Rev. David Holwick
First Baptist Church
Ledgewood, New Jersey
September 6, 1998                                          
                                                         Joshua 2:1-14

                          A GOOD PROSTITUTE

  I. They've always been with us.
      A. Have you ever known a prostitute?
          1) We may see them, but won't admit to knowing one.
              a) Look how shocked Morristown was!
              b) Roxbury - Smiles II?
              c) Riding German school bus past "Suzie's" and Messplatz.
          2) The "oldest profession"?
              a) Preaching is just as old.
      B. "Heart of gold" motif.
          1) History of American West, Hollywood portrayals.
          2) In reality, most are opportunitists.
          3) They are in the profession for money.
      C. Rahab is among most famous prostitutes.
          1) Key is not her heart, but her faith.

 II. Secret spies.
      A. Aren't all spies "secret"?
         After important negotiations with business leaders in his
            high-rise office building, John D. Rockefeller used to say
               goodbye to his visitors at the elevator.
         While the visitors filed into the elevator, an innocent looking
            man would slip in and ride with them to the ground floor.
         He would follow the group out the door and then cross the street.
         A few minutes later, the innocent looking man would go back to
            Rockefeller's office to deliver a detailed report of what
               the unsuspecting visitors talked about during the ride in
                  the elevator.
          1) Secret from Israelites as well as enemies.
          2) A negative report might demoralize the people.
      B. Is Joshua displaying unbelief?
          1) Promise of divine help doesn't rule out human responsibility.
          2) God hasn't told him about a miraculous conquest.

III. Rahab's profession.
      A. Biblical view of prostitutes.
          1) Forbidden by law.
              a) Yet existed - Judah and daughter-in-law; Samson.
          2) Interesting restrictions: wages not valid for offering.
          3) Not considered "victimless crime."
          4) Eager for forgiveness, followed Jesus.
      B. Why the spies went there.
          1) No questions asked.
          2) Foreigners common there, easy to get information.
          3) Easy escape route over wall.
          4) Led by God - he knew her heart.

 IV. Rahab's lie.
      A. How her generation saw it.
          1) Hammurabi's Code.
               "If felons are banded together in a prostitute's house and
                   she does not inform the palace, that prostitute shall
                   be put to death."
          2) What she did was just as deceptive as what she said.
          3) By siding with the spies, she became a traitor.
          4) Lie not emphasized in passage.
      B. Ways to understand her deception.
          1) It is acceptable to tell a lie at any time.
              a) (This has never been acceptable.)
          2) Jews saw truth as "loyalty toward God" so she is not lying.
          3) She was deceiving an enemy, which is OK in warfare.
             Back in 1804 the Baptists in Kentucky had a dispute over
             One side said Christians should never lie, not even to a
                hostile Indian if it meant saving a child's life.
             The other side said they would lie to save the child's life.
                Ever since they were known as the Lying Baptists.
          4) She was not a Jew, so not accountable to God's Law.
          5) She broke a lesser principle to uphold a greater one -
                protecting God's people.
          6) God forgave her lie because of her faith.
      C. Should Christians lie?

  V. Rahab's bargain.
      A. Main emphasis in story.
          1) Amazing what she knew about Israel's history and God's plans.
          2) "The LORD your God is God in heaven and earth."
              a) Remarkable for a pagan to say this.
              b) Evidence of her conversion to faith in Israel's God.
      B. A covenant of love.
          1) Literally, she asks for their kindness = hesed = love.
          2) She is asking for a reciprocal relationship of caring.
          3) Our relationship with God is similar.

 VI. Rahab's salvation.
      A. A request to spare their lives.
          1) She may have expected to be made prisoners.  But alive.
          2) Jews gave them more - they were accepted as Jews.    6:25
          3) Spiritual salvation is better than mere physical.
      B. Salvation of whole family.
          1) Note effect of our faith on relatives.
          2) Corporate solidarity.                        Acts 16:31
          3) Is YOUR family all saved?
      C. The scarlet cord.                                        2:18
          1) Similarity to the passover:
              a) Door marked with red blood.
              b) Family units stayed together inside house.
          2) Similarity to communion - we are marked by blood of Jesus.
      D. Commended for her great faith.    Heb 11:31
          1) Her deeds established her faith.    Jam 2:25
              a) She was willing to sacrifice what mattered most to her.
          2) Became ancestor of King David and Jesus Christ.     Matt 1:5

VII. Are you on same level as this prostitute?
      A. Recognize what God has done, is doing, in history.
      B. Stand up for God before pagan opponents.
      C. Seek the salvation of your family.

FURTHER NOTES, from Galaxie Software's "The Theological Journal Library CD,
   version 2" (a superb value at $85: 1-800-425-2943).

  I. JETS 31/1 (March 1988) 43
     Divine Involvement In Warfare

     The Lord not only commands military action; he also takes an active part in
     it.  His activity appears on two levels.  The use of certain war terms
     portrays him as active on the battlefield: The Hiphil of nkh ("to smite") and
     the Niphal of lhm ("to wage war") are used both of Joshua and all Israel
     (e.g.  Josh 10:29, 31, 34, 36, 38) and of the Lord (e.g.  10:10, 14, 42).
     But he is active on a psychological plane as well.  The might of the Lord
     causes a great dread in the enemy, rendering them ineffective in battle.
     Thus Rahab says to the two spies, in Josh 2:9, that "the dread of you has
     fallen upon us" and that "all the inhabitants of the land melt away from
     before you."  In the next verse we learn the reason for this great dread:
     They have heard of God's great acts for Israel against Egypt and the two
     Amorite kings, Sihon and Og (2:10).  "We heard," she says in v 12, "and our
     hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man before you, for the
     Lord your God is God in the heavens above and on the earth below."  God's
     grandeur thus overwhelms the enemy.  But in addition God himself controls the
     enemy's psyche: He reaches into their hearts and hardens them for war against
     Israel, that he might make them a hrm (Hiphil) without mercy (11:20).  The
     use of war terms thus portrays the Lord as actively involved in Israel's
     warfare and closely identified with Israel, since the same terms are used
     both of the Lord and of Israel.
 II. Genesis 15:6: New Covenant Expositions of an Old Covenant Text
     WTJ_V42 #2_Spr 1980_284
     The example of Rahab

     The point is illustrated further by reference to the other example noted by
     James.  Not only Abraham the honorable prince of Israel, but also Rahab the
     adulterous mother of Israel was "justified by works" (Jas 2:25).  The
     interesting point to consider with respect to Rahab in this context is not
     only the disqualification for being regarded as sinless which her life before
     encounter with Israel establishes.  More specifically, it is the possibility
     of sin associated with the very act which James declares as the means of her
     "justification" that deserves notice.

     Admittedly, it may be possible to defend Rahab's lie to the king of Jericho.
     The tendency today seems to be in the direction of not regarding her
     misrepresentation of the facts as sin.  Yet the possibility must be granted
     that even in the midst of her noble action, Rahab violated the law of God
     concerning the bearing of false witness.(21) How then could an action which
     in itself incurred additional guilt be the way of achieving a decision of
     absolute guiltlessness?  How could this one action be the way for the removal
     of guilt for all her past life of flaunting the law of God?  Yet just such a
     concept would be involved in too facile an interchange of the word-values and
     phrase-values found in James and Paul.

III. JETS 33/1 (March 1990) 27
     For brevity's sake, we must forego looking closely at the examples of living
     faith from the lives of Abraham and Rahab (2:21-25).66 Nonetheless, here is
     an abridged statement of the point James is making: Abraham and Rahab, though
     they came from opposite ends of the social and religious spectrum, both had
     an attitude of willingness to sacrifice what mattered most to them because of
     their faith.  That submission was proof their faith was real.

 IV. There is a tension in the genealogy, of course, since an early conquest date
     of ca. 1400-1350 B.C. would place Salmon and Rahab, the parents of Boaz, as
     early as 1400 whereas David's birth can be no earlier than 1040.  This means
     that only three generations separate Salmon from David, a period of around
     300 years.  A conquest date of around 1250 would alleviate this tension but
     it would also create far more difficult chronological problems otherwise.
     Most likely the Ruth genealogy, like many others, is selective and retains
     only representative names.  See Robert R. Wilson, "The Old Testament
     Genealogies in Recent Research," Journal of Biblical Literature 94 (1975):
     176, 180, 189; E. H. Merrill, "Paul's Use of `About 450 Years' in Acts 13:20"
     Bibliotheca Sacra 138 (1981): 24
     Matthew 1:5 states that Salmon (Ruth 4:21) was the husband of Literary
     Structure in the Book of Ruth_BSac_V148 #592_Oct 91_439 Rahab (presumably the
     Canaanite prostitute of Josh 2:1).  Rahab was probably the "mother" of Boaz
     in the sense of being his ancestress, since she lived in Joshua's day, 200 or
     300 years before Ruth and Boaz.31 This connection with Rahab is especially
     interesting in light of the Judah/Tamar story.  While Rahab was indeed a
     prostitute, the Joshua narrative emphasized her courageous service to the
     spies and her inclusion within the covenant community (Josh 6:25; cf. Heb
     11:31).  Her character was more nobly presented than that of the scheming
     Tamar.  Again the reader is forced to admit that he would probably not have
     picked either Rahab or her descendant Boaz as participants in the covenant
     promises, much less as contributors to the messianic line.32
     Of the various explanations for the unusual inclusion of the five women in
     that genealogy (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, Mary), the one that works the
     most consistently for all five is that each was shrouded in the suspicion
     (not always justified) of having engaged in illegitimate sexual relations.
     Yet God was sending a deliverer for those kinds of people as well.27  Does
     that recast the not-too-distant debate between Dan Quayle and Murphy Brown in
     a somewhat different light?
     It is remarkable that Obed, the father of Jesse, had a Moabite for a mother
     and a Canaanite (Rahab, Matt 1:5) for a grandmother.  This "root" of Jesse
     was three quarters Amorite!  IT IS THE FAITH OF RAHAB AND RUTH, NOT THEIR
     in Ruth 4:18, moreover, reaches back to Perez, born of Tamar, probably a
     Canaanite.  Tamar, like Ruth, had been denied her levirate right (Gen 38:28).
     By venturing her reputation, however, she demonstrated her faith.  Righteous
     Tamar (Gen 38:28) and excellent Ruth (Ruth 3:11) were goodly models for Mary
     (Matt 1:3, 5, 16), who likewise risked her reputation for purity to be the
     mother of promise (Matt 1:19).

"Pastor Holwick's Sermons"

Copyright © Rev. W. David Holwick, 1998

First Baptist Church; Ledgewood, New Jersey

This document last modified December 4, 1998