"So the young men, the spies, went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother, her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred and set them outside the camp of Israel."
Joshua 6: 23
"Our View – His View"
"Be careful how you lead your life; you may be the only Bible someone gets to read."
If Rahab had tried to enter the doors to my church, would she have been told to "stay outside?"
"We hand folks over to God's mercy, and show none ourselves."
"Before I judge my neighbor, let me walk a mile in (her) moccasins."
Many years ago, when Jim and I were first married, we attended a small, inner-city church with great ethnic diversity. It was what I heard some people call a "poor church." No one had a lot of money, including Jim and me. No one dressed-up real pretty! We were a simple, plain group.
One Thanksgiving weekend, when my husband, Jim, was assigned the task of greeting, an old beat-up VW pulled up in front of the church. A lady got out. Her hair was a mess and her clothes were crumpled.
As she walked into the church my husband asked her where she was from. "Oh, I live here in town, a couple of blocks away."
My husband, who is so friendly and warm, continued to ask her about her life. Many years before, when only a young child, she met Jesus, but then life hit her in the face. Before she knew it, the spiritual was replaced by the sensual. As her life veered off course, the "Christian" people she'd known wanted no part of her and it wasn't long before the feeling was mutual.
Now, nearly 40 years later, her brother had come to her house for Thanksgiving dinner and he looked at the mess that was her life and before he left he said to her, "You ought to get some help. Maybe you should try going to a church."
So, as this dear lady told my Jim, "I got out the phone book this morning, looked for the address of the church closest to my home, saw this address was two blocks away and I told God, 'If I go to a church, you'd better have someone there to meet me or I'm going to turn around and go home.'" On that day, God had my Jim, with his great big heart of love, throw his arms around this precious lady and welcome her into our little family.
I believe I would be remiss in our study of Rahab if I didn't take two days to learn how God's people treated Rahab versus how God treated her. In our text today, we find that when Jericho had fallen under the control of the children of Israel, Rahab and her household were saved. Then they were brought to the camp of Israel, and we are told they were "set outside the camp."
Here is where I ask my favorite question, "Why?"
I researched what other writers said about this story and studied a variety of Bible commentaries. The only thing that appeared to be a reason was that Rahab was a foreigner whom the Israelites felt wasn't "one of them" and needed, as one commentator noted, more "training" about the God, Jehovah.
All I could say to this statement was, "Wait a minute!"
Let's review what Rahab told the spies she knew about their God:
1. The Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of
2. The Lord destroyed the two kings of the Amorites, Sihon and Og, for you.
3. Your God, He is God in heaven.
4. Your God, He is God on earth.
5. The Lord has given you the land.
Excuse me, please! Rahab showed more belief and faith and trust in God than the children of Israel who chose to make a golden calf to replace their God when Moses stayed away from camp too long. Furthermore, Rahab showed more courage in God than did all the children of Israel and 10 of the spies who felt God wasn't capable enough to get them past the giants and walled cities in Canaan.
I'm sorry, but I think Rahab could have taught the Israelites a lot about faith in God. I know for certain, she's taught me a great deal! And yet, after hiding the spies in her home, protecting them from the king of Jericho, and not only assisting them with their escape, but laying out a detailed plan to protect them, Rahab was still "kept outside the camp." She wasn't part of the family. She was an outsider. She wasn't "one of us," even though she had saved the lives of the spies.
How often do you and I find ourselves doing the same thing – treating someone like an outsider, when God longs for us to embrace all His children the same way He does.
Florence Allshorn served as a missionary in Uganda. When she returned to England, she spent the last 12 years of her life training missionaries for service, founding St. Julian's Community. I personally find her words on loving others so instructional: "People outside Christianity look at our little Christian groups, our parish churches, our Christian schools, colleges, societies, and fail to see them shining out like light in dark places. Christian committees, diocesan councils, missionary bodies – all these should be centers of light, of the Spirit, and yet so often they are not."
One of my favorite female writers, Carrie Ten Boom, so beautifully penned: "We are neither factories nor reservoirs of God's love, only channels."
I pray it is never said of you and me that we leave one of God's daughters, like Rahab, "outside the camp" because we believe she isn't like us. Perhaps she isn't like us – maybe, just like Rahab, she's more like her heavenly Father than we are. And if we allow our exclusivity to keep her away, think what joy we will miss. In the words of the wonderful Kathy Keay: "Give us big hearts, dear God; big enough to embrace all our sisters and brothers."
"If you judge people, you have no time to love them."
"Thank you, Lord, for loving me when I am my most unlovable.
Give me love enough to love others as You love me."
Women of Prayer
"God of love,
help us to remember that Christ has no body now on earth but ours,
No hands but ours, no feet but ours,
Ours are the eyes to see the needs of the world.
Ours are the hands with which to bless everyone now.
Ours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good."
St. Teresa of Avila
(1515 – 1582)