Grace in an Unexpected Place (Joshua 2:1-21), Part 5 of “Get Ready”

Faith of Rahab

Joshua 2:1-21

It was the strangest of sights. Bird enthusiast from places as far as Wisconsin and Indiana flocked to see it. On a wood piling sticking up from the water of Nessmuk Lake perched a white-winged tern. One might have expected to see this bird in Europe, Africa, Asia, or Australia; not in America, let alone Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. People have theorized how this bird got here. Some said a storm pushed the bird from its migration path, forcing it to traverse the Atlantic, and somehow make its way here. The exact cause remains a mystery.

My partner in ministry Pastor Rich Hanlon was the first to spot this rare sight. I asked him if he found a sermon illustration in it. He exclaimed, “Grace.” He took the theme in a different direction, but I thought to myself, “just as this bird was found in an unexpected place, so too is God’s grace.” That’s what happened in the ancient city of Jericho, thousands of years ago.

Before leading the Israelites into the land God promised them, Joshua sent two spies to scout out the land, especially the city of Jericho. In Jericho, the spies found refuge in the house of a prostitute named Rahab. Fearfully, the spies were discovered. The King of Jericho sent messengers to Rahab to apprehend them.

We know today that the prostitution business preys on society’s most vulnerable. One would have expected Rahab to have submissively handed over the spies, rather than risk her life to protect them. But, Rahab showed incredible bravery. She hides the spies on her roof and tells the king’s messengers that the spies were no longer there.

Why did she do this? Because she had heard about the LORD, how he mightily delivered them from slavery in Egypt. Because of things like these, she decided to trust in the LORD. “Swear to me by the LORD,” she said, “that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you (Joshua 2).” The word translated as “kindness” is the Hebrew word hesed. It is frequently used of the LORD’s gracious dealings with his people (Exodus 34:6-7). Rahab is essentially asking for the spies to reciprocate the LORD’s kindness that she has shown to them. Rahab becomes one of the most significant people in God’s redemptive story (Joshua 6:25; Matthew 1:5; Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25).

As we engage God’s mission, let us open our eyes to see God’s grace in places we may never have expected. Where might you find God’s grace today?

For further study:

Bird enthusiasts flock to Nessmuk Lake to catch sight of wayward tern

Get Ready (Joshua 1:1-6)

Keep this Book of the Law (Joshua 1:7-8), Part 2 of “Get Ready”

Prepare Provisions (Joshua 1:10-11), Part 3 of “Get Ready”

Be Strong and Courageous (Joshua 1:16-18), Part 4 of “Get Ready”

 

 

 

 

Be Strong and Courageous (Joshua 1:16-18), Part 4 of “Get Ready”

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Joshua 1:16-18

As a federal prosecutor for Brazil’s public ministry, Delton Dellagnol wanted to make his home country a better place. The Brazilian justice system was broken and ineffective. The most powerful were immune to criminal prosecution. Continue reading

Prepare Provisions (Joshua 1:10-11), Part 3 of “Get Ready”

_Tell the people, ‘Get your supplies ready.'_

Joshua 1:10-11

After the attack on the naval fleet in Pearl Harbor in 1941, the nation united behind the war effort. Continue reading

Keep this Book of the Law (Joshua 1:7-8), Part 2 of “Get Ready”

Joshua 1:7-8_Tell the people, ‘Get your supplies ready.'_

Two weeks before the Christmas of 1995, the sky turned red in Lowell, Massachusetts. A devastating fire was consuming the Malden Mills textile factory. By morning, all that remained was ashes. Continue reading

Get Ready (Joshua 1:1-6)

_Tell the people, ‘Get your supplies ready.'_

Joshua 1:1-6

We might be tempted to think that the mission of God was completed and closed when Jesus died on the cross and victoriously rose from the dead. Continue reading

Making Sense After Charlottesville (Genesis 3:8-13)

Blook on your hands

Genesis 3:8-13

The recent events and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia are tragic, reprehensible, and embarrassing. Continue reading

What do you boast in? (Galatians 6:12-14)

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Galatians 6:12-14

The theme of “boasting” is woven throughout the tapestry of Scripture. Continue reading

The Blessed Life (Matthew 5:1-12)

 

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Matthew 5:1-12

The heroes of our time rarely accomplished the great things they are known for easily. Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa; these were people who faced abounding adversity, yet remained resolute. Those who confess Christ and seek to demonstrate to the world the life he calls us to will not find convenience and coziness in this world. 

 

The Beatitudes are one of the best-known portions of Scripture (Matthew 5:1-12). They predicate the characteristics of the blessed person. However, there is a rhetorical irony contained within them. The type of people mentioned are not those you might expect to be blessed. “Blessed are the poor in spirit… Blessed are those who mourn… Blessed are the humble… Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness… Blessed are the merciful… Blessed are the pure in heart… Blessed are the peacemakers… Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness… Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of [Christ].” Jesus takes what is so often valued in the world and turns it upside down. And he promises these upside-down people the Kingdom of Heaven.  

 

Let’s look at just one of these beatitudes. “Blessed are the merciful.” After apartheidism ended in South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was formed. It provided an opportunity for those who committed gross human right violations during the apartheid era to give testimony and request amnesty. There is a story of a frail black South African woman who sat-in on one of these trials. Former police officer Mr. van de Broek confessed that he with other officers shot the woman’s fourteen-year-old son dead at point-blank range. Then, eight years later, they seizing her husband and burned him at the stake. The commission asked the woman what she wanted for Mr. van de Broek. She said she wanted three things: 1. She wanted him to take her to the place they burned her husband, so that she could gather the ashes and give him a proper burial. 2. She said that Mr. van de Broek took her whole family and she still had lots of love to give. Twice a month she wanted him to join her in the ghetto, so that she could be a mother to him. 3. She wanted him to know that God had forgiven him, and that she forgave him too. 

 

The blessed life is rarely the easy life. Which predications in the beatitudes do you resonate with? Which ones challenge you? 

 

It Takes a Church (1 Corinthians 12:1-31)

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Click here to read 1 Corinthians 12

Have you ever noticed the long list of credits at the end of a movie? Continue reading