So many things had to converge in order for the Israelites to come, finally, into the promised land. So many things could have gone wrong. Joshua sent spies who entered the house of a prostitute in order to spy on the land. But their presence didn’t go unnoticed, and the king sent men to capture the spies. Here it could have gone horribly wrong. If Rahab had not been willing to hide and protect them, the entire mission would have ended then and there. But God was able to work through a prostitute to save the men and their mission. (‘Cause God doesn’t value any human over another, despite how we rank ourselves.)
The men did escape and were able to report that Jericho was terrified of their presence in the land, and of the things their God had done to bring them home. If Rahab had not informed the men of Jericho’s fear, the Israelites might not have found the courage to attack. Again, God knew just what they needed to hear, and just who to send to deliver the news.
Finally, the Israelites were faced with a monumental task – to attack a city fortified with a large, powerful wall with a community who, just one generation ago, were all slaves, not soldiers. But God knew that sound waves had the power to take down such a wall and instructed the Israelites exactly how to bring it down – by marching around the city day after day, and then shouting against the weakened wall.
Finally, the Israelites were in the city fighting face to face against Jericho. Despite their history as slaves and more recent history as wanderers, it might have seemed an unlikely victory against a powerful city with an experienced army. But God led the way, and the Israelites finally were home.
I continue to be surprised when God orchestrates highly unlikely events all to converge so as to make God’s will a reality. How many times in my own life have I looked back on a series of events and stood in amazement that they all came together as they did! In hindsight, I didn’t need to be surprised. God knows just what God is doing. And if some of the things don’t work as they should, God finds another way. Thank heavens we have a God that is clever, resourceful, and persistent.
Joshua 2:1-24, 6:1-27
Then Joshua son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and entered the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab, and spent the night there. The king of Jericho was told, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to search out the land.” Then the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come only to search out the whole land.” But the woman took the two men and hid them. Then she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they came from. And when it was time to close the gate at dark, the men went out. Where the men went I do not know. Pursue them quickly, for you can overtake them.” She had, however, brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax that she had laid out on the roof. So the men pursued them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. As soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.
Before they went to sleep, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men: “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that dread of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt in fear before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites that were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. As soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no courage left in any of us because of you. The Lord your God is indeed God in heaven above and on earth below. Now then, since I have dealt kindly with you, swear to me by the Lord that you in turn will deal kindly with my family. Give me a sign of good faith that you will spare my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” The men said to her, “Our life for yours! If you do not tell this business of ours, then we will deal kindly and faithfully with you when the Lord gives us the land.” Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the outer side of the city wall and she resided within the wall itself. She said to them, “Go toward the hill country, so that the pursuers may not come upon you. Hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers have returned; then afterward you may go your way.” The men said to her, “We will be released from this oath that you have made us swear to you if we invade the land and you do not tie this crimson cord in the window through which you let us down, and you do not gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your family. If any of you go out of the doors of your house into the street, they shall be responsible for their own death, and we shall be innocent; but if a hand is laid upon any who are with you in the house, we shall bear the responsibility for their death. But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be released from this oath that you made us swear to you.” She said, “According to your words, so be it.” She sent them away and they departed. Then she tied the crimson cord in the window.
They departed and went into the hill country and stayed there three days, until the pursuers returned. The pursuers had searched all along the way and found nothing. Then the two men came down again from the hill country. They crossed over, came to Joshua son of Nun, and told him all that had happened to them. They said to Joshua, “Truly the Lord has given all the land into our hands; moreover all the inhabitants of the land melt in fear before us.”
Now Jericho was shut up inside and out because of the Israelites; no one came out and no one went in. The Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have handed Jericho over to you, along with its king and soldiers. You shall march around the city, all the warriors circling the city once. Thus you shall do for six days, with seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, the priests blowing the trumpets. When they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, as soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and all the people shall charge straight ahead.”
So Joshua son of Nun summoned the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and have seven priests carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark of the Lord.” To the people he said, “Go forward and march around the city; have the armed men pass on before the ark of the Lord.” As Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord went forward, blowing the trumpets, with the ark of the covenant of the Lord following them. And the armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets; the rear guard came after the ark, while the trumpets blew continually. To the people Joshua gave this command: “You shall not shout or let your voice be heard, nor shall you utter a word, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.” So the ark of the Lord went around the city, circling it once; and they came into the camp, and spent the night in the camp. Then Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord passed on, blowing the trumpets continually. The armed men went before them, and the rear guard came after the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets blew continually. On the second day they marched around the city once and then returned to the camp. They did this for six days. On the seventh day they rose early, at dawn, 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 priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city. The city and all that is in 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 we sent. As for you, keep away from the things devoted to destruction, so as not to covet and take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel an object for destruction, bringing trouble upon it. But all silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are sacred to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.” So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpets, they raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat; so the people charged straight ahead into the city and captured it. Then they devoted to destruction by the edge of the sword all in the city, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys. Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the prostitute’s house, and bring the woman out of it and all who belong to her, as you swore to her.” So the young men who had been spies went in and brought Rahab out, along with her father, her mother, her brothers, and all who belonged to her—they brought all her kindred out—and set them outside the camp of Israel. They burned down the city, and everything in it; only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. But Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, Joshua spared. Her family has lived in Israel ever since. For she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. Joshua then pronounced this oath, saying, “Cursed before the Lord be anyone who tries to build this city—this Jericho! At the cost of his firstborn he shall lay its foundation, and at the cost of his youngest he shall set up its gates!” So the Lord was with Joshua; and his fame was in all the land.