Have you ever been asked that question by someone? If you have ever taken an ethics class, this is a question that will be asked and debated. But it isn’t just something you might talk about in a college class. It is actually a question that comes to our minds when we read a couple of stories in the Bible. There is a story in the book of Exodus about some midwives who may or may not have lied when they were told to kill all the Israelite boys as they were born. Then there is a story in Joshua 2 about a woman named Rahab. If you were to read Joshua 2, it is very clear that Rahab lied. It is equally clear that Rahab and her family were spared because of her lie. And if that was the point of the story, then I guess we would need to have a further debate on, is it ever ok to lie? However, that isn’t the point of the story in Joshua 2. One danger in Bible study that we need to watch out for is elevating a secondary topic to primary importance. If we read Joshua 2 and the only thing we get out of it is that Rahab lied and it worked out for her, I would argue that we have missed the true teachings of this story. So what are the meanings of this story?
There are in fact two primary meanings in Joshua 2, and the one feeds into the other. One of the meanings that we are intended to walk away with is seeing and understanding God’s grace. Rahab and the people of Jericho were the enemies of God. They were the enemies of God because they worshipped and served false gods. Yes, Rahab was nice to hide the Israelite spies, let them down out of her window safely, and keep the search party off their trail. All of those things are true. However, Rahab was still living in an enemy city among a people who were enemies. Therefore, she deserved death as much as the rest of the people of Jericho. And it is here, that we see God’s grace being extended to someone who was far from God to bring them into His family. If we want to see ourselves in this story, we must identify ourselves with Rahab and the people of Jericho. Because we are sinners by birth and by choice (Rom. 3:23-the two tenses of verbs in that verse show us this), we all deserve God’s wrath and judgment. Yet, because of His grace as displayed through Jesus’ death on the cross, we who deserve death can receive life. We have to remember that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. This leads into the bigger emphasis, God’s glory.
In Joshua 2:11 it says, “And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” A theme that runs throughout the Scripture is why God does what He does. It is answered over and over by the phrase, “so that they will know that I, the LORD, am God.” In Isaiah 42:8 we read, “I am the LORD, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images.” In answering the question, what is the chief purpose of man, the Westminster shorter Catechism says, “the chief end of man is to glorify God.” We were created to glorify God. Everything that God made, and everything that He does is meant to draw praise, honor, and give God glory. Those whom God has saved, have been saved for a purpose. That purpose is to give glory to God for saving them, as well as, sharing the Gospel so that others might be saved. As Pastor Robby Gallaty said, “The Gospel came to us on its way to someone else.” One way that we give God glory is by telling others of His grace. By Rahab hiding the spies and letting them down, she was an active, willing participant in the plan of God. The question for you and I is this, are we an active and willing participant in the plan of God?