Our hearts did melt
Here’s the context. The Israelites are about to go in and take possession of the land. Once again they send out spies, this time two of them. Given that last time there were two good spies – Joshua and Caleb – we have high hopes for this expedition. As it turns out, they’re not exactly a special-forces crack unit. As soon as they get to Jericho they head for the brothel!
But the LORD turns even evil to good. As it happens, the prostitute, Rahab, has heard of the Israelites and the God of the Israelites. In fact all the Canaanites have. This is what she says:
And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. 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. Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token: And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death. And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the LORD hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee. (Joshua 2:9-14)
The Canaanites could not claim ignorance of the true God and His people. He had proved Himself unmistakeably to the whole world. And any of these foreigners who ever approached the Israelites for terms of peace met with a favourable response (e.g. Joshua 9). Rahab and her household were no exception.
She is given a “true token” by which the invading Israelites would know to spare her. It was a “scarlet thread” which was to hang from her window.
In Egypt, judgement passed over the Israelites when the LORD saw the red of the lamb’s blood painted on the door-frames. So here in Jericho, the Israelites would pass over Rahab’s house when they saw the red of the scarlet thread. Rahab was being taught just what it takes to be spared judgement. There needs to be a death – the death of the Lamb to avert destruction. And Rahab not only learns this truth. She too becomes a part of this story.
Having been adopted into the LORD’s people (because adoption always comes with salvation) Rahab becomes an ancestor of the true Lamb that takes away the sin of the world (Matthew 1:5)!
Rahab’s story is not simply “shady lady come good”. She goes from an object of wrath, to a saved soul, to adoption into the covenant people, to royalty in the family of King Messiah! Her story is the story of anyone who turns to the LORD Jesus and trusts in His blood: salvation, adoption and enthronement!
All the Canaanites’ hearts melted with fear. But very few of them turned to seek terms of peace. Rahab did and found grace upon grace. May our hearts not simply melt with fear. May they melt with a trusting devotion to Christ the Lamb.