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Lesson 4: God Is Good in the Waiting

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“By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” Hebrews 11:31

Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you through this lesson.

By Faith…Rahab

A little bit of history

After 40 years of struggle, Israel stood poised to cross the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land around 1400 BC. But she would enter without Moses for he was dead. This beautiful new land was dangerous. Numerous city-states dotted the landscape—each a walled fortress with a battle-tested army. Conquest would be difficult and time-consuming.

But, a faithful God equipped a new leader named Joshua who had been trained under Moses’ leadership for many years for this job. Joshua knew that the 2 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 Jericho, the strategic point to reach the three passes through the wilderness to the rest of Canaan. God miraculously provided dry ground for the Israelites to cross the Jordan River. A few miles away was Jericho, a walled city covering 9½ acres. One trip around the city could have taken less than an hour.

1. Read Deuteronomy 4:32-35. Why were the Israelites shown so many miraculous things (verse 35)?

2. Read Deuteronomy 2:24-25. How would God use fear to His advantage?

Getting to know Rahab…

3. Read Joshua 2:1-11. What did Rahab and the people of Jericho know about Israel and her history (verses 9-10)?

4. As a result, what was the state of morale in Jericho (verse 11)?

The state of morale in Jericho was going according to God’s plan (Deuteronomy 2:25). Their hearts “melted in fear.” Isn’t that a vivid word picture? Have you ever melted in fear?

According to archeological excavations, the citizens of Jericho were well prepared for a siege. A spring provided water inside the city walls, and the harvest had just been gathered (Joshua 3:15) providing an abundant supply of food. So, the inhabitants of Jericho could have held out for perhaps several years. Large jars full of grain found in the remains of houses show that the siege was short since the people had consumed very little of the grain. This is verification of the Bible’s accuracy regarding history.

5. Continuing to look at verses 1-11…

  • What do you learn about Rahab as a woman?
  • What conclusion did Rahab make about the God of Israel (verse 11)?
  • Could anyone else in Jericho have come to the same conclusion?
  • What actions did she take to protect the spies (verses 4-7)?

Here’s a woman who is a business woman, gutsy, quick-thinking, shows kindness, is proactive for herself and her family, and is resourceful. You probably know some women like that, although maybe not in her line of business (prostitute).

The conclusion that Rahab made about the God of Israel was exactly what God wanted all of them to know (Deuteronomy 4:35). Everyone heard the same news. While most stayed in their fear, Rahab responded with faith to the revelation given. Rahab was given an opportunity to make a conscious choice for God based upon the few facts she knew about Him, and she responded with FAITH. Faith resulted in action.

6. Read Joshua 2:12-21.

  • What did Rahab ask of the spies (verses 12-13)?
  • The spies made a covenant with Rahab. What part of the oath was Rahab’s responsibility (verses 17-20)?
  • What part of the oath was the responsibility of the spies?
  • How did she help the spies escape (verses 15-16)?

Rahab transferred her allegiance to God and Israel. She asked for kindness while also showing kindness as she first protected the spies and then assisted in their escape. Rahab agreed to the terms of the covenant. And, I bet she tied that scarlet cord in the window right away then moved her family to her house within 3 days. She risked being found out by the king and punished, facing ridicule from her family, perhaps being called a traitor, and worst of all being forgotten by the spies when Israel attacked. That would have been devastating to her!

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.

7. Read Joshua 6:1-25.

  • What was God’s plan for defeating Jericho (verses 2-5)?
  • How did Joshua and the people respond (verses 6-15)?
  • Rahab had to wait those seven days also. Based on her responsibility in the oath, who else was waiting with her?
  • What might have been Rahab’s emotions during this time of waiting?

Having all those family members waiting with her (mother, father and brothers with their families) meant that she was feeding them and keeping them focused on possible rescue rather than destruction. Can you imagine how hard that might have been!

Did you consider she might have worried that the red cord would not be seen? Maybe she worried that she would be forgotten. Do you worry that God may have forgotten you? I think she might have had some impatience, too. When would the attack take place? Is today the day? She wasn’t privy to God’s plan. Do you ever get impatient for God to work? I sure do. She was definitely not in control of anything except keeping her family with her.

Someone once said, “Responsibility is my response to His (God’s) ability.” Rahab responded to God’s ability. She made sure that scarlet cord was hanging in plain sight so she could be found. Interestingly, the early church viewed the blood-colored cord as a symbol of Christ’s atonement like the blood of the Passover lamb.

8. Joshua’s name means “salvation.” How was God faithful to Rahab through Joshua so that she and her family were saved (verses 17, 22-25)?

Archaeologists have found that surrounding Jericho was a great earthen 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. There were houses built against the wall as in Joshua 2:15. Evidence reveals that the mud brick city wall collapsed at the time the city met its end except for a short stretch of the north city wall that did not fall as everywhere else. Could this have been Rahab’s part of the wall? 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.

9. Read Matthew 1:5. What information is given about Rahab?

10. Read Hebrews 11:30, 31. What information is given about Rahab?

In Hebrews 11:31, the word “disobedient” is used to describe the rest of the people of Jericho. The original Greek word means, “to refuse to be persuaded.” God had given all the people ample opportunity to be persuaded, but they refused. Do you know someone like that?

11. Read James 2:25. What information is given about Rahab?

God’s grace to Rahab forgave her past and gave her a new future. She was given a place among the Israelites as a recognizable person because she acted on faith instead of melting into fear. She married an Israelite man and produced a son who was King David’s great grandfather, placing Rahab in the lineage of our Lord Jesus.

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. (Adapted from The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, page 330)

You may 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.

12. What have you learned from Rahab’s story that confirms to you God can forgive your past and give you a new future?

Your Faith Walk

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

14. How did she demonstrate faith at those times?

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 melt in fear.

Likewise, God forgives your past and gives you a new future. And, in any and all situations, you can count on these truths…

#1 God loves me.

#2 God knows what is going on in my life.

#3 God can do something about it.

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

That’s your walk from fear to faith.

Journal Your Faith Story

We will probably never be faced with the dramatic circumstances of Rahab, but we do have our own distressing situations in life. Rahab had to wait patiently for God to act. Remember that she did not know the “marching” orders. We also must wait for God to answer our petitions. And these times of waiting strengthen our relationship with Him as we learn to rely on His timing and trust in His goodness.

15. Read the words to the song below. Is waiting a problem for you? Have you become discouraged (or been discouraged in the past) from having to wait? Look back on that time and consider ways you can recognize 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” (Shannon Wexelberg, “In the Waiting”)

Faith-in-Action: “Trust God’s Goodness”

By faith, Rahab made a conscious choice to wait and depend on her new God to rescue her. Most of us don’t like to wait for God to work. And, we say to each other, “God is good all the time,” but do we really believe that when we have to wait?

Key Truth: God is good all the time (Psalm 119:68)

The Bible reveals that everything about God is good—He is good in Himself, and what He does is good. That means God allows nothing to happen to His children that is not for their good. God is good all the time, and He is at work in our lives for good.

God’s goodness has three aspects that apply to our times of fear and pain: 1) He is good even in the tough times; 2) He is good in different ways to each of us, and 3) He is good in what He allows or doesn’t allow into our lives.

1) God is good even in the tough times

God teaches His children through tough things He allows in our lives that help us grow up and build bones and teeth in our faith. They help us learn to trust God and give up trying to do things our own way—which may not be the best way—and start doing things God’s way—which is always the best way. ANYTHING that draws us closer to God and makes us depend upon Him is good for us.

2) God is good in different ways to each of us

God’s goodness looks different in each person’s life. In the book of Ruth, Naomi and her family were starving so they moved away from Israel to the neighboring country Moab to get bread. There they met Ruth who didn’t need bread; she needed God. Naomi shared God with Ruth. Different needs met by God’s goodness.

3) God is good in what He allows or doesn’t allow into our lives

Not everyone gets cancer, has a serious injury or chronic illness, endures long-term unemployment, loses a child or experiences the desertion of a spouse. We don’t even know all the dangers God is protecting us from daily! We should consider the bad things that He doesn’t allow into our lives and thank Him all the time for doing that.

Trust His Choosing

Do you believe that God has the right to choose what He brings into your life? It is your choice to TRUST His choice of how to be good to you. Anything that makes us depend on Him is good for us.

Depending on Him

We cannot move from fear to faith on our own. We must depend on God’s Spirit-power in us.

  • Fear says, “I can’t.” Faith says, “God can through me.”
  • Fear says, “I won’t.” Faith says, “God will in me.”
  • Fear says, “I don’t.” Faith says, “God does for me.”

Say about anything, “Lord Jesus, I can’t do this on my own. But, you can do this in and through me. I will trust you.” And, it’s okay to be a little scared because you will rely upon Him more.

Even while you are waiting for God to answer a desperate prayer, count on the fact that God is good all the time. Embrace these 4 truths to sustain you in the waiting as you walk from fear to faith.

#1 God loves me.

#2 God knows what is going on in my life.

#3 God can do something about it.

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

Reflect

16. Consider painful circumstances that have driven you to rely upon God. What did you learn about His goodness through that experience?

Pray

Pray about your fears and decisions you are making to trust God in them. Thank God for His grace toward you and His love for you.

Related Topics: Faith, Women, Women's Articles

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