In the first 6 chapters of Joshua we learn about the Israelites successful invasion over the city of Jericho. As we open the book of Joshua we can see that a great transition has taken place in the history of Israel. Moses has died and now Joshua was the new leader in Israel. After forty years of wandering in the wilderness God has now commanded Joshua to proceed into the promised land (Joshua 1:1-9). This is a big deal and would require the Israelites to conquer Jericho.
Joshua Gathers Intel
Joshua moved forward in obedience with God’s command and as a result sent two spies into the promised land to gather valuable information on how to best defeat the Canaanites living in Jericho (Joshua 2:1). The Canaanites were an evil and idolatrous people. They were also a strong and powerful people. One author notes that, “The Canaanites are described in the Bible as a large and fierce people, not easily defeated, so the Israelites would need divine help to come against them, defeat them, and take their land away. God promised Moses and Joshua that help” (Gotquestions.org). As a result Joshua, who was confident in God’s ability, was moving forward in obedience by formulating a battle plan. As a wise and skilled leader Joshua sends out two spies to gather intel that will help him defeat the enemy.
God’s Sovereignty and Human Responsibility
As we read through these verses we are given a good example of how human responsibility and God’s sovereignty align, and it’s subtle and easy to miss, but it’s there and valuable for us to see. Ask yourself, “Why did Joshua send two spies into the promised land?” If God had promised victory to Israel and if Joshua had confidence in God, then why not just go and attack Jericho? Why send the spies? God has already declared victory (Joshua 1:5), why waste time and question God’s ability by sending out to two spies? Pastor and author Sam Storms responds to this question, he writes: “The sovereignty of God and the certainty of his promises coming to pass do not negate the importance of wisdom and prudence on our part. Just because God has decreed that something will certainly occur does not mean we are free to act like fools and throw caution to the wind.” (Sam Storms).
God’s sovereignty and human responsibility go hand in hand. Just because God is sovereign over life and death and He ultimately has determined the day that we will die, does not mean that we should start driving without our seatbelts or jumping off buildings as if we’re invincible. We should not have this attitude of, “Well, when it’s my time, it’s my time and I will throw caution to the wind.”No, God has given us brains and we are to use them by making wise, well-thought decisions.
Yes, God is sovereign and we look to Him ultimately as our Provider, Protector, and Guide and nothing in life happens outside of God’s sovereign hand, but at the same time our decisions matter, our actions matter, the Bible makes that clear. There are real consequences to our actions. And so we should give our best effort, try hard, and choose wisely as we go through life all while regularly asking God for provision and wisdom and mercy, realizing that He is the One who ultimately brings things to pass. That is what we see here with Joshua. He shows both confident obedience in God by moving forward to attack Jericho AND wise prudence by sending the spies to the promised land to check it out. Pray that you would have a similar confidence in God as you strive to live wisely and work diligently.
Rahab’s Faith / Jericho’s Demsie As the story continues we read that the two spies end up at a woman’s house named Rahab (2:1). Rahab had heard about Israel’s God and she believed (Joshua 2:10-11) and as a result she protected the spies and helped them escape the city successfully (2:15-16). She asked that they would remember her when they came back to the city to attack it (2:12-13). The spies agreed and asked that Rahab would hang a scarlet cord from her window to identify which house was hers (2:18). Once Israel invaded Jericho they destroyed everything and everyone except Rahab and her family. Once they saw that scarlet cord in the window they passed over her house and onto the next. Rahab’s faith saved her (Hebrews 11:31).
God’s judgement was set on Jericho. It was a sinful city full of wicked and idolatrous people. And Rahab the prostitute was as guilty as anyone and fully deserving of God’s wrath. But despite her many flaws she trusted in the living God and was saved. And when the agents of God’s wrath saw that scarlet cord in her window they passed over, leaving her safe and secure inside. You and I, apart from Christ, are not much different than the people of Jericho, we are not much different than Rahab. We are a sinful and idolatrous people who deserve the wrath of God. We deserve eternity in hell as a result of our disobedience toward God. But if we, like Rahab, put our faith in the living God, we will be saved.
Just as God’s wrath passed over Rahab when the soldiers saw that scarlet cord hanging from her window, so God’s wrath will pass over us when He sees His Son’s scarlett blood draped over us.No matter your background, no matter your faults when you come to Jesus in faith and repentance you are forgiven and eternally secure in Him. Rahab was a great sinner, but she had a greater Savior and the same is true of us today.We are great sinners, but we have a greater Savior and His name is Jesus.