50 | 40 | 10 | Devotions Series: Jan. 22, 2020 – Rev. Nancy Quatier
Devotions for the week of: January 22, 2020
Joshua 2:1-24 (NRSV)
Then Joshua son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and entered the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab, and spent the night there. 2 The king of Jericho was told, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to search out the land.” 3 Then the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come only to search out the whole land.” 4 But the woman took the two men and hid them. Then she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they came from. 5 And when it was time to close the gate at dark, the men went out. Where the men went I do not know. Pursue them quickly, for you can overtake them.” 6 She had, however, brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax that she had laid out on the roof. 7 So the men pursued them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. As soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.
8 Before they went to sleep, she came up to them on the roof 9 and said to the men: “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that dread of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt in fear before you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea[a] before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites that were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 As soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no courage left in any of us because of you. The Lord your God is indeed God in heaven above and on earth below. 12 Now then, since I have dealt kindly with you, swear to me by the Lord that you in turn will deal kindly with my family. Give me a sign of good faith 13 that you will spare my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” 14 The men said to her, “Our life for yours! If you do not tell this business of ours, then we will deal kindly and faithfully with you when the Lord gives us the land.”
15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the outer side of the city wall and she resided within the wall itself. 16 She said to them, “Go toward the hill country, so that the pursuers may not come upon you. Hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers have returned; then afterward you may go your way.” 17 The men said to her, “We will be released from this oath that you have made us swear to you 18 if we invade the land and you do not tie this crimson cord in the window through which you let us down, and you do not gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your family. 19 If any of you go out of the doors of your house into the street, they shall be responsible for their own death, and we shall be innocent; but if a hand is laid upon any who are with you in the house, we shall bear the responsibility for their death. 20 But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be released from this oath that you made us swear to you.” 21 She said, “According to your words, so be it.” She sent them away and they departed. Then she tied the crimson cord in the window.
22 They departed and went into the hill country and stayed there three days, until the pursuers returned. The pursuers had searched all along the way and found nothing. 23 Then the two men came down again from the hill country. They crossed over, came to Joshua son of Nun, and told him all that had happened to them. 24 They said to Joshua, “Truly the Lord has given all the land into our hands; moreover all the inhabitants of the land melt in fear before us.”
David Hayward describes himself as “a former pastor turned cartoonist.” In his cartoon, “Eraser”, people are busy drawing boxes around themselves with oversized pencils while Jesus is erasing the lines and getting dirty looks. (Please visit David’s website nakedpastorstore.com to see the cartoon for yourself.)
The cartoon is a depiction of this passage in Joshua, and it shows us how we have been dividing ourselves into “us-versus-them” for a very long time — contrary to God’s will for His creation.
In the reading, Joshua sent a couple men to spy on the people and the layout of the town of Jericho so they might learn how to invade Cana through Jericho. The spies made it as far as the first brothel.
Rahab had heard about the powerful God of the Israelites and knew that death and destruction were coming for the people of Israel. Instead of relying on her king and the government, she chose to trust the God of Israel. By doing so, she saved the lives of the two spies, the lives of her family and her own life.
Joshua and his messenger/spies only saw the need to separate the Canaanites from the promised land. Rahab saw an opportunity for something new with God and God’s people — an opportunity to start living in God’s love instead of a life lived in the margins. She literally lived in the outer wall of Jericho; not quite in the city, but not quite out of it either.
Jesus came into this world to erase the margins that keep the ‘wrong’ kind of people away from the ‘right’ kind of people. Rahab’s story of faith in God doesn’t end when Jericho falls and she and her family are rescued. Rahab goes on to become grafted into the lineage of Jesus Christ.
Think about that: the Israelites’ goal was to conquer a nation of “other people” and God’s goal was to create relationships between the people.
Mark E. Biddle and Melissa A. Jackson write, “…when the people of God set out to exclude, they are the ones who wind up looking like fools.” Rahab’s act of faith and courage had far-reaching results for the people of God, then and now. Her story shows us how it is possible to stand up to power, when we do so for the good of God’s people with God’s will in our hearts.
Thanks be to God for the same faith and courage of the women and men who stood up for the sake of the church 50, 40 and 10 years ago. May God continue to work in all of our hearts to erase the lines we’ve drawn which keep us in and others out.
What’s the difference between healthy boundaries and harmful walls?
What lines have you drawn that keep you away from knowing people who don’t look like, act like, or speak like you?
What do you need to pray about in order to live a life of faith like Rahab?
Good and gracious God, surround us with your love and strength, today, as we explore where we need to break down walls and erase lines of separation. Open our eyes to the people who are living in the margins and teach us how to draw them in to your love and grace. Have mercy on us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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