But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them in the stalks of flax which she had laid in order on the roof.Joshua 2:6(NASB)
The two men who were sent by Joshua to scout out the land of Canaan, were instructed to focus their mission on a secret survey of Jericho, the strongly fortified gateway city into the Promised Land. Arriving at the city at dusk, the two spies went to the house of a prostitute named Rahab - an inn for travellers which was built into the city wall.
The two Israelite spies were observed entering the house, and the king was immediately informed. He realised the purpose of their visit and sent someone to order Rahab to "bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, for they came to investigate the entire land."
The citizens of Jericho together with all those living in the land of Canaan, were fearful of the Israelites. They had heard how God had brought His people out of the land of Egypt forty years earlier, and how He fought for them and drowned the Egyptian army in the Red Sea.
Fear of the mighty God of Israel Who protects His people and fights for them, was well known throughout the entire region. Rahab quickly realised her visitors were Israelites and knew they would be rounded up and charged with espionage. She believed that the God of Israel was all-powerful and chose to shield the two Israelites from the king rather than handing them over.
Quickly taking them to the flat roof of her house, she hid them in her harvest of flax which was spread out on the roof to dry in the warm sun. As soon as the king's officers arrived, Rahab carried out a very controversial action - she lied to the guards to protect the men.
She admitted that the men they were seeking had come to her house, but told them she did not know where they were from and said they had left the town before the city gates were locked. She encouraged the guards to hurry after them and detain them before they got away! Later we read that she helped them escape through her window on the city wall... and Rahab did this because she believed in the mighty God of Israel.
Had Rahab been truthful, the two Israelites would most likely have been captured and killed, but in lying to the guards she protected the men, herself, and the lives of her family... but her false witness was nonetheless a sin which can cause a dilemma in Christian circles. Is it right or wrong to tell a lie in order to forward a good cause or for the protection of others?
Rahab was certainly a woman of faith, for she is mentioned in Hebrews 11. Her action was recorded as righteousness in James 2, which shows that her motivation was based on a living faith in the God of Israel and not simply a desire for self-preservation. "Wasn't Rahab the prostitute also justified by works," the apostle wrote, "when she received the messengers and sent them out by a different route?"
Despite the positive outcome and even though the spies were enabled to escape safely from the fortified city of Jericho, there is no justification in lying, even for a good cause. Her false testimony may have been recorded in Scripture, but it is not condoned by the Lord. However, God in His grace used her lie to enable His people to escape capture in Jericho... but had Rahab exercised greater faith and been truthful, it may have caused her to witness an even greater miracle of escape or allowed her to participate in a supernatural event of even greater magnitude.
God opened the prison door when Peter was incarcerated and shut the mouths of lions when Daniel was thrown into their den. He caused an axe-head to float, bitter waters to be made pure, a cruise of oil that did not run dry, and the gospel of grace to spread throughout the world despite severe persecution in the early Church.
May we take to heart the need to be holy as God is holy and to trust Him in the most problematic and dangerous situations. May we always remember that He causes all things to work together for the good of those that love Him and have faith in Him. But may we be ready to trust Him in every eventuality of life, even when circumstances seem to be impossible.
Heavenly Father, help me to take to heart the important lessons in the story of Rahab, the two spies that came to her home, and their escape from Jericho. Thank You that You are a God Who uses everything to work towards the fulfilment of Your perfect plans and purposes, even when we fail to trust You as we ought. Thank You for Rahab's example of faith in You through her protection of the Israelite spies, and for the reminder that lying and other sins are never condoned by You even when the motive to do so is for the good of others. Help me maintain my faith in You even when my circumstances appear impossible, for Your Word is true and Your promises are 'yes' and 'amen' in Jesus, for which I praise and thank You. In His holy name I pray, AMEN.