Rahab’s Outreaching Faith


Rahabs Outreaching Faith

During the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, one of the leading candidates was asked about their religious beliefs. In part, the candidate replied they were a Christian, however, their faith was deeply personal and something they did not talk about. Needless to say, this particular candidate was ridiculed by many for offering an insincere and hollow response.

Personally, I believe the candidate in question was trying to pander to religious voters and non-religious voters alike; so the criticism was warranted. Frankly, the very idea that we would not share our faith in Christ runs counter to New Testament teaching. The good news of Christ demands that we share it with others. That is the purpose of this blog and hopefully at the heart of every believer’s life. But sadly, there are too many so-called Christians who typify the attitude expressed by a certain presidential candidate; they simply want reach out to others and share their faith.

In our last post, we began a four part series exploring different facets of the faith of the Old Testament character Rahab. You will recall that she was a Gentile prostitute living in the city of Jericho who, at great personal risk, saved two Israelite spies from her countrymen. Consequently, she was rewarded and memorialized for her working faith (cf. James 2:14-26). In this, our second installment, I want to direct our focus to Rahab’s Outreaching Faith. The way she reached out to others and shared her faith is a model for us today as we seek to do the same.

You can continue Rahab’s story with part 1 – Rahab’s Working Faith, and part 3 Rahab’s Persevering Faith

The daring story of ancient espionage involving Rahab and the two spies is recorded in Joshua 2:1-24. 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, she concealed the two men and sent their pursuers on a wild goose chase (2:3-7). Once the coast was clear, she brought the secret agents out from their hiding place and asked,

“Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” (2:12-13)

Just before the spies departed, they confirmed their agreement with Rahab. Under the two-fold condition that she identify her house with a scarlet cord and no one leave the home. Then all who were gathered under her roof would be spared (2:14-21). A little over a week later, on the day of the miraculous taking of the Jericho (we’ll have more to say about this in our next post), Joshua reminded the people,

“And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent” (Joshua 6:17).

As the city and its inhabitants laid in ruins, Joshua honored the promise of safety to the household of Rahab by ordering the two spies to, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring out from there the woman and all who belong to her, as you swore to her” (6:22). The record states,

“So the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and mother and brothers all who belonged to her. And they brought all her relatives and put them outside the camp of Israel. And they burned the city with fire, and everything kin it. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and of iron they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. But Rahab the prostitute and her father’s household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive.” (6:23-25a)

I do not know about you, but I think God is wanting us to see something here by repeating the fact that she saved her family. Four times we are reminded that because of Rahab her family was saved from certain death. She was not merely concerned with herself. Her concern included her family and household. Rahab did not keep her faith in God a secret, she shared it with others and consequently they escaped God’s judgment. This is God’s design for spreading the gospel; one person sharing with another person the good news of salvation. It is what every Christian should be doing.

I’m sure that you would agree that as Christian we should be sharing our faith with others, but frankly how many of us are doing it on a regular basis? I venture to say very few. So, why do we not purse this most fundamental Christian act? Well, I guess some folks still think STRANGER DANGER! Others think they do not know enough Bible. While with some there is the perception that evangelism is the preacher’s job. These reasons (and we could cite many others) help explain our inactivity. Nevertheless, it should not be this way. In the model of Rahab, we should possess an outreaching faith, one that we will not hold inside but must share with others. To help equip us for this task, I would like to use the commission of Mark 5:19 as a model for us to follow.

In the first half of Mark 5, we read of Jesus’ healing the demoniac of the Gerasenes (Mark 5:1-20). It indeed is a marvelous account of one of the Lord’s great miracles. Following the miracle, Mark notes that “the man who had been possessed with demons begged [Jesus] that he might be with Him” (5:18). However, Jesus had other plans for him, so He sent the man away commissioning him to: 

“Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (Mark 5:19).

Let’s break this verse down into three parts: 1) Where to Go; 2) Who to See; 3) What to Say.

Where to Go:

Too often missionaries are portrayed as people who leave home and go off to live and work in some far away land. No doubt, the church needs men and women who will do this kind of work, but more importantly Christians need to have a missionary mindset here at “home.”

Our mission field is where we live, work and play. We need not go across the seas to share the gospel, rather we need to go across the yard, the street, across town, the room, the table, or wherever we might find ourselves in this life. An outreaching faith goes home and shares the gospel with others.

Who to See:

I admire people who can easily transition a polite “hello” into a conversation about God and salvation. I do not have that gift and because it is a rare talent, I suspect you do not either. For the most part, most of us are uncomfortable talking to strangers about the gospel. Thankfully, the commission of Mark 5:19 does not require that of us, instead, Jesus sent the Gadarene home to those he knew best; his “friends.”

It is only natural that we share our faith with those who are closest to us. When Andrew found Jesus, his brother Peter was the first person he went to (John 1:35-42). When Matthew answered the Lord’s call, he invited his tax collecting friends to sit at table with Jesus (Luke 5:27-32). When the Samaritan woman concluded Jesus was the Christ, she brought her whole village out to meet Him (John 4:1-45). Then there is Cornelius (Acts 10:24), Lydia (Acts 16:15) and the Philippian Jailer (Acts 16:33) who made sure their family and friends heard the good news of Jesus. Tapping into our network of family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors is God’s number one plan for evangelism. If will open our eyes we will see that, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2).

What to Say:

It is a common practice in advertising to rely heavily on testimonials. Companies can give you all the technical information for why you should buy their product. But rarely does that hold any weight compared to a trusted friend saying this product is worth having because it improved their life. What is true in advertising is also true with the gospel.

Sharing our faith need not be a theological exegesis of the scriptures. Remember, the Gadarene was told to go, “tell how much the Lord has done for [him], and how He has had mercy on [him]” (Mark 5:19). His sharing of Jesus’ mercy and love would not be in technical jargon, but instead in personal tones. He could say, “Here is the man I used to be, here is who I am now, and here is how Jesus changed me.” That would have been a powerful message.

We all have a story of how our faith has transformed our lives; we need to simply tell it to others. “Here is the man/woman I used to be, here is who I am now, here is how Jesus changed me and here is how Jesus will do the same for you.” Couched in a personal story, your faith will be easier to share and your transformed life becomes a living testimony of the gospel’s power. One note: If you do not think you have a story, then you really need to do a serious gut check about your relationship with Jesus.

Rahab’s outreaching faith resulted in the salvation of her family. Her faith was deeply personal yet, rather than keeping it in, her faith propelled her to reach out to others so they could experience salvation as well. The question then is how concerned are you about the salvation of your friends and family? Do you have an outreaching faith like Rahab? If not, then I would encourage you today to pray to God asking Him to light a fire in your heart to share your faith with others. If I can help you with any spiritual need drop me a line at clay@claygentry.com. May God’s blessing be upon us as we keep sharing the good news.

One last thought: There’s an old hymn I remember singing as a youth. Its words paint a haunting picture that I hope will encourage you to exercise an outreach faith. The song is entitled, “You Never Mentioned Him to Me” written by James Rowe (1949):

When in the better land, before the bar we stand
How deeply grieved our souls will be
If any lost one there, should cry in deep despair
You never mentioned him to me

O let us spread the word, where-ever it may be heard
Help groping souls the light to see
That yonder none may say, you showed me not the way
You never mentioned him to me

A few sweet words may guide, a lost one to his side
Or turn sad eyes on Calvary
So work as days go by, that yonder none may cry
You never mentioned him to me

Chorus
You never mentioned him to me
Nor help me the light to see
You met me day by day and knew I was a-stray
You never mentioned him to me

 

Rahab’s Working Faith


Rahabs Working Faith

When my wife and I found out we were going to have our fourth child, people immediately asked us three questions: First it was, “Don’t you know what causes that by now?” Yes we’re well aware of what causes this. Then they asked, “Well, do you know what you’re going to have?” Yes, a girl. Immediately followed by, “Have you picked out a name yet?” Yes we have, but sorry I cannot tell you what it is. Finally, “When is the baby due?” End of May.


You can continue Rahab’s story with part 2  – Rahab’s Outreaching Faith and part 3 – Rahab’s Persevering Faith


I have to admit that it makes me happy to see others excited about our new addition. I do not mind all the questions one bit. In fact, I especially love the question about her name.  Like most parents, we take our children’s names seriously because names matter. Whether we will admit it or not, we subconsciously stereotype and form expectations of our peers and co-workers simply based on their first name. What do you think when you hear the name Mercedes or Bubba? Like it or not those names carry certain connotations.

While we are keeping our baby’s full name top secret, I can assure you that we will not bestow on our daughter the name of Rahab. We are not alone in this, according the U.S. Social Security Administration, Rahab has never made it into the top 1,000 girl names since 1900 (the first year for which data is available). I suspect it is based on the descriptive noun that is attached to her name throughout scripture, “harlot.” Time and again, the Bible reader is reminded of the fact that Rahab was a prostitute. (We’ll address this in the last post.)

Nevertheless, she was a woman of impressive faith. So much so, her story, that of a Gentile woman nonetheless, is recorded in the annals of Hebrew history (cf. Joshua 2:1-21; 6:17, 23, 25). Furthermore, the New Testament writers point to her faithfulness in an effort to fortify the fragile faith of Jewish believers (cf. Hebrews 11:31). Finally, James used her, alongside Abraham of all people, as a classic example of an active, working faith (cf. James 2:24-25). The only time we are not reminded of her past sin is when she makes a surprise appearance in the linage of Jesus (cf. Matthew 1:5).

Over the next few post, I plan to explore how this godly woman’s faith shaped her actions and life. It is my prayer that we will be challenged to a deeper and more faithful service for our Lord through this study.

As the book of Joshua opens, we find that after 40 years of wilderness wondering the children of Israel are poised to enter the Promised Land. Though it was a land “flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8; et. al.) numerous battles were to be fought against the Canaanite inhabitants before the land could be conquered. The first such encounter would be a key city in the Jordan Valley, Jericho. It is here, along the massive walls of this fortified city, that the story of Rahab’s legendary faith is recorded for all posterity.

In preparation for the battle, Joshua dispatched two spies to, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho” (Joshua 2:1a). The spy’s intent to remain undercover was somehow foiled, and they took refuge in “the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab” (2:1b-2). At some personal risk, she hid the Jewish spies from her own people, sending their pursuers on a wild goose chase (2:3-7). Then, when the coast was clear, “she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall” (2:15-16). It was her protecting the spies that the New Testament writers point to as an example of a working faith.

So what set Rahab apart from the other inhabitants of Jericho? She reported to the spies how all in Jericho had heard of the Lord God’s drying up of the Red Sea and His destroying the two kings of the Ammonites (Joshua 2:10; cf. Exodus 14:21-31; Numbers 21:21-35). Moreover she added, “And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in the heavens above and the earth beneath” (2:11). Everyone in this great city believed (or had faith if you will) in God and His mighty works, yet, their faith lead only to fearful trembling. (Their faith was useless, akin to the faith of demons cf. James 2:19). However, Rahab was different. Her faith lead to action and in turn, those actions led to the saving of her life and the life of her family.

Spend any time in church and hopefully, sooner rather than later, Ephesians 2:8-9 will be emphasized in a lesson:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

As Christians, this passage is a cornerstone belief of our faith. Our works cannot save us, rather, it is by God’s grace through faith we are saved. However, while we are not saved by works we are saved to work. Paul makes this abundantly clear in the next verse, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (v. 10). Thus, good works are the subsequent and resultant fruit and evidence of faith.

This is the point that James drives home in 2:14-16 of his epistle. “Faith by itself, if it does not have works is dead” (2:17). Faith that is not accompanied by works is stone-cold dead and frankly is no faith at all. A mere profession of faith is unworkable without that faith being put into practice. The godly works of a believer proves the existence of their faith. He sums up his argument in verses 24-26 noting:

“You see a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”

Rahab demonstrated the reality of her faith when she protected the messengers of God. Thus, she became a model of faith completed by works. A model we as Christians today should follow.

But we need to recognize that a working faith like Rahab’s is more than sitting in the pew each Sunday and fulfilling our weekly spiritual duty. Do not get me wrong, that is important, but having a working faith like Rahab’s is so much more. Staying in James’ epistle we find a definition of a working faith called religion in this passage:

“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle the tongue but deceives heart this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:26-27)

All Christians should be challenged by these two verses because it demands that our faith extends beyond our assemblies and worship services to the point it permeates our day-to-day lives.

James catalogs three characteristics of the truly religious person who has a working faith. First, they keep a tight rein on their speech (cf. James 3:2-6; 1 Peter 3:8-17). Second, they demonstrate sacrificial love by helping the helpless (cf. Matthew 25:34-36; 1 John 3:17-19). Finally, they keep themselves unstained by the world’s sinfulness (cf. James 4:4-10; Romans 12:2). This is the essence of the working faith.

God could have made the spies invisible or smote the people with blindness or used angels, but He chose to use a Gentile woman with courage to act on her faith. While our culture may not memorialize Rahab by naming our daughters after her, we as Christians should model our faith after hers. If I can help you with any spiritual need drop me a line at clay@claygentry.com. May God’s blessing be upon us as we keep sharing the good news.

Wise Saying #30


keep-calm-and-fear-god-

Wise Saying #30:

“My son, fear the Lord and the king, and do not join with those who do otherwise, for disaster from them will rise suddenly, and who knows the ruin that will come from them both?” (24:21-22)

In a time ever increasing political deadlock, increasing governmental encroachment and arrogant politicians here is valuable wisdom from heaven. The noblest of people will consider it and adjust their lives accordingly. As we close out our look at the Thirty Sayings of the Wiseman we end with the often repeated admonishment, “fear God” (cf. Deuteronomy 6:2; Proverbs 1:7; 23:17; Ecclesiastes 12:13). However, in today’s saying, the Wiseman joins our reverence for the Lord with honor for “the king.” The first admonition seems so easy for believers, the second not so much. Nevertheless, as the apostles Paul and Peter so clearly explain, in Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-17, governing authorities are God’s earthly representatives, instituted to punish evil. Therefore, the “fear of the Lord” demands fear, or reverence, of the king and the government he represents. Thus, wisdom states that we do not “join with those” who promote disdain toward, not only God, but also our leaders and government since this sort of person will suffer “disaster” and “ruin” since they resist not only man, but ultimately God (cf. Romans 13:2). So today friends, by faith, “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:17).

This is the last post in the Thirty Sayings of the Wiseman series.

It’s my prayer that this series of short devotionals encouraged you to press on in the faith. Soon, I’m planning on having them together in one document but only after a thorough editing. Also, if you are interested these same post over on my Spanish blog compartiendolasbuenasnuevas.wordpress.com where my good friend Don Elliot does the translating. May all we do be to His glory and honor. ~Clay

Wise Saying #29


angry woman2

Wise Saying #29:

“Do not be angered by evildoers, and do not be envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.” [i] (24:19-20)

Does it ever make you fuming mad that the lives of sinners seem so easy-going and fun as compared to your morally austere existence? Have you ever wished your life could be as carefree as theirs? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then welcome to the Christian race. The Wiseman warns us against the common, and especially alluring, temptation of envying sinners. So powerful is this enticement, he warns against it three other times (cf. 3:31; 23:17-18; 24:1; see also Sayings #14 and #19). Twice David and Aspah muse about the topic (Psalms 37, 73). And bringing it closer to home, in the old standard Farther Along, we lyrically wonder ourselves why the faithful have it so hard while the wicked live in such prosperous ease[ii]. Burning with envy over the evildoer’s success is foolishness, since God has ordained that their prosperity and ease is but temporary. Sinners have no future seeing as, “They will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb” (Psalm 37:1).  So today, allow God to deal with the wicked and let’s, “Delight [ourselves] in the Lord and He will give [us] the desires of [our] hearts” (37:4).

This week’s theme: The Thirty Sayings of the Wiseman

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[i] Nearly all English translations begin verse 19 with the word “fret.” So, for example, the ESV says, “Fret not…” When I think about the word “fret” I think anxiety or worry. However, according to Brown-Driver-Briggs the Hebrew here means to “to be hot, furious, burn, become angry, be kindled.” Therefore, the Wiseman is not saying don’t worry about the wicked but don’t become angry over the wicked and their prosperous, and/or carefree lifestyle. (The life of the wicked must seem good or fun in order to be an object of envy.) The Holman Christian Standard Bible translates this verse, “Don’t be agitated…” I have taken the liberty to translate my own version of this verse in an attempt to capture what I believe the Wiseman intended to say.

[ii] The first verse says, “Tempted and tried we’re oft made to wonder, Why it should be thus all the day long, While there are others living about us, Never molested tho’ in the wrong.” The chorus states that while our lot in life may seem unfair now, “Farther along we’ll know all about it, Farther along we’ll understand why.” So then we are admonished to, “Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine, We’ll understand it all by and by.” Another verse adds, “Toils of the road will then seem as nothing, As we sweep thro’ the beautiful gate.” This hymn is an old standard in many churches in the South.

 

Wise Saying #28


Love Enemy Neighbor

Wise Saying #28:

“Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him.” (24:17-18)

Do you ever hope bad things will happen to your enemies? Or, have you ever felt a cathartic satisfaction when they “Get what they deserved”? If you answered yes to either of the questions then know this, God watches how you treat your enemies (even in your heart), especially when they fall into calamity. The kindness God requires us to show those who hate us extends to all facets of life (cf. 25:21-22; Luke 27-36). Following the promise in Saying #27 that the wicked will fall, the Wiseman now counsels us to not gloat over their punishment. The Lord finds such jubilant rejoicing so repulsive that he would rather turn away from his retribution than to look at your abhorrent gloating. Remember, in God’s economy, reveling over the disaster visited on the immoral is just as wicked as the evil they inflict on the righteous. Therefore the scriptures say, “He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished” (17:5). I realize this is a hard test of character; our natural inclination is to hate our enemies and celebrate their demise but let’s embrace the Wiseman’s challenge. So, rather than nursing malignant revenge, let’s cultivate lives that reflect the heart of God who takes no pleasure in the disasters that befall the wicked (cf. Ezekiel 33:11). Rather, let us resolve to do good to them always, to pray for them continually and to overcome their evil with good (Romans 12:18-21).

This week’s theme: The Thirty Sayings of the Wiseman

Wise Saying #27


Can Christians Pray To Jesus?

Wise Saying #27:

“Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous; do no violence to his home; for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.” (24:15-16)

In today’s saying, the Wiseman instructs us to not imitate the “wicked” that viciously conspire against the righteous. His prohibition rest on the fact that, the wicked will fall in their day of calamity but the righteous will be saved time and time again. Therefore, Christian brother and sister, is there any reason for you to fret or worry about your circumstances? Though you may fall seven times to the blows of the wicked, if you’re walking uprightly, the blessed Lord will hold your hand and deliver you from all your afflictions and troubles (ref. Psalm 34:19; 37:23-24; 71:20). Remember friends, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). So take heart put your trust in the God of your salvation and He will lift you up in His time. “To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Philippians 4:20).

This week’s theme: The Thirty Sayings of the Wiseman

Wise Saying #26


honeycomb-to-the-soul-is-gracious-words

Wise Saying #26:

“My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” (24:13-14) 

This is not a command to eat honey, instead, the Wiseman is encouraging us to seek the benefits and sweetness of wisdom’s rewards. Just as honey is beneficially “good” for the body and delightfully “sweet” to the taste buds, so wisdom is invigorating and satisfying to the soul that feeds on it; in turn fostering a “future” and a secure “hope.” Do you want to experience the sweet exhilaration and pleasure of wisdom? Then get into God’s word, the source of all wisdom. It was David who exclaimed, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103; cf. 19:7-11). So today, open up God’s word, delve into its pages and “taste and see” that indeed the Lord’s word is good for the soul. You won’t regret it!

This week’s theme: The Thirty Sayings of the Wiseman