that we can see it from outside the city, and when we see that cord, we will spare your family” (see vv. 1-21).

Then, verse 22, we’re looking at the last paragraph of Joshua 2 It says:

The two men departed and went into the hills and remained there three days until the pursuers returned, and the pursuers [sent from the king of Jericho to try and track down these spies] searched all along the way and found nothing. Then the two men returned. [They went to the camp where the Israelites were on the east side of Jordan.] They came down from the hills and passed over and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and they told him all that had happened to them.

Amazing. This was not a story I’m sure they were expecting to bring back. “We met one woman in this town, and she’s a believer. God has put faith in her heart.” They tell the story, and they said to Joshua, verse 24, “Truly the Lord has given all the land into our hands. And also all the inhabitants of the land melt away because of us.”

How do they know that? Because Rahab had told them, “People in this place are terrified of you because they’ve seen what God has done.”

Now, back in Jericho, what is Rahab doing? Well, we’re not told, but we know two things.

First of all, we know that she is telling her family, because by the time the Israelites come to take over Jericho, her whole family is with her in her house. She talked about mother and father and sisters and brothers and all that belong to them. So presumably, there were some nieces and nephews, cousins, who knows how many, but it sounds like quite a few of them.

She has gone out, I’m assuming they didn’t all live with her. She has gone out and found them and told them this story. She told them they have to come into this house. “Believe it or not, you’ve got to believe me if you want your life to be spared.”

We don’t know if she had a hard time convincing them; we don’t know how long it took, but we know that they were persuaded to join her.

And then the second thing she’s doing is waiting. She tells her family, and then she sits in her house with the red, the scarlet red cord hanging outside the window, and she waits.

She has no idea how long she will have to wait. She has no idea what is going on across the river where the Israelite camp is, where the two men have gone back to talk to Joshua. All she knows is that she has to wait, in faith, with her family there in her house. They don’t dare leave the house because the two spies had said, “If we come back, and you’re outside your house, the deal’s off; the oath is not binding.” So she had to be ready when the Israelite army surrounded Jericho, whenever that would be.

Now usually when we sing about the song of the battle of Jericho as children, as we tell the story, we tell the story from Joshua’s perspective, from the perspective of the Children of Israel. But I want us today to think about it from Rahab’s perspective. We’re going to have to supply a little imagination here because Scripture doesn’t tell us what she was thinking, but let’s try and live this story in her sandals.

Turn, if you will, to where the story picks up in Joshua chapter 6. Joshua chapter 6, verse 1, tells us,

Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out and none came in.

So Jericho is in a state of siege, and the enemy hasn’t even appeared yet. But they are terrified, again, because of the reports they have heard of what God has done in the past. Tensions are high. Fear is running rampant. Jericho is extremely well fortified. We’ve seen that. We’ve heard about these extremely powerful, tall, wide walls, a double set of walls that are erected all the way around the city. The city was built to withstand invaders. It’s built up on a hill. There’s no way, humanly speaking, that an ordinary army can scale this embankment and get over these walls. It was built to be secure.

Archaeologists tell us that Jericho was probably the oldest city in the world, and it had withstood a lot, and they had expected it to withstand a lot more. But now they are trembling in fear. No one dares go in or out of the city.

The inhabitants of Jericho can’t imagine how the Jews could scale the walls, but they’ve heard those stories of what has happened in the past.

Now, finally, one morning, we don’t know if it was several days. It was at least several days, perhaps up to a week or two later. Early in the morning, Rahab hears a noise. She hears trumpets blaring. Now, when we think trumpets, you may think of the New York Philharmonic or the Boston Pops or something like that. These were rams’ horns.

I googled the other night for the sound of rams’ horns. I just wanted to hear what they sounded like—the shofar, you’ve probably heard that. It’s rather a raucous instrument, and it wasn’t just one of them. It was seven of those trumpets, those rams’ horns playing, making quite a racket.

So I just imagine Rahab calling her family, “Come here. Come see what’s going on,” and going to the window. Remember, her house was built on the outer wall, and she could look through her window and see to the outside of the city. And she sees the Israelite army, the ones they’ve been waiting for. They’re approaching, and they’re marching around the base of the stone retaining wall outside the city, some forty feet beneath her window. So this is like watching a parade from the fourth floor, or fourth story of a building.

First in the procession, as they come nearer, she sees these armed guards. Then there are seven men in look-alike outfits. They are priests who are playing these trumpets, these rams’ horns. Then there are behind them four men who are carrying a box on poles on their shoulders. We know that, of course, to be the Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of the presence of God. Then there’s a rear guard behind them.

As this procession makes its way around the wall, she sees that the soldiers aren’t touching their weapons. They’re not, the only thing that’s raised are these trumpets, and they’re not saying a word. They’re absolutely silent.

Now I imagine she’s wondering, as we would have been, “How is the God of Israel going to take over this walled city?” Don’t you think maybe the people in that procession were wondering, too? They’re seeing those high stoned walls, and they’re thinking, “How is God going to get us over this? How is He going to protect His people? How is He going to protect her and her family?”

Now, think about this. The people of Jericho defend themselves on each of these first six days as the Israelite army marched around the base of the wall. Why didn’t the people of Jericho defend themselves by throwing rocks or spears or something at the Jewish army? Well, humanly speaking, there is no explanation for that. What we do know is that God was defending His people, and God somehow rendered the enemy powerless.

Now the city of Jericho, in that day, covered a space of about nine acres. So it wasn’t a huge area. There were probably twelve hundred people, as estimated, who lived in that city, were citizens of that city. Plus, it’s estimated that there may have been a few thousand others who had come from other parts of Canaan, scared of the Israelite army, and may have come into the city at that time. It probably took the Israelite army about thirty minutes to walk around the outer walls of the city.

As they did, I can imagine that Rahab must have felt some mixed emotions. There had to be some sense of apprehension and sadness as she thought of what was going to happen to all the people that she knew and had grown up with. She knows they’re all going to die. They didn’t believe God. They rejected God’s light, but then she also had to have an inner sense of assurance and joy that she and her family, by God’s mercy, were going to be spared. They were going to be rescued. She was going to start a new life, though at this point she didn’t know how that was going to happen.

Then, much to her surprise, the army finishes marching around the wall in silence, and then, they leave. They head back to their camp, and I wonder if maybe she was disappointed or confused. “What’s this all about?” I can imagine the people in the town talking and trying to figure out what was going on. “What kind of battle plan is this?”

The next morning she’s awakened early in the morning with the same sound, these rams’ horns bleating, these trumpets. And then it is the same thing the third and the fourth day. They march around the wall. There’s no talking, no weapons raised, just the trumpets, and then they leave. Fifth day, sixth day, and each day she’s watching from her window at the top of the city wall and thinking, “What in the world is going on?” You wonder if she was ever tempted to doubt. We don’t know. We just know God preserves the hearts of those who believe in Him.

All she had to rely on was the word of those two men who had stayed in her home. They had said that God was going to give them the land, and they had promised to return. They had promised to spare her life and that of her family.

We live in a world that has declared war on God. This fallen world is under His judgment, and one day it is going to be utterly destroyed. But 2,000 years ago, God sent Jesus to visit our sinful, fallen world, and He sought us out, even as those spies found that woman, Rahab the prostitute. He sought us out to let us know how we could escape the coming destruction.

He took on our judgment, as He died on the cross (that scarlet cord we’ve been talking about), and told us that we must believe in Him as our refuge in order to be spared from the judgment to come. Then He left, just as those spies left Rahab’s house and Jericho. But He made an oath before He left, as those spies had to Rahab, that one day He would return. He didn’t tell us how long it would be or when He would come back. He just told us He would come back.

  • As we wait for that day, sometimes it looks like nothing’s happening, like God’s troops are not doing anything about the evil in this world.
  • Some days we may be tempted to wonder if all of this is going to happen. It seems so long to wait, and so few people around us believe what He said.

So what do we base our faith on? We base it on the promises that He made before He left.

Then we read in Joshua chapter 6, beginning in verse 15,

On the seventh day they rose early [the Israelite army], at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner [this time not just once around the city, but] seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times.

At the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, "Shout, for the Lord has given you the city. And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent." (vv. 15-17)

So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city. (vv. 15-17, 20)

Now you have in that just an inkling, a foreshadowing, of the judgment that is coming to this sinful world some day, and then you have the miracle of those walls falling down.

Now I’ve thought over the years about the miracle of the walls falling down, but what struck me as I was studying the passage in this past week was the miracle of Rahab’s part of the wall not falling down—the fact that it stayed up. What a picture that is of the miracle of redemption. Hebrews 7 tells us, “He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him” (v. 25).

Then verse 21 tells us,

They devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword. But to the two men who had spied out the land, Joshua said, "Go into the prostitute’s house and bring out from there the woman and all who belong to her, as you swore to her." So the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. And they brought all her relatives and put them outside the camp of Israel (vv. 21-23).

She had to be put outside the camp, temporarily, because she was ceremonial unclean from the defilement of having lived this idolatrous, immoral lifestyle. She had to be cleansed. But as we’re going to see, she didn’t stay outside the camp.

Verse 24,

They burned the city with fire and everything in it . . . But Rahab the prostitute and her father’s household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day [no longer outside the camp but in Israel], because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. (vv. 24-25)

Now, as we think about the destruction of the city, the destruction of these who had resisted God for so long, some might ask, “Why would God wipe them out?” Let me remind you that the people in Jericho had all heard the same stories about God’s mighty deeds that Rahab had, and every person in that city, except for Rahab and her family, chose to reject the light and the opportunity that God gave them to repent and believe.

Rahab, keep this in mind, was no less a sinner than anybody else in Jericho, but God gave her faith and spared her life in order to demonstrate that the inclination of God’s heart is to have mercy. God does not love to judge the wicked. God hates to judge the wicked. God has to judge the wicked, but the inclination of His heart is to show mercy towards sinners who will repent and believe.

So before God ever destroys the city and pours out His judgment on Canaan, God first shows mercy. And who does He show mercy to? To a prostitute. To a woman who does not deserve to have God’s mercy.

Now, Rahab did not deserve to live any more than the rest of the Canaanites because they had rejected the opportunity that God gave them to believe and be spared. So Rahab deserves to die as a Canaanite. God had said they’re under the curse; they’re under My judgment, but she deserved to die not just as a Canaanite, but as a human being who was born a sinner. As we’ve said in this series, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 3:23). Not just the sin of prostitution but the wages of your sin (whatever it is, whatever it is called), the wages of my sin, is death.

Now, I just want to make an appeal here to those who may have listened to Revive Our Hearts for a long period of time. You’ve heard the gospel. We have the Scripture; we have the cross which Rahab didn’t have. They looked forward to it; we can look back on it. There are some who are listening to the sound of my voice today who have heard the truth over and over and over again, but have never been willing to repent; to wave the white flag of surrender; to believe in Christ.

I know of some people who sit in church week after week in Bible-preaching churches, but they’re lost. They’re under God’s judgment, and I just want to say a warning to someone who may be listening to this program in that condition. Judgment is coming, and you will perish if you do not believe, as certainly as the people in Jericho perished.

We have spiritual advantages that Rahab never had. We have the Word of God that tells us, for example, in 2 Peter chapter 3, “The heavens and the earth that now exist are stored up for fire [just as Jericho was burned with fire]. They are being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly” (v. 7). In that passage, the Scripture tells us, “Some scoff at this, and they say, ‘I haven’t seen any judgment. When’s the judgment coming? I can keep going on with my life as it is’" (see v. 3).

Peter says in verse 8,

Don’t overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord, one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise. [What is the promise? It’s a promise of judgment. He’s not slow] as some count slowness, but He is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” (vv. 8-10)

Remember back in the book of Genesis, when the flood destroyed the world, but Noah and his family ran to the ark. Where did they run that day? To the place God had told them to run. That’s where they found their refuge. That’s where they were safe. That’s why they did not perish.

We’ve talked about the Passover as the Children of Israel left Egypt and how the Angel of Death destroyed the firstborn son in every Egyptian home, but the Israelites ran to the refuge of their homes with the blood of the lamb spread on the doorposts and the lintel, and the Angel of Death saw that blood and passed over those homes. Those people ran to the blood, and they were saved.

The walls of Jericho fell.

Pictures of judgment are all through the Scripture, but where did Rahab and her family run? They ran to her house on the wall with the scarlet cord hanging out the window, and they found refuge.

  • Where are you going to find refuge on that day?
  • Will your heart’s home be left standing amid the rubble?

One commentator said that Joshua would be a savior for Rahab but a judge for the rest of Jericho. In the same way, Jesus is a savior for those who trust Him but a judge for those who reject Him.

The good news, the gospel, is that those who believe in Jesus Christ, our Scarlet Cord, will not perish. They will be saved. Where are you going to run? Are you trusting in your church attendance? in your good works? in your nice personality? in your religious background? I want to tell you that none of that will be a safe refuge on that day. Run to Jesus. Flee to Him. Find in Him the refuge that will allow you to be saved when others around you perish on that day.

Father, may You grant the gift of faith and repentance to the hearts of many listening today. And would You save those You have chosen and called? Thank You for the blood of Christ, and we run to Him and are safe. In His great name we pray it, amen.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing us how an action-packed rescue story about a group of soldiers and a prostitute leads us to consider the greatest story of all—the story of Christ dying on the cross, taking on our sin.

Today’s message is part of a series called, Rahab and the Thread of Redemption.

I’ve heard the story many times about the walls of Jericho tumbling down, but during this series, I’ve seen this story with new eyes, realizing how much it tells us about the gospel, freedom, and forgiveness.

Do you appreciate this kind of teaching? Do you want it to continue on the radio and online? Our listeners make the program possible. One group of listners have stepped up in a significant way. They are called our Ministry Partner Team. They've committed to pray consistently for this ministry. They give consistently, and they share the message with others.

Now, this team is very important, but it is made up of regular people like you. You could be part of the Ministry Partner Team. If you've listened to Revive Our Hearts for awhile and you see the value of what God's doing through it, maybe it's time to partner with it at a new level.

When you join the Ministry Partner Team, we'll stay in touch by sending you an issue of Nancy's devotional each month. The devotional is called, Daily Reflections. You can also attend one Revive Our Hearts conference each year. You could come to True Woman '12 in September. There are more benefits, too. You can find out all about it at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1-800-569-5959.

Maybe you’ve been listening to our current series, Rahab and the Thread of Redemption all week, thinking, “My sin isn’t as bad as Rahab’s; I’m not a prostitute.” Please listen tomorrow and find out why all of us need the grace of God. Please join us for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

 

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