On the seventh day they rose early, at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, "Shout, for the LORD has given you the city. And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the LORD for destruction.Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the LORD; they shall go into the treasury of the LORD." So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city. Then they devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword.
But to the two men who had spied out the land, Joshua said, "Go into the prostitute's house and bring out from there the woman and all who belong to her, as you swore to her." So the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. And they brought all her relatives and put them outside the camp of Israel. And they burned the city with fire, and everything in it. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. But Rahab the prostitute and her father's household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.(ESV)
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Thursday of Epiphany 4
5 February 2015
God loves to save the weak. He makes a significant point to us every time He does it. He is constantly proving to us that He is God and we are not. When we become aware that we are not able to save ourselves, it then becomes perfectly obvious that we have to be saved by our heavenly Father. The whole scope of biblical history reinforces this; that God chooses those who could not choose Him and who bring nothing to the table. God's people get into the biggest trouble when they presume to make their own decisions and plans. God chooses a ragtag group of people, who never owned property of their own, who spent four hundred years sojourning in Egypt and during a significant period of that time were slaves. Time after time God saved them, and time after time the people griped at God either for saving them, or for saving them in ways they deemed inadequate. After being spectacularly rescued, those people almost immediately doubted that God could do it again when they were in a tight corner. Like a baseball fan's view of his local team's manager, they regularly demanded, "Hey God, what have you done for us lately?"
God's love for the weak obligates us to divine wisdom. Faith trusts that God's weakness will suffice. It demands intellectual humility: I don't know everything. God does. We don't like this limitation very much. But it must be admitted. There are many things for which we have no idea how they happen or come to be. Where do we come from? How was the world created by God? We can't definitively answer these questions beyond reiterating what Scripture says. But this is not an explanation of how God is accomplishing these things. Only humble faith can assent to the divine teaching of what God has done.
If these rather simple questions of human origins and creation are not within the purview of our human wisdom, why then would we conclude that we are capable of comprehensive explanations of the deeper truths of the Christian religion. The Spirit must reveal the only begotten Son of God to us. It is not up to us to be critical of the mysteries of the faith. This depth is not ours to plumb, but to confess and proclaim it. We cannot know how Christ can be God and man in one person. Yes, we can say that the incarnation occurs by the virgin birth or the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, but those statements are not comprehensive explanations of how God actually did it. We dare not seek to know more than what God has actually revealed to us. It is faithless to indulge intellectual curiosity seeking to see "beyond" the revelation.
This simple faith was exhibited by Rahab the prostitute. She trusted the God who rescued the outcasts, the slave, and the vagabond people, upon very slim authority. But she trusted God and it was reckoned to her as righteousness. Those who had far greater knowledge rejected God's plan for them by refusing to take possession of the land which He had given to them. They were afraid that they didn't have the power to defeat the giant people they thought inhabited the land. They were afraid that God would not rescue and save them. This was the God who had defeated the greatest military power of their day, the Egyptian army! God adopted Rahab into his family and allowed them to wander unto death in the wilderness. She became the forerunner of the Messiah and the mother a people, while they were extinguished. This is God's reason at work.
"What God gives entirely transcends reasoning. It is only reasonable that we need faith. But the person who thinks little of faith (Rm 1:17), and is contemptuous and vainglorious, will not produce anything at all. It is reasonable for heretics to hearken to the voice of the Spirit. They are like some labyrinth or puzzles which have no end, and do not let reason stand upon the rock, and have their origin in vanity. Being ashamed to depend on faith, they seem ignorant of heavenly things, and involve themselves in the dust cloud of countless reasonings. Oh miserable and wretched man, fit object for endless tears, if anyone asks you, 'How were the heaven and the earth made? How were you born? How were you nourished and grow?' Are you not ashamed of your ignorance? But if anything is said about the Only-begotten Son, you thrust yourself into a shameful pit of destruction, thinking that it is unworthy for you not to know everything. Yet argumentativeness is an unworthy thing and so is badly timed curiosity.
"Why do I speak of doctrines? We have escaped from the corruption in our present life by no other means than through the faith. This shone forth among Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Even the prostitute was saved; the one in the Old Testament, and likewise the one in the New Testament (Lk 8:2). 'By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies' (Heb 11:31). For if she had said to herself, 'How could those who are captives, exiles, refugees, and live the life of vagabond tribes, get the better of us who have a city with walls and towers?' she would have destroyed both herself and them. The forefathers of those who were then saved suffered this destruction. For when they saw men great and tall, they questioned the manner of victory, they perished, without battle or array, every one of them (Num 13:31-33). You can see what a pit unbelief is, what a wall against faith! Unbelief destroyed endless thousands. Faith not only saved a prostitute, but even made her the benefactor of so numerous a people (Mt 1:5)!"
John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 2
O Lord, keep us from unbelief. Break down the walls of faithlessness by the trumpet of Your Word. Amen.
For Pastor Scott Murray, who is traveling home from Estonia, that he travel would be safe and his homecoming joyful
For Memorial Lutheran School, that faculty and staff would remain faithfully committed to the mission of the church
For Jim Keller, that the Lord would watch over and guard the hands of the doctors and other health professionals and that he would recover fully from his back procedure
Art: AERTSEN, Pieter Adoration of the Magi (c. 1560)
© Scott R. Murray, 2015