Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove. He instructed them, “Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.” So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night. 2But someone told the king of Jericho, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” 3So the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab: “Bring out the men who have come into your house, for they have come here to spy out the whole land.” 4Rahab had hidden the two men, but she replied, “Yes, the men were here earlier, but I didn’t know where they were from. 5They left the town at dusk, as the gates were about to close. I don’t know where they went. If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them.” 6 (Actually, she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them beneath bundles of flax she had laid out.) Joshua 2:1-6
But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions? Galatians 2:11-14
But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear! Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. Matthew 10:26-31
Perhaps, we think, there are some who have risen so high that they are beyond the reach of fear? Perhaps, we think, there are some who have sunk so low that deliverance through faith is beyond their reach? What an amazing contrast between Rahab and Peter in the Joshua and Galatians passages above. Certainly, for Rahab to be introduced to the reader's of this story as a prostitute and nothing more, does not suggest a stellar life. And yet despite her past, when it counted most, Rahab rose up to become a pillar of faith. Certainly, Peter, who needs no introduction, is counted by all to be a great pillar of faith. And yet despite his past, in a moment of weakness, Peter was pulled down in the grip of fear because no one is beyond its reach.
The beauty of all this rests in the knowledge that a moment of weakness need not define us because God's love and grace are ever present and will lift us and restore us. Similarly, when the moment of faith comes to those who have known a life without it, this faith becomes the gateway to a life redefined by God's love and grace. Certainly Peter continued on as a true pillar of faith and certainly Rahab went forward as a pillar of faith. The faith of both continue to inspire us ever onward in our journey towards lives that are defined by faith and not fear.
What a great reminder we have in the Matthew passage above of the difference God can make when we trust him with our fears. It begins with, "don’t be afraid of those who threaten you." Rahab was not afraid of the threat of the men who came to her door because she knew the men on her roof were representatives of the true God of the universe. By letting them stay at her house, by hiding them, and now by protecting them, Rahab by faith chooses to align her self with the one true God and his chosen people. The Matthew passage concludes with these words, "don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows." Be assured that our standing with God is always based on faith in who he is and his provision of love and grace. Whether it's Rahab, Peter, or us, we all stand on even ground and that ground is lofty ground because God is the one who puts us there. We are amazingly valuable to God, but no one is more valuable than any other.
Lord, thank you for the gift of faith and how it prevails over fear. I ask that you establish me more fully in my faith than ever before. I give you all my fears and I rest in your strong arms of love and grace today. Thank you for your restoring, renewing, and empowering presence in my life. My faith is in you and you alone.
Posted on Tue, June 16, 2015
by Alan Porter