A Word from Kay Daigle on how to use the resources for this study…I want to encourage you to complete the personal lesson below before you click on any of the accompanying elements that may be found with this lesson (audio lecture, manuscript, PowerPoint, or handout). This study was written to help you maximize your personal spiritual growth. That means that you first spend time with God through His word, and then hopefully, discuss what you learned with a small group of women. After that, if you want to hear the audio (or read the manuscript) and follow the PowerPoint, filling in the handout, then that is a great time to do it! I cannot cover all the verses in depth, but you can read and study them for yourself. It is best for you to think through the passages before hearing what anyone else thinks, even me! You will find some lessons without lectures. At our church we use some of those weeks to spend extra time in our small groups sharing life stories, having a longer prayer time, or expressing how God is working in our lives.
“For the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on earth below!”
Neil Tomba, our pastor at Northwest Bible Church, recently did a sermon series called “Hidden Heroes of the Old Testament.” This week we meet a hidden heroine in the book of Joshua, a woman who is known far too often by her past reputation. Her story teaches us that God’s dreams involve a great future which allows us to leave the past behind us.
Her story begins as the people of Israel are on the edge of the land, just across the Jordan River!
Read Joshua 1:10-17.
1. How did Joshua, as the leader, keep God’s dream before the people and encourage their faith so that they would trust God (v.11)?
Digging for Diamonds: Read Ephesians 1:15-2:10. How does Paul as a leader of the church keep God’s dream before the believers and encourage their faith?
2. Sharing question: Think of a relationship where you are an encourager of someone else’s faith—maybe as a mother, a wife, a mentor, or a friend. What do you learn from Joshua’s example about building faith in others? What one specific thing will you do this week for that person? Share with your group what happens.
3. When Joshua addressed the two-and-a-half tribes who had settled in the land already conquered on the east side of the Jordan River, he reminded them of Moses’ commands to them. Summarize what they were to do (vv. 12-15).
4. How committed were these tribes to following these commands (vv. 16-18)?
It would have been easy for the two-and-a-half tribes to stay in their allotted land and let the rest of the nation go out and conquer their portions of the land alone, but God called them to support and help their brothers.
It seems to me that this picture applies to us. It is easy to be comfortable with our past service and want to use our time for ourselves and our own families. I have heard older believers say that they have done their volunteering, and “it’s someone else’s turn.” The problem is that others, particularly those younger in the faith, need believers who have walked with God for a long time to come alongside them as they deal with the problems and issues of life. They need the help and support of believers who have experienced God’s faithfulness and power.
5. Sharing question: Where are you ministering to others right now? How can you seek encouragement so that you continue serving others instead of sitting back and feeling good about your past accomplishments? Is there a particular person who can help? OR perhaps you have never joined the action at all but have allowed others to serve you. Share your thoughts with your group.
6. Responding to God: Write a prayer of commitment to God. Commit your service to His will. Consider the strength of commitment of the two-and-a-half tribes. Confess any lack of commitment on your part, and ask for the motivation to serve Him all the days of your life.
Read Joshua 2:1-7.
7. Summarize this part of the story. What are your first thoughts about what happened?
The narrative is not written chronologically. Scholars understand it in different ways. Some put the sending of the spies first, Joshua’s call to cross the river in three days next (1:10-18), and then lastly, the preparation for the march (3:2 ff.). Others consider 1:10 and 3:2 to be the same event and feel that Chapter 2 is a parenthetical story.1 It may be that the expression three days means that they began to move toward the crossing within three days without actually crossing the river itself.2
Rahab lied to the king’s men. The biblical text gives us no comment on her actions in this context; it simply relates what happened. Often we have to find God’s commentary on the morality of people’s actions elsewhere in the scriptures. We must be careful when we read the stories of the Bible not to think that everything that a character does is an example for us to follow!
8. Read these verses and write down your insights about God’s perspective on lying:
Digging for Diamonds: Consider Exodus 1:15-21. Compare the actions of the Hebrew midwives with those of Rahab. Write down your thoughts.
God was gracious to Rahab despite her lies, as He is so often gracious to us, overlooking our sins. Rahab was not of the people of Israel; her heart was certainly right although her actions were wrong.
9. Read the parable in Luke 12:42-48. How does Jesus’ teaching in vv. 47-48 apply to the story of Rahab?
10. Sharing question: Consider sins of your past when God didn’t punish or discipline you although you deserved it. Share one situation with your group.
11. Responding to God: Read Psalm 51 and pray it back to God, confessing sins that He has graciously let you get away with, so to speak.
Reread Joshua 2:1-7 and continue reading 2:8-14.
12. In this passage Rahab explains her actions. What motivated her to hide the spies and help them escape?
13. From their conversation with Rahab, what did the spies learn about the attitude of the people of the land toward the invading Israelites?
14. Our Thought to Cherish this week is from Joshua 2:11. When you see the word LORD in all caps, it is a reference to Yahweh, the name of the God of Israel. What significance does that give her words in 2:9-14?
15. Read these New Testament verses that refer to Rahab and write down your insights:
If you have studied the book of James, you know that this verse referring to Rahab was part of James’ argument that true faith results in outward works. What we believe affects our actions. Rahab alone of all the people in Jericho proved that she was not simply afraid of the God of Israel, which is not faith but fear; she alone believed that He was the true God and the One worthy of her faith.
16. Rahab’s actions saved her physically, but it was her faith that saved her spiritually. God often uses the word “salvation” to refer to His work on our behalf in saving us from the consequences of our sins. Read these verses and write down your insights into how they apply to Rahab:
Digging for Diamonds: Read John 1:1-14. How would you explain this to someone who has never heard the good news about Jesus before? What other verses would you use? Why?
17. Sharing question: God reached down to mankind by becoming man in Jesus, who died and paid the penalty of your sins. Rahab heard of the greatness of God, and then she trusted Him as her God. Share with your group about the time when you trusted Jesus rather than your good works to save you. If you have not yet trusted Him, I hope you feel comfortable enough with your group to share where you are on your journey of faith. If not, consider sharing it with your leader, allowing her to pray for your journey.
18. Responding to God: Spend time meditating on the verses in #16, considering that Jesus had to come to earth as a man in order to die so that you could live in relationship with Him. He gives you His life. Write a poem or love letter expressing your love for Him.
Reread Joshua 2:1-14 and continue reading 2:15-21, just to get the story in context.
19. Summarize what happened to the spies after their conversation with Rahab on the roof (vv. 15-16).
20. What were the conditions under which the spies agreed to save Rahab and her family?
21. How would you have felt if you were Rahab as you waited for the Israelite army to invade your city? What risks was she taking?
Digging for Diamonds: Read Hebrews 11, where Rahab is joined by many other Old Testament heroes as examples of faith. Which of these heroes risked much for their faith?
22. Sharing question: Have you ever risked a job, a friendship, a relationship, or simply the good will of others for your faith? If so, share the situation and what happened with your group.
23. Responding to God: Ask God for the wisdom to know when to take a risk for His glory and honor out of the depth of your love for Him. Confess your fear and ask for the faith that you need to act.
Rahab took a risk and acted on faith. We won’t get to the story of the battle of Jericho for a couple of weeks, but let’s look ahead at her future.
24. God gave Rahab the dream of a future as one of His people. Remember that she was not an Israelite. Read Matt. 1:1-5, particularly the reference to Rahab. What do you learn about what happened to her?
25. Rahab’s faith enabled her to put her past behind her. That was surely a dream that God had given her. Read these verses and write down what God says about the dream of putting your past behind you.
26. Read 1 Peter 2:9-10. What is your relationship to God if you have trusted Him as Rahab did? How does your position relate to Rahab’s? What kind of dream does God give you here in 1 Peter 2:9? What should you do to fulfill that dream?
Digging for Diamonds: What other dreams given to believers in God’s Word do you treasure and hang onto? Look them up, and memorize them if you have not.
27. Responding to God: Is there a past that you want to put behind you? Have you trusted that God has made you a new creation and put you in relationship with Him? Write your prayer or poem to Him asking Him to help you believe His Word, which says that He has indeed totally forgiven you and made you a new creation before Him. It’s not a matter of forgiving yourself but of believing and living out the forgiveness you already have!
Read Joshua 2:22-24, which tells the end of the story of the spies.
28. Contrast the report of these spies with the report of the twelve spies who were sent into the land under Moses. You read it last week but if you want to review it, turn to Num. 13:26-33.
29. Sharing question: How has the story of Rahab impacted you?
I am so appreciative to the women who so graciously give me their stories to share in the hope that the truth of God’s Word will become more real to you through the reality of the application in the story. This week we have the story of a woman who recognized God’s mercy in saving her, not by works but by her faith.
I don’t “deserve” salvation. I have committed almost every sin known to man. I have stolen things. I have murdered. I have committed adultery. I have not been a very good witness for Christianity. In fact, I sometimes wonder why God has kept me here on earth. But, I thank Him for keeping me here. He truly has cleansed me from all my downfalls and has brought me up to rely and trust only on Him. Each and every day is a gift. And He gives me strength to try to do His will.
I was born into a Christian family, so I can’t use that excuse. Times were tough when I was growing up, but I made it. I had a mountaintop religious experience on top of a mountain when I was 9 years old. It is as vivid now as it was when I was 9. So, why did I go wrong? The only thing I can say is that God allowed me to sin and make horrible choices, so that I could understand His forgiveness and His remaking of me now. I am SO thankful for another opportunity to worship and serve Him. Trying to understand how to live the “good life” is for me trying to understand God’s message in the Bible and doing what is laid out so beautifully there. I want to do as much as I can do to repay God for all the goodness He has bestowed on me. Isn’t that silly? We can never repay God. He has blessed me beyond anything I could ever imagine. God’s like that! When my life is done on earth, I just pray that God won’t regret leaving me here so long!