Welcome! Please note: only one service July 27-Aug 10
Sunday Service - 10:30 am on July 27, August 3, August 10
Grace Summit Community Church is a nondenominational church which focuses on authentically living out what the Bible teaches. It’s also a church with a big heart—toward its members, guests, and those in our community.
Grace Summit leadership and members desire to make a difference in our world by demonstrating through our lives that God is real, that He loves people and that He wants a relationship with each person. The mindset of “making room for more” underlies the plans and activities of Grace Summit as we strive to include and connect with more people in all we do. We’d love to have you be a part of what God is doing here at Grace Summit!
This Week's Message
Lord, thank You for the servants You have given our church – devoting time as people of this community – one that honors You. Thank You for the work You are doing and help us to understand what You are doing next so that we can fulfill what You call us to do – focusing on Your will and what You call us to. As we study Joshua – help us to see how it can affect this culture – and You have a word through this for us – and it is amazing. We praise and honor You.
Rahab – this story comes first as it is key to understanding the book of Joshua. We have become so familiar with this story – coming from our Christian perspective – knowing that she is in the genealogies of Jesus – so you have heard it – and we see her as a hero of the faith. Because of all that, it can cause us to miss the ironies of this story – and to fail to ask the questions about the bizarre aspects of this story.
There are 3 parts to this sermon. – and 7 points for each part and 9 subpoints…
1) We are going to set the stage
2) I will tell the story – in a way as if you didn’t know it – so I am going to wreck the story of Rahab for you – so you can appreciate it all the more. It is one of my favorites – but we need to ask – why is THAT there – why did they do that?
3) We will discover the meaning of the story for us.
Spies – this goes back to Numbers 13:1 – forty years earlier – the Lord tells Moses to send men to explore the land. This is the first time they were supposed to cross the Jordan. 12 leaders – so that all are responsible. They gave lists of who went – and in v. 26 – they were there forty days – and gave this account – it DOES flow with milk and honey and clusters of grapes so big they had to have two men carry them on a pole! And they had been given this promise – and it was ALL TRUE – but the spies have a problem – Here is the fruit, BUT… HOWEVER… the people who live there are powerful and the cities are very large and so are the people! It is like they are just realizing that they can’t just go take the land – there are enemies there! But God told them that ahead of time. And instead of looking at the promise and the fruit, they look at the obstacles and enemies and problems – and they forget that God said He would drive the enemies out before them! There were two who believed that God could do it…
Others said, all the people were of great size! But isn’t that the way it is? They probably thought even the babies were of great size! They saw the descendents of the Nephilim there. We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes… - the spies recognized their inadequacy – they believed that they were inadequate, weak and unable – and that was true – that is not the issue – the issue is that God said He would do it. We are inadequate to do what God has called us to do apart from the presence of God. We are only adequate and able when we focus on the presence and power of God – and then and only then can we become adequate.
How can we receive the power and grace to experience the power and presence of God in our lives?
1) What are we called to do? Sometimes we don’t experience God’s presence because we aren’t engaging in what God is calling us to do – we do things that others expect us to do – but those are things He has never called us to do.
2) What has He promised us? What promises has He given us?
3) Acknowledge our limitations.
4) Then, we need to act faithfully – we need to cross the Jordan and enter the land – just jump in with both feet – if it is in trying to improve your marriage, we need to take whatever steps necessary.
With that in mind – Joshua and Caleb were the only two to survive the 40 years.
Joshua, knowing all this happened, sends two spies – not twelve – handpicked – and this is interesting: God doesn’t TELL him to send spies!
Look over the land.
Joshua 2:1 Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.
They are commanded to go spy out the land, and what do they do? They go to the house of a prostitute. Don’t miss this!
Shiitim – what happened there? That is important – Numbers 25 – while Israel remained there, they began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab and bowed down to their gods. The women of Moab came to the city and had relations with the men of Israel and the people of Israel began to worship Baal.
Israel was judged severely
The spies go in – from this city that caused so much trouble to the house of a prostitute – and there had been the command – do not have relations with the people of the land.
This sets up the story.
2 The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.”
Gee, these were supposed to be the handpicked spies – they must not have been very good spies!
Rahab is a heroine of this story – there is a focus here – the spies aren’t even named, but she is!
3 So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”
Joshua’s crack spies and the king’s secret police… and Rahab makes mincemeat of them all…
4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them.
The spies are passive, Rahab is active.
She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from.
She is smart and crafty – she doesn’t DENY it – she is clever. It is obvious what she is doing and how she is getting away with this…
5 At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.”
You can just see these guys – oh, better catch up with them!
6 (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) 7 So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.
She gets rid of the king’s men – and the spies are stuck – they can’t get out.
8 Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 9 and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us,
Let’s compare this with Numbers… - they are giants! We are like grasshoppers! But God had put the fear of them in everyone in the land…
so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea[a] for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.[b] 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.
Rahab is the first person to praise and honor God in the land. No Israelite has. Rahab is the first to bring praise to God in the land.
We see this throughout the Bible – a contrast between the unbelief of Israel and the faith of those outside. Jesus with the Roman Centurion – I haven’t seen this faith in Israel. These people – Rahab – was a picture of what Israel was supposed to be, but was not.
12 “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you.
Kindness – Lovingkindness – Chassed -
Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.”
This might be 100 people she was asking for!
14 “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her.
They are trying to save their skin…
“If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.”
This takes us back to what God told them in Deuteronomy 7 and we have to ask – “When the Lord brings you into the land…
Deut. 7:1 When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— 2 and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally.[a] Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.
And the first one they meet – they make a treaty and show mercy to!
The spies are uncomfortable…
14 “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.”
15 So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. 16 She said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.”
17 Now the men had said to her, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us 18 unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. 19 If any of them go outside your house into the street, their blood will be on their own heads; we will not be responsible. As for those who are in the house with you, their blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on them. 20 But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.”
They were uncomfortable with what they had done. This scarlet thread thing is really a picture of the Passover – put the blood on the door – anyone who leaves will not be protected…
This outsider is the first believer in the land.
21 “Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.”
She knows exactly what she is doing.
So she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.
22 When they left, they went into the hills and stayed there three days, until the pursuers had searched all along the road and returned without finding them.
Why is this strange story so important, filled with such strange stuff? This is no accident – and we can’t be embarrassed about it – we need to read it as plain as the story is told.
23 Then the two men started back. They went down out of the hills, forded the river and came to Joshua son of Nun and told him everything that had happened to them. 24 They said to Joshua, “The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.”
They have a consecration – they circumcise the males – heal, circle Jericho, it falls, and they take the land…
Joshua 6: 24 Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house. 25 But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.
Again – this goes directly against God’s original command – don’t let any live, stay in the land, or become part of the community because they will lead you down the wrong road – but Rahab stayed forever. What does it mean? The first thing we need to understand – maybe there is a bigger law that should form our understanding of all of the laws – “Go and destroy everyone” – “but leave these alive” – because there is a law that trumps all the others – Love the Lord your God – love your neighbor as yourself.
They came to Jesus – and he said – learn what this means – I desire compassion – and not all your rule keeping. Do unto others as you would have them do to you by this all the laws of the prophets are fulfilled.
This story of Rahab takes us out of what we desire to see – to keep people out.
God begins the story with war/conquest/destruction – and ends with mercy and compassion.
Rahab is shown mercy – she does not receive the judgment that she in one sense deserves. The land of Canaan is under judgment – Rahab doesn’t receive that.
This story puts a face on the enemy – taking the Canaanites and giving them a face – they are not who you think they are – and what is interesting – every Canaanite they meet face to face will be a sympathetic character, acting more like God’s people – and becoming a permanent part of the community. I think that is a key to understanding the violence and genocide – understanding the back story that runs throughout the book of Joshua.
4) This is the story of the gospel – and it tells us that Rahab received mercy – not getting what she deserved – and Israel received grace – getting what they did not deserve – the land. There was nothing they did to deserve it.
We deserve judgment and punishment – and we receive what we do not deserve – grace and salvation. This story tells us that Israel and the Canaanites are the same – we all need grace and mercy. Those in the church and those outside – we all need God’s grace and mercy. And finally,
Rehab’s story reminds of God’s WHOLE promise – they remembered the land part – and the blessing part – but they forget that they should be a blessing to the nations. And when they enter Canaan – the purpose of all this is so you can bless the whole world.
Psalm 67 – God blesses us that we might be a blessing to the entire world – not that we keep it to ourselves. This story calls our prejudices, self-righteousness and arrogance into question. Will we make room in our community for Rahab?
Let’s pray – This is an incredible story – help us to understand it more clearly – I pray you would help us to be grateful for our salvation – we like Rahab deserve death, and we are forgiven. You have demonstrated mercy and compassion, and now we are called to do the same. In Your name we pray. Amen.