While on a car trip, an elderly couple stopped at a roadside restaurant for lunch. After finishing their meal, the elderly woman left her glasses on the table, but she didn't miss them until they were back on the highway. By then, they had to travel quite a distance before they could find a place to turn around. The husband complained and complained all the way back to the restaurant. He was annoyed and mad at his wife for being so forgetful. When they finally arrived at the restaurant, as the woman got out of the car to retrieve her glasses, the man yelled to her, "While you're in there, you might as well get my hat, too."
Ever notice when people come home from vacation the first story is the flat tire, the severe thunder storm, the sickness. The good Samaritan part of the story… the unexpected surprise…
Here’s the principle: Even when you know the destination, the journey is full of unexpected surprises! The destination may be Disneyland, but along the way you run into a detour and have to reroute, you stop early for lunch, you get up late. Scott and Rachael decided to go to Chehalis and back last week-end and along the way the truck tipped onto it’s side. Sally and I were almost to our new home in Pasadena when the car stopped and within minutes an angel helped us get to a gas station and on our way. You know the destination, yet the journey is full of unexpected surprises!
The destination is to find peace with God, but the journey will always bring surprises! When you walk by faith, the transitions of life always include unexpected help and amazing twists and turns. Rahab, the prostitute, is sent by God himself. Later Rahab marries Salmon and they have a son named Boaz. Boaz marries Ruth, and the two become the great-grandparents of King David (See genealogy in Ruth 4:21-22 and Matt. 1:5-6). Rahab makes it into the list of amazing people of faith in Hebrews 11: “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient” (Heb. 11:30). The book of James also commends Rahab: “…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?” (James 2:25).
With the exception of the genealogy in Matt. 1, whenever Rahab is mentioned in the Bible, she is labeled a prostitute. It’s as if God is saying, “I don’t want you to forget. I will use unexpected people to make a difference. Those whom are rejected by man, I accept. Faith is enough. Past is no measure.” God is looking for people of faith, people who walk the walk. I will use a prostitute to bring me glory! Rahab the prostitute is in the list of descendants of Jesus Christ! . “I will use the broken. /the outcasts.”
A common joke I hear, “If I go to church the walls will fall down.”//// this is one of those jokes that for many folks is a self indictment. That’s not how God sees them. Joshua 6:25 READ. God will use unexpected people. I wish I could start listing by name the army of amazing people God is raising up in Sumas and the Foothills.
Let’s stick with prostitutes for a moment. Often I’ll look over up to 12-15 sermons of other people in preparation for my own sermons on the same texts. One sermon made me mad. The pastor basically concluded Rahab was a prostitute for the money and so when she became a follower of God she traded greed for faith. In today’s world, most prostitutes are teenagers, many quite young. A huge percentage in the U.S. are basically slaves, imported like a commodity from other countries. I’ve talked to a few women who have confided in me that they have sold their bodies in desperation. Prostitution makes people feel like nothing.
You know why a lot of people are NOT Christians? Because they do not feel worthy. Because they don’t think they deserve grace. Because they feel their sins are too big. Because they have been so abused they do not see themselves as lovely in any way or as loveable people, even by God.
Rahab gets God. She is not even an Israelite, but she is adopted in because of her faith in God. Rahab is the unexpected help that God used to bring the Israelites to the promised land as they transitioned to a new life. Rahab is the angel that helped Sally and me on the highway when our car was broken down. The unexpected people that God uses to make a difference to others. Everyday Denny calls in a verse to a woman in the Foothills, who studies the verse and passes it on who pass it on to others and nobody could make this up as God’s word is making an impact to dozens of people… it’s a wonderful surprise. What do you think? Do you think God can use a café to his glory?
Rahab lies in Josh. 2:4-7. Is it ever ok to lie? Rahab is commended for misdirecting the men of Jericho. One person pointed out Rahab’s lie was not for herself; she would have been better off in telling the truth. She also lied for the sake of others. Maybe it’s ok with all those conditions…READ 2:12-13. Rahab is the unexpected help for her family… amazing that her family listened to her and came to her house…
The reason Rahab gives for wanting to help the spies is instructive: READ Josh. 2:10-11. “We have heard…” the Red Sea was 40 years earlier. Rahab, a Canaanite, a prostitute, was intrigued, she knew truth, and she sensed the one true God. This week I ran into a woman here in town who I’ve known for 3-4 years, only occasionally crossing paths. She is off my radar because she doesn’t want me around as my presence seems to make her feel guilty for her life choices. When I described the way she slurred her words to people have more experience, the best guess is that she was on heroin or possibly meth. Yet underneath all these poor choices, she has an intrigue for God…. I know she does. I will not give up. And I pray her intrigue with God, which appears to me to be beneath the surface, will rise… only God knows her heart, and I am not about to declare this woman to be a lost soul. When the time is right, God will use her to bring glory to himself.
The destination is peace for Sumas, the Nooksack Valley, the Foothills. The destination is for more and more people to know God and follow God in faith. He is going to use a Heroin addict to his glory. He is going to use the broken. Rahab the prostitute heard about God, she was intrigued, she sensed… when the time came she acted. The world is full of Rahabs that will be used by God to his glory. Sometimes I get accused of being naïve, that I don’t understand certain people/situations. I just want all people to have an opportunity to know God and so I do not want to give up on anyone. I want to find the prostitute, the heroin addict, that is intrigued by God, the broken person ready to change.
Unexpected help. The destination may be clear, yet the journey is full of unexpected surprises! When we meet amazing help along our own journey towards peace with God, may we have the grace to embrace those surprising people whom God send our way. READ Josh. 2:14. The two spies embrace Rahab and pledge their commitment to her. They trust her. Trust is a tremendous gift. The boundaries of God’s kingdom work in our community is limited by how much we trust or don’t trust others. The spies trust Rahab and listen to her plan. They literally trust her with their lives as they are let down by a scarlet rope. READ Josh. 2:15-16.
Trusting others is a huge boost for God’s kingdom work. Here at SACC I get thrilled when we have an event and I look around and see the majority of helpers/workers have been participating for a year or two…. Believe me, I am also thrilled at those who have been volunteering for decades, but somehow to have the grace to trust others to do things differently, to add their own flavor, to make an impact….
As we journey towards God, to trust others is key. A familiar joke: There once was a man who lived in a two story house. The house was near a river and unfortunately the river began to flood. As the river rose, warnings were given via radio, TV and shortwave. Large jeeps drove through the area to evacuate people. As a jeep drove by the man's house, he was told: "You are in danger. Your life is at stake. You must evacuate. Get in the Jeep. Let us help you evacuate."
"No," the man replied from his doorstep. "I have faith. I will be ok. The flood won't get me. God will take care of me." The water continued to rise.
Soon the man was on the second floor. A boat was going through the area and arrived at the man's house. Rescuers made every effort to convince the man to take action so that his life would be saved.
"You are in danger. Your life is at stake. You will drown in the flood."
"No worries," says the man. "I have faith. Everything is ok. Even though the flood is rising, I will be fine. God will take care of me." The flood continued to rise.
The man went to the roof to avoid the rising water. A helicopter pilot sees him on top of the roof and hovers above the man. Using a megaphone, the pilot tries to convince the man to grab the rope ladder which was dangling above his head. "You are in danger. The flood is still rising. You will drown if you do not grab the rope ladder. Let us help you."
"No worries." says the man. "I will be fine. Yes, the flood is higher but I have faith. God will take care of me." The flood rises. The man drowns. At the pearly gates, the man says to God: "I had faith. You let me die." To which God replies: "I sent you a jeep, a boat and a helicopter. What more could I have done for you?"
Do you know how easy it would have been for the spies to say “no” to going into the home of Rahab? Do you know how easy it is for us to say no to people who have a reputation, who don’t fit the mold, who are a bit scary and risky? The more we trust, and I understand we need divine wisdom to know when to trust, but the more we trust, the further we’ll get down the road towards peace with God. The spies are so trusting, they are willing to dangle from a scarlet cord. Dangling from a scarlet cord as they are let down the wall is to be vulnerable. “Scarlet” reminds me of the blood of Christ. To trust unexpected people that the Lord puts in our lives on our journey of faith is to risk, to be vulnerable, like dangling from a cord.
The spies trust Rahab and make a pact with her and a promise to rescue her when the city is destroyed. Rahab is a model Christian, a woman commended for her faith, not only because she believed, but she acted on her beliefs and helped the spies. Perhaps you are like Rahab, feeling completely unworthy of God, yet the news of God is intriguing. Be ready to act when the Lord gives you an opportunity to do something for him that is out of your character. The risk is huge, yet the change is transforming. As we seek the peace of God, may we trust the unexpected help that God offers us on our journey. The destination is to find peace with God, and the journey will always bring surprises!