An Unlikely Heroine 

“By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace” (Heb. 11:31).

Rahab illustrates the depth and breadth of God’s amazing grace.

Our final Old Testament hero of faith is an unlikely addition to the list. Not only was she a prostitute, she also was a Gentile—and a Canaanite at that.

The Canaanites were an idolatrous, barbaric, debauched people, infamous even among pagans for their immorality and cruelty. Yet in the midst of that exceedingly wicked society, Rahab came to faith in the God of Israel.

Joshua 2:9-11 records her confession of faith to the two men Joshua had sent into Jericho as spies: “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 when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And 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” (emphasis added).

Rahab demonstrated the genuineness of that profession by risking her life to hide the spies from the king of Jericho, who sought to capture them.

Because Rahab lied to protect the spies (vv. 4-5), some people question the validity of her faith. Surely genuine believers wouldn’t lie like that—or would they? Abraham did. Sarah did. Isaac did. Jacob did. But the important thing to understand is that God honored their faith, not their deception.

As with all the heroes of faith before her, Rahab’s faith wasn’t perfect, nor was her knowledge of God’s moral law. But because she trusted God, she was spared during Jericho’s conquest, then given an even greater honor. She became the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth, the great-great-grandmother of David, thereby becoming an ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:5).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God for receiving even the vilest sinner who turns to Him in faith.

For Further Study

  • Read all about Rahab in Joshua 2:1-24, 6:22-25, and James 2:25.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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Conquering in Conflict 

“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days” (Heb. 11:30).

Faith is the key to spiritual conquest.

Forty years had lapsed since the Israelites refused to enter the Promised Land. That unbelieving generation had perished in the wilderness. Now Joshua was leading a new generation into the land. The first obstacle they faced was Jericho—a well- fortified city that was near the mouth of the Jordan River.

Some city walls of that day were wide enough at the top to allow two chariots to ride side-by-side. That was probably true of Jericho because of its strategic location. That, coupled with the caliber of its army, made the city virtually impregnable— especially to unsophisticated Israelites, who lacked military training.

But what is impossible for man is easy for God. And the stage was set for Him to demonstrate His power and for the Israelites to demonstrate their faith and humility.

One can only imagine how embarrassed the Hebrew people felt as they marched around Jericho once a day for six days. That certainly is not your typical military strategy. But on the seventh day, after marching around the city seven times with the priests blowing their rams’ horns, the priests gave one final blast, the people all shouted out loud, and the walls of the city collapsed (Josh. 6:20). Faith had reduced a formidable obstacle to a crumbled ruin.

Can you identify some spiritual obstacles you’ve faced recently? How did you handle them? You’ll always have them to deal with in your Christian walk, but don’t fret. See them as opportunities to exercise faith and see God’s power on display in your life. Continue to trust the Lord and demonstrate your faith by courageously doing what He has called you to do.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask God to help you humbly trust in God’s power when you face spiritual conflicts.

For Further Study

  • Read about the conquest of Jericho in Joshua 6:1-21. Note each occasion where the people obeyed one of Joshua’s commands without hesitation.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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Accepting God’s Provision 

“By faith [Moses] kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the first-born might not touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned” (Heb. 11:28-29).

The man or woman of faith gratefully accepts all God’s provisions, no matter how pointless some of them may seem.

When the time came for Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, everything on the human level said it couldn’t be done. Pharaoh wasn’t about to let two to three million slaves just pack up and leave. His formidable army was ready to insure that no such exodus occurred.

But when God devises a plan, He always makes the necessary provisions for carrying it out. On this occasion, His provision came in the form of ten terrifying plagues designed to change Pharaoh’s mind.

The tenth and worst plague was the death of all the first- born (Ex. 11:5). To protect themselves from this plague, the Israelites sprinkled the blood of a lamb on the doorposts and lintels of their homes. When the angel of death saw the blood, he passed over that house. Thus the Passover was instituted.

The blood from those first Passover lambs had no intrinsic power to stave off the death angel, but its presence demonstrated faith and obedience, thus symbolizing the future sacrifice of Christ (cf. John 1:29).

Pharaoh got the message and allowed the Israelites to leave. But soon afterward he changed his mind and commanded his army to pursue them. Again God intervened by parting the Red Sea, allowing His people to walk across on dry land. He then drowned the entire Egyptian army when it followed the Israelites into the sea.

That was a graphic demonstration of a lesson every believer must learn: God’s provisions are always best. They may sometimes seem foolish to the human intellect—just as “the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness” (1 Cor. 1:18)—but the man or woman of faith trusts God and receives His provisions gratefully.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the wise and gracious provisions He has made for your salvation and ongoing Christian walk.

For Further Study

  • Read the account of the Passover and the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus 11-14.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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Bearing the Reproach of Christ

Moses considered “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen” (Heb. 11:26-27).

When you suffer for Christ, you bear His reproach.

How could Moses, who lived 1,500 years before Christ, bear His reproach? Christ is the Greek form of the Hebrew title Messiah, the Anointed One. Many Old Testament personalities were spoken of as being anointed for special service to the Lord. Some have suggested that Moses was thinking of himself as a type of messiah, for he delivered his people from the Egyptian bondage. They would translate verse 26 as, “Considering the reproach of his own messiahship as God’s deliverer.”

However, it seems best to see this verse as a reference to Jesus Himself, the future great Deliverer. We don’t know how much knowledge Moses had of Jesus, but certainly it was more than Abraham, of whom Jesus said, “Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56).

The Messiah has always been identified with His people. When they suffer for righteousness’ sake, they suffer in His place. That’s why David said, “The reproaches of those who reproach Thee have fallen on me” (Ps. 69:9). Speaking from a New Testament perspective, Paul made a similar statement: “I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus” (Gal. 6:17).

There’s also a sense in which Christ suffers with His people. When Jesus confronted Paul, who was heavily persecuting the church, He said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? . . . I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:4-5).

Moses chose to turn his back on Pharaoh’s household and identify with God’s people because he knew that suffering for Christ was far better than enjoying the riches of Egypt. At some point in time you too will be persecuted for Christ’s sake (2 Tim. 3:12), so be prepared. When that time comes, follow Moses’ example of faith and courage, knowing that God will be your shield and your reward (cf. Gen. 15:1).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Follow the examples of the apostles by thanking God for the privilege of bearing a small portion of the reproach that the world aims at Christ (Acts 5:27-41).

For Further Study

  • Memorize Psalm 27:1 as a source of encouragement when facing difficulty.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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Rejecting the World’s Passing Pleasures

“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Heb. 11:24-25).

The world has little to offer compared to the riches of Christ.

For forty years Moses enjoyed the best of everything Egypt had to offer: formidable wealth, culture, education, and prestige (Acts 7:22). Yet he never forgot God’s promises toward his own people, Israel.

Then, “when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel. And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him; but they did not understand” (vv. 23-25).

Somehow Moses knew he was to deliver his people from Egyptian oppression. Although it would be another forty years before he was fully prepared for the task, by faith he forsook the pleasures and prestige of Egypt and endured ill-treatment with God’s chosen people.

Humanly speaking, Moses made a costly choice. He seemed to be sacrificing everything for nothing. But the opposite was much more the case since Moses considered “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the [greater] reward” (Heb. 11:26).

Sometimes obedience to Christ seems very costly, especially when evil people prosper while many who faithfully serve God suffer poverty and affliction. Asaph the psalmist struggled with the same issue: “Behold, these are the wicked; and always at ease, they have increased in wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure” (Ps. 73:12-13).

But be assured that the eternal rewards of Christ far outweigh the passing pleasures of sin. The wicked have only judgment and hell to look forward to; you have glory and heaven. So always choose obedience, and trust God to guide your choices, just as He did with Moses.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God that the righteous will one day be fully rewarded.
  • Seek God’s grace to be obedient when you’re faced with difficult choices.

For Further Study

  • Read Stephen’s account of Moses in Acts 7:20-39.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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The Prophet Who Incarnates God’s Word

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (v. 14).

– John 1:1–18

As mediators of the old covenant and new covenant, respectively, Moses and Jesus are prophets who stand out in terms of their importance to redemptive history. Yet while both Moses and Jesus belong to a class of prophets that we may refer to as mediator-prophets, Jesus cannot be classed with Moses in any ultimate sense. In the first place, the covenant mediated by Christ is much greater than the covenant that Moses mediated (Heb. 3:1–6; 8). More significant, however, is the fact that Moses, for all of his importance, could only speak God’s words. Jesus, on the other hand, is God’s Word. He is the Logos, the Word made flesh, the very revelation of God Himself incarnated as the God-man (John 1:1–18).

Jesus is the final and fullest disclosure of who our Creator is (Heb. 1:1–4). If we want to know who God is and what He would have us do, we need look no further than Jesus. In saying this, we are not advocating a view that says the words of Jesus recorded in Scripture are more important than the words of Isaiah, the words of Paul, or the words of any other writer. Moreover, we do not mean that we have access to Jesus and who He is and what He has done except through the written Word of God, the Bible. Instead, we are emphasizing the fact that Jesus is ultimately the subject and object of all the words of Scripture. He speaks not only the sayings attributed to Him in the four Gospels but all the words God has given us in Scripture, for the Son is one with the Holy Spirit, who inspired the prophets and Apostles to give us the revelation of our triune Lord (1 Peter 1:10–12). But Jesus is not only the subject who gives us divine revelation; He is also the object of revelation. All of God’s Word reveals Christ to us in some way, and none of it is read rightly unless we read it in light of His person and work. That is because Christ is God’s Word to us in these last days, in this era when God is calling people into His kingdom from every nation as He prepares to consummate His plan for creation (Heb. 1:1–4).

From beginning to end, all prophecy in the Bible finds its fulfillment in Jesus Himself. He reveals the character of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who loved sinners enough to give up the Son as the perfect sacrifice for our salvation (Rom. 8:32). God’s Word—the Bible—leads us to God’s Word incarnate—Jesus Christ—who leads us into restored fellowship with our Maker.

Coram Deo

  • There are many people who think they can have Jesus without having Scripture in their hearts and minds. But that is not possible. We need all of Scripture in order to have Jesus, for all of Scripture reveals something of His person and work to us. Do you love Scripture as you ought to? True love for Jesus inevitably leads us to a growing love for His Word.

Passages for Further Study

  • Matthew 5:17
  • Luke 24:36–49

Devotionals (http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals), Copyright 2016, Ligonier Ministries.

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Acknowledging God’s Sovereignty 

“By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones” (Heb. 11:22).

God uses your present circumstances to accomplish His future purposes.

Like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Joseph was an heir to the covenant promises of God. His hope was firmly fixed on God, and he knew that some day his people would be at home in the Promised Land.

Although he spent all his adult life in Egypt, never seeing the Promised Land for himself, Joseph’s faith never wavered. At the end of his life, he instructed his brothers to remove his bones from Egypt and bury them in their future homeland (Gen. 50:25). That request was fulfilled in the Exodus (Ex. 13:19).

But Joseph’s faith wasn’t in the promises of future events only, for his life was marked by exceptional trust in God and personal integrity. His understanding of God’s sovereignty was unique among the patriarchs. Even though he suffered greatly at the hands of evildoers (including his own brothers, who sold him into slavery), Joseph recognized God’s hand in every event of his life and submitted to His will.

Joseph said to his brothers, “Do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life . . . and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God” (Gen. 45:5, 7-8). Later, after their father’s death, he reassured them again: “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to . . . preserve many people alive” (Gen. 50:19- 20).

The genius of Joseph’s faith was understanding the role that present circumstances play in fulfilling future promises. He accepted blessing and adversity alike because he knew God would use both to accomplish greater things in the future.

Joseph is the classic Old Testament example of the truth that God works all things together for good to those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). That’s a promise you can rely on too.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Reaffirm your trust in God’s sovereign work in your life.

For Further Study

  • Read of Joseph’s life in Genesis 37-50.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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