Well I guess I’m officially old. Sure I turned forty last September, but that did not phase me; it was just another day. No, I am now old because of something far more damaging to my youthful-ego… the classic rock station is now playing songs from my youth. The soundtrack of my teens and early twenty’s is now old. Don’t get me wrong; I am flattered that my music made on the same station as my dad’s music, because he called it garbage. Ironic, is it not? Nonetheless, I was not ready for this to happen.
Unfortunately, the trauma brought on by this realization has caused me to forget the song that pushed me over the proverbial hill. However, there is another classic song from my teens that I often hear on the classic station, R.E.M.’s It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).
I really to like that song (even if it does make me classic). It is one of the tracks where the tempo demands you roll the windows down, turn the radio up and sing along with gusto. The gist of the song, at least the repeated chorus, is that the world as we know it is coming to an end, but that’s alright because “I feel fine.” The song will occasionally be featured in a post-apocalyptic movie (one of my favorite genres), usually somewhere in the opening scene. Its use foreshadows the impending disaster, but do not worry – humanity will prevail and survive.
Bringing this around to our lesson: if I were to put a sound track to the story of Rahab, I think I would choose this song for this particular scene in her life. It was the end of the world as she knew but she would be fine. Let’s explore why. Thus far in our study of Rahab’s faith, we have considered Rahab’s Working Faith and her Outreaching Faith. In this, our third installment, let’s turn our attention to her Persevering Faith.
You will recall from our previous posts that under the leadership of Joshua, the children of Israel had ended their forty-year wondering and were poised to take the Promised Land. Just before their first invasion, Joshua sent two spies into the land (Joshua 2:1).
However, their clandestine operation was foiled, and with their covers blown the two spies took shelter in the home of “a prostitute whose name was Rahab” (2:1). With some quick thinking, Rahab concealed the two men and sent their pursuers on a wild goose chase (2:3-7). Once the coast was clear, she brought the two spies out from their hiding place and asked for her and her family’s safety during the coming invasion (2:12-13). The two spies pledged that she and her family would be saved if she followed these conditions: not telling anyone their mission, identifying her house with a scarlet cord, and no one could leave the home (2:14-21).
With the promise of safety secured Rahab let the two spies “down by a rope through the window, for her house was built upon the city wall, so that she lived on the wall” (2:15). The city wall probably formed the back wall of her house with a window opening up the outside. As we will see, this detail will play an important role in the testing of her faith.
As soon as Rahab had helped the spies escape “she tied the scarlet cord in the window”(2:21). Then she waited. A close reading of Joshua 3:1-6:14 reveals that nearly a month passed from the time the spies left, to the day Jericho fell. (I’m allotting 2-3 weeks to heal from the circumcision.)
Do not discount the agony of her waiting. I have no doubt that while Rahab waited, fears and anxieties arose in her heart. Put yourself in her sandals! Imagine being locked up in your house fearful to leave least you die. The kids were crying, your dad is doubting, your sister is silently withdrawn and as usual your brother is no help. The tension is thick in the air. Then confusion and bewilderment really set in when the army of Israel comes against the city and does nothing but march around the city once a day for six days (6:1-13). Certainly, the stress of waiting tested her faith.
The climatic fall of Jericho is recorded in Joshua 6:15-27. After marching around the city once a day for six days, the text says,
“On the seventh day they rose early, at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. And at the seventh time, when the priest had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, ‘Shout, for the Lord has given you the city’… As soon as the people heard the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city.” (Joshua 6:15-16, 20)
With her house situated on along the city’s wall, Rahab’s home must have violently shook as Jericho’s wall came tumbling down (cf. 2:15). As I envision what it must have been like within the walls of her home, I feel fear all around and I hear ear piercing screams. The instinct to run into the streets must have been incredibly hard to squelch (cf. 2:19).
Then to compound matters, the roar of deadly battle exploded outside her door and the army of God stormed the city. So great was the annihilation we are told, “They devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword” (6:21). Finally, after the battle had died down and before the city was burned, the two spies went into the defeated city, “and brought out Rahab and her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her” (6:23).
As we have already noted, Rahab was a woman of great faith. What we must understand is that her faith was made great through testing (cf. Romans 5:2-5; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-9). The risk she took in hiding the spies and accepting their word was a test of faith. Each day she anxiously waited for her salvation was a test of faith. Staying in her home as the wall fell and the battle ensued was a test of faith. Through each one of these tests, she did not give in or turn back; she persevered.
To say Rahab had a Persevering Faith does not imply that she was never afraid or anxious about the future. She was human, to feel and experience those emotions is only natural. Rather, what it meant was that she did not succumb to those fears or worries. With each test, her faith grew stronger and served as an unshakable anchor for her life and for those around her. Only through testing could her faith, her great faith, produce the endurance necessary to hold onto the promises of salvation. In essence she lived out truth of James 1:2-4;
“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
As Christians today, we need, more than ever, to model Rahab’s Persevering Faith. When our faith is tested and negative emotions flood our hearts we must hold onto to the One in whom we have believed, and with His help rise above the chaos of this world (cf. 2 Timothy 1:12). Our faith should serve as “a sure steadfast anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19). Sadly, for far too many Christians their faith does not impact their day-to-day lives and thus they end up being “tossed to and fro by the waves” (Ephesians 4:14) of fear and doubt. Therefore, they give in and give up.
Much like Rahab, we too have been given a pledge of salvation, and, like her, our faith is continually tested as we wait for the end to come. The question is will we give up or persevere to the end?
The Lord Jesus has pledged to return and take us home to be with Him forever.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)
The promise of the Lord’s return should bring comfort (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11) and provide a catalyst to endure amid the troubles and trails of life.
However, it has been nearly 2,000 years since Christ Jesus pledged to return. Because it has been so long it would be so easy now, as some did in New Testament times, to question, “Where is the promise of His coming?” (2 Peter 3:4). As each day passes it can become harder to wait and resist the temptations of this wicked world. Thus we are admonished to have a Persevering Faith that will,
“Be patient… until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”(James 5:7-8)
As the last days approach, “times of difficulty” for believers will increase (cf. 1 Timothy 3:1-9). Then suddenly,
“The day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works are done on it will be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10)
He then continued by asking,
“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” (2 Peter 3:11-12a)
The pledge has been made; the Lord Jesus will return. The wait continues, but the end is near. What sort or people then should we be? People who demonstrate a Persevering Faith. Believers who do not give in or give up, but rather live lives of holiness and godliness as we wait for our blessed hope – the appearing of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus. For the Spirit has promised,
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trail, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12)
The end of the world as we know it is coming. Will you be fine? If you have a Persevering Faith like Rahab you will. If I can help you with any spiritual need drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. May God’s blessing be upon us as we keep sharing the good news.