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3. Rahab: A Past and a Future

Time: Into the Land ~1400 B.C.

“By faith Rahab the prostitute escaped the destruction of the disobedient, because she welcomed the spies in peace.” HEBREWS 11:31

Background

After 40 years of struggle, Israel stood poised to enter the Promised Land. But she would enter without Moses for he was dead. Much work remained. This beautiful new land was dangerous. Numerous city-states dotted the landscape, each a well-fortified, walled fortress with a battle-tested army. Conquest would be a difficult, time-consuming task.

But, God remained faithful to His people. He equipped a new leader, Joshua, who had been trained under Moses’ leadership for 40 years for this job. Joshua knew that the 2.5 million Israelites plus their flocks and herds needed to cross a flooded river and begin their conquest of the land. So, he sent 2 spies to secretly scout the area of imminent war, particularly Jericho—the strategic point to reach the three passes through the wilderness to the rest of Canaan. God took care of the river crossing for the Israelites, miraculously providing dry ground for them to move through and onto Jericho—a walled city on ~9.5 acres—once around would have taken ~1/2 hour!!

Day One Study

1. Read Deuteronomy 4:32-40. Why did God bring the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, especially accompanied by so many miraculous events?

Getting To Know Rahab…

2. Read Deuteronomy 2:24-25; Joshua 2:1-24; and Joshua 9:9-11,24. What did Rahab, the people of Jericho, and the surrounding nations know about Israel and her history?

3. As a result, what was the state of morale in Jericho?

Historical Insight: The citizens of Jericho were well prepared for a siege since a spring lay inside the city walls and the harvest had just been gathered (Joshua 3:15), providing an abundant supply of food, seen in the large jars of grain found in the houses. So, the inhabitants of Jericho could have held out for perhaps several years. The full grain jars show that the siege was short since the people inside the walls consumed very little of the grain, another historical verification of biblical accuracy.

4. Use adjectives to describe Rahab in your own words.

5. What conclusion did Rahab make about the God of Israel? Could anyone else in Jericho have come to the same conclusion? Explain.

6. Deeper Discoveries (Optional): Research the ancient city of Jericho. What was it like for Rahab to live there?

7. Rahab was given an opportunity to make a conscious choice for God based upon the facts she knew about Him, and she responded with FAITH! Faith resulted in action.

·         What did she do that day?

·         What risk was she taking?

8. Discuss how you would reconcile Rahab’s disobeying and lying to her king when compared to the principle studied in the last lesson from Romans 13:1-5. See also Exodus 1:15-20; Acts 4:19, 5:29.

Day Two Study

9. Read Joshua 2:12-21. The spies made a covenant with Rahab.

·         What part of the oath was Rahab’s responsibility?

·         What part of the oath was the responsibility of the spies?

10. After the spies’ return, God parted the Jordan River for the people to cross. All of those men who had been born in the wilderness were circumcised. The Passover was celebrated. And, the people ate produce from the land. The manna stopped the next day. Read Joshua 6:1-25. What was God’s plan for defeating Jericho?

11. How did Joshua and the people respond?

Historical Insight: Surrounding Jericho was a great earthen rampart, or embankment, with a stone retaining wall at its base 12–15 feet high. Above that stood a mud brick wall 6 feet thick, 20 feet high. At the crest of the embankment was a similar 20-foot high mud brick wall reaching to ~46 feet above the ground level below. This loomed high above the Israelites as they marched around the city each day for seven days. Humanly speaking, it was impossible for them to penetrate the impregnable fortress of Jericho. Archeological evidence reveals that the mud brick city wall collapsed at the time the city met its end (~1400 B.C.) except for a short stretch of the north city wall that did not fall as everywhere else. Also, there were houses built against the wall as in Joshua 2:15. Excavations showed that the bricks from the collapsed walls formed a ramp against the retaining wall so that the Israelites could climb up over the top as is described in Joshua 6:20. The city was thoroughly burned. (Taken from “The Walls of Jericho” by Bryant Wood, Creation magazine, March 1999, pages 36-40)

12. Rahab had to wait those seven days also. Based on her responsibility in the oath, who else was waiting with her?

13. What might have been Rahab’s emotions during this time of waiting? (See also Joshua 5:1 for the emotions of those around her.)

14. Someone once said, “Responsibility is my response to His (God’s) ability.” Rahab responded to God’s ability. What did God do for her and her family? Be specific. [NOTE: The early church viewed the blood-colored cord as a symbol of Christ’s atonement like the blood of the Passover lamb.]

15. Deeper Discoveries (Optional): Research others in scripture who experienced a time of waiting for God to act upon a promise (for example, David, Paul). What did they do while waiting?

16. Your Life’s Journey: Rahab had to wait patiently for God to act. Remember that she did not know the “marching” orders. We also must wait for God’s “always perfect” timing in answer to our prayers. Is this a problem for you? Have you become discouraged (or been discouraged in the past) from having to wait? Read Psalm 27:14. How does this scripture and the story of Rahab encourage you?

17. Think About It (Optional): Read the words to the song below. Have you considered that God was in the waiting, too?

“You are in the waiting in that moment of my life, when my faith and hope collide. My heart’s anticipating just how and when You’ll move. Oh, that’s when You prove You are in the waiting too” (“In the Waiting” by Shannon Wexelberg)

Day Three Study

18. Read Matthew 1:5, Hebrews 11:30-31, and James 2:25. This is Rahab’s report card. What does it say? [NOTE: Rahab and Salmon had a son, Boaz. Boaz was the father of Obed; Obed, the father of Jesse; Jesse, the father of King David. And from the line of King David of the tribe of Judah came the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.]

19. “Disobedient”—the word used to describe the rest of the people of Jericho in Hebrews 11:31—means, “to refuse to be persuaded.” See your answers to the questions in Day One Study. Did God give them an opportunity to be “persuaded”? Explain.

20. What does the mention of Rahab three times in the New Testament tell us about the grace of God?

21. Rahab was likely a prostitute just as it is written. In what ways did God forgive her past and give her a new future?

Scriptural Insight: For centuries, Christians have tried to soften Rahab’s reputation by arguing that she was only an innkeeper, but the New Testament references to her indicate that she was an immoral woman. The Greek word used to describe Rahab is “porne” the word from which we get “pornography.” “Porne” is only used for immorality. This in no way mars the righteousness of God who used such a person in the fulfillment of His purposes. Instead this incident serves to bring His mercy and grace into bold relief. (Taken from The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, page 330)

22. Your Life’s Journey: Do you feel that some sins in your past or present are so terrible that they can’t be forgiven or that you are unworthy to serve God? What have you learned from Rahab’s story that confirms to you God can forgive your past and give you a new future?

Day Four Study — The Walk From Fear To Faith

God loved Rahab. He knew what was going on in her life. He was able to do something about it. But, God did not keep Rahab from losing the security of her home nor did He prevent her from having to go through the agony of watching the Israelites march around the city for 7 days. Remember, she didn’t know that plan. When she stepped out in faith, He met her there. She trusted Him to rescue her, and He did. God judged her by her heart—the inward woman, not by her lifestyle—the outward appearance. He not only saved her life, but He forgave her past and gave her a new future. She chose to trust Him rather than submit to fear. Likewise, God forgives your past and gives you a new future. And, in any and all situations, you can count on these truths…

§         God loves me.

§         God knows what is going on in my life.

§         God can do something about it.

§         I can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do!

23. List all the opportunities for fear in Rahab’s life.

24. How did she demonstrate faith at those times?

25. Tell Your Story: We will probably never be faced with the dramatic circumstances of Rahab, but we do have our own distressing situations in life. Read Psalm 40:1-3 and 46:1-3. What problems are you facing now, and what choices are available to you? How will you respond? Journal this. This is part of your story.

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