1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into a harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there.
2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in here tonight of the children of Israel to search out the country.
3 And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to you, which are entered into your house: for they be come to search out all the country.
4 And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I knew not from where they were:
5 And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: where the men went I know not: pursue after them quickly; for you shall overtake them.
I became a born-again Christian in 1984. Some six months after my conversion, I began attending a fundamental Baptist church, for which I am grateful. Though I no longer consider myself a fundamental Baptist, I appreciate the fact that I learned most of the basics of the Christian faith in that church.Unfortunately, I also came away thinking that God only did things one way.
Not long after I began attending that church, I made friends with a Pentecostal man with whom I became business partners. We spent many afternoons talking about the differences in our churches. That friend constantly reminded me that I could not put God in a box. I did not understand what he meant at the time. I understand now.
There are certain things God does not compromise on. For example, he never compromises on the truth of his Word. Yet at the same time, he is sovereign. What does that mean? It means that, as the Creator of the universe, he can do with his creation as he sees fit. This text in Joshua illustrates the point perfectly.
God does not approve of harlotry (prostitution). Yet he isn’t above using a harlot to protect the two spies Joshua had sent to scope out Jericho. If you know the story, you know that Rahab hid the two spies on the roof and then lied to the king’s men about housing them. She lied to protect them.
Hebrews 11:31 makes it clear that Rahab did what she did by faith. Verse 6 of that same chapter indicates that it is impossible to please God without faith. Knowing what we know about Rahab from Hebrews, it’s fair to say that she did what she did with God’s blessing. How can that be?
First and foremost, God can and does forgive prostitutes. He can and does forgive all kinds of sin. The fact that Rahab recognizes God as LORD in Joshua chapter 2 suggests that she was converted. There would have been no other way for her to act by faith. With that understood, she was instantly forgiven of her past sins.
As for the lying, this was a special circumstance embedded in the principle of warfare. Just like scripture condones killing as a necessary part of warfare, God also chose to work with Rahab and the two spies despite Rahab’s lies. Did God approve of her lying? I don’t know. But I do know that he looked beyond it in order to protect the two spies.
The lesson to be learned here is that God is not confined to the box of human understanding. His status as sovereign Creator means he can do as he pleases. Furthermore, none of us have any right or standing to complain if God does things we don’t think he should. Therein is the key to humility. True humility acquiesces to the fact that God is sovereign. True humility let’s God be God without question.