"By an act of faith, Rahab, the harlot, welcomed the spies and escaped the destruction that came on those who refused to trust God."
Hebrews 11: 31
"Plucked and Preserved"
"No one can be saved – in virtue of what (she) can do. Everyone can be saved – in virtue of what God can do."
When I look back over my life, what do I feel God has "preserved" me from?
As I look to the future, what do I believe God has "preserved" me for?
"We are saved by Someone doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves."
"For the Lord our God, He it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went…."
Joshua 24: 17
King James Version
When I was growing up, I often spent summers at my grandparent's Arizona ranch. Summer meant the fruit trees were heavy with luscious peaches, plums and apricots. But when the over laden boughs on the trees began to get too heavy with their bounty, Grandma would have my sister, Sheryl and me, go out and pick as much ripe fruit as we could reach. Then came the process known as "preserving" the fruit, and it wasn't an easy task, believe me! Making "fruit preserves" requires lots of steps and patience.
We had to help Grandma wash glass jars. After we poured hot water over them, we transferred the jars onto a tray and put them in the oven, and we also put the lids for the jars into boiling water. Note: this was what we did to just get the containers ready! Next, we began working on the fruit. If we were making apricot preserves (my favorite,) we cleaned the apricots and then mashed them up. (We didn't have a food processor back in those days!) Then we added all the stuff that made grandma's preserves so special – brown sugar, lemon juice, and a little dash of her "special" pie spice mixture. (Who knows what was in it but let me tell you, it was delicious!)
Once the jars were deemed "ready" and "sterile," in went the fruit mixture and on went the lids as tightly as we could twist. The last step was that after several hours, we checked to make certain the jars had sealed! This was how you preserved fruit.
Guess what, apricots and peaches aren't the only things that get "preserved." Did you realize that one of the bricks in our "firm faith foundation," is God's "preserving" power over each of us?
If we look at Rahab's life of faith, as detailed in the book of Joshua and by Paul in the New Testament book of Hebrews, not only was Rahab's life included in the "faith chapter" because she believed and received, she was also "preserved" or as the Hebrew states: "plucked." This is what the word "escaped" in our text for today means.
Our Almighty Father in heaven reached down into the Canaanite city of Jericho, a town where the true God was denied, and found His precious daughter Rahab, who had watched and looked and listened to all the "heaven sent" evidence, and she chose to believe in the God of heaven and earth. What's more, her belief opened her heart and mind to be receptive to God's messengers, whom she welcomed and received. What faith this "heathen harlot" exhibited in God. And we find that God "preserved" His child, not because of her faith, but because He was her Father. God did for Rahab what any loving father would do for his child – He plucked her into the safety of His arms.
Let me underscore a critical point. Rahab wasn't special or unique. She wasn't getting favoritism from God. The Apostle Paul states in Romans 2: 11 that, "God does not show favoritism." This is why one of my all-time favorite quotes, which I've shared before, is by St. Augustine. "God loves each of us as if there were only one of us to love." Rahab was not preserved by God because of who she was, it was because of Who she was related to. As Charles Spurgeon rightly stated, "He who counts the stars and calls them by their names, is in no danger of forgetting His own children. He knows your case as thoroughly as if you were the only creature He ever made, or the only (person) He ever loved."
But remember, sometimes the "preserving" process takes time. Who knows how long Rahab lived in Jericho watching God at work, wondering what was going to happen. And sometimes, the "preserving" process appears to have us in boiling hot water. Yet, at just the right time God plucks us out and preserves us. We are "sealed" in His love!
One of our greatest United States presidents, Abraham Lincoln said, "I want it said by those who knew me best that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow." In the wicked city of Jericho, where some of God's own people saw a "heathen harlot," a thistle that looked like a weed, God found one of His daughters, Rahab, with a fertile heart waiting to bloom into a garden full of fragrant flowers with the aroma of love for the God she knew.
In Psalm 37: 28, the Psalmist David wrote: "For the Lord loveth judgment (justice), and forsaketh not His children, they are preserved forever."
What confidence you and I can have in our hearts today. When we believe and receive, we shall be preserved by our loving Father.
"In God alone is there faithfulness and faith in the trust that we may hold to Him, to His promise, and to His guidance. To hold to God is to rely on the fact that God is there for me, and to live in this certainty."
"Jesus, lover of my soul
Let me to Thy bosom fly.
While the billows near me roll,
While the tempest still is high;
Hide me, O my Saviour hide,
'Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide
O receive my soul at last!"