Welcome back to the fourth week of our study of Joshua. There has been a lot of great stuff covered so far, and we haven’t even gotten to the first conquest in the book. Today’s study will see how the two Israelites respond to Rehab’s request for them to keep her and her family safe, as well as how Joshua reacts to the news that the people of Jericho are terrified of the Israelites due to hearing what God has already done on their behalf.
15 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. 16 And she said[d] to them, “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.” 17 The men said to her, “We will be guiltless with respect to this oath of yours that you have made us swear. 18 Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household. 19 Then if anyone goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be guiltless. But if a hand is laid on anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. 20 But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless with respect to your oath that you have made us swear.” 21 And she said, “According to your words, so be it.” Then she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.
22 They departed and went into the hills and remained there three days until the pursuers returned, and the pursuers searched all along the way and found nothing. 23 Then the two men returned. 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. 24 And they said to Joshua, “Truly the Lord has given all the land into our hands. And also, all the inhabitants of the land melt away because of us.”
Verses 15-16: Rahab suggests that the men hide in the hills for three days before making the trek back to the Israelite camp. While the impulse might be to trust that God would protect them, after all he promised no men would be able to stand against Joshua, they make the wise decision to heed the sense of this plan. After all, it is easier to sneak past men who are no longer looking for you. Even though Joshua had commanded the Israelites to be ready to move within three days, the delay of the return of these spies would not be detrimental to the cause. Sometimes we read a promise from God, or pray to God, and look for the immediate answer to appear in our lives. However, we cannot control the circumstances. Perhaps the reason for a delayed answer is similar to the reason why the spies must wait three days: right now isn’t the most opportune time to make that happen in your life. Perhaps waiting a few weeks, months, or years might be when the best possible time arrives to fulfill that promise or prayer. And maybe our case is one similar to Abraham and others, where it may be a promise fulfilled for our future generations rather than ourselves. That does not mean we should stop trusting God or praying about this to Him. While we can see only a few threads in the pattern, God can see the entire quilt and how it all fits together in the end.
Verses 17-21: The Israelite spies promise to uphold their end of the bargain that Rahab desired. Yet it was not simply a promise to protect her and her family, but something that required both action and obedience on the part of Rahab and her family. If they did not follow through on the commands, then the Israelites would not be held accountable for what might happen to those who disobeyed. This makes sense, as they do not know who Rahab’s family members are and certainly could not pass around pictures to everyone in the Israelite army. This command has a striking parallel with the Passover that occurred in Egypt where the Israelites had to mark their doorframes with blood and remain inside in order to get passed over from the plague of the first born (See Exodus 11). Many times the same things are required of us by God. He may make a promise or give us a command and expect action and obedience on our end to see it fulfilled. Just because God has promised to give us something in our lives does not mean we should wait with passive faith that He will come through apart from anything we do. Sometimes it requires us to step out in faith and meet Him part of the way in order to have that blessing in our lives. Instead of testing God to see if he will make something happen, He might be testing you to see if your desire is strong enough to take the first steps without Him. And often times, when we look back, we’ll find He was right there with us even when we thought those first steps were taken alone. God will fulfill His promises. Can you be bold enough to move forward with enough trust that they will come true, even if you don’t see how it is possible?
Verses 22-24: The men follow through on Rahab’s suggested plan of action and arrive safely back with Joshua and the Israelite army. Imagine the boost in morale for both Joshua and the commanders of his army when they hear the report that God has truly given them the land and the people of Jericho will “melt away before them” (Joshua 2:24). Small steps of obedience in Joshua’s life have led to this moment. He has followed God faithfully, being one of two men allowed to leave the wilderness and enter the promised land (Caleb being the other) because of his choices and actions. In Chapter 1 God spoke to Joshua and promised him the conquest of these lands and the report from the spies is serving as confirmation that this promise is about to be upheld. This sets the stage for the next chapter’s events, which we’ll begin to see next week. In a pattern that is often repeated in this book, so long as Joshua and his men are obedient they will find that God is more than willing to fulfill His end of the arrangement. Do not hesitate to chase a dream or a passion because you aren’t sure if God is able to help you achieve it. You may just need to take the initiative and God will surprise you along the way.