I’m sure you can think of some day in your life for which you waited a long, long time. And then, eventually it came. It may have been Christmas, a birthday, perhaps a birth of a child, or something else. Your anticipation grew as the event got closer. Imagine the intensity of the Israelites’ anticipation as they stood on the banks of the Jordan River and prepared to cross over and go into the Promised Land. Most were part of the new generation that had come from the one who had refused to believe God could give them the land. God had judged them by allowing them to wander in the desert for the 38 years until all of the old generation that were over 20 years old at the time had died. So it was a new generation that was going in, and they had been waiting for this moment for a long time. Joshua and Caleb had waited even longer than that. They were about 80 years old at this time. Of the twelve spies who had gone into the land to bring a report to Moses, they were the two who had believed that Israel could triumph. They were the only ones of that generation who had not died. 

 

I started out by saying that this is a story of God’s mercy, which indeed it is. When the spies arranged to save her life, they said that she was to tie a scarlet cord in her window. That was to mark the house, such that no one would touch it when the Israelites came. It was a powerful symbol of her deliverance. Going all the way back to Clement of Rome, there has been a tradition to trace the scarlet cord through Scripture and see it pointing to the blood of Christ.  It’s called “the line of the blood,” beginning with Abel’s sacrifice of the lamb and leading to Calvary.  It is through the mark of the blood that we are saved.  

 
Thus, with all her liabilities, she did have one great thing going for her: she had heard about the true God. And when she begins to speak to the spies in the heart of the story, which is really her testimony, this is what she talks about. She says, "I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you because we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed." Just hearing that was sufficient to lead her to faith in the true God. 
 
Continuing the idea from yesterday’s study, isn't it striking that in this story of judgment, the first thing is not of judgment, but of an act of mercy as God reaches out to save this pagan woman. It should direct our attention to the mercy of God, in Rahab’s case and in other cases as well. The mercy of God is particularly evident in Rahab’s case because, humanly speaking, she had nothing going for her. You have to think of her liabilities. First of all, she was a Gentile. To be a Gentile was nothing. It was to be cut off from all the spiritual benefits that God had poured upon the Jewish people in history. Rahab didn't have a Bible. Rahab didn't have the patriarchs. Rahab didn't have true worship. Rahab didn't understand any of these things spiritually. She was a Gentile. 
 
Rahab’s story is set in the midst of a greater story, and this greater story is that of the conquest of the land. And, moreover, it’s entwined with another story which is also part of that greater story, and that is the story of the sending of the spies. Now Joshua had been commissioned, and he stood with the armies of Israel on the banks of the Jordan ready to go in. He sent two spies ahead of him, and they went to Jericho. I find it interesting that he sent two spies. I’m sure that was not accidental.  You’ll recall that 38 years before, Moses had sent twelve spies into the Promised Land.  Ten had come back with an unbelieving report that they would not be able to conquer the inhabitants.