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December 18, 2021 12:01 am
The ninth commandment clearly states, "You shall not bear false witness." Rahab seems to have broken this commandment, so why does the Bible commend her? Today, R.C. Sproul addresses this challenging passage in the book of Joshua.
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Joshua chapter 2 we read about Rahab the harlot she was a traitor to her own country, and she was a liar of the highest magnitude in the circumstances.
How can a person like that be deemed an archetypal representative of a godly woman who looked alive 10 Commandments_the provisions of the book of Revelation says that all liars will have their part in the lake of fire. So how are we to view Rahab who lied and hid the spies. What is the Bible commander. Let's find out there's Dr. RC Sproul from the series. Hard sayings of the Bible continue now with our study of some of the hard sayings of the Bible. Today I want to turn our attention to the book of Joshua where we meet a very strange person who does some very strange things for which she is remembered in the annals of church history, but one of the most remarkable thing she does is that she tells a lie that is quite effective.
I'm referring of course to the harlot Rahab whose story is recounted for us in the second chapter of the book of Joshua and recall before we look at that that she gets to the Hall of Fame.
The rollcall of the heroes and heroines of the faith and found in the book of Hebrews and so it's significant that this person who tells this lie is elevated to such a rule of heroism in the New Testament we read in chapter 2 of the book of Joshua verse one. These words not Joshua the son of nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly saying go view the land, especially Jericho and only his comment before we get to Rahab and her lie about some of the background of this we notice that Joshua is now the general of the Lord's army. He is the successor to Moses and he is now instigating and initiating his campaign of conquest of the land of Canaan, the land that God had promised to the fathers and we realize that before chapter 2 begins God had already promised Joshua that God would give to Joshua every place where Joshua put his foot in so we might ask at the beginning why he would even bother to undergo this risky business of sending two of his elite soldiers as Navy SEALs or whatever they were, the Green Beret to go into this hostile territory at the risk of their lives.
When seem to be unnecessary, because God had already decreed that Joshua would be triumphant. I think we have to understand the principle here that we find throughout Scripture that even though God has decreed certain things to come the past and we know that his will will be fulfilled even in the life of the church. We know that he will gather his people from the four corners of the world but we are still given the responsibility to be doing the diligent things that God uses to bring that the past were still called to preach the gospel, and so on.
We could just rest bags of God all your people to be redeemed anyway so I must sleep in the more that is a posture of disobedience towards the Lord God. Even though Joshua is given the promise by God of victory. He still is required to act as a diligent commander-in-chief, and so part of that is to assess the strength of the enemy stronghold that he is going to be moving against something significant, however, that when Joshua selects spies to spy out this hostile environment. It only selects to remember earlier when spies had been sent into Canaan. There were many more than two and they came back with all this pessimistic information. The lands filled with giants. How are we going to be able to ever conquer them where there were two faithful spies that return and said it's a land flowing with milk and honey.
Their eyes were on the Giants or on the strength of the enemy, but on the promise of God and the opportunities were there while course. Remember that those two faithful spies who were then granted the privilege of entering the promised land, were Caleb and Joshua, himself, so I think Joshua eliminated this business a talk to men they knew were like him to faithful spies and he said that's all we need are two and you guys go and spy out this land and give us an intelligence report and so we read that they went and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodge there now course about unsafe why they went to Rahab's house. We know this about Rahab's house, that her house was part of the wall of the city of Jericho, so it was a marvelous place to provide them with a vantage point to see what was going on in the whole city. Second of all, if there is any place in an ancient city like this were foreigners would not be unobtrusive or stand out by their presence. It would be in the house of a prostitute as prostitutes then and now have a tendency to cater to those in commercial centers. Tradesmen that are in and out of town in ports of call were sailors are disembarking from ships and so on, so that where prostitution abounds. There is also a certain anonymity that people prefer to have to be engaged with such practices, and so from a strategic military operation of being concealed as the spies would want to be. This would be a good location. There's no reason to assume that the spies were themselves lecherous men looking for an occasion to be with a prostitute. In any case were speculating at this point as to why they went there. I'm only saying there are possible good reasons for their going to the place of harlot, and that is not necessarily bad behavior on their part. We read in verse two and it was told the king of Jericho, saying, behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country know if the strategic reason for their visiting the house of Rahab was to help conceal them and to keep their cover, and obviously didn't work for Christ very quickly the word God to the king of Jericho that these strangers who were identified as Israelites were present in the city. The keep in mind that the army of Israel was camped 14 miles away and it was a huge throng of fierce warriors that was camped out there and I can guarantee you, without any real need for speculation that the king of Jericho already knew the whereabouts of the army of Israel because that kind of thing was communicated very rapidly in the ancient world and you don't hide a whole army but is that close to the walled city so the king of Jericho. We read in verse three center Rahab saying bring out the men who have come to you who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country, then the woman took the two men and hidden them, so she said yes.
The men came to me, but I did not know where they were from and it happened as the gate was being shot. When it was dark, the men went out where the men went. I do not know pursue them quickly for you may overtake them. Parentheses verse six, but she had brought them up to the roof, and hidden them with the stalks of flax which he had laid in order on the roof than the men pursue them by the road to the Jordan to the Fords, and as soon as those who pursue them had gone out they shut the gate of this woman is a Canaanite her allegiance supposed to be to the king of Jericho. The first thing Rahab is guilty of his civil disobedience. She disobeys parking. The second thing she's guilty of is telling a manifest falsehood to the representatives of the king. Listen again to what she said yes. The men came to me. So far so good.
She's telling the truth. But I did not know where they were from.
That's a lot and it happened as the gate was being shot.
When it was dark at the men went out. That's another lie where the men went.
I do not know. That's another lie. Pursue them quickly for you may overtake them. That's not a lie is just intentionally fraudulent advice, so we know that this woman lied. Now how is it possible that somebody who is apparently so bankrupt Morley that she was involved in the practice of prostitution that she was involved in civil disobedience.
She was a traitor to her own country, and she was a liar of the highest magnitude in the circumstances.
How can a person like that be deemed an archetypal representative of a godly woman that's our hard saying for today. How are we going to make sense out of this kind of behavior and the kind of exultation that the Scriptures give to her as a great heroin of faith well before I try to answer that directly let me continue with the narrative to the section of the text that I call the sermon on the roof in verse eight now before they 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 that the terror review has fallen on us and that all the inhabitants of the land or fainthearted. Because if you, for 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 the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan sound and a dog who utterly destroy, and as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted.
Neither did the remain anymore courage and anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above and on earth beneath now.
Therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the Lord since I've shown you kindness that you also will show kindness to my father's house and give me a true token and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters and all that they have and deliver our lives from death, and so the men answered her our lives for yours. If none of you tell this business of ours, and it shall be when the Lord has given us the land that we will deal kindly and truly with you.
Then she let them down by rope through the window for her house was on the city wall. She dwelt on the wall and she said get to the mountain unless the pursuers made you hide there three days until the pursuers of return. Afterward you may go your way. So the man said her we will be blameless of the size of yours which you have made us swear unless we count of the land you bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down and unless you bring your father, your mother, your brothers and all your father's household to your own home, so shall it be that whoever goes outside the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we will be guiltless whoever is with you in the house, his blood shall be in our head if the hand is laid on him. And if you tell this business of ours and we will be free from your oath which you made a swear and she said according to your words.
So be it. And she sent them away and they departed and she bound the scarlet cord in the window in a sense, the plot thickens because now it seems like as in her sermon on the roof that she is letting the cat out of the bag that the reason why she's helping these men and concealing them is because she is terrified of the wrath of the Jewish army that is encamped 14 miles away. She said we heard about the savage exploits of your army.
All of us had our hearts melt when we understood that we were next on your list and so I'm doing this kindness to you to hide you so that you will protect me and my family from the onslaught that's inevitable that's going to come with this invasion and siege of Jericho. So now it seems that the motive for her involvement in trying to help the spies of Israel is purely self serving herself and for her family.
However, if we listen carefully to the words that she uses in this discourse she makes it clear that she believes in the God of Israel that she is a believer in the Lord and we don't know how that came to pass. It was probably of recent origin and we don't have to assume that she is continuing really involved in the practice of harlotry.
Perhaps this is a newly converted person we don't know that but what's significant that we might miss in passing over it is that the people in the ancient Middle East who had their gods, their national gods believed that their gods the gods of their nations like the God of the Philistines and the God of the Canaanites bail and so on were not the only gods that existed. They believed that there was also a God for the Philistines and the God for the Assyrians in a God for the babblings and all that and they were what we call Hanover theists believing that there was one God who reigns supreme over one ethnic group or one national territory, but we notice in Rahab's speech here that she acknowledges that the God of Israel is not merely a territorial or ethnic deity, but he is the God of heaven and earth that he is the creator that he is the most high God, so that she is giving a remarkable confession of faith in the essence of the doctrine of the Jewish believers and revealing her Jewish faith.
At that point though it also is remarkable here is how this woman takes charge of the whole situation here. These two elite soldiers come to her house and she has to mother them like a mother hen scoring them up to the roof.
Hide them under the stalks of flax tell and be quiet so take care of the representatives of the king of Jericho. She is done she sends the soldiers of Jericho on a wild goose chase.
While the fierce soldiers of Israel are trembling in fear underneath the stocks of flat on this woman's roof talk about men hiding behind a woman start here it is with a vengeance and so she is taking great risk for her own life to tell the lie, and to deceive the representatives of the king. Now, again, the ethical question we face is is her lie justified melt historians and theologians are in disagreement on that point. Some great theologians and church history have argued that Rahab is called a great saint in spite of her lie not because it but if she really believed in divine sovereignty if she really believed in the province of God.
She would've told the truth to these representatives of the king of Jericho and then trusted God to intervene and save spot. I don't agree with that position. I think that her lie was, not only morally acceptable. It was heroic and understand that we have to go to the broader ethical issue that the Scripture reveals with respect to the sanctity of truth, the reason why lying is wrong is because it violates God's righteousness, it violates the justice of God, but for centuries the moral theologians of the church have understood that at the heart of the concept of biblical justice is the principal, but justice requires that we give people what is their due. We reward those who have earned a reward and we punish those who have earned the punishment.
That's what justice is all about, and the principle that is used in understanding the circumstances is the principle that we are obliged always to tell the truth, to whom the truth is due. We are always to tell the truth when righteousness requires us to tell the truth when righteousness and justice require us to tell the truth, but we are not required to tell the truth to someone who has no right to it. And in this circumstance. Her duty is to protect these representatives of God from the wickedness of the king of Jericho and so her civil disobedience and her lie are both justified because she is obeying the mandates she has from God.
She is not to participate in the destruction of God's people in this circumstance, assist like people who hid Jews in their homes during World War II.
They were doing the ethical thing by concealing the truths from the wicked who were seeking to destroy them. The same sort of thing that the midwives did when they lied to Pharaoh about the destruction of the Jewish babies for which God pronounced his benediction on them so I conclude this by saying that Rahab was being courageous in her actions.
In the case of warfare to protect the godly from the unrighteous king of Jericho, one of the little sidelights of this narrative that we've looked at the day of Rahab the harlot is the pact that she entered into with the spies that she wanted to make sure that her family would be spared when the Jews came to attack the city and the spies said as part of the agreement that if you don't tell on us. If you hold your tongue and if you bring your family into this house you will be protected, but if some of them stay outside.
We won't be able to know who they are and their blood will not be in our hands if they get killed in the conflict. So you make sure that you have them in your house and we have to have some kind of sign that all of the troops of Israel will be able to recognize that this house is off-limits to destruction, and they told her to put a scarlet cord in the window as assigned to the Jewish army not to harm this house and we read that she let them out of the house on the wall with a rope and as soon as they left, and she again told them where to go and how hide and all the rest she had given the kind of gotten but no sooner did they leave she knew it would be days if not weeks, until the Army would come immediately. She obeyed the terms of the covenant that she made with the spies and put the scarlet cord in the window. How fitting the sign of her redemption was marked in red. How fitting that it was the same sort of side that was given to the doorpost of the homes of the Jewish people and the angel of death passed over because again the judgment of God Passover the household of Rahab, and they see the sign of God. When a clear picture of redemption and forgiveness. We just heard a message from Dr. RC Sproul series hard sayings of the Bible you're listening to Renewing Your Mind.
Today's message titled Rahab's life has helped us think through some of the difficult moral challenges.
We sometimes face in our own lives. This is one of those passages in the Bible. That's difficult to understand and RC knew the importance of addressing such issues head on. That's why he taught this series. It covers 15 difficult passages in Scripture and we would like for you to have each of these messages simply call us today with your gift of any amount or number is 800-435-4343 will be glad to send it your way, or you can make your request to give your gift online and Renewing Your Mind.org. Some of the other challenging passages that RC addresses in the series that concerned. For example, should women wear head coverings in church, do all of Paul's words have apostolic authority was the world created in six literal days and his holy war.
Okay RC addresses all of these questions in the series and let me give your phone number.
Once again, if you'd like to request the series hard sayings of the Bible. It's 800-435-4343 well before we go today have invited look at her teaching fellow Dr. Burk Parsons to join me here in the studio.
He is our chief publishing officer here at look at your ministries and the editor of table talk magazine Burk.
I know that you often address these commonly misunderstood passages as well, and I'd like to turn to one that we find in first Corinthians chapter 13 passage of course that we often hear or read at weddings about faith, hope and love and the apostle Paul concludes that passage by saying, but the greatest of these is love. How is that misunderstood what people look at that verse in this entire passage that what really matters is love and faith in God, faith in Christ is secondary.
It's not as important as love and love is really all you need. Love is really the answer and no hope is a good thing but it doesn't need to be a Christian hope it doesn't need to be a hope in the second coming of Christ. Ultimately, what matters is love and the way in which they define and explain that love is a love that essentially puts truth. Aside puts faith aside puts that the Christian hope, sort of in a secondary position because what really matters is just getting along, agreeing with everyone and being agreeable with everyone being tolerant of everything and everyone. And no matter what anyone does in just being loving and showing love and having love and then they dismiss really in time faith altogether because faith really isn't that important. So they think they're missing so much of what Paul is saying in first Corinthians 13 they're missing all that God has for us in this passage. One of the things that it's important to see in first Corinthians 13 is how Paul builds his case is not just explaining what love is, is not just explain what love isn't. He's not just talking about his own life and having grown up in become a man in his put away childish things he talks about love never failing.
He says that tongues will pass away that the prophecies will pass away, but love will never fail that the significance here of this is really eternal and that when we get to heaven. When we see the Lord Jesus Christ face-to-face will no longer need faith were no longer going to need hope because will see Jesus face-to-face will be there with him. So though no longer be a need for faith filled no longer be a need for help but love will always exist level always endure level always be a necessary and foundational component of who we are in the relationship that we have between we who are the bride of Christ and our groom. Thank you both. And that is so faith building and encouraging next week Dr. Strohl address. Perhaps the most difficult concept of all in the Old Testament since God is holy and loving. How could he possibly have commanded the Israelites to slaughter Canaanites. I hope you'll join us next Saturday for another message from hard sayings of the Bible