Youtube link... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahCDdT4uCNQ
HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, August 29, 2021
Teaching Series - “Our Family Tree–Through the Bible in 2021"
Weekly Topic - “Unexpected Help”
Text – Joshua 2
The current crises we are facing in our world today are not new…they are the result of sin’s effect on God’s very good creation. Our lesson today takes us back to the history of the Israelites as they are preparing to enter into the land of Canaan, which too would have been a time of uncertainty, fear and trying to hear the voice of God in all the noise.
Review and Background – We left the Israelites at Acacia Grove with Moses still in charge. But while there, much happens. Besides falling for the plan of Balaam to entice the men into worshipping the Baal of Peor and the resulting plague that God sends as punishment (which we covered in last week’s lesson), the Israelites now have a new leader. Moses has died on the mountain and Joshua has been named his successor. God himself has met with Joshua and promised to help him; he need only obey God completely, be strong and courageous and God will do the rest. The time has come to begin moving into the land of Canaan and, like Moses before him, Joshua sends two men to spy out the land to inspect their first obstacle—Jericho.
Joshua 2 – “Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove. He instructed them, ‘Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.’ So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night. 2 But someone told the king of Jericho, ‘Some Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.’ 3 So the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab: ‘Bring out the men who have come into your house, for they have come here to spy out the whole land.’
4 Rahab had hidden the two men, but she replied, ‘Yes, the men were here earlier, but I didn’t know where they were from. 5 They left the town at dusk, as the gates were about to close. I don’t know where they went. If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them.’ 6 (Actually, she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them beneath bundles of flax she had laid out.) 7 So the king’s men went looking for the spies along the road leading to the shallow crossings of the Jordan River. And as soon as the king’s men had left, the gate of Jericho was shut.
8 Before the spies went to sleep that night, Rahab went up on the roof to talk with them. 9 ‘I know the Lord has given you this land,’ she told them. ‘We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror. 10 For we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. 11 No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below. 12 Now swear to me by the Lord that you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you. Give me some guarantee that 13 when Jericho is conquered, you will let me live, along with my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all their families.’ 14The men agreed, ‘We offer our own lives as a guarantee for your safety. If you don’t betray us, we will keep our promise and be kind to you when the Lord gives us the land.’
15 Then, since Rahab’s house was built into the town wall, she let them down by a rope through the window. 16 ‘Escape to the hill country,’ she told them. ‘Hide there for three days from the men searching for you. Then, when they have returned, you can go on your way.’ 17 Before they left, the men told her, ‘We will be bound by the oath we have taken only if you follow these instructions. 18 When we come into the land, you must leave this scarlet rope hanging from the window through which you let us down. And all your family members—your father, mother, brothers, and all your relatives—must be here inside the house. 19 If they go out into the street and are killed, it will not be our fault. But if anyone lays a hand on people inside this house, we will accept the responsibility for their death. 20 If you betray us, however, we are not bound by this oath in any way.’ 21 Rahab replied, ‘I accept your terms.’ And she sent them on their way, leaving the scarlet rope hanging from the window.
22 The spies went up into the hill country and stayed there three days. The men who were chasing them searched everywhere along the road, but they finally returned without success. 23 Then the two spies came down from the hill country, crossed the Jordan River, and reported to Joshua all that had happened to them. 24 ‘The Lord has given us the whole land,’ they said, ‘for all the people in the land are terrified of us.’
Joshua covertly sends out two spies to check out their first stop for acquiring the land—the city of Jericho. It’s a dangerous mission and upon choosing to enter the city they find themselves in immediate danger. Whether it’s their clothes, their speech, their mannerisms, they stand out. It’s probable that the king of Jericho had spies of his own keeping an eye on the Israelites, because no sooner do they enter Rahab’s house then the king sends word to her…“Bring out the men who are with you, for they are Israelite spies.”
Anyone who is familiar with this story knows one thing about Rahab. Who was she? [a prostitute] Today, I would like to expand our thinking about Rahab. This was not just some loose woman plying her trade whose place of business these men presumed would provide a believable cover. What was it that brought them to her house? Could it be that she too recognized these men as from the camp of Israel and the imminent danger of discovery they were in? From their conversation, it appears that she may have been more involved in their finding refuge in her home than just their seeking out a place that regularly welcomed male customers. It is obvious that Rahab saw an opportunity to align herself on the winning side—God’s side—whom she acknowledges as the ‘supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below.’
Many people could be tempted to downplay her role in this story, she is a prostitute after all, a holy God wouldn’t choose to have her play a significant role in the story of His chosen people. But that’s where we would be wrong. The fact that Rahab is a prostitute is telling. She has a painful history. No little girl grows up dreaming of becoming a sex worker. She may have been sold by her parents to a pagan shrine to earn favour with their gods or to settle a debt. She may have found herself widowed or abandoned by her husband with little to no options. We don’t know her story before the Israelites end up in her home, except that she has very little faith in her own gods or her people and is looking for a way to gain favour with the God of the Israelites whom she has heard such incredible stories about. The stories may be unbelievable, but it is obvious that Rahab has become convinced and wants in.
Her people have heard the same stories and are freaking out at the news that the Israelites have camped themselves on the other side of the Jordan River, just opposite the city. Unlike Rahab, they remain determined to oppose God to the bitter end. She shared their fear of the God of the Israelites, but rather than opposing God, she sought to align herself with Him. And God blessed her! As we read along in Joshua, we will learn that the spies were true to their promise and rescued Rahab and all her family who had gathered in her house with her. Rahab becomes a member of the Israelite community when she marries a man named Salmon, whom some biblical scholars suggest had been one of the two spies. They have a son named Boaz (Ruth 4:21), who becomes the great grandfather of King David (v.22)…from whose line we know the Messiah was born (Matthew 1:5).
How do we respond to God in the midst of crisis, uncertainty, and when we hear of ‘wars and rumours of wars?’
· We can be confident like the Israelites, knowing that God is going to lead us through whatever difficulties we might face as long as we remain obedient. OR…
· We can stand in opposition to God, demanding that He, as ‘good’ and ‘loving,’ must take away the pain, problems and crisis, rather than trusting Him to lead us through.
The Bible tells us that, “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Notice that the promise is for God’s help ‘in’ times of trouble, not His preventing any trouble from happening.
Too often we want God to sweep in and save the day—to do a miracle—to prove that He is indeed on our side. But when we face problems and opposition, the question should never be, whose side is God on, but rather, who is on God’s side? God can absolutely work miracles…and does! It is also true that Jesus warned His followers that they would face persecution…just as He did.
God loves humanity equally—good and bad, obedient and disobedient, submissive and openly defiant. He plays no favourites. On the question of sides, what is important is whose side we’re on. Do we reject God as the majority of the citizens of Jericho did, or do we seek to align our beliefs and values to His as Rahab did?
Long before the Israelites made it across the Jordan River, God had been preparing the heart of one young woman—Rahab. Rejected and abused by her own people, unheard by the gods she had grown up with, she was ready to choose life with Israel’s God…and He accepted her with open arms. God used her determination to help His chosen people and honoured her as one of the individuals who would be included in the genealogy of His Son.
We often ignore the fact that there is a choice to be made until we find ourselves in a situation for which we can find no other solution. As we enter into a time of communion, I can’t help but see this truth played out at the scene of the cross as well.
Communion – Luke 23:32-47 – “Jesus Crucifixion and Death” – “Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” A sign was fastened above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.”
One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last. When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.”
It is only as we come to God like Rahab or like the criminal on the cross, admitting our need, recognizing His Lordship, and seeking His forgiveness that we can experience the new life that Jesus promises. Let us never forget our indebtedness or become ungrateful for the amazing gift He has made possible for us.
“Thank You for the Blood” – Charity Gayle
[partake of communion emblems and prayers of thanks]
Final Thoughts – No matter what we experience as a part of life on this sin infected planet, there are truths that we can hold tightly too—God’s incredible love for us as demonstrated through the sacrifice of Jesus and His willingness to include any who would choose to serve Him. This world is not our home…we are here to serve as ambassadors of a far greater kingdom, a perfect place which sin can never corrupt, where the justice, love and peace of God reign, our eternal home—heaven! The Bible clearly warns us that we will experience hardships in this life for a short while, but to take heart—God has won and we are His loved children. As long as we choose God’s side, we will always have hope!
For Further Study
Voice of the Martyrs – Afghanistan - https://vomcanada.com/afghanistan-videos
Open Doors – Afghanistan - https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/afghanistan/
Praying for Afghanistan - https://www.opendoorsuk.org/news/latest-news/afghanistan-prayer/
Sunday, September 5, 2021- “You Call That a Battle Plan?” (Joshua 5-7) - In-person and Online
Weekly lessons are now being made available on Youtube – “Pastor’s Study” - Go to our website: hopechapelcollingwood.ca and click on the Youtube icon or click on the link below https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrF8GWFnLjTmRyXjYnq1Ytw
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!