Have you ever had a sign? A sign on a convent in Southern California read: “Absolutely No Trespassing — Violators Will Be Prosecuted to the Full Extent of the Law.” Signed, “The Sisters of Mercy.” Sign seen in Chicago: “Warning! Guard Dog on Duty — survivors will be prosecuted!”
Signs were very important in scripture too. “This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”(Luke 2:12) “The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”(Num 21:8)
“Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.” (Joshua 2) In this passage the writer calls Rahab a “prostitute.” It may well be that she was a prostitute. For the New Testament also calls her a prostitute. HEB 11:31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. JAM 2:25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? (NIV) However, in fairness to Rahab, she may not have been a “prostitute” but rather an “innkeeper.” No self-respecting woman runs a hotel. A woman who entertains men through the night is a prostitute. Ever heard of a woman named Annie Oakley? She was a crack shot with a rifle. She could shoot a cigarette out of a mans mouth at 30 feet. Or a dime held between two fingers.
The king of Jericho was told, “Look! Some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.” But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, the men left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.)
There is a great deal of symbolism in the name Rahab. Rahab was also in scripture as a mystical sea-monster. This sea monster represented chaos, over which God triumphed. PSA 89:10 You crushed Rahab like one of the slain; with your strong arm you scattered your enemies. (NIV) ISA 51:9 Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces, who pierced that monster through? Given this understanding Rahab represents sin, over which the grace of God triumphs.
Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death.” “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. Now she had said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.”
Now does anyone here see the symbolism in “three days?” MAT 12:40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. MAT 15:32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.” (NIV)
The men said to her, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. If anyone goes outside your house into the street, his blood will be on his own head; As for anyone who is in the house with you, his blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on him.
Again, this strikes a cord with something that is familiar. EXO 12:22 Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning. When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down. Those marked with a sign, the blood, will be spared. (2 Corinthians 1:21) He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. ROM 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.
A woman died in Austin, Texas. The woman smelled smoke and ran from the house to safety. But then she ran back in to call 911 for the emergency. Before she was able to make the call, her boyfriend called. While she was explaining the situation to him, she became overcome with smoke. The house burned around her and she was engulfed by flames. So what are the ways we become engulfed by the flames of activity around us? We know we should spend more time with the kids, change our diet, lose a few pounds or stop smoking. We know all that, but we just don’t do much about it. Here we stand – business as usual. Eventually it is too late. Smell the smoke?
Jesus said, REV 3:20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Rahab becomes a sign of what God can do for us.