It was on this day that Joshua sent two spies to go in an survey Jericho and the surrounding area, as we read in Joshua 2:1-2:
“Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, ‘Go, view the land, especially Jericho.’ So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there. And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, ‘Behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country.’”
We are told that this women, Rahab, was a harlot though some say she was an innkeeper or a restauranteur. Whatever she was, the main point is that she hid these two Israeli spies from the king. Her reason for hiding these men was because she feared God. She told them:
“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. Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the Lord, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.” (Joshua 2:9-13)
There are several things that we should highlight in these verses. One is the fact that, forty years before this event took place, the Canaanites heard what God had done on behalf of Israel and had lived all of that time in dread of the Israelites. Perhaps the most important thing to consider is the long-term ramifications of an act of kindness. Because Rahab came to believe that the God of Israel was the LORD, she showed consideration for God’s people. Because of her kindness toward them, she and her household were saved. Not only that, she was welcomed into the family of Israel, becoming the mother of Boaz and having the honor of being listed in the genealogy of the Messiah (Matthew 1:5). All of this was bestowed upon her because she believed in the one, true God and because she was kind to her fellow man.
This story demonstrates the primacy of the two Great Commands: “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength” and “Love your neighbor, as yourself.” Jesus told us that these are the commandments upon which everything else, as far as obedience, hangs. Now consider this: if Rahab was indeed a harlot, then it accentuates something else that Messiah told us. Speaking to a group of religious and, most likely, self righteous people that tax collectors and harlots would come into the Kingdom before they did (Matthew 21:31-32). The tax collectors and harlots were hearing the Gospel and were responding to it while the religious were resisting it.
Rahab, even if she was a harlot, most certainly entered the Kingdom of Heaven and stands out today as a shining example of what happens when we genuinely embrace these two primary precepts. If we commit ourselves to love God and love in the manner we are commanded to, then all the other things will fall into their proper place.