A New National Identity (Joshua 6)

As we continue today with the story of Rahab, we skip from Joshua chapter 2 to Joshua 6. In the intervening chapters is the story of the nation of Israel crossing the Jordan. It was accomplished during the flood season, but as with the Red Sea, the waters stopped and the nation crossed on dry ground.

Most of the people would have had no memory of this happening when coming out of Egypt. Only those who were children at the time could recall it. So this must have been an amazing experience of fortifying their faith that God was with them.

I will leave most of the text of today’s chapter at the bottom of this writing, as you know the story of the fall of Jericho. But here at the top, let me pull up the portion that deals with Rahab …

Jericho ruins

Jericho ruins

22 Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her.” 23 So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother, her brothers and sisters and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel.

24 Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house. 25 But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.

So Rahab and her family were spared, and presumably they all became proselytes to the Jewish faith and worshippers of the one true God. This was quite a change of identity for her.

There are three summary items that I would say are take-away points relative to the story of Rahab:

  1. God’s great sovereign power and his magnanimous love – Nothing on earth is too big for him, and no sin is beyond his grace to reach.

Throughout the Scriptures we see that the spirit of God did not choose to hide sin or glamorize people as better or more perfect than they truly were. Even the greatest of biblical characters are often deeply flawed people. But by God’s grace, when they yielded to Him, they accomplished great things for His glory. There is instruction and encouragement in this for all of us.

  1. God honors great faith – the most expedient thing for Rahab to have done would have been to turn the spies over to her own people.

Rahab risked everything in great faith when trusting that the God of Israel was the only true God. The same principle is true for us. It is not complicated. Trust God in everything; obey Him in all things … and there is no limit to what can be done.

  1. God can take a mess of a past, and turn it into mission for the present, and a legacy for the future.

Here is a great lie: “I’m OK; you’re OK.”  Nope. The truth is this: “I’m a mess; you’re a mess.”  But God is in the mess reclamation business.

Like Rahab, when we come to trust in Christ for salvation, we are new people with a new identity. For Rahab, she went from being a Canaanite to being an Israelite. We go from being enemies of God and members of the kingdom of darkness, to being his royal family and members of the kingdom of light.

Peter describes this so eloquently:  (1 Peter 2:9)  But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

There is nothing there to be insecure about, is there?  It is all about understanding our new identity; the rest falls into place.

Joshua 6 

6:1 – Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.

2 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4 Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”

6 So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant of the Lord and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it.”7 And he ordered the army, “Advance! March around the city, with an armed guard going ahead of the ark of the Lord.”

8 When Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets before the Lord went forward, blowing their trumpets, and the ark of the Lord’s covenant followed them. 9 The armed guard marched ahead of the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard followed the ark. All this time the trumpets were sounding. 10 But Joshua had commanded the army, “Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!” 11 So he had the ark of the Lord carried around the city, circling it once. Then the army returned to camp and spent the night there.

12 Joshua got up early the next morning and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. 13 The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward, marching before the ark of the Lord and blowing the trumpets. The armed men went ahead of them and the rear guard followed the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets kept sounding. 14 So on the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days.

15 On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times. 16 The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city! 17 The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. 18 But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. 19 All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury.”

20 When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. 21 They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.

<< The Rahab section above fits here. >>

26 At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: “Cursed before the Lord is the one who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho:

“At the cost of his firstborn son he will lay its foundations; at the cost of his youngest he will set up its gates.”

27 So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land.

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