Sunday, January 26, 2014

Rahab Interposes against her Pagan Nation (Joshua 2:1-13)

Joshua 2

King James Version (KJV)
And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there.
And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country.
And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country.
And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were:
And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them.
But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof.
And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate.
And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof;
And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.
10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.
11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.
12 Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the Lord, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token:
13 And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.

The Israelite spies are sent to gain more information about Jerichowhich Israel plans to annihilate via military conquest. In providing the spies safe harbor, Rahab interposes against her own government in such a way as to be a party to its military defeat. Rahab wasn't deceived about the carnage to come—and that is why she insists that the lives of her family be spared.

Keeping in mind that Scripture speaks favorably of Rahab's assistance of the spies (James 2:25; Hebrews 11:31), one must ask, what implications do Rahab's actions have for the doctrine of interposition? Sure, Israel's conquest of Jericho was part of a unique historical occasion, but are there abiding principles we can glean from this? 

Surely harboring the innocent from harm is one; in recent times, during World War 2, Corrie ten Boom harbored Jews from the Nazis. But what about assisting the defeat of one's own nation when it is on the wrong side of a war—especially when one's own country is mainly non-Christian, and the opposing country is Christian? 

Let us stretch this further—if Rahab's actions imply the validity of assisting another nation in defeating one's own wicked nation in a just war, does this then imply the validity of assisting those in one's own nation in attempting to overturn a wicked regime in the context of a civil war? Such questions require careful consideration.