Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove. He instructed them, “Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.” So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night.
But someone told the king of Jericho, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” So the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab: “Bring out the men who have come into your house, for they have come here to spy out the whole land.”
Rahab had hidden the two men, but she replied, “Yes, the men were here earlier, but I didn’t know where they were from. They left the town at dusk, as the gates were about to close. I don’t know where they went. If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them.” (Actually, she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them beneath bundles of flax she had laid out.) So the king’s men went looking for the spies along the road leading to the shallow crossings of the Jordan River. And as soon as the king’s men had left, the gate of Jericho was shut.
Why would the spies stop at the house of Rahab, a prostitute? (1) It was a good place to gather information and have no questions asked in return. (2) Rahab’s house, built into the city wall, was in an ideal location for a quick escape (Joshua 2:15). (3) God directed the spies to Rahab’s house because he knew her heart was open to him and that she would be instrumental in the Israelite victory over Jericho. God often uses people with simple faith to accomplish his great purposes, no matter what kind of past they have had or how insignificant they seem to be. Rahab didn’t allow the shame of her lifestyle prevent her from accepting the invitation God had for her to be a part of his story.
Was Rahab justified in lying to save the lives of the spies? Several explanations have been offered: (1) God forgave Rahab’s lie because of her faith; (2) Rahab was simply deceiving the enemy, a normal and acceptable practice in wartime; (3) because Rahab was not a Jew, she could not be held responsible for keeping the moral standards set forth in God’s law; (4) Rahab broke a lesser principle—telling the truth—to uphold a higher principle—protecting God’s people. In Hebrews 11:31, however, Rahab is commended for her faith in God, and her lie is not mentioned.
The lives of the Israelite spies could have been saved another way. But under the pressure of the moment, Rahab had to make a choice. Most of us will face dilemmas at one time or another. We may feel that there is no perfect solution to our problem. Fortunately, God does not demand that our judgment be perfect in all situations. He simply asks us to put our trust in him and to do the best we know how. Rahab did that and was commended for her faith.
Do you wonder whether your sins are too great for God to really accept you and invite you into a life with him? Remember Rahab. Do you ever make decisions that seem less than ideal? Remember Rahab. God knows you are not perfect. His grace will fill up what you lack.