By Faith Rahab

Hebrews 11:30-31 – By faith Rahab

Someone has said there are four types of faith.

  • Faith that receives, coming empty-handed to Christ for salvation.
  • Faith that reckons, counting on God to make righteous.
  • Faith that risks, daring to do the impossible.
  • Faith that rests, in pain and suffering, having confidence that God will deliver.

Faith fulfills as these things in life, but today I want to focus on Faith that risks!

Saving faith is living faith, always linked to action.

“Faith without works is dead” (James 2:14-26).

  • Two verses bring us face to face with the fruit of faith.
  • Obedience in the form of risk.

Biblical risk is never synonymous with worldly foolishness.

  • The risk of faith - the risk of humble foolishness.
  • Being a fool for Christ.
  • Following Christ that is being vulnerable.

Faith takes the risk that comes through weakness.

  • What I will call: Foolish/weakness.

Paul considered preaching foolish/weakness.

ESV  1 Corinthians 1:20-25 aWhere is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? bHas not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.22 For aJews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,23 but we preach Christ acrucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ athe power of God and bthe wisdom of God.25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Paul fought for truth through foolish/weakness.

ESV  2 Corinthians 10:1-10 aI, Paul, myself entreat you, by the bmeekness and gentleness of Christ--I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!--2 I beg of you athat when I am present I may not have to show bboldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh.3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.4 For the aweapons of bour warfare are not of the flesh but have cdivine power dto destroy strongholds.5 We destroy arguments and aevery lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to bobey Christ,6 abeing ready to punish every disobedience, bwhen your obedience is complete.7 aLook at what is before your eyes. bIf anyone is confident that he is Christ's, let him remind himself that just as che is Christ's, dso also are we.8 For even if I boast a little too much of aour authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed.9 I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters.10 For they say, "His letters are weighty and strong, but ahis bodily presence is weak, and bhis speech of no account."

Paul considered his pastoring foolish/weakness.

ESV  2 Corinthians 11:5-9 Indeed, I consider that aI am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles.

6 aEven if I am unskilled in speaking, bI am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way cwe have made this plain to you in all things.7 Or adid I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because bI preached God's gospel to you free of charge?8 I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you.9 And when I was with you and was ain need, bI did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia csupplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain dfrom burdening you in any way.

Paul found contentment in weakness.

ESV  2 Corinthians 12:1-11 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and arevelations of the Lord.2 I know a man ain Christ who fourteen years ago was bcaught up to cthe third heaven--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, dGod knows.3 And I know that this man was caught up into aparadise--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, zGod knows--

4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, aexcept of my weaknesses.6 Though if I should wish to boast, aI would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me.7 So ato keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,1 ba thorn was given me in the flesh, ca messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.8 aThree times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.9 But he said to me, a"My grace is sufficient for you, for bmy power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that cthe power of Christ may rest upon me.10 aFor the sake of Christ, then, bI am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For cwhen I am weak, then I am strong.11 aI have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was bnot at all inferior to these super-apostles, ceven though I am nothing.

Faith risks being foolish and being weak

1. Israel’s foolish/weakness (v. 30)

God works through foolish/weakness because this brings him glory.

Verse 30 begins with an Old Testament example.

  • Verse 30 with 31 views one story feeding into the next.
  • One corporate Israel the other a woman of faith.

The walls of Jericho were massive and formidable.

  • Wide enough for two chariots to pass each other.
  • Located strategically near the mouth of the Jordan.
  • Designed to protect from the strongest enemy.
  • Virtually impregnable.
  • A city “fortified up to heaven” (Dt. 1:28).

ESV  Deuteronomy 1:28 Where are we going up? aOur brothers have made our hearts melt, saying, b"The people are greater and taller than we. The cities are great and fortified up to heaven. And besides, we have seen cthe sons of the Anakim there."' (Deu 1:28 ESV)

Forty years had passed, and the first generation of Israel had been laid low.

  • God had judged their unbelief manifest in idolatry and complaining sins!
  • Only the grown-up children remained, under the leadership of Joshua.
  • Forty years had passed for what should have taken less than forty weeks to walk (Kadesh Barnea).
  • Nothing of their faith had been mentioned from crossing the Red Sea until now.

This was their first’s war campaign (battle conquest) for possessing Canaan!

  • Having crossed Jordan with the water miraculously standing in a heap.
  • Israel now moved forward with Jordan’s waters flooding from behind.
  • No turning back.

Jericho, their first obstacle was being marched upon by a ragtag multitude of sons and daughters of ex-slaves.

  • There were an estimated 2.5 million in the march.
    • They were made up of, men, women, children with their livestock.
    • There were elite men, trained as warriors, numbering 40,000, “ready for war and prepared by the LORD for battle” (Jos. 4:13).
  • Spies had been sent from “Shittim” and they were set to go (Jos. 2:1).

The walls were high and thick, layered as two walls: inner and outer with well-trained and well-armed soldiers.

  • The report from before of the 10 spies had not been inaccurate.
  • Exaggerated, yes but still basically correct.

ESV  Deuteronomy 1:28-30 Where are we going up? aOur brothers have made our hearts melt, saying, b"The people are greater and taller than we. The cities are great and fortified up to heaven. And besides, we have seen cthe sons of the Anakim there."'

  • Israelites did not go because they heard a hyped-up report.
  • No, from any human standpoint, conquest was a fool’s errand.
    • Truly insurmountable.
    • And Israel lacked faith.
  • They needed to know that God would fight their battle.

29 Then I said to you, 'Do not be in dread or afraid of them.30 The LORD your God who goes before you awill himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, (Deu 1:29-30 ESV)

The Canaanites were cruel and pagan.

  • Very immoral.
  • These Jerichoites when constructing their fortress took their babies and put them in jars building them in their walls as sacrifices, superstitious protection.
  • Israel’s conquest was primarily Jericho’s judgment!

God’s military strategy from a human standpoint was absurd and ridiculous.

  • Uniform military history is to conquer a foe by force.
  • Bombardment, battering rams, troops.
  • They had none. No war engines.  No strategy of attrition.
  • No! Just horns and just marching.

The army of Israel would later conquer the land by force but not so for Jericho.

  • God called for foolishness and for weakness.
    • All they had to do was march around the city once a day for six days with seven priests in front carrying ram’s horns before the ark.
    • On the seventh day, they were to march around seven times, with the priests blowing their horns.
    • When the priests finally made one blast, all the people were to shout.

ESV  Joshua 6:1-5 Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in.2 And the LORD said to Joshua, "See, aI have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor.3 You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days.4 Seven priests shall bear seven atrumpets of brams' horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and cthe priests shall blow the trumpets.5 And when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat,1 and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him."

Surely, they marched outside of the range of the archers.

  • Amazingly, there is no record of equivocation or doubt on Israel’s part.
  • They had seen Jordan, stand up as a heap!

ESV  Joshua 3:13 And awhen the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the LORD, wthe Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall fstand in one heap."

  • These were explicit instructions that demanded precise obedience (cf. Jos. 6:2-5; 6-10).

Detailed order:  soldiers, then seven priests carrying seven rams’ horns (shofars), then in the middle the ark of the covenant on the shoulders of the priests of more priests, then finally the people, with rearguard soldiers.

For six days this procession was conducted in eerie silence while priests blared intermittently on their horns.

  • On the seventh day, they were to maintain silence as they circled the walls seven times-until Joshua gave the command to shout! (Jos. 6:10).
  • This played out! (Jos. 6:11-16).
  • And the walls “fell flat!” (Jos. 6:17).

“Did God use an earthquake or not?”

  • It was dramatic and I attribute all the power to God!
  • This was the point of the “ark of the covenant”
  • Explicitly mentioned no less than 11 times in this scene! (cf. Ex. 19:16; Is. 6:1)
  • God knocked the walls over!

All but one portion of a piece of the wall!  Rahab’s house!

Was Israel a circling parade of fools?

  • Actually, for our purposes, yes!
  • Fools for Christ!
  • Were the Canaanites mocking or melting?
  • Our insider information provided our insider Amorite from Jericho tells us, “melting!” Melting in the sight of foolish/weakness.

2. Rahab’s foolish/weakness (v. 31)

Rahab was an unlikely candidate for the hall of faith.

  • She was a prostitute, a Gentile, a Canaanite, Amorite by race.
  • Amorites were marked by God for destruction (Gen. 15:16).

Rahab’s reputation should not be dumbed down.

  • Rahab was not some kind of inn-keeper or a business owner.
  • She was a “prostitute” – the word is pornee (cf. Jas. 2:25).

ESV  Hebrews 11:31 By faith aRahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient because she bhad given a friendly welcome to the spies.

ESV  James 2:25 And in the same way was not also aRahab the prostitute justified by works bwhen she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

  • Like the woman at the well and Mary Magdalene were forgiven much and loved much!
  • Trophies of God’s grace.

In fact, Rahab is the final personal name listed in Hebrews 11, “hall of faith.”

  • The case should be made that she is an apex figure of faith, right in the company of Noah, Abraham, Sarah, and Moses!

“What did she do?”  She believed.

  • Literally, “Rahab…received the spies in peace” (v. 31).
  • She believed when the rest of an entire city/culture of Jericho did not!
  • She lived, while the rest of the city died in destruction.

Verse 31 is the backstory for why Rahab did not perish when everyone else besides she and her family did!

Joshua 2 brings us back up to speed opening up the spies’ reconnaissance mission!

ESV  Joshua 2:1-3 And Joshua the son of Nun asent1 two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, "Go, view the land, especially Jericho." And they went and came into the house of ba prostitute whose name was cRahab and lodged there.2 And it was told to the king of Jericho, "Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land."3 Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, "Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land."

The mission would be perilous as Jericho was a walled city, in an open valley.

  • The city of Jericho had heard of Israel’s reputation.
  • Israel’s eerie presence loomed.
  • They were held in great suspicion!

These spies thought they slipped in unnoticed, were quickly discovered.

  • Their choice to find lodging in a prostitute’s home was deliberate but pure.
    • Trying to come off like traveling merchants to escape notice.
    • The King was on to them and they were doomed!
    • Except for what came totally unexpected, Rahab’s faith!

What is also totally unexpected (for the careful Bible student) is that Rahab’s new faith was expressed in the context of telling a lie!

Actually 3 lies!

ESV  Joshua 2:4-5 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, "True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them."

  • She did not know where they came from.
  • She said they had gone.
  • She did not know where they were.

Before tackling the ethics of this action, remember the obvious context!

  • Understand, Rahab’s faith salted with sin?
    • Like everybody!
    • Newly saved, with Harmartiological Hangover!
  • Look at what she is commended for, not the lies but her faith!
  • She hid them on “…the roof…with the stalks of flax” (Jos. 2:6-7).
  • In addition, went to them showing her defection from Jericho to God’s people!


ESV  Joshua 2:8-15 Before the men1 lay down, she came up to them on the roof 9 and said to the men, "I know that the LORD has given you the land, aand that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land bmelt away before you.10 For we have heard how the LORD adried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and bwhat you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to cSihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction.111 And aas soon as we heard it, bour hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for cthe LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.12 Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father's house, and agive me a sure sign13 that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death."14 And the men said to her, "Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the LORD gives us the land awe will deal kindly and faithfully with you."15 Then she alet them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall.

“How did Rahab hear about Israel’s testimony?”

  • Providentially, the unlikely evangelists - the merchants and traders informed her of Israel’s God!
    • She had been prepared to see and believe – in spy’s message – in the spy’s God!
    • Rahab left a vacuous (empty) people and go to the Hebrew God.

Francis Schaeffer paralleled the symbol of the scarlet rope with the blood of the Passover Lamb.

“When the children of Israel were about to leave Egypt, they were given the blood of the Passover Lamb under which to be safe.  When the people were about to enter the land, they were met by a different, but parallel sign-a red cord hanging from the window of a believer.”

Both times, believing households were safe from God’s judgment!

  • The red cord did not fortify her dwelling.
  • She on the outer wall more in the Ghetto!

How are we to understand Rahab’s lie?

  • First, consider her lie with the backdrop of her pagan culture and her new profession of faith.
    • All faith is salted with our sin.
    • God blessed Rahab’s motive. 
  • See her faith without having a knowing and conscious contradiction.

Three basic ethical positions or rationales with biblical moments like these. 

  1. Hierarchy of Absolutes

a. Obey the higher absolute making you exempt from the lower absolute.

i.“You choose for the greater good.”

ii. In this case, to save lives!

iii. One thing cancels out the other thing!

  1. Non-conflicting Absolutes

a.  Meaning one truth does not cancel out another.

i. The command from the Decalogue.

ii. You always speak the truth (Eph. 4).

b. God’s character is truth (Titus 1:2).

c. God finds lying detestable (Hates lying lips).

d. Jesus called himself the truth (Jn. 14:6).

e. So, you never lie under any circumstances.

  1. Enemy of God

a. Where an enemy of God forfeits his right to the truth.

i. Rahab viewed in wartime dynamics, now with God’s covenant people committing treason against King Ahab, God’s direct enemy.

ii. The midwives of Exodus 1:19 who claimed they could not get to a Hebrew boy’s delivery in time to kill them in the Nile.

iii. On behalf of God, they fought against Pharaoh.

Police officer telling someone, “Drop your weapon or else!” when there are procedures that must be followed.

FBI promising, “The helicopter is coming!”  While getting SWAT into position.

b. Similarly, David’s imprecatory prayers.

i. David literally prays God’s judgment on God’s enemies.

ii. While the New Testament calls Christians to love their enemies.

iii. Leaving judgment to God.

  c. Or, when the Apostles commanded by the governing authority (Sanhedrin) to stop preaching Christ.

i. They obeyed God rather than submitting to the Sanhedrin.

ii. In this circumstance, you see where God’s commands cannot be pit against God’s commands!

iii. In the spirit of my point, this is “War-time” behavior versus the normal submission.

            d. Remember Jesus said, render to Caesar to Caesar and to God what is God’s.

i. Romans 13 says, to obey governing authorities.

ii. What about Peter taking the sword in hand in Gethsemane.

iii. Jesus said, “To live by the sword is to die by the sword.” 

In other words, Rahab’s actions and choices need to be put into a very unique and specific context.  You do not build your practical theology around special circumstances!

  • Rahab was a new convert, so her lie could be chalked up to being brand new in the faith.
  • Not unlike Abraham’s lies. Who used partial truths to keep himself alive!  Still lies!  Misleading deceptions.

I think more accurately to Rahab, this was an act of wartime defection!

  • A unique experience that God blessed for Rahab coming all the way into the covenant!
  • This is foolish/weakness! High Risk!
  • Rahab, definitely put herself at risk of death!

What is amazing is where this leads.

  • Rahab came to live in Israel for the rest of her life.
  • According to Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus, she married an Israelite.

ESV  Matthew 1:1-6 aThe book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, bthe son of David, cthe son of Abraham.2 aAbraham was the father of Isaac, and bIsaac the father of Jacob, and cJacob the father of Judah and his brothers,3 and aJudah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,14 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon,5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by aRahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse,6 and aJesse the father of David the king. And bDavid was the father of Solomon by cthe wife of Uriah

  • Nashon, Rahab’s father-in-law, was one of the 12 princes in Israel (Num. 7:12 – significant offering to the Tabernacle).
    • The Amorite prostitute became a believer and married a prince of Judah.
    • Rahab, princess, and ancestor of Christ!

God makes what is foolish and weakness into glory.

This is the grace of faith!

We are bought by Christ atoning blood and as believers; joined into Christ’s bloodline!

“When we are weak, we are made strong!”






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