Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Secret Mission

Two spies entered the enemy city. Their commander Joshua had sent them there with clear but dangerous objectives, to “Spy out Jericho.” Now entrapped by the walls of a hostile city, their security jeopardized at all times, they may have been surprised to learn that half their operation was a secret to themselves! True, they knew Joshua's objectives for the espionage, but in addition to that, the LORD had ordained for them another secret mission.

In the story of the two spies in Jericho, Rahab the harlot risked her life to show her faith, and save the spies. But recently while considering the story, I realized an interesting point. Indeed, while the LORD used her to save the spies, equally if not more importantly he sent the spies to save Rahab. Actually in the end, that was the greatest significance of their mission, because none of the information they gathered was used to bring down the walls of Jericho. When you look at it from this perspective, practically every event of the story, is a providential link in a much bigger picture.

Joshua 2:1 Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.”
So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there.

From the perspective of the mission Joshua sent them on, the place they lodged had little significance, but if they had not chosen to stay the night where they did, they would never have met Rahab and definitely never have saved her and family.

Joshua 2:2And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, “Behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country.”

If you're a spy, the worst thing that can happen is that you're discovered, but this was a crucial link in Rahab's salvation. If the spies hadn't been found out by the King, she wouldn't have had an opportunity to show her faith, and the spies would not have promised her protection.

Joshua 2:3-4a So the king of Jericho sent to 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 hid them.

While not stated in the text, it seems that Rahab's lodge was having a slow day. Even if there would have been one other person at the inn, Rahab and the spies' suspicious actions might have well been noticed. In addition to that, in some way after God gave her enough time that once she found out about the spies, she had enough time to hide them before the Soldiers got inside!

Joshua 2:4b-7 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 shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.” (But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.) Then the men pursued them by the road to the Jordan, to the fords. And as soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate.

This was a dangerous excuse to give, for if the spies were seen entering her house, wouldn't someone have watched the house till the backup arrived, to make sure they didn't leave? But here again, both the spies and Rahab were provided for. The informants had let the targets out of their sights. But again, you would think the soldiers would have questioned her more or searched the house, but they swallowed the bait, hook line and sinker. Now with the danger of capture out of the way, and having saved the spies the stage was set for her confession of faith, and her salvation. She said to them,
Joshua 2:11b-13 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 have 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.”

Joshua2:14-15 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 a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall; she dwelt on the wall.

Joshua 2:23 So the two men returned, descended from the mountain, and crossed over; and they came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all that had befallen them.

Approximately a month later, when these two men entered the city again, most of the surroundings were unrecognizable. The walls and defenses lay in piles of rubble. The bodies of defenders, women, and children, were scattered about, a picture of God's judgment. Yet in the midst of it these men showed a picture of God's salvation to a defiled woman and a heathen family. Rahab herself married into the covenant and numbered in her descendants is the entire royal line of Judah. But these spies' mission had an even greater impact then that, for Rahab, the one whom God sent the spies to save, was an ancestress of him who saved the world.

Please tell me what you think of this!