Words of Faith 8-14-2020
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2020
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. "Go, look over the land," he said, "especially Jericho." So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.
 The king of Jericho was told, "Look! Some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land."  So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: "Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land."
 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, "Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from.  At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, the men left. I don't know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them."  (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.)  So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.
The book of Joshua and the story of the entry into the Promised Land suddenly has the flair of a secret agent novel. Joshua decided to send two spies into the land to check out the enemy's strength and fortifications.
Hmm. Does this sound familiar? Forty years earlier, Joshua and Caleb were part of a team of twelve spies. On that occasion, the report back and its interpretation were disastrous. So why would Joshua send spies again? Perhaps Joshua had learned that “intelligence” is helpful, but only if it is handled carefully.
Notice that Joshua sent only two spies this time, not twelve. He also sent them “secretly.” Aren’t secret agents always “secret”? This can only mean that even the Israelites were unaware of this secret operation.
This was not the case 40 years earlier. The truth is it makes no sense to have a covert spy operation published in the news. Joshua had learned the first rule of espionage: secret operations must be secret. The interpretation of intelligence information is not up for a public vote.
The two spies probably traveled north and swam across the Jordan slipping into the city while the gates were open. They gravitated to the house of Rahab, the prostitute. Espionage is often conducted on the shady part of town.
Yet, in spite of the careful secrecy on the east side of the Jordan, the King had his intelligence sources as well. He became aware that the spies were present in the city. In a critical act of bravery, Rahab lied to cover for the two spies and she hid them on her roof. It was an act of civil disobedience that saved the operation at great risk.
Joshua chapter 2 is a wonderful and exciting story of human intrigue mixed with divine oversight. But the chapter raises many questions. Is espionage endorsed by God? Is deception an ethical course of action? Is collaboration with “unsavory” characters directed and blessed by God? Does the entire spy operation show us a lack of faith on the part of Joshua?
To benefit from the book of Joshua, we must understand it is a book of history, not a book of ethics. God is at work in all these events. Still, they are not necessarily intended to instruct us as an example for living. The point of Rahab being in the story is not to point us toward an immoral life that ends up good. Rather, it is to show God’s grace in choosing and using people in spite of their sin.
The book of Joshua does not instruct us to use deception but it does point out that God is at work even in the broken “stuff” of human existence. We also must see that the entire spy operation was not an act of unbelief. It was simply the gathering of important information. The promise of divine aid and trust in that aid never rules out human responsibility.
So, don’t get bogged down in the spy story and miss the most marvelous part of this episode. The point is not the intelligence gathered, but in the life touched by the spy operation.
As the story progresses, we will see Rahab express a profound faith and reverence for Almighty God. We see her acting with courage to defend the truth when she sees it. Eventually, Rahab will be “grafted in” to the vine of Israel and to the lineage of Christ Jesus!
This is not a story about works righteousness. Rather, it is a story of profound grace. If the Lord can reach a pagan prostitute in a fortified enemy city, surely no one is beyond His reach! In his sovereign love, the Lord God can reach deep into the darkness of human sin and perversion and touch a life for His glory. This is God’s espionage.
A thought for the day? Are you trusting in God’s grace? Of course, that question has a certain religious ring to it. Are you really trusting in the God of grace who reaches into the dark places of this world, and by His sovereign love touches people like Rahab? This is the God of the Bible. His grace is always amazing. Always wonderful.
Father God, I give thanks that You chose to reach into the darkness and touch me. I rejoice in knowing that Your Son came to retrieve me from the dark recesses of sin. I rejoice in knowing that You are willing to reach behind the fortifications of this broken world to bring me out of the darkness and into the light. Help me today to radiate that same light in the places You choose for me to go. In Jesus’ name.
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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2005, 2020
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.