The Thin Red Line
|Joshua 2 (NKJV™)|
|1||Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, "Go, view the land, especially Jericho." So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there.|
|2||And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, "Behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country."|
|3||So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, "Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country."|
|4||Then the woman took the two men and hid them. So she said, "Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from.|
|5||"And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them."|
|6||(But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.)|
|7||Then the men pursued them by the road to the Jordan, to the fords. And as soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate.|
|8||Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof,|
|9||and said to the men: "I know that the LORD has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you.|
|10||"For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.|
|11||"And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.|
|12||"Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father's house, and give me a true token,|
|13||"and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death."|
|14||So the men answered her, "Our lives for yours, if none of you tell this business of ours. And it shall be, when the LORD has given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you."|
|15||Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall; she dwelt on the wall.|
|16||And she said to them, "Get to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you. Hide there three days, until the pursuers have returned. Afterward you may go your way."|
|17||So the men said to her: "We will be blameless of this oath of yours which you have made us swear,|
|18||"unless, when we come into the land, you bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you bring your father, your mother, your brothers, and all your father's household to your own home.|
|19||"So it shall be that whoever goes outside the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we will be guiltless. And whoever is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him.|
|20||"And if you tell this business of ours, then we will be free from your oath which you made us swear."|
|21||Then she said, "According to your words, so be it." And she sent them away, and they departed. And she bound the scarlet cord in the window.|
|22||They departed and went to the mountain, and stayed there three days until the pursuers returned. The pursuers sought them all along the way, but did not find them.|
|23||So the two men returned, descended from the mountain, and crossed over; and they came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all that had befallen them.|
|24||And they said to Joshua, "Truly the LORD has delivered all the land into our hands, for indeed all the inhabitants of the country are fainthearted because of us."|
New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.
In this study from Joshua 2, Levi Lusko discusses God’s plan of redemption as demonstrated through the life of Rahab. We’ll learn that God’s goes before us, wants to save those around us, and is not afraid of what’s behind us.
Calvary Albuquerque is regularly host to special guest speakers. This series includes messages from many great Bible teachers including; Pancho Juarez, Mike Finizio, Don McClure, Bill Welch and others. These messages can be purchased as CDs from our online store, or by calling 1-800-922-1888.
Hey, Calvary. It's so great to be here with you guys. It’s always such an enormous pleasure to get to come home. I consider it coming back home and being here with family and so it's great to be here and honored to get to preach God's word. If you have a Bible, Joshua Chapter 2 is where we’re going to be at. We're going to look at Joshua Chapter 2 in just a moment to make your way there.
The Book of Joshua is an incredible book, one of the most amazing, some of the things that you see and read in this book surely in the whole Bible. It tells the story of the children of Israel rising up to fulfill 500-year-old promises. You see, going back all the way to Abraham, God had told His people, "I'm going to give you this Promised Land," and those promises seemed pretty far out of reach during their time as slaves in Egypt. And even when God brought them out of Egypt and brought them to the edge of it, they seemed out of reach when the nation hardened their hearts and fumbled the ball and didn’t trust that God could get them in and so they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years and a whole generation of them perished.
But Joshua opens up as a new generation has grown up and God speaks to the new leader after Moses dies, "Joshua," and says, "It's time. Rise up. You’re going to cross over to Jordan. You're going to enter in and you are going to take this land by storm". He says this, this is crazy. He says, "It's already yours. I have given it to you, so go get it." And then He tells them, "Wherever you put the sole of your foot, I will prosper you," and I love that. "It's already yours. It's over there. You just have to go take it." And we've been given that same promise.
Did you know the New Testament tells us that we have been given every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ Jesus? Exceedingly great and precious promises are yours if you would just have the faith to rise up and to appropriate them, to take this massive inheritance that Christ has given you. But really, you could put it this way: You can have as much as you want or as little as you're willing to be satisfied by during this time on the earth.
God's not reluctant to revive. He's not stingy with His Holy Spirit. He's not running the shell game, right, where you ask him for bread and he's like "Scorpion," right? Jesus said, "He'll give His Holy Spirit to you." I seriously think as soon we ask the wrong question, we talk about revival, we talk about God moving in power and it's like we're asking the wrong questions, "Does God want to move? Does God want to do great things in my life?" Yes, He does. He's waiting for you to get hip with the program. God longs for you to be at a place where you're saying, "God move in my day. God do great things for Your name through me."
The Bible says that God's eyes scan to and fro on the earth. He's looking. He's watching. He's waiting. "Does somebody have the guts to rise up? Does somebody have a heart to step right towards me?" He longs to show Himself strong on your behalf. The Bible says, "It's God's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
This whole idea of, "Wherever you put the sole of your foot, I will prosper you," it gives us a different way of looking at it. We start to realize it's not an issue of, "Does God want to bring revival?" That's clear. That's why He died on the cross for you, rose from the dead and then filled you with the very same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. Hello?
He does want to bring revival. Here's the real question: Is your heart revivable? For when it becomes a place where you're ready, where you're wanting God to move, you're ready to turn from any sin, that is like raising up a lightning rod to the heavens. It's irresistible to God. He cannot help but show Himself strong on your behalf. That's the kind of stuff you find the supercharged type of stuff you find in the Book of Joshua.
But in Chapter 2, we're going to look at a story that took place just before they went in. I've titled this message "The Thin Red Line." Look with me at the first Verse. "Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, "Go, view the land, especially Jericho." What's happening here in the first half of this Verse before they go and Joshua says, "I want to do a recon mission. I want a couple of guys I trust to go in and kind of like an old-school predator drone and for them to just be on foot running around, getting the lay of the land, figuring out the best way."
You could say that Joshua takes the mission so seriously he's coming up with a game plan for his obedience. He wants to obey God and he wants to make sure everything goes right. So these two guys go in scouting things out.
It's kind of interesting to me because I see in this fulfillment of what Jesus would later tell his followers in Matthew 10:16 where he said that, "As we follow Him, we need to be cunning like a serpent and harmless like a dove." Did you know that Jesus said you're supposed to be a snakebird? That's what Jesus said, "Cunning like a serpent, harmless like a dove," because doves are trusting. They trust God, right? To be a dove is to trust God and to believe Him and Joshua was a dove. He's a bird. He's a man of prayer. You always see him praying, "God do what only you can do." But trusting God for what only He can do doesn’t mean we don’t do everything that we can do and so in through the serpent, in through being cunning, in through having a plan where the dove is just like -- the snake us like, "I'm thinking things through," right? That was my snake.
Here's the thing -- they like that on the internet. The webcast people like my snake even if you didn't, that's okay. I’ll go back to my church, they like me there. Now, here's the thing: Joshua was a snakebird and I think we should be too. We should pray but make a plan. We should trust God but do everything we can do. As God calls you to do something so long as we end up just doing one of the two, it's like, "I want a job. I've been praying, I've been praying. God didn’t give me a job." Did you think about applying anywhere? I mean just have a -- "God give me a wife. Give me a wife." Yes, pray for a wife. Also, brush your teeth. Just saying, right? Just throwing that out there, be a snakebird.
So Joshua was like, "God, give us this land," but he is like sending guys and then check it out and get a plan. Love God with your whole mind. Verse 1, the second half. So they went -- these two dudes. They come to the house of a harlot named Rahab and they lodged there. So these spies are in. They're trying to scope things out and they were in constant danger. The moment they set foot in Canaan, they're in danger, right? And they make their way to Jericho -- the most intimidating, this walled city that later the walls are come tumbling down and they get into the city of Jericho and they have to get some cover.
And so the Bible tells us they make their way to the home of a harlot named Rahab. Now, she's a prostitute and the word not only carries the idea of a lady of the night but also someone who ran an inn -- a keeper of an inn. So this is more like a bordello. It's a brothel. It's a place you could stay for the night but it also has those services offered. And for them, it would be a convenient spot because it was the kind of place that didn’t ask for a name at check-in, if you catch my drift.
They could stay there unnoticed and no one would ask any questions. So they thought they had a great plan and their sneakiness did not work out. If you notice in Verse 2, it was told the king of Jericho saying, "Behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country." So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab saying, "Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out the country. Hand them over!"
Now, here's this prostitute Rahab and she gets this word, "Hey, hand those guys over that you brought." And at the surface looking at things, there's no reason why she wouldn’t, why she wouldn't just go, "Yeah. They’re in room two and room three, go get them." I mean, let's talk about who Rahab was -- a prostitute, a Canaanite. Her name has the Egyptian god "Ra" at the center of it. Rahab, that's her name. It came from this false god, and so she has no reason to care about them being tortured or put in prison for the rest of their life. But Verse 4, you’ll notice, "Then the woman took the men and hid them." So she said, "Yeah, they came to me but I don’t know where they're from. It happened. The gate was being shut. It was dark. They ran out. Go get them, you'll catch them," that's what she says to these guys.
Apparently, when they checked in, she knew who they were. They weren’t from around here. And as the story goes on, you start to think these spies weren’t terribly good at their job. Everyone knows who they are. The king knows who they are, Rahab knows who they are. I don’t know if one of them bought an "I heart Jericho" t-shirt or something. They’re not blending in though, but she turned a blind eye, let them go to their room, then all of a sudden all the king's horses, and all the king's men show up and then she leaps into action, Verse 6, "She brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax which she had laid in order on the roof."
So trouble came. She got them to safety. Surely, it was shocking to them to have her burst into the room. "If you want to live, come with me," right? And she takes them to the roof and hides them under these flax plants. This is a plant that would be grown, cut down, soaked, laid in strips on the roof to dry and then it would be turned into linen, which is the oldest textile fabric known to man, since you asked. And apparently, in addition to running this bar, brothel hotel thing, she also was in a clothing business. So Rahab was a busy bee, it's what she was.
She was able to hide them under these fabrics and then she was able to kind of get rid of the soldiers by going, "They ran that way. Go catch them. Oh, you're so strong. You'll totally outrun them." And so they're all, "Yeah, we are." They ran off and she bought them some time. Verse 7, "Then the men pursued them by the road of the Jordan to the ford. Just as soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate."
Now, the real question to me as I read all these, is what is Rahab doing helping these guys out? Why does she care? Enough to risk her life because make no mistake, that's what she's doing. If she gets caught for all of these, she is going to be killed for their crimes are now a part of her life as well. She tells us why in Verse 8, "Before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to them, 'I know that the Lord has given you the land. The terror of you has fallen on us and that all of the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who are on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things," what did she say? "Our hearts melted, neither did there remain any courage in anyone because of you. For the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath question." Why did Rahab help God's people? She was becoming one of them.
Her life had been changed. She had heard things. She had heard reports where it got to her of the kind of things that God did and she began to realize Ra is not god, Baal is not god, none of the other Canaanite deities that she grew up sacrificing to and worshiping, they were not god. In time, she came to realize the Lord, He is God. And so as she looks at her life, she realized her allegiance was to the wrong deity. And so what she did was she defected. She changed teams. She turned her worship, her allegiance to the true God -- the maker of heaven, the maker of earth, the one she knew she would stand before when she died.
And so, she began to reflect that new allegiance. And doing so, instantly, made her a traitor or a hero depending upon how you look at it. Unlike in Oscar Schindler or a Corrie ten Boom of a later time who are willing to break Nazi laws to protect Jews, Rahab came to a place where she obeyed God instead of men. And what she did was illegal in the eyes of the king of Jericho. What she was doing could get her in trouble presently, but what she was doing was obeying, worshiping and looking to the King of Kings. That's what she did here.
And look what happened next, Verse 12 and following, let's get through this story, "Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the Lord, since I have shown you kindness, that you would also show kindness to my father's house. Give me a true token and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, all that they have she longs for them to be delivered from death.’ So the men answered her, 'Our lives for yours, if none of you tell this business of ours. And it shall be, when the Lord has given us the land, we will deal kindly and truly with you.’ Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall; she dwelt on the wall. And she said to them, 'Get to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you. Hide there for three days, until the pursuers have returned. Afterward you may go your way."
"So the men said to her, 'We will be blameless of this oath of yours which you have made us swear, unless, when we come into the land, you bind this line of scarlet cord in the window to which you let us down, and unless you bring your father, your mother, your brothers, and all your father's household to your own home. So it shall be that whoever goes outside the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we will be guiltless. And whoever is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him. And if you tell this business of ours, then we will be free from your oath which you made us swear.’ Then she said," Verse 21, "According to your words, so be it.’ And she sent them away, and they departed." And notice, "And she bound the scarlet cord in the window."
All right, now, we've examined the text and what we want to do with the time that remains is circle back and seek to extract some conclusions to make some application to our lives, because this is what the story says what God meant(ph) by how do we apply this to our lives? How is this impact our lives today? Three truths I believe we can pull from these verses: Number one is this, drop this down, God will go before you. God will go before you. As you rise up to do what God has called you to do, fulfilling the promises He has made, seeking to tap into your inheritance, not to leave any of your potential unreached, your dreams unrealized, the things that God has put inside of you as you seek to let it come out, you can believe He will go before you as you seek to do it.
Isaiah 52:12 says, "The Lord will go before you. Indeed, He will be your rear guard. As you step out in faith, you will find that you are not alone." And I’ll tell you, this passage, this chapter, it just oozes with this truth. Here, you have two men, two spies, and their job really is to go before the nation. They’re kind of like doing a John the Baptist type of a job, going in advance to set things up, making straight the way of the invasion. They will look for an ideal spot to camp. They're there to see what’s the best way to approach Jericho. They are going before Israel. But as they do, what do they find? God had beat(ph) them to the job.
God had already gone before them all and set things up for them to the point that they were led, it just so happened by coincidence to the only home of the God-fearing person in the entire city. For 500 years, God had sought to give the Amorites and the Canaanites time, opportunity to be saved. He told Abraham, "I can't bring you in yet because the inequity of the Amorites is not yet full." God doesn’t delight in judging. God prefers mercy. He triumphs over judgment. God gives us opportunity after opportunity. He longs for all to be saved and none to perish. But they would have none of Him. The only exception being this woman Rahab, she's the only one it seems who turned her heart to God and so she would be spared and they were led to her home. God had gone before them.
How did she know? How did she know what she says in Verse 9? Look back what she says. They come to her, "I know the Lord has given you this land." She's singing a song to them, "I know that this land is your land. It's no longer our land and--" That's what she tells them. How did she know that? Because of Verse 10, "We have heard the great things God does." She goes on to describe two different events. The first of which occurs in Numbers Chapter 21: The defeat of two Amorite kings named Og and Sihon. She knew this land was the Israelites, not the Canaanites anymore because of Og and Sihon. And what in the world is that all about?
Moses is in command at this time. The nation of Israel had been wandering in the wilderness for some 36, 37 years. They come to this area of the Amorites and they need to pass through. It's not going to be land they’re going to take out. They have no beef with them. So Moses politely says, "May we please pass through?" And they say, "No." And Moses goes, "Please." "No." "We're not going to eat any of your food. We're not going to drink any of your water. We just want to pass right through." And they go, "No." And Moses is like, "We're going have to fight you if you won't let us through," and they were like, "Well, fight then." Okay, then they got their teeth kicked in, okay? End of Og, end of Sihon, you never hear about them again.
What Rahab is saying is, "We heard about that. We heard about that. You might not know, we heard about that. We were scared to death too because we thought if you could kill Og and Sihon, you could kill us. Those guys were tough. Those guys were strong. We heard about Og. We heard about Sihon." And then the next thing she says is, "We heard about the parting of the Red Sea."
Now, this is Exodus 14, as you know. This is isn't just a few years back. This is 40 years ago. This is just as Moses is leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. God had raised him up to say, "Let my people go," and pharaoh said "No," right? You know that story. God rained down plagues on his head and finally he's like, "Get out of here," and so they go and then of course he gets an immediate case of seller's remorse and he's like, "Who's going to build my pyramids," and so he gets his armies together. They come chasing down God's people who are all pumped leaving the city of Egypt, the place of of Egypt. But they get to the Red Sea, and now all of a sudden there's an obstacle, and no one can figure out how to get across the Red Sea and so someone's like," Siri, is there a way around the Red Sea?" And she was just like, "I don’t know." And then they turned around and then they see -- did you get that iPhone joke?
And then they see the stinking(ph) Egyptian army chasing them down, and they were like, "Oh, my gosh! Red Sea and an army, we're dead. We're sunk." And God was like, "It’s okay, Moses." "Oh, good, it’s okay. What do I do?" Here's what God says, "Raise you stick up in the air." Moses was like, "I failed to see how that will help," and God’s like, "Raise your stick up in the air." Anyone ever felt like God has told you to raise your stick up in the air and you’re like, "What?" You know what I'm talking about?
What Rahab is saying as I read it, we heard about that. So we were talking about it, everyone's twitting about it. "Did you hear about the Red Sea? Did you hear about the Red Sea?" OMG, The Read Sea, that's what Rahab said. And she said, "It terrified us, man." Look at Verse 9, "The terror of the Lord came upon us," Verse 11, "We became fainthearted."
They wet themselves, I'm serious it says that. Their hearts melted like water, that's what it says. It's in the Bible. They are freaking out, man. It says there, there is no more courage in their lungs. Now this is crazy because this was 40 years ago. What was going on 40 years ago? Well, after the Red Sea, Israel comes to Kadesh Barnea. Twelve spies go in, ten come out and say, "We can't do it, we can't do it. Never mind the fact that we just saw God drown the entire Egyptian army in the Red Sea. They are like just giants in the land. What are we going to do?" And so they don’t go in, because they are scared to death of the giants in the land. Walled city of Jericho is so big, right?
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Jordan, inside the land of Canaan, every single person, according to Rahab's testimony, in the land is going, "Oh, my gosh! Oh, my gosh! The children of Israel are coming. Well, the children of Israel are coming. They have God with them. They're like giants compared to -- we're like grasshoppers compared to God." The children of Israel didn't know that though. They don’t know that. What does this all mean to you and to me today? Here's what it means, okay?
If God is with you, the things that scare you don’t need to stop you because they're more scared of Him than you are of them, but you don’t know that now. You don’t know that He's gone before you. Even that thing right now that God's calling you to do that you're scared to do, you're thinking of all the reasons why it won't work. You don’t know that God's already gone before you and you won't find out until you obey. But once you do, and God by design keeps it that way, where you scared, where you don’t have all that, He keeps it that way until you take that step of faith and then you'll find out, "Oh, my gosh! God's gone before me," and He's like, "Yup, I'm God. That's what I do." That's what going to happen. God will go before you that's why see in this text.
The second thing I see is this: God wants to save those around you. God wants to save those around you. Here’s a remarkable promise of protection, salvation, given to this woman, "The walls of your whole city are going to come tumbling down." But Verse 17 and 18, she's told, "If you put your faith in God, if you show with this token, this symbol, this outward profession by putting the scarlet cord up in the window, you will not die. Every home will be destroyed but yours." It's a clear picture of the blood of Christ. It's reminiscing of what happened to Passover when they had to put blood above their doorway. Do you know where that story is? It's in Exodus Chapter 12. It says, "Blood upon the door of your home, you will not die, though everyone else's first born will." And similarly, Rahab said, "If there's this crimson cord, this thin red line above your home, your life will not be destroyed," and that promise is very much still in effect today. Did you know that everyone dies, everybody dies? You're going to die. Everyone you know is going to die. But according to 1 John 5:12, "He who has the Son has life. He who does not have the Son does not have life."
If the crimson cord of Christ's blood is applied to your life while you live, though everything is going to come tumbling down, health will fail, the world will end, you will have life everlasting in Christ because He defeated the grave, He kicked death's teeth in, and He has overcome and is able to offer that life, but He never intends that just to be for you. He never intends for us to be selfish Christians. Once we're saved, once we know Him, like Rahab, it then becomes a goal to see who can we get into the home with the crimson cord above the windows so they can be protected as well.
We read that in their. She begins to be burdened for those around her and they’re, "Get them to the house as well." We've been given the same charge to lead others into the household of faith, and I would say this advice screams at us, this text screams at us, "Get other people to the thin red line. Invite those around you -- those you know, those you speak with, to come to a place where Christ's blood is upon their life as well." Well, you might think, "What if I tell them, they might not come? If I invite people, they might think I'm stupid. They might make fun of me. They might resist." And you know what? Yeah, that will happen. You’ll tell people to come to church, they'll call it a call(ph). You'll tell people about the Gospel, they'll tell you it’s stupid. And if that happens, notice in Verse 19, "His blood shall be on his own head."
There's foolishness to the Gospel by design. The Bible admits the foolishness of the message preached to the point it to be that which saves us, and to those who are perishing it seems stupid, it seems lame. But to those who believe, it’s the power of God unto salvation. And yeah, even though you might invite people who were reject it, Rahab might have tried to tell people, "Come into the home--" they went on anyway and they died. That's not your responsibility. You're just to be faithful to give the message, to give the opportunity. We're to be faithful to give the invitation, but I suggest that you don’t let the reason they don’t come maybe because you didn’t invite them.
Let their blood be upon their own head. Don’t let their blood be upon your hands because you weren’t willing to be stupid, because you weren’t willing to be a fool, because you weren’t willing to be made fun of. I say we all get weird for Jesus and not care what people think about us, lest we die with the cord up in the window of our homes and in empty living room where the world goes to hell. I say we take this opportunity to get the Gospel to as many people as possible.
I have a lot of nightmares. I get them all the time. A lot about snakes, sometimes I have bad dreams about people who work for me leaving. I had this dream -- my executive pastor quitting and I was mad at him for two weeks. I just looked at him every time, "Don’t you dare leave me." He the church. Maybe there are some people you just can't think about serving Christ without. Like I tell my wife all the time, "Honey, if you ever leave me, I'm going with you." I mean it’s just like, I am and -- but the dream that should be the nightmare to us all would be lost people entering a Christ-less eternity. God wants to save those around you.
Third and finally, I wrote this down, "God is not afraid of what's behind you." I love the story of Rahab. We're introduced to a girl who's a prostitute. She sells her body for money. People pay her to have sex with her. We don’t know how she ended up this way. I bet you when she was a little girl she never said, "Mommy, when I grow up." Some commentaries think maybe her husband died and she tried to pay the bills. She was left with a few options and so she made this choice. And we live in a day when that sort of things still happens -- girls wake up one day through a series of mistakes and things done to them and all of a sudden they’re in a living nightmare.
Here's a few heartbreaking statistics: The average age of entry in the prostitution in America is 13 years old. Many men feel they're safer from AIDS if they have sex with a younger girl and so the market for younger prostitutes has spiked in the U.S. up to 18,000. Young people are exploited for sex every year with 300,000 more at risk. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that the common factors that push young people to prostitution are violence in the home, disrupted family life, foster care placements, and running away from home. This broke my heart: As many as 60% of young people who run away will at some point turn to prostitution, drug use, sexual abuse in the past. As many as 85% of prostitutes were abused sexually, physical abuse, psychological abuse. Then there's of course the growing epidemic of human trafficking -- People who are sold as sex slaves. The United Nations estimates that there as many as 10 to 30 million sexual slaves, human slaves still being sold in our country and others.
And you have this girl Rahab in a lifestyle she no doubt just wants out of. How do you know that? As many as 90% of prostitutes and porn stars say they would get out of this if they could, but they see no way out. Their kids would starve. They wouldn’t pay the bills et cetera, and then there's also compounding drug addictions as well often mixed in. I bet you, Rahab wanted out with all her heart, don’t you think? And don’t you love that God in His kindness shows up to someone in such a dark place and reveals His love to her. Don’t you love that God saved her? Don’t you love that He makes sure she hears about Him and gives her the opportunity? Don’t you love that when she turns to Him, she is given salvation?
But that's not all, even though her background might make her feel like, "Well, how could God ever use me?" That's not how He sees things." He doesn’t just see what's there. He sees what she could become after He has His chance to work upon her heart. And that's our great God. He's a mender of things that are torn. He's a healer of things that are broken. He's a redeemer of things that are destroyed. And after God comes into her life, you just see this remarkable transformation. A little thumbnail sketch: Rahab will go on to marry a man named Salmon -- a prince of one of the leading tribes of Israel, the tribe of Judah. Isn't it just so special that God had a princess story for her after all? Which is what she probably did dream about as a little girl.
Her name has a funny way of showing up in the New Testament too. In significant spots, would you want to jot them down? Rahab's name comes up in Hebrews Chapter 11 which you're like, "Isn't that like the Hall of Faith?" Yeah, it's that chapter where God is like, "Hey, here are some rocking, awesome, people from the OT that I want you to be like," yeah. Rahab, in the cut, okay, one of the only two women in the whole list where she's praised for this faith, God says, "Be like Rahab. She's awesome."
James Chapter 2 is the second spot. James Chapter 2, she's praised for what her faith produced. True faith will always lead to work. If you put faith in God, it will always lead to a change on the outside. And James says -- who, by the way, only chooses two people from the whole Old Testament to ever talk about? Rahab and this unimportant guy named Abraham who we never hear about in the Bible at all. She's put on the same shelf with Abraham, the father of faith. We're told, "Look what faith produced in her life. Look at her works. Be like Rahab. She's amazing." In all, she shows up three times in the New Testament, more than Joshua who wrote the Book of Joshua. He only shows up twice.
The third is Matthew Chapter 1. Now, Matthew Chapter 1 is a genealogy. Isn't it a list of names? Yeah, it's the list of names, and Rahab's name is mentioned in the same family tree, in the same line of people that led to both King David and King Jesus. So well some religious people who are all too cool for high school might look at Rahab and say, "Yeah. Well, you can be saved but you just stood out. Only God could ever use you vile, wicked, sinner." Jesus would be pretty offended because if you're like, "Are you talking about great grandma Rahab? Like seriously? You're talking smack about my grandma? What's the matter with you?"
You should remember that the next time you think you're better than somebody, because when Jesus died on the cross, He had former prostitute blood in his veins. Jesus was always getting asked questions when He was on the earth. One of the most popular questions that He and His disciples got asked is "Why does Jesus eat with sinners? Why would He let sinners touch him? Why would he eat with sinners?" Now, if I'm Jesus, I'm going to this, "Because if I don’t eat with sinners, I'd always have to eat alone, because all of you are sinners, every single stinking one of you -- Pharisee, snakes."
That’s a good thing I'm not Jesus because here's what Jesus would always say, He would say this, "That's why I came -- to hang out with hurting people. To hang out with people who haven’t made good decisions, to hang out with people that life has not been kind to. That's why I've come to seek and to save that which is lost and knows who don’t think they have issues I can't help them, but people like her I can do a lot for and he who has been forgiven much loves much."
I think in all the reason God chooses over and over again that keep talking about Rahab is almost because she showcases what His magnificent love can do. To take someone whose sins are like scarlet and show what they will look like after the crimson cord of Christ's blood has been applied and how they come out on the other side as white as snow. And what this tells us is that no matter who you are or what you've done or where you've been, Jesus is willing to be family to you and it doesn’t matter how messed up people around you make you feel, or even if they make you feel like you have a scarlet A on your chest because Christ wants to put the thin red line above your life and make you white as snow and change you and use you.
He doesn’t just save you so you don’t go to hell. He'll save you so you can shake the gates of hell. And I want to speak that life over anyone today who looks at what's behind you and it stops you and I want to tell you that God's not afraid of what's behind you. He wants to use you. He wants to redeem those things and even use those broken parts to reach out to others who are in a similar spot in life. But the first step that needs to be taken is if you haven’t to give your life to Him, to put your faith in Him, to be forgiven, to have Him come into your heart and give you the promise that when you die, you're going to go to heaven. And what that means is, you turn from your sin and you turn to Him in faith. You can't just add Jesus to your life like you’re at the salad bar and it’s like, "Yeah, a little Jesus would be great on the side." He said, "You can't come to me unless you come to me as Lord and Lord of all."
He said, "Why would you call me Lord if you don’t do the things that I tell you?" So you're going to have to turn from sin but I would say, those sins He's going to call you to turn from, they’re not satisfying you anyway. They just leave you more empty. They leave you more hungry. They leave you more hurting, looking for the next party, the next paycheck, the bigger boat, the prettier girl, the it just leaves you empty, thirsty. Or Christ offers living water and the promise that when you die and there's a good chance that's going to happen, that you will go to heaven.
So I want to end this message with an invitation to come to that thin red line and to give your life to Christ and to watch Him begin to work on your life and do remarkable things that you wouldn’t believe today if He told you. Could you bow your heads with me and close your eyes?
As we thank God for His Gospel, as we thank God for the power of life, the power of salvation that comes through the name of Jesus and that's the only name under heaven or earth by which we can be saved and we thank You that You're present here God. We thank You for those who are hurting, whose hearts are heavy. We thank You for those whose story right now where we meet Rahab, they don’t believe a princess story is possible. They don’t believe a man could ever love them and not use them. They don’t believe that You could change them.
It's so dark. It's so scary. May they see the first step is through the cross, the first step as to where their sins are going to be forgiven. I pray that many would come to know You now -- young, old, many sins, few sins, people who don’t know You would see their need for You as we're praying. How many of you would want to give your life to Christ? How many of you would want to turn from your sins and be forgiven and to know that when you die, you're going to go to heaven? If that's you I'm describing, just raise your hand up right now, hands in the air.
God bless you. Many hands are going up even now. Continue to raise your hands. Families even in the balcony, raise your hands up high. Yes, God loves you. Yes, He can change you. Yes, He'll forgive you. God bless you as your hands are being raised. Thank you God. Thank you, Lord, for what you're doing in our hearts even now. Thank you that as we confess our sins, You are faithful and just to cleanse and forgive. I pray You give strength to these as they make this decision publicly, boldly and are unafraid to receive You and claim You as their Lord. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.
Can we put our hands together and celebrate what God's doing here today. Listen, we're going to end this service with an invitation for those of you who put your hands up in the air, even some of you who didn’t to make a public stand for Him. Jesus hung bleeding and naked and died in front of a crowd of jeering, mocking people who watched Him dying. If you would’ve asked Him he will say, "I'm not ashamed to die for you," and he calls you to be willing to live publicly for Him. He said, "If you're ashamed to me, I'll be ashamed of you," but he calls you to confess Him before people. And so we're going to sing a song of invitation and I'm wondering who's not afraid to stand to their feet and to walk down these aisles, those of you who raised your hand, and to take us in and say, "I'm giving my life to Christ." If that's you, would you just stand up now? Just get up out of your seat and come down here and we'll pray together when you get here.
You're saying, "I want to give my life to Christ. I want people to see it happen. I want people to know I'm turning my back on my sin. I want to take a stand for Him." Come now. Get out of your seats. Don’t be afraid. We're not ashamed to be family to you, too. You come as we sing this song of invitation. Come now.
I want to close this invitation by speaking to anyone who today has gone to church for many years and I want tell you something. I grew up going to this church. My whole life, I was a part of this church as a little kid hearing the Gospel. But for many years, I knew all about God but didn’t know God. And there came a point just before my freshman year in high school when I realized I knew a lot about God but I didn’t know Him. I realized that I've gone to church for years but I never had a day where I gave my life to Christ and I want to tell you something. Jesus said that there are going to be many people who are turned away from the gates of heaven and are going to argue all the way to hell about how they knew God and went to church and did great things and they were part of the youth group and he's going to say, "But I never knew you."
You see, I realized that it's possible to miss heaven by 18 inches. The distance from your head to your heart and so even though I knew all about God, I had to give my life to Him personally, and there's not a day that's gone by where I've regretted that decision. That’s the best one I have ever made. So I want I end by giving a call to anyone who's maybe religious but is not saved. He's a part of a church but he's not a part of the family of God and we'll call you even now. going to sing. I just want you to get out of your seats and come stand up here and we'll pray together. Am I describing anybody today? You've gone to church for a long time but you need to give your life to Christ. God's calling to you. He's speaking to you. You need to make this decision. You come down here right now and we'll pray when you get here.
Anybody else? We will wait just a moment longer. Is there anybody else who needs to make this decision? Amazing.
Amazing. There's still time. You can come now. If God's speaking to you, act on it. Make this decision, Amazing. Anybody else? We'll just wait a moment longer. Fantastic, we want to pray with those of you who have made this decision. This is your day. This is your time to give your life to Christ to invite Him in. The Bible talks about Him knocking on the door of your heart. This is where you're answering the door and inviting Him in, okay? So pray this prayer out loud to God after me. Say, "Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner. I've done wrong things. But I believe You died for me in my place. I believe You rose from the dead. Please come into my heart. Save me. I turned from my sins and I turn to You in faith. Be my Lord and my savior. I will follow You all the days of my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen." Amen, amen, phenomenal. It's so awesome.