Joshua 2-3

Sunday Evening Bible Study

March 7, 1999

Introduction

The book of Joshua is a book about receiving Godís promises. The Israelites have taken 40 years getting through the wilderness, a journey that could have been done in two weeks. It was their lack of faith that made it last longer than it could have. But the point is that they are now ready to go in. Joshua is the man to lead them in.

Joshua 2

:1 Shittim

"Acacia grove". Apparently the people were camping out in an Acacia grove.

:1 two men to spy

Numbers 13-14 - Moses sent out 12 spies at the Lord's command to spy out the Promised Land.

When they returned after 40 days, they had a mixed report.

10 of the spies gave a bad report, and said that the land couldn't be taken because of the giants, they caused the people to complain and inevitably wander in the wilderness for 40 years.

But 2 of the spies (Joshua and Caleb) gave a good report. They knew that God could take them into the promised land!

Isn't it interesting that now that Joshua is the boss, he chooses to only send 2 spies, and not 12!

:1 came into an harlot's house

Some have tried to say that she wasn't really a prostitute, but really an "innkeeper". The problem is that the Hebrew word means "prostitute" (zonah)

Lesson

God uses "unworthy" people.

Be careful that you donít glamorize Rahab too much. She was a sinner. She was an outcast. Sure she was popular with the men in the middle of the night, but the rest of her life was one of shame and rejection.

You may not feel like you're anybody that God could use.

Emory Campbell: "God uses crooked sticks to draw straight lines"

:4 wist not whence they were

"knew not where they were from"

:5 when it was dark, that the men went out:

Sheís lying. Is it okay to lie like this?

This is really quite a sticky subject. On one hand, we canít condone lying. Some have suggested that she should have just told the truth and trusted God. "Theyíre up on the roof hiding", and then God would have miraculously saved them. Perhaps. The difficult point is that God still used her and her lie.

What about the people who hid the Jews in their homes during WWII? Should Corrie ten Boomís family have told the truth to the Naziís and turned over the Jews hiding in their house?

I want to be careful to not say that "the ends justify the means". I want to be careful to say that itís not okay to lie. But I also have to say that Rahab isnít condemned by the Lord for her lying. Instead, she is commended for her faith:

(Heb 11:31 KJV) By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

Some have suggested that perhaps she, as a "new believer" was allowed to use her faulty methods. At least she believed. Hmmm.

:7 unto the fords

A ford is a place to cross a river more easily.

There was a ford near Jericho, about 2-3 hours ride from Shittim.

During most of the year, the river was easily crossed here. But during a part of the year, the Jordan overflowed its banks, making crossing difficult. This was the time of year when it was hard to cross Jordan. This is why the pursuers didn't cross the river, only going up to it.

:11 as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt

Israel's reputation, or, more precisely, God's reputation had preceded them.

It's almost as if God had prepared the way for Israel.

Lesson

God prepares our works for us

God has gone ahead of Israel, preparing the way for them.

God prepares our way for us, and when we get there, it's ready for us!

(Eph 2:10 KJV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Illustration:

Four years ago when I taught through this passage, I was thinking about how God had prepared the way for us to start a church. Some of my thoughts then Ö

My own learning experiences, learning more and more about pastoring, even getting in my first baptism a week before we leave.

Some of you - how God prepared you for this - Shaffers in transition, Mabes knowing they were ready for some kind of change, Fishers knowing two months before I asked them that they'd be going with me.

The YMCA - having had several churches start here. Needing the extra finances, yet no church was here when we showed up. They had mentioned a week before we came that they wish they still had the extra income from the church.

Even looking at the present time (1999), at how God has prepared this new building for us. We prayed for several years that God would have a building all built out for us. While we were praying, the advertisement agency that was a tenant here was busy painting, laying carpet, etc. I know this probably sounds egotistical, but I kind of think that it was all done for us.

Don't be afraid of the work God may call you to do. If He's really calling you, you can be sure that He's gone before you, getting things ready for you.

:12 true token

She wants some kind of pledge that the guys will keep her family safe.

:13 save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren ...

I love her concern for her family.

:14 Our life for yours

"If you betray us Rahab, it wonít be our fault if you die during the invasion."

:15 her house was upon the town wall

Jericho at this time was surrounded by sets of two walls about 15 feet apart. Planks of wood spanned the gap and then houses were built on this foundation. Probably due to the pressure of space in the small city, Rahab's house was one of those built "on the wall".

When the walls fell down, was Rahab's house left standing by itself?

:18 scarlet thread

Instead of tying a yellow ribbon on the old oak tree, she was to tie a scarlet thread in the window of her house.

There is something Bible scholars call the "Scarlet Thread" of Redemption in Scripture.

The red blood on the door posts of the house during the Passover. The scarlet thread used in the sacrifice for the lepers.

Scofield: The scarlet line of Rahab speaks, by its color, of safety through sacrifice. Heb 9:19,22.

:19 whosoever shall be with thee in the house ...

To me, this sounds very familiar. Very much like the Passover.

(Exo 12:22-23 KJV) And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. {23} For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

If you wanted to be safe when the destroyer passes over, you needed to be inside a house that had blood on its door posts.

Itís a picture of Godís salvation.

God offers a very specific method for salvation. If you want to stay alive, you need to follow Godís directions.

Other pictures of salvation in the Bible:

Noah's Ark - get into the ark if you want to be safe from the flood.

Jesus Christ - come to Him if you want to go to heaven!

:24 Truly the LORD hath delivered into our hands

Compare with the statement of the faithful spies in Numbers!

(Num 14:9 KJV) Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.

I think these guys have learned a lot from those two faithful spies. Who were those spies? Caleb and JOSHUA.

Joshua 3

:1 the Israelites set out

According to the Jews was in March, about 40 days after Moses' death.

:1 removed from Shittim

About 7 miles to the Jordan

:4 about two thousand cubits

3,000 feet between the people and the ark. This was partly because of the holiness of the ark, but mostly so the people wouldn't be crowding around the ark, and more people could see it, and it would be able to act as a guide to the people.

:4 that ye may know the way by which ye must go

Letting the ark get far enough ahead of the people so it could be leading them.

During the 40 years in the wilderness...

God led Israel with a pillar of cloud/fire

When the cloud lifted off of the tabernacle, the people would move out. The cloud was big, it was easy to see, each one could follow it pretty easily.

Now God is going to do something different - the Ark is going to be sent ahead to lead the people, instead of a cloud.

But would they be able to see it? They needed to let it get far enough ahead of them to see it clearly.

Lesson

Let God lead you.

Donít try to get ahead of Him.

Illustration

When we have our "watermelon hikes" at Family Camp each year, I warn the kids not to get ahead of me because they might get lost. When some kids start wandering off up ahead, I always change the course and instead of being up front, they find themselves in the back.

Itís not that God has a goofy sense of humor like me, but itís much wiser to wait and see where Heís leading before you go off charging into the sunset. It might be the wrong sunset.

But God isn't always in a hurry.

He can move much faster than you, but ironically we're usually trying to get ahead of Him.

(Psa 27:14 NLT) Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.

Illustration:

Don't Change Channels!

When her husband, Edmund Gravely, died at the controls of his small plane while on the way to Statesboro, GA, from the Rocky Mount-Wilson airport, NC, his wife Janice kept the plane aloft for two hours until it ran out of fuel. During this time she sang hymns and prayed for help. As the plane crossed the South Carolina-North Carolina border, she radioed for help: "Help, help, won't someone help me? My pilot is unconscious. Won't somebody help me?" Authorities who picked up her distress signal were not able to reach her by radio during the flight because she kept changing channels. Mrs. Gravely finally made a rough landing and crawled for 45 minutes to a farmhouse for help.

How often God's people cry out for help to God, but switch channels before God's message comes through. They turn to other sources for help, looking for human help. When you cry out to God for His intervention, don't switch channels!

:5 Sanctify yourselves

qadash Ė to consecrate, sanctify, prepare, dedicate, be hallowed, be holy, be sanctified, be separate

It's a word that talks about religious cleansing and spiritual cleansing. It's all about getting right with God.

Interesting that they aren't asked to sharpen their swords and check their weapons. They are to get right with God.

Lesson

Holiness makes you useful.

As we saw with God using Rahab, God can use any old crooked stick to draw a straight line.

But there is a sense in which we may be more useable to the Lord as we walk in faithfulness and holiness.

(2 Tim 2:20-26 KJV) But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. {21} If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. {22} Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. {23} But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. {24} And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, {25} In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; {26} And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

Itís when we cleanse ourselves from the dishonoring things that we become a "vessel of honor", something that the Master can use. Paul then gives examples of what is dishonoring (lusts, foolish questions) and what is honorable (righteousness, faith, charity, peace).

Illustration

Suppose I have some guests over to the house and they ask for a nice glass of milk to drink. Now these are important guests, and I want to impress them, so rather than pour milk out of the plastic gallon container, I want to pour out of a nice glass pitcher. I look all over the house and realize that the glass pitcher is being used in the refrigerator. Itís got a little bit of old ice tea in it. The tea is a couple of weeks old, has a slimy film on it. But Iím in a hurry and donít want to bother emptying out the pitcher or washing it. I just fill it up with milk and head out to serve my guests. Yuck! Wash the pitcher out first! The beauty of a clean glass pitcher is that you no longer taste the former contents. The pitcher takes on the flavor of the current contents. When you pour out your life to others, what are they tasting? Something moldy from your old life? Or do they taste Jesus?

:10 the Canaanites, and the Hittites, ...

(Deu 7:1 KJV) When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;

These weren't small potatoes. These were a fearsome enemy, and the people needed assurance that they were going to be victorious.

:10 Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you

Just in case the people were getting a little scared about what was up ahead, God was going to remind them of His presence. He was going to do an incredible thing with the ark in the middle of the Jordan River.

Lesson

Keep your eyes open for those reminders.

Itís silly that we should ever need to be reminded of Godís presence with us, but the truth is we are weak and need lots of help.

God knows about our weakness and often will give us those little nudges to show us weíre on track.

:15 Jordan overfloweth

Keep in mind we're talking about moving 2 million people and all their stuff across this river!

The Jordan River is at flood stage this time of year. Itís supposed to be 20 yards wide at their crossing point, deeper than a person could stand in and stronger than a person could swim against.

:16 the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan

This is thought to be about 16 miles to the north of the crossing point.

:17 the priests ... stood firm

Here's the Jordan River, the barrier between Israel and their Promised Land.

I would want to get across as quickly as possible. But the priests were to stand in the river bed until all the people are across.

We are all priests (Rev. 1:6).

We are to help others to cross over into Godís promises for them.

1. Holding the Door

Kind of like the gentleman who holds the door open for the ladies to enter the store first.

(Phil 2:3-4 NASB) Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; {4} do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

2. Holding the Word

They were bearing the Ark of the Covenant before the people.

When people want to hear a word from God, who do they go to? Do they see you as a keeper of Godís Word?

3. Holding Still

Standing still before the Lord