“For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”
At God’s direction, Joshua was about to lead the Israelites over Jordan. He sent two spies to Jericho. They ended up at the home of Rahab, the harlot. The king of Jericho heard that the spies were there, and sent men to take them. Rahab told them that while the spies had been there, they had left the city just before the gate was closed. But she had hid the spies on the roof of her house, with the flax that she had set out for drying. The words above were part of her conversation with the spies. After this she appealed to the spies for the safety of herself and her family.
She told the spies that the people in Jericho had heard about what God had done for Israel. She mentioned two events: God drying up the Red Sea, and the defeat of Og and Bashan who were kings of the lands on the east side of the Jordan. One could understand their having heard of this event, for these kings were their neighbors, only just over the river. And, the victories over them by Israel had happened within a few weeks prior to the spies coming to Jericho. But the drying up of the Red Sea had happened at least forty years before the spies arrived. And it was hundreds of miles away in Egypt.
The effect of what they had heard was reported by Rahab; “As soon as we heard it our hearts did melt…” We can relate to events that cause us to fear. But do forty-year-old events still have an impact? The attack on the World Trade Center has not yet been forty years ago. Does that still melt our hearts? The people of Jericho were moved by the might which God displayed when He dried up the Red Sea. To them it was unmistakable evidence of God’s hand upon Israel. There was no doubt that He had dried up the Red Sea. And He was keeping it fresh in their minds. Then the more recent event, across the river from Jericho, took place. Just as God worked on Israel’s behalf at the Red Sea, so He took up the battle against these two powerful kings. The land they were inhabiting was part of the land that God had promised to give Israel.
So, these two events added up to, “our hearts did melt…”, as Rahab said. She then said the thing that perhaps cheered the spies the most, “…neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you…” Imagine an army finding out that they were not going to face a fight!
Rahab’s last statement was the most revealing about where her heart was, “…for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.” She knew that Israel was special because she realized that Israel’s God is special. He was, and is, not like the idols of Jericho, or any other place. He was, and is, the true God. He is God of heaven above and earth beneath. Rahab realized that she needed to throw herself on the mercy of the God who the spies served, and the nation they represented, in order to survive the coming siege. In the next few verses, she appealed for the safety of her house and her family. Later, we are told that she and her family were safely taken out of the city as the attack happened. The spies were assigned to bring them out.
There were some Gentiles mentioned in the Old Testament that were blessed by God’s mercy. Though they were not part of Israel they were blessed by God for their faith in Him. Their stories are given, and stand as a testimony to God’s great grace, and mercy. They realized that they needed the God of heaven above and earth beneath. They saw that He was their only hope. Ruth was one, and Rahab was another. And, both of them are mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 1:5.
Rahab’s faith in God is what proved to be her salvation. As the Word says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” (Hebrews 11:6). And, as Peter told his readers in 1 Peter 5:6, 7, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.
But I know whom I have believèd,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.
I know not how this saving faith
To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word
Wrought peace within my heart.
I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing us of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word,
Creating faith in Him.
I know not what of good or ill
May be reserved for me,
Of weary ways or golden days,
Before His face I see.
I know not when my Lord may come,
At night or noonday fair,
Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
Or meet Him in the air.
Refrain (Daniel W. Whittle)