OT 38 RAHAB AND THE SPIES
Acts 16:31, ESV
And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
JOSHUA 2:1, NIrV
1 Joshua, the son of Nun, sent two spies from Shittim. He sent them in secret. He said to them, “Go and look over the land. Most of all, check out Jericho.” So they went to Jericho. They stayed at the house of a prostitute. Her name was Rahab.
After 40 years of wilderness wandering, all of the old Israelites had died, including their leader, Moses. With that generation of people gone, it was finally time for God’s people to enter into Canaan. This was the good land God had promised to give to Abraham, the first-father of the Israelite nation. Entering the promised land wouldn’t be easy – Canaan was swarming with enemies! To lead this mission, God chose Moses’ trusted assistant, a man named Joshua. Before the big battles began, Joshua sent two men to secretly spy on Jericho, one of most powerful cities of the promised land.
+ What is the job of a spy?
+ When they reached Jericho, who did the spies stay with? (vs. 1)
JOSHUA 2:2-7, NIrV
2 The king of Jericho was told, “Look! Some of the Israelites have come here tonight. They’ve come to check out the land.” 3 So the king sent a message to Rahab. It said, “Bring out the men who came into your house. They’ve come to check out the whole land.”
4 But the woman had hidden the two men. She said, “It’s true that the men came here. But I didn’t know where they had come from. 5 They left at sunset, when it was time to close the city gate. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You might catch up with them.” 6 But in fact she had taken them up on the roof. There she had hidden them under some flax she had piled up. 7 The king’s men left to hunt down the spies. They took the road that leads to where the Jordan River can be crossed. As soon as they had gone out of the city, the gate was shut.
If the job of a spy is to sneak around without being discovered, Joshua’s two spies failed miserably! When Jericho’s ruler learned that two strangers were creeping around his city, he sent men to Rahab’s house to grab them. But just when things couldn’t look worse, Rahab swooped in to save two men she barely knew. After hiding them in a pile of flax (a grain plant, sort of like wheat), she tricked the king’s men with a made-up story and sent them off on a wild goose chase. Rahab had rescued the spies from danger. But by helping Jericho’s enemies, she had now put herself in danger!
+ What do you think would have happened to the spies if they were caught?
+ Why do you think Rahab would help these spies instead of the king of her own city?
JOSHUA 2:8-11, NIrV
8 Rahab went up on the roof before the spies settled down for the night. 9 She said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land. We are very much afraid of you. Everyone who lives in this country is weak with fear because of you. 10 We’ve heard how the Lord dried up the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt. We’ve heard what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings. They ruled east of the Jordan River. You completely destroyed them. 11 When we heard about it, we were terrified. Because of you, we aren’t brave anymore. The Lord your God is the God who rules in heaven above and on the earth below.
After reading these verses, it should be obvious why Rahab chose to help the two Israelite spies escape from the king of Jericho. She may have had no idea who these men were, but she had heard all about their God. The true tale of the parting of the Red Sea had spread far and wide – everyone in the city of Jericho had heard about it. Knowing that the Israelites and their sea-splitting God were headed their way made everyone inside the mighty walls of the city of Jericho shake in their sandals! Rahab had saved these two spies, but she knew she would soon need them to save her!
+ Rahab had also heard about how the Israelites had defeated two kings already. What were the names of those two kings? (vs. 10)
+ How were the people of Jericho feeling after hearing about the God of Israel? (vs. 11)
JOSHUA 2:12-21, NIRV
12 “Now then, please give me your word. Promise me in the name of the Lord that you will be kind to my family. I’ve been kind to you. Promise me 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother. Spare my brothers and sisters. Also spare everyone in their families. Promise that you won’t put any of us to death.”
14 So the men made a promise to her. “If you save our lives, we’ll save yours,” they said. “Just don’t tell anyone what we’re doing. Then we’ll be kind and faithful to you when the Lord gives us the land.”
15 The house Rahab lived in was part of the city wall. So she let the spies down by a rope through the window. 16 She said to them, “Go up into the hills. The men chasing you won’t be able to find you. Hide yourselves there for three days until they return. Then you can go on your way.”
17 The spies had said to her, “You made us give our word. But we won’t keep our promise 18 unless you do what we say. When we enter the land, you must tie this bright red rope in the window. Tie it in the window you let us down through. Bring your father and mother into your house. Also bring in your brothers and everyone else in your family. 19 None of you must go out into the street. If you do, anything that happens to you will be your own fault. We won’t be responsible. But if anyone hurts someone who is inside the house with you, it will be our fault. We will be responsible. 20 Don’t tell anyone what we’re doing. If you do, we won’t have to keep the promise you asked us to make.”
21 “I agree,” Rahab replied. “I’ll do as you say.”
So she sent them away, and they left. Then she tied the bright red rope in the window.
Rahab and the spies made a deal: if she helped them escape, they’d keep her family safe and sound when the battle for Jericho began. Knowing the king’s men could return at any minute, Rahab used a rope to lower the two spies out of the window of her home (which happened to be a part of the city walls). Since this story happened thousands of years before cameras were invented, the two spies couldn’t snap a photo of Rahab to show their soldiers. So the spies told Rahab to tie a bright red rope from her window. This colorful cord would be a sign of safety to the invading Israelites.
+ What did Rahab tell the two spies to do? (vs. 16)
+ As soon as the spies left, what did Rahab do? (vs. 21)
JOSHUA 2:22-24, NIRV
22 When the spies left, they went up into the hills. They stayed there for three days. By that time the men chasing them had searched all along the road. They couldn’t find them. So they returned. 23 Then the two spies started back. They went down out of the hills. They went across the Jordan River. They came to Joshua, the son of Nun. They told him everything that had happened to them. 24 They said, “We’re sure the Lord has given the whole land over to us. All the people there are weak with fear because of us.”
Without Rahab’s help, the two spies wouldn’t have been standing in front of Joshua, giving their report. Instead, they’d be rotting away in a Jericho jail cell or perhaps even dead and buried! The spies had good news for Joshua. “No doubt,” they said, “God’s given us every inch of the promised land. Our enemies are scared to death of us!” 40 years before, Joshua had been a part of another spy mission in Canaan. Back then, his fellow spies were scared of the powerful people of the promised land. I’m sure he was glad to hear that the monstrous men of Canaan were now scared of them!
+ What did the spies do before heading back to Joshua? (vs. 22)
+ Why were the spies so sure God had given the promised land to their people? (vs. 24)
MATTHEW 1:1-6, NIRV
1 This is the written story of the family line of Jesus the Messiah. He is the son of David. He is also the son of Abraham.
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac.
Isaac was the father of Jacob.
Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers.
3 Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah. Tamar was their mother.
Perez was the father of Hezron.
Hezron was the father of Ram.
4 Ram was the father of Amminadab.
Amminadab was the father of Nahshon.
Nahshon was the father of Salmon.
5 Salmon was the father of Boaz. Rahab was Boaz’s mother.
Boaz was the father of Obed. Ruth was Obed’s mother.
Obed was the father of Jesse.
6 And Jesse was the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon. Solomon’s mother had been Uriah’s wife.
The book of Matthew is one of the four gospels (which means “good news”). Along with the Bible books of Mark, Luke, and John, Matthew tells us the good news story of God’s Son, Jesus. As Matthew begins to tell us the story of Jesus, he starts by listing the long line of family members of Jesus’ earth dad, Joseph. We use the term “earth dad” here because Jesus’ actual father was God himself!
Matthew starts his list with Abraham, the very first father of the Israelites. As you read Matthew’s long list of names (some of which are pretty hard to pronounce), you might have noticed a familiar name. Did you spot it there in verse 5? It’s Rahab!
Just as she was told, Rahab tied a red rope in her window. When the battle of Jericho finally took place, every single person in the city was wiped out. Everybody, that is, except for Rahab and her family. Joshua made sure his soldiers kept the promise the two spies had made. Rahab not only survived the battle of Jericho, she lived with the Israelite people and even married one of them, a man named Salmon. After having a family, Rahab ended up being the great-great-grandmother of King David the Giant Killer and the many-times-great-grandmother of Jesus himself!
The color red is an interesting thing in the Bible. Obviously, in the story we just read, God used a red rope to save Rahab from death. And not too far back in the book of Exodus, we learned about the Passover. On that night, the Israelites were saved from the destroying angel by painting the red blood of a lamb on their door posts.
While it might seem like a neat coincidence that God used red blood on a door frame and a red rope in a window to save people, these two stories are actually part of his plan to point us to something much, much greater! Can you think of something else red in the Bible? Something God used to save his people? If you said, “The blood of Jesus,” you’d be right!
When Jesus was nailed to the cross, he bled the same red blood that you or I or any human being would bleed. He bled on that cross until he died. And because he wasn’t just the many-time-great grandson of Rahab, but the all-powerful Son of God, his red blood was enough to pay the price to rescue us from the forever fiery death of our sin! And of course, it wouldn’t be a good news story unless he raised himself back to life on the third day after his death!
When we remember the red rope of Rahab and the red blood of the lamb on the door, God wants us to remember something greater: the red blood of his Son (and Rahab’s many-times-great grandson) Jesus, the one he sent to save us from our sins!
+ What was the name of Rahab’s son? (vs. 5)
+ What does Rahab’s red rope and the blood on the door frames point us to?