And 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. And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out. (Joshua 2:1-7 ESV)
Rahab lied. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. She hid the spies and lied. This brings up a troubling question. Why is she celebrated in Scripture? Does God encourage lying? Somehow Rahab made it into Hebrews’ Hall of Fame of Faith:
By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. (Hebrews 11:31 ESV)
Rahab wasn’t celebrated for lying. She was applauded for her faith! James weighed in on Rahab’s act of faith:
And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? (James 2:25 ESV)
Rahab believed. To be sure, her faith wasn’t perfectly executed. Though she lied to hide the spies, once the king’s men had left, she went up on the roof and had a conversation with them. Notice her faith:
Before the men lay down, 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 the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. (Joshua 2:8-9 ESV)
She knew that Jericho was theirs before they knew it. What they were spying out, she had figured out. What they hoped would happen, she saw as having already happened.
That’s right. Hebrews 11 looks back on the faith of Old Testament heroes. Hebrews 12 looks into the recent past to the death of the ultimate Hero–Jesus Christ.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)
Jesus died for deceitful spies. Jesus died for Rahab’s lies. And Jesus died for your sins, too. Do you believe him? Do you trust him? He’s not looking for perfect faith–he’s simply looking for you to place your trust in Him. He’ll perfect you, strengthen you and make you knew.
You are the “joy set before him.”