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Scripture reading – Joshua 2-3

Joshua 2 – Two Spies and a Harlot

Spies Sent to Scout Jericho (Joshua 2:1)

With the affirmation and enlistment of the tribes that would settle on the land east of the Jordan (Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, 1:12-18), Joshua sent two spies to survey the city of Jericho (2:1).

In the Scriptures, the city of Jericho, like Egypt, served as a picture or type of the world. Jericho was a major city in Canaan and would have been a place of commerce, prosperity, idolatry, and wickedness. The walled city was also an obstacle to Israel invading the land, and Joshua knew it had to be destroyed.

Spies Concealed by a Harlot Named Rahab (Joshua 2:2-7)

Arriving in Jericho, the spies providentially entered an inn on the city’s walls identified as “an harlot’s house, named Rahab” (2:1b). Why the house of a harlot? Many reasons might be suggested; however, the Scriptures reveal the most obvious. The LORD knew Rahab’s heart had been moved to faith by all she had heard about Israel and that nation’s God.

Rahab risked her life when she hid the spies and then lied when the king’s men came seeking them (2:2-6). Rahab professed her faith in the LORD when she appealed to the spies that she and her family be spared the destruction of Jericho she believed was certain.

Rahab’s Confession and Faith (Joshua 2:8-13)

Rahab expressed her faith and “said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land10For 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 (Numbers 21:21-24, 33-35). 11And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt” (1:9-11).

Because she believed the God of Israel was the “God in heaven above, and in earth beneath (2:11), Rahab appealed to the spies to give her a token, a sign, that her family would be spared God’s judgment (2:12-13).

The Spies’ Covenant with Rahab and Their Flight from Jericho (Joshua 2:14-24)

The spies gave Rahab a sign, a token of her faith, and instructed her, “Bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee” (2:18). Returning to Israel’s’ encampment, the spies assured Joshua, “Truly the Lord hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us” (2:24).

Joshua 3 – Stepping Out by Faith and Into the Jordan

Joshua’s Order to Mobilize and Follow the Ark (Joshua 3:1-4)

Wasting no time to muster the people to trust the LORD (3:1), Joshua commanded the nation to relocate to the shores of the Jordan, whose waters they would cross to enter the Promised Land (3:2). For three days, nearly two million souls stood looking at the flood waters of the Jordan and wondered, “What now?”

Joshua then commanded the priest to carry the “Ark of the Covenant of the LORD” before the people. He warned them to stay far from the Ark, for it represented the LORD’s throne and presence in the midst of Israel (3:3-4).

The Preparation of Sanctification (Joshua 3:5)

One senses the joy and anticipation as Joshua tells the people, “Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the Lord will do wonders among you” (3:5). The details of the sanctification are not named. The minimum would have been bathing and washing their clothes. I also believe there would also have been the preparation of their heart to step out in faith and trust the LORD.

The Ark of the Covenant Led the Way (Joshua 3:6-8)

For forty years, the people had heard how the LORD had opened the Red Sea for Israel to pass through on dry ground. Once again, the nation watched to see what God would do. The LORD promised to magnify Joshua’s name as He had with Moses. “The Lord said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee. 8And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan” (3:7-8).

Crossing Jordan (Joshua 3:9-17)

Joshua summoned Israel and assured the people “that the living God is among you” (3:10a) and that He will drive the heathen nations from the land (3:10). Then the priests, bearing the “Ark of the Covenant of the LORD,” stepped into the flood waters, and as they did, the waters divided “and the people passed over right against Jericho. 17And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan” (3:16-17).

Closing thoughts:

Imagine the sight of flood waters dividing and making way for Israel to pass over on dry land. The people had heard how God had divided the waters of the Red Sea, and now they witnessed Him doing the same under Joshua’s leadership. The priests carrying the “Ark of the Covenant” stood still as Israel passed through the dry bed of the Jordan, confident the LORD who had parted the waters was with them.

The Ark symbolized God’s presence and power, and He was with them in the midst as they faced the challenges of Canaan.

Questions to consider:

1) How had Rahab, a harlot, come to know the God of Israel? (Joshua 2:10)

2) What did Rahab believe about God? (Joshua 2:11)

3) What was the symbol or token of Rahab’s covenant with the spies? (Joshua 2:18)

4) Why did God honor Joshua before Israel? (Joshua 3:7)

5) What happened when the priests bearing the Ark stepped into the waters? (Joshua 3:15-17)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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