Faith Obeying (Hebrews 11:30–31)

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As we learned previously, faith and fear are not always mutually exclusive. That is, they often coexist, side by side. The issue is not whether or not you have fear, but whether faith overcomes your fear. This can be seen in several biblical examples, including the two we find in our text today: the fall of the walls of Jericho and the risky actions of Rahab. In both cases, obedience trumped obstacles in obeisance to God. That is, they proved their faith in God by submitting to Him. They believed and so obeyed.

The writer is bringing to a close individual examples of Old Testament saints who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ hundreds, even thousands, of years before He came. By faith, they saw what was otherwise invisible; they were convinced concerning the gospel promise and so their lives, for the most part, were characterised by confident conviction because of the character of God.

Before moving to a general summary of the chapter, the author mentions two other specific events, which reveal the nature of saving faith. They share, among other things, the commendable quality of faith that obeys—and, in so doing, conquers fear.

Concerning Jericho: Joshua led God’s people to trust God in the face of an otherwise impregnable enemy. Concerning Rahab: She trusted God in the face of tremendous risk to both herself and her family. In both cases, faith trumped fear.

We can relate to these examples, no doubt, in several ways, but with particular reference to the fear of man. Let’s face it: This is a big stumblingblock. In the apt words of Solomon, “the fear of man brings a snare, but,” thank God, “whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25). May this study help you to escape the snare and to be confident of your ultimate safety in the Lord.

We will conduct our study under two broad headings.

Saving Faith is Impressive

Verse 30 highlights impressive faith: “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.” As in the previous two verses, the situation confronting Joshua and the children of Israel was improbable, if not humanly impossible, which makes what happened there all the more impressive. But first, some background.

The author has been dealing with faith, at least since v. 23, in increments of forty years. The first forty years of Moses’ life from birth until the time he came of age (vv. 23–26); the second forty years covering Moses’ sojourn in Midian (v. 27) and then the next forty years commencing with Passover and Red Sea events (vv. 28–29). But there is a noticeable forty year time span between those events and the fall of Jericho (v. 30). The issue is not primarily the number forty (though, significantly, it seems to indicate testing in Scripture; cf. Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness), but rather we should note that the forty years between the Red Sea event and the fall of Jericho was a time of infamous unfaithfulness on the part of the nation of Israel. It is as if the author has to fast track forward forty years because the examples of saving faith among God’s people were almost nil as they wandered in the wilderness.

Hebrews 3–4 highlights their deep unbelief. But, thank God, this was not the end of the story, for a new generation arose, which believed God (see significance of Gilgal, Joshua 5). In fact, as Kendall points out, “Joshua led the children of apostate parents to a most wonderful obedience. In a sense this is one of the most encouraging aspects of the story.”1 This should give us cause to pause and to take encouragement.

So the writer points them to the faith of Joshua and the faithful who followed. We read about this in Joshua 6.

In Joshua 6:1, we read a significant statement: “Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in.” Word had spread that Israel, the people of Yahweh, were a people to be reckoned with. They had experienced some mighty military victories, and it was clear that they were viewed as a threat, even by the mighty fortress of Jericho. God had promised this city to Joshua and to the nation, “And the Lord said to Joshua:“See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valour’” (Joshua 6:2). This was quite a promise, and Joshua took God at His Word. Yet how this victory was to come about would be incredible if the account was not inspired.

Basically, the Lord promised that Jericho, a city surrounded by walls that may have been so thick that two chariots could ride side by side on top, was going to be toppled by a marching band with a few trumpet blowing priests and a lot of shouting! Bruce notes, “Nothing could seem more foolish than for grown men to march round a strong fortress for seven days on end, led by seven priests blowing rams’ horns. Who ever heard of a fortress being captured that way?”2 or as Hughes humorously puts it, “Cities do not fall by mystics making bad music on rams’ horns!”3

Try and picture the enormity of this walk of faith. Deuteronomy 1:28 says of Jericho, along with other cities in that part of Canaan, that it was “fortified up to heaven.” This conquest would require the obedience of faith. And that is precisely what happened. Perhaps you are familiar with the story.

God told Joshua that the people were to march around the city once a day for six days. A battery of soldiers would lead the way, followed by seven priests blowing trumpets of ram’s horns. They would be followed by those carrying the Ark of the Covenant, who would in turn be followed by the people. More soldiers would form the rearguard. The people were to do so in absolute silence. That’s it.

No doubt, as the inhabitants of Jericho peeked over the wall and saw a large number of people surrounding the city, they would have been a little disconcerted. It could, in fact, have been a bit intimidating.

On the seventh, day they were to march around the city seven times. At some point, the priests would give a loud blast on the horn, at which time the people were to shout loudly, whereupon the Lord would then topple the walls. The fighting men would then go into the city and conquer it. It seemed improbable, but it was promised and, in the end, it was very impressive.

Implosion

The people did as they were commanded, thereby demonstrating their faith in God’s Word, fuelled by confidence in His character. He said it, so they did it; and, quite literally, the rest is history.

The text tells us, literally, that the walls fell in on themselves; they imploded. This was impressive indeed. But again, there is a particular impressiveness about their faith, which points to the greatness and the credibility of their God. Morris comments, “The taking of Jericho is a striking example of the power of faith. Apart from the conviction that God would act, nothing could have been more pointless than the behaviour of those warriors.”4 But when you have God’s Word on the matter, you indeed have your marching orders. So just march!

Informed Conquests

I think it is accurate to surmise that the children of Israel may have had some fears about such an approach. For one thing, they would have recognised the danger of being so proximate to the wall and the danger of being fired upon. For another, they may have had to face down the fears of ridicule and the fear of failure. After all, this was a pretty improbable way to defeat an enemy. Further, what if the walls were to fall outward on them? And then, of course, there was Joshua himself. Do you not suppose that he might have faced the fear of man in the sense of ridicule for such an order? Did he make eye contact with those whom he was commanding to do this thing?

These are important questions on one level and quite moot on another.

They are important for you and me. We sometimes find ourselves confronted with such fears, particularly with the fear of man. We don’t like ridicule; we like certainty and so, when God’s Word exhorts us to strange means to a promised end, we may be tempted to hesitate. Yet, like the Israelites, such questioning becomes moot as we simply take God at His Word. After all this “is the most curious, if not ridiculous, advice God ever gave to intelligent people…. By any man’s judgment this advice must be regarded as sheer nonsense. And so it is—unless that is what God tells you to do. If God tells you to do it, following it is the highest wisdom.”5

What about us? How likely does it seem, humanly speaking, that the Great Commission will succeed in the face os religious pluralism and the increasing marginalisation of biblical Christianity? Yet we persevere because we are commanded to do so and encouraged by Christ’s certain presence with us.

Unbelievable Excitement

As unlikely as it seemed, Joshua had cause for excitement, given his encounter with the divine Commander of the Lord’s army.

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”

So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”

And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”

Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.

(Joshua 5:13–16)

I envision Joshua telling the Israelites of God’s revealed will with a sense of excitement. You see, this encounter was most likely a Christophony. He had seen Christ, and so he was quite confident that the Lord would do as He had promised. That this Commander was the Lord is quite evident by Joshua’s response: He worshipped. And note that the Commander not only accepted the worship, even went so far to command, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” Clearly, this was a preincarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ. And this made all of the difference in the world. You see, Joshua was informed by the Word of the Lord, and this is what we need in our walk of faith.

Joshua needed this vision if he would be confident about such an improbable victory. And so do we.

Further, this vision gave Joshua the confidence to lead the nation into such confidence. Joshua’s vision-fed faith empowered him to stir others to faith as well.

As I presented recently in a Pastors’ Pen article, we live by faith and not by sight. We do not have a visible vision of God, and we should not expect to have one until our death or until Jesus Christ’s returns. Yet we do have a verifiable and virtual vision of God through His Word (Proverbs 29:18). As we take this vision to heart, we are empowered by faith to believe God for the otherwise improbable, resulting in the experience of an impressive result—impressive to the glory of God—which is unexplainable and therefore undeniably a work of God.

What Jericho walls are you facing and how should you respond?

Are you currently facing hostility for your profession of faith? Expect it, and trust God for the strength to persevere. As Christians, we should not be surprised when we face hostility from the gay lobby, when we face intolerance for our claim to the exclusivity of Christ and His gospel.

Are you perhaps facing the temptation to cheat, to steal, to behave dishonestly in order to avoid other problems? Those characterised by saving faith have obeying faith. Do what is right and trust God for the outcome.

Are you staring at a financial challenge? Keep marching by faith, do what is right in accordance with God’s Word, and don’t compromise.

Are you experiencing a trauma of some description? Keep marching faithfully for the Lord and do not give in to the taunts of the enemy. The enemy will ask, “Where is your God?” “I thought God has promised to protect you?” “Where is the reign of Christ?” “Do you not see that the wicked prosper?” “Why does your God allow bad things to happen to good people?” Take it and obey the Lord in faith.

Are you in the midst of a long standing trial, which requires perseverance? Brown helpfully observes, “The writer may want to emphasize the believing persistence of the Hebrew people. It was after the walls ‘had been encircled for seven days’ that they fell.”6 You too may need to continue to march in silence, awaiting God’s timing. Like Job, you should patiently endure and not sin with your lips.

What about the reality of spiritual warfare? Use God’s ordained means (Ephesians 6:10–20). “The authenticity of your belief will be determined by the weapon you choose.”7

What Jericho walls might you yet face, and how should you prepare?

All of the above (and more) is a reality. You may face death (yours, or that of a loved one). Prepare for it like Joshua was prepared: Encounter the Lord. We have a Bible and we can encounter and experience a “vision” more easily than Joshua could. Build yourself up on your most holy faith (Jude 20). You can obtain victory through a biblical vision; conquest through confidence; success through Scripture.

We must realise that Joshua did not come up with this idea. Rather, he was informed by the Lord concerning what would take place. But once Joshua was informed, his faith was transformed as he conformed to the Word. And the same would be true for the nation. As Joshua informed them of God’s command, they submitted to God’s Word and subsequently experienced an impressive victory, resulting in them being even more impressed with God. Don’t underestimate the power of one person’s faith to encourage corporate faith.

Informed, not Presumptive

We need to be informed by God’s Word if we will know what truly we should expect and what we should not expect.

For instance, in our day I often read about Christians doing what they call a “Jericho walk” around their city or neighbourhood. Based on this account, in Joshua they march around their town and claim it for Christ. The goal is the transformation of the community. This desire is commendable. At the same time, it is wrongheaded. This was a unique command for a unique point in time and we are misinformed if we think that we are to do the same now for the gospel’s sake.

My point is not to be critical but to help guard us from unbiblical, misinformed expectations. Disillusionment is the only certainty in such cases.

Precise Preaching

This highlights the need for careful and precise exposition of Scripture. We have every reason to believe God for impressive conquests in history, but let’s make sure that what we expect is what God has actually promised. The humanly impregnable Jericho walls of unbelief will fall, but by a message rather than a march. The Bible tells us so (see Matthew 28:18–20; Habakkuk 2:14 with 2 Timothy 4:1–5; 1 Corinthians 1:18–23; etc.).

God has promised to bless His vision, not our visions. Make sure that you are well informed!

Credible Leadership

Another issue needs to be addressed here: Those of us called to lead others must be adequately informed. And this means more than merely knowing theology. This includes knowledge, but it also includes the conviction that what we know is what we believe. No doubt Joshua was convincing as he communicated this information to the people. This applies to pastors, elders, parents, and to every Christian because we are all commanded to be Christ’s witnesses.

Let me put it this way: We must be informed in such a way that we are transformed by it. We must minister from overflow.

Inexplicable Conquests

As with the previous examples in Hebrews 11, the experiences of these saints were humanly inexplicable. To God be the glory, great things He has done! This is always how it is with faith obeying and conquering the world.

The means of the fall of the Jericho walls was the faith of Joshua and the faith of the people. They believed and therefore marched. God responded to their obedience in conformity with His character and He toppled the walls. God uses means but, in the end, He accomplishes the end.

Too often, we get confused about the impressive work of God. Too often, we get confused about who is impressive and about who people should be impressed with. As we will see in a moment, Rahab was impressed with what she had heard about God and this was why she was saved. Sadly, many times we become impressed more with the means than with the one who merely uses the means.

There is a real and present danger in our information age of celebrity Christians. In the first century, he people in Lystra wanted to worship Paul and Barnabas when they witnessed Paul’s miraculous deeds (Acts 14:8–18). In our day, there is a similar danger of idolising gifted preachers and teachers. Sadly, when those teachers show that they have feet of clay, their followers are often disillusioned with the gospel. We must follow those who point us to Christ.

Whenever pastors, missionaries, etc. begin to get a big head about their success, they should remember Balaam’s donkey. And when they do, hopefully they will stop acting like one!

Though the Lord will use His church to extend His kingdom, it is He who is exalted in the book of Revelation, not the servants. After all, my sin is very explicable, but my righteous standing before God is humanly inexplicable!

Walls that Need to Fall

If I can elaborate for a moment, consider the walls that should fall in our lives by which God gets the glory. Walls of ethic divides, demographic divides, personality cults and misogyny must come down. On a more personal level, we must pray for the fall of the walls of our own sinful habits and attitudes and our spiritual sloth.

Before we leave this, let’s be resolved to receive God’s Word and to believe it as we give Him all the glory. Yes, saving faith—what we can accurately call conquering faith—is impressive. But it is impressive because God is impressive. Be impressed with Him!

Saving Faith is Inclusive

Verse 31 teaches us that saving faith is inclusive: “By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.”

As the writer comes to the end of the historical biographies of faith, it is significant with whom he concludes. Keep in mind that he is writing to Hebrews. Yet, as Westcott observes, “The list of the champions of Faith whose victories are specially noted is closed by a woman and a gentile and an outcast.”8 And that should be really good news for all of us.

Sadly, among Hebrews, there arose a daily “prayer” rehearsed by many men: “Lord, I thank you that I am neither a Gentile nor a woman.” Of course, to be a prostitute was looked upon, rightly, as a terrible profession. So to mention Rahab at this point may have caused some raised eyebrows amongst some of the recipients of this letter. Perhaps some, who were following the argument thus far, were taken aback by this final example. They may have thought at this point that the author had overplayed his hand a little. “Oh my,” they may have lamented, “he was making such a strong point up until now—but this doesn’t help his argument.” But, of course, they would be wrong. In fact, this is in many ways the most important illustration in the list because, once we come to grips with our sinfulness, and therefore our own unworthiness to be saved, Rahab becomes a great source of encouragement to us. If God would save her then there is hope for me. As Guthrie points out, “The fact that faith could be exercised by such a person was evidence of its universal character.”9

A Beautiful Example

Among the Jews, there arose the tradition that the four most beautiful women in their ancient history were Sarah, Abigail, Esther and Rahab. I have no idea what she looked like, but the historical record of her faith is beautiful indeed.

When the Hebrew spies came to assess Jericho before the invasion, they found lodging in the home of Rahab. Joshua 2 reveals that Rahab received and showed hospitality to them by faith. She said to the men,

I know that the LORD has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.

(Joshua 2:9–11)

All Important Contrast

Rahab believed the truth about God of which she had, in some way, been informed. Indeed, in some way, the entire city of Jericho had been informed, and that is why the gates were locked. But though all had been informed, Rahab was the only one, along with her family, who was willing to take the risk to believe. They all had the facts, but she believed the facts. And this seems to be the writer’s emphasis: the contrast between those who believed and those who disbelieved.

This highlights once again the different responses to the gospel. To some, it brings life, and to others, it brings death (2 Corinthians 2:12–17). Yet it is the same message. As Kendall helpfully observes, “What made the citizens of Jericho absolutely certain that they should reject the spies is what made Rahab absolutely certain she should ‘receive them with peace.’”10

Joshua chapters two and six fill in the details of her encounter with the spies and of her faith. Sadly, readers often become sidetracked from the point of the record (her faith) as they debate whether or not she was justified to lie about the whereabouts of the spies.

You will remember, perhaps, that the officials discovered that Hebrew spies had come to Jericho. Since the Hebrew nation was seen as a threat, it is understandable that the Jerichoites wanted to capture these men. They heard that they had found lodging with Rahab, and so they came to her house to enquire concerning their whereabouts. Meanwhile, she had hidden them and she sent the officials on a wild goose chase. The spies then escaped. The Bible does not even discuss the situational ethics of this episode; both in Hebrews 11 and in James 2:25 the emphasis is upon her faith in showing them kindness and protection. Hebrews says that she “received the spies with peace” (ESV: “given a friendly welcome to the spies”). James 2:25 says that “she received the messengers and sent them out by another way.” Rahab’s identification with the people of God is the issue, not whether or not she was deceitful. But having said this, it is clear to me, at least, that her lying was a part of her demonstration of faith. She was “blessing” God’s people, and He blessed her (see Genesis 12:1–3).

But please put the emphasis where the Bible does: on her faith. Let’s consider her faith, which delivered both herself and her family.

Included in God’s Plan of Redemption

Rahab was clearly included in God’s plan of redemption. The spies made a deal with her in response to her plea.

Rahab knew full well that Jericho was ripe for judgement and that judgement was just around the corner. She believed God’s Word about this. In return for keeping them safe and keeping their secret, she pleaded that the spies spare her life and those of her family members. They agreed.

They told her that, when they returned, she was to put a scarlet rope outside her window to identify her locale. The Israelites would then know where to find her and could lead her and her family to safety (Joshua 2:12–21). It would be at least ten more days (v. 22) before judgement would fall, yet she immediately put that scarlet cord outside her window (v. 21). She was believing God for deliverance as she identified with His people.

Note that, clearly, this scarlet cord was visible by the marching Hebrew band. And when the judgement came upon Jericho, Rahab and her family were spared (Joshua 6:22–25).

At the risk of allegorising, this blood-coloured cord was the means of her deliverance.

Hughes adds an interesting note:

Recent scholarship has suggested that the scarlet rope may have been the mark of a prostitute and that Rahab lived, so to speak, in the “red rope” district. It is also noted that since the Hebrew word for “rope” is the same word for “hope”—and most often means hope—there may be an intentional pun here: the “rope” is the prostitute’s “hope” for customers! But now that Rahab has confessed Jehovah as God, her scarlet “rope” signified a new kind of “hope”—that of deliverance by God.

God’s amazing grace can transform anything—and anyone.

Identifying with Her New People

By displaying it publicly, she may have been taking a risk. She certainly did when she chose to be a traitor in her declaration to allegiance to God. By faith, she identified with those who would bring judgement. She identified with God’s people. This is both remarkable and instructive. As Hughes writes, God “expects us to hang the scarlet cord in our windows, announcing our faith in this dark world, and to trust him alone for our salvation. He expects a faith that works.”11

Universal Redemption

The gospel has always been universal in its scope. This does not mean that everyone without exception will be saved, but clearly everyone without distinction will be saved (see John 3:16 with 1 Timothy 2:1–4). But over the centuries, the Jews lost sight of this and, by the time Jesus arrived, they pretty much behaved like the frozen chosen: They were cold-hearted concerning God’s saving grace to any but themselves. They ignored redemptive history. God saved Rahab, a Gentile woman with a seedy past. Further, she would marry a prince among the Jews known as Salmon and would give birth to Boaz, who would later marry Ruth, grandmother of David, to whom Jesus Christ would trace His earthly kingly genealogy (see Matthew 1). Grace indeed!

The point is that saving faith is God’s gift without ethnic, demographic or behavioural distinctions. God saves Gentiles and God saves prostitutes. He will even save me. And you. And when He saves us, regardless of our history, we share the same characteristic: faith that obeys.

But there is another important principle here: Because the gospel is inclusive, Christians are inclusive. Note below.

Wilingness toIidentify with God’s People

The biblical authors emphasise this aspect of her faith. At great personal risk, she was willing to receive God’s people. Rahab did “not regard them as enemies, but as agents of God, and this perception is attributed to her faith.”12

Because she identified with their God, she identified with their goal and helped them towards this. Raymond Brown observes,

Although she lacked the religious identity and moral integrity of so many of the heroes of this chapter, Rahab put her faith in their God and was delivered…. She expressed the validity of her faith through the hospitality of her home; she gave them a “friendly welcome.” To receive them into her house was a daring venture, for to shelter alien spies was to expose herself to danger.13

These readers needed this reminder (see 10:23–25; 13:13). And so do we.

The Bible puts a lot of emphasis upon receiving one another (see Matthew 10:14, 40–41; 18:1–5; John 13:20; Romans 15:7).

If we have saving faith, we will share this in conjunction with others. In fact, is this not the point of Jesus in the parable of the sheep and goats (Matthew 25:31–46)? Hospitality to believers is an identifiable mark of saving faith. If you have no use for people, then you should do some serious reflection on whether you have been received by Father!

As you profess faith, do you show the reality of your profession by meaningful church membership? Are you eager to be present at the Lord’s Table? Are you willing to identify with Christ and His people in baptism? Are you committed to faithfully serving the body? John said it clearly: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers” (1 John 3:14).

Rahab’s behaviour was countercultural. The gospel works this way, and biblical hospitality fits this category.

Her Faith was Intelligent

As I recently said, though critics condemn Christianity as irrational, the fact remains that believing on the Lord Jesus Christ is the most rational and intelligent thing that one can do. Rahab illustrates this well.

The record informs us that Rahab and her family were the sole survivors of the destruction of Jericho. In fact, God placed a curse on it if it was ever rebuilt.

Rahab believed the reports about God’s conquest at the Red Sea. She believed the reports of how God, through His people, had judged the two kings of the Amorites (Joshua 2:10). She used her brain and she believed! She used her intelligence to discern that, if the Egyptians and the Amorites could not withstand the judgement of God, then neither would she. So, at great personal risk, she wisely bowed her sinful knee and pledged her allegiance to Yahweh.

Andrews sees this as well:

Her action was traitorous and she would have died without mercy had it been discovered. But she had formed a higher allegiance, and trusted a great and sovereign God. Her faith saved her and her family from destruction, and so will ours if we look to Christ alone for deliverance from “the wrath to come.”14

That my friend is an intelligent response.

It should be noted that James 2:25 calls the spies “messengers.” That is a good word. They were God’s messengers. Rahab believed their message and was delivered.

What about you? Will you be as intelligent and believe this messenger—as well as the several other messengers that God has sent your way?

How kind of God to have sent these spies to this woman, who was a prostitute! What grace, what mercy, what love! And apparently, He is being kind to you as well.

Jesus was such a Messenger. And He remains such a Messenger. But if you continue to respond so foolishly to not believe, then the day will come will when it will be too late. When God’s wrath crushes the walls of your life, it will be too late. So rather trust the one who took God’s wrath for all who will believe. When you do, you will face a foolish world with the same kind of courageous faith as Rahab. And like her, you will experience, time and again, faith conquering as it obeys.

Addendum

So, what about that lie?

Some, like Calvin, think that there was no justification for her deception. He makes a good point. Yet it seems to me that the Scripture, especially in James 2:25, includes her deception in the commendation of her saving faith.

So, how can her deception be justified?

First, it was not strictly a violation of the ninth commandment. In fact, it was a means of obeying the sixth commandment.

Second, we don’t owe the truth to everyone—particularly when we know that they will use that truth to destroy others. (However, you might argue that silence would perhaps have been golden!)

Third, this is not a thin edge of the wedge. There is no way that someone would be justified in using this example to justify playing fast and loose with the truth. This was a unique, life-and-death situation, which called for an extraordinary response. To argue that justifying Rahab’s deception is a slippery slope seems a stretch.

Fourth, in the light of the previous consideration, it should be noted that most scenarios put forth are hypothetical and therefore merely speculative without substance.

Fifth, the Bible does not condemn her action. This does not mean that Scripture necessarily approves it, but it at the least means that the lie is not the main point of the record.

Sixth, she was actually being covenantally faithful in that she was blessing Israel, and God blessed her in return. Again, this reminds us of the issue of receiving God’s people.

Seventh, there are instances of God deceiving people (e.g. 1 Kings 22:22–23; 2 Samuel 17:1–14; Ezekiel 14; etc.).

Eighth, this can more accurately be an example of strategic “misdirection” rather than of sinful fabrication. This happens in military warfare all the time. In fact, there are examples of God doing this as Israel went to battle and setting up enemy for an ambush

In sum, when it comes to being conclusive on this matter, we must confess that Scripture is silent. But if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, do what your conscience, coram deo, allows you.

Show 14 footnotes

  1. R. T. Kendall, Believing God: Studies on Faith in Hebrews 11 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 176.
  2. F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews: The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 327.
  3. R. Kent Hughes, Hebrews: An Anchor for the Soul, 2 vols. (Wheaton: Crossway, 1993), 128.
  4. Leon Morris, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 12 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 12:128.
  5. Kendall, Believing God, 174.
  6. Raymond Brown, The Message of Hebrews: The Bible Speaks Today (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2000), 220.
  7. Hughes, Hebrews, 130.
  8. Morris, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 12:128.
  9. Donald Guthrie, Hebrews: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 1983), 244.
  10. Kendall, Believing God, 179.
  11. Hughes, Hebrews, 144.
  12. Guthrie, Hebrews, 244.
  13. Brown, The Message of Hebrews, 220.
  14. Edgar Andrews, A Glorious High Throne: Hebrews Simply Explained (Darlington: Evangelical Press, 2003), 394.