Fist vs. Faith
Joshua Chapter 2
“This day I will begin to put the dread and fear of you upon the people everywhere under the heavens, who, when they hear the report of you, will tremble and be in anguish because of you.” Deut. 2:25
“When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” Joshua 2:11
“I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you and what He did to the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. When we heard it, our hearts melted, and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”
The fame of the Lord will always strike fear into the hearts of men (and women). Some people will not admit they are afraid of a coming judgment, but I do not believe there is a person anywhere who has never given eternity a second thought or secretly wondered, ‘what if it’s all true?’. The fear of the Lord is our common ground, but the response to that fear can be broken down into two types of people, those who respond with a fist or with faith:
1. With Fist…
The inhabitants of Jericho were terrified of the news they had heard – primarily the utter destruction of Sihon and Og. Often, when people are threatened with impending judgement, instead of submitting to the one who has power to execute justice they instead go into defense mode. They lash out instead of reach out. They run instead of succumb. They spew hate rather than accept love. In essence, this encounter becomes a war. Those who choose not to believe decide they must hate the thing which they perceive is threatening them – in this case a loving, yet righteous God. This is why they shake their fists at the sky. Don’t we all know people like this? We tell them about a loving God and we are met with rejection and even anger when we suggest eternal damnation is the consequence for unbelief.
“The speed and ingenuity of her scheme to hide them suggests that she was experienced in this kind of thing. Apparently the stalks of flax, ‘which she had laid in order on the roof’, were there for precisely that purpose, in case a jealous wife came looking for a client. Rahab had a long rope handy too. No doubt she had arranged similar escapes, but for different reasons, in the past. The hiding place certainly served a high and holy purpose this time.”
When I read this, I immediately thought back to Lesson “Instrument of Wonders“, and our discussion over how our past sin and failures could be redeemed for the glory of God. It may interest you to know some scholars theorize one of the the spies was actually Salmon, the man Rahab later married. This may or may not be true but if it is, talk about transforming a common object as a tool for wonders! The flax which once hid Rahab’s secret lovers now covered a man who would look past all her sin and love her unconditionally, just as Jesus Christ continues to do for us today. The rope which once provided a means for escape for the lowlifes who frequented her establishment now gave God-speed to the righteous men who would secure her salvation. This same scarlet rope which once symbolized Rahab’s shame now represented atonement and would be the marker that saved her life as well as the lives of her family. I get chills just thinking about it! Even if Salmon was not one of the spies, Rahab received something from these Israelite men she had not experienced from a man in a very long time. Dignity. Honor. Respect. I can imagine Rahab walking through her home for the last time and seeing the flax and rope. The spies redeemed the images she would have related to those objects. Nevertheless, I believe she left them behind and never looked back.
Rahab’s one request of these men was to ‘deal kindly’ with her father’s household by sparing their lives from death. (Joshua 2:12-13) The Hebrew word for ‘kindly’ can be translated as ‘unfailing love’. The same love God demonstrates towards His children is what Rahab both gave and received. Because she allowed her fear to become faith, Rahab “lived in the midst of Israel” for the rest of her life.
1. When is the last time you encountered a Fist Shaker? This may be a stranger to you or as close as a loved one in your own home. Does anything in our description help you to understand their animosity towards God? Are you able to have more compassion towards them?
2. Does anything about Rahab’s redemption strike a nerve? This may be a question you would like to ponder privately. Sexual sin and/or victimization can be an area where Satan has an enormous stronghold because it can hold so many painful and shameful memories. If Rahab teaches us anything, please know God can redeem any life and any situation, no matter how heinous it seems, and plant you unashamedly ‘in the midst of Israel’. Rahab deserved death according to Mosaic Law, however she was shown nothing but lovingkindness by the God and nation of Israel.
3. Is there an area of your life in which you feel you have come full circle? Where you’ve come to a place where everything and nothing are the same? (I’m thinking Lord of the Rings when Frodo goes back to the Shire after his long adventure. You have no clue what I just said if you are not an LOTR nerd so just ignore this if it doesn’t make sense! :)
4. When you were born again, did you gain a new appreciation for your surroundings as Rahab did when she received the Promise along with the Promised Land? Has some old place, object, or relationship been redeemed by now serving a ‘high and holy purpose’?
5. Believers can still be Fist Shakers. Do you have circumstances in your life in which you find yourself shaking your fist at God? Something He has asked you to endure, asked you to do, seemingly taken away from you? Can you see how shaking your fist is keeping you from your Promise? (I’m not talking eternal security here – Only abundant living.)
Until next week…