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JOSHUA 2:1, 9 (ESV)
“Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, ‘Go, view the land, especially Jericho.’ And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there…She said to the men, ‘I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you.’”
RESPONSES TO GOD’S POWER
Very few people may be able to remember the days before mass communication (like phone, radio or tv) became widely available. Of course, communication sources abound now. Immediately as catastrophes take place around the world, we can gather information and think about ways to respond.
However, that wasn’t the case in the ancient world. There weren’t even newspapers to pass along ‘breaking news’. Instead, reports would spread from person to person through caravans of travelers. It would have taken a significant amount of time, but people could, over weeks, months or years, find out what had happened in other regions of the world.
Through Rahab’s conversation with the spies, we know that news of God’s deliverance for the Israelites had made the four hundred mile journey from Egypt to Jericho. This shouldn’t be surprising though. Kings and commanders would have paid careful attention to the very large, nomadic ‘nation’ wandering around on the Sinai Peninsula for forty years.
But, more significantly, God had commissioned this news to spread. During the Egyptian plagues, the Lord had said, “I will show [Pharaoh] my power so that my name may proclaimed in all the earth” (Ex. 9:16). Just moments after the Rea Sea event, Moses sang in victory, “Terror and dread fall upon [the chiefs of Edom, the leaders of Moab and the inhabitants of Canaan]” (Ex. 15:16a).
Various stories of the Lord’s divine power had had already become ‘old news’ to the citizens of Jericho by the time the spies found refuge in Rahab’s house. However, with their lingering presence across the Jordan River, Canaanites would have been pressed to make a choice about the God of the Hebrews. Would they respond with faith or fear? Rahab’s testimony describes both. She apparently knew people who were afraid of the Lord’s power (v9), but she was not one of them. Instead, she declared, “The Lord your God is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath” (Joshua 2:11b).
The grace and power Jesus often evokes the same dual response. In Jerusalem while thousands of people were responding to the gospel, some responded by flogging the disciples (Acts 5:40). In Ephesus, a mob formed because they perceived the growing church as a threat to their way of life (Acts 19:23-28).
Even now, Christians in various parts of the world are targeted, not because they pose a physical threat, but because of an underlying, spiritual fear of the Lord God which can exist in unconverted hearts. As events unfold around our world, pray that those who become aware of the Lord’s power would respond with faith, rather than fear which leads to violence. Remember, God is still working to draw people, even pagan prostitutes, to Himself for His glory.
Lord, lead us to boldly share stories of Your deliverance and stir the hearts of fearful people to faith. Through Jesus, Amen!