“Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way.”
“By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.”
From our point of view, the most important question is: Am I a friend of God or of the world?
If the former, I will hate the world; if the latter, I am a hater of God.
There is no other alternative.
If you love God, it is proof that you have faith and the works of faith.
These works of faith had Rahab. And so, she opposed Jericho’s cause, her own city. And she cast her lot with God’s Kingdom which came to destroy Jericho.
And she was justified by her works.
To that we want to call your attention.
Rahab was a harlot. That is, she had been a harlot: she was so no more. She had become converted. That is sure.
But she had been a harlot, and so she was a worthy representative of that wicked city Jericho.
Jericho was a city of great significance in the plan to occupy the Holy Land. It was the very key for the conquest. And that is the reason why Israel must receive that city from God Himself.
It was a strong city, with strong men and strong walls round about it.
Spiritually it was a city filled with iniquity of every kind, immorality, adultery, idolatry, and enmity against God. And so it was a city which could be representative of Canaan, and of the wicked world generally.
Rahab was a citizen of Jericho: a harlot. It figures. And it is mentioned purposely to indicate that she was a participant of Jericho’s sinful life. She was Jericho’s representative, as also yours and mine. You often find that in Scripture. Think of laughing Sarah, sinful David, lying Rebekah, cursing and swearing peter, etc. They represent us.
Another point: note how wonderfully truthful is God and His Word. It never glosses over the evil of God’s people. It tells the story just as it.
But Rahab had faith. We must emphasize this, otherwise we will depart from the true and faithful way of God.
Her works were not the works of the law.
There were the works of faith.
Let’s look at the history.
There come the masses of Israel, the nomad people.
And make no mistake: this Israel is the God’s Kingdom which is going to destroy the kingdom of Satan. The Kingdom of God will be founded on the ruins of the kingdom of Satan.
The world is always perishing, the Kingdom of God is always progressing, even on the foundation of the world’s ruins. These two always go together. And it will be beautifully shown at the end of the ages. Then the world will go down in flames at the same time when God’s Kingdom will stand in all its glory before the face of God, His Christ, the angels and the righteous.
Rahab believed that.
She had received that excellent gift of God. And as soon as that faith reached her consciousness, she was looses from Jericho. And in her heart and mind she was a justified person.
She believed in the cause of God. She had heard of that cause. She knew the wondrous history of Israel’s redemption out of the house of bondage. And she believed it too.
And therefore she speaks of that which she believed.
With heart and soul she is in favor of God and His cause, and against her own city.
Faith causes us to choose sides. She is for God and His party in the world.
Faith that speaks but does not work is dead. It is the faith which makes the devils tremble.
Rahab chooses for God.
The spies came as friends of God, and knocked at her door.
Well, she receives them, protects them and cares for them to the very end.
Rahab is a friend of God in her works.
And she is against Jericho. And that is quite correct. You cannot serve two masters, If you love the one, you will hate the other. That is the antithesis. That is the way it is throughout all the ages. If you are a friend of God you are a hater of the world.
And that is the way Rahab acted too. The king of Jericho hears about these two men, and that they had found refuge in the house of Rahab. He sends his servants to inquire. He knew that these men of Israel had come to spy out the city and the land. “Give those men up to me!” That is the command of the king to Rahab.
And what are her works?
She chooses for the spies and against her king.
She looked at the recompense of the reward. She is sure of Israel’s victory and flees the wrath to come, She seeks the peace of Jerusalem and works the works of a living faith.
That was great!
Oh, I know that Rahab has been severely criticized for her lying and deceiving. She went to the door and said: “Oh yes, there were two men here, but they are gone!” And all the time they lay upstairs under the stalks of flax! She continues: “Be sure and follow them and you will catch them!” But she is a deceiver. She will contrariwise give advice to the two men so that they may elude their pursuers!
What must we say about this lying and deceiving?
That is very simple. She should not have done that. She should have trusted in the Almighty God! There is no problem here at all. The Holy Scripture simply shows Rahab to be just as frail and weak as we are. We are all liars, everyone of us.
No, we will never defend the lie and deception. And God does not either. God forbid. His Name is Holy. Far is the Almighty from doing iniquity.
But here is the point: The Holy Scripture does not say anything about her lying and deception, but says much about the greatness of her faith and works of faith.
Her work of faith is great. She is surrounded by the people, the soldiers and the might of the world. But she stands foursquare on the cause of God. She turns against her own people and casts her lot with God and His cause. At the danger of losing her own life. Her life was at stake at the very moment when the servants of the king knock on the door of her house and question her. But it does not deter a person who has the living faith. Her works will accompany that faith. Even at the danger of losing her life. That is the great thing in the works of Rahab.
And so Rahab is justified.
Now let us get one thing very straight: Rahab was not justified because of her works.
Because she was already justified before the world was created. God loved her from everlasting to everlasting. She was given to Jesus Christ in the quiet wakes of eternity before the world began.
Second, because she was justified before God’s tribunal before her faith had a chance to work. As soon as faith resides in you, you are justified before God’s throne. Such is the nature of faith. Faith is the avenue to God’s heart. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Faith means that this Jesus is in your heart. And He gives you the spiritual power to draw out of Himself all you need to live forever.
And, third, because no works of faith can wash away sin. Suppose that the works of faith could wash you clean as far as the present and the future are concerned. Even that is not true, but suppose it to be true for the sake of argument. But what about the past and all its guilt and evil?
No, but Rahab was justified in the way of her works. She was saved by means of the works of faith.
And that is exactly the case in this history.
Suppose that Rahab had spoken, but not acted? Suppose she had talked and talked to these spies about God and Israel and their cause and prospects, but not acted?
Then she would have perished with Jericho.
A faith that talks and does not work is dead, and is like the faith of the devil. He believes that there is a God, but he trembles.
There is plenty of such faith today, but it does you no good.
James militates against that kind of faith. Remember how he said: Suppose that a brother or a sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them: Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled! But you do not give them a scrap of food or a rag to put upon their chilled body? Could such a faith profit you? Of course not.
So also here. If Rahab had talked theology and doctrine until she was blue in the face, and had not protected and cared for these spies, she would have been destroyed after the sevenfold walk about the city.
But now she believed, and spoke, and acted; proving that she had a living faith. The scarlet thread hung out of the window on the wall. It was seen. And she was saved.
And the harlot Rahab was justified.
And she received the unspeakable honor to become the mother of Jesus.
She is waiting in heaven for you.