Fallen walls and broken gates, part two


Last week we looked at some lessons from the Battle of Jericho and suggested there was more to the story — a story within a story, as it were. This story has to do, not with the Israelites, but with one of the Canaanites, a woman named Rahab.
You remember Rahab. She was a woman who was caught up in sexual sin (prostitution). At great risk to herself she showed kindness in sheltering the two spies sent to Jericho by Joshua. In return for saving their lives, she and her family were spared when Jericho was attacked (v. 25). So, the battle of Jericho wasn’t just about the Israelites taking the city, it was about the rescue of a Canaanite woman named Rahab.
But it wasn’t simply a matter of quid pro quo. There’s more to her story.
We learn in Joshua 2 that Rahab was a believer in the God of Israel. She believed that He had given the land of Canaan to the Israelites. She had heard about Him drying up the Red Sea so Israel could walk across it. She heard about Him giving victory to Israel over the kings who opposed them. She knew He was God of heaven and of earth.
Now things come into sharper focus. Joshua 6 is about the rescue and redemption of a Canaanite woman who joined herself to Israel (6:25). While God was bringing judgment upon the Canaanites for their ungodliness (Genesis 15:16; Leviticus 18), He was also bringing salvation to the believing Rahab. In the midst of two-and-a-half million Israelites, God was also concerned with a Canaanite woman named Rahab.
But there’s more to the story.
We later learn from the book of Ruth that Rahab married an Israelite named Salmon. They had a son named Boaz. Boaz married Ruth. Ruth was the great-grandmother of David. Jesus was a descendant of David, so that means Jesus was a descendant of Rahab! That’s exactly what Matthew tells us at the beginning of his gospel.
So, what is going on in Joshua 6? A lot more than we thought! You could say that one of the reasons Israel conquered Jericho was so the woman who was going to be part of the line through whom Christ would come could be saved. That means it isn’t just Israel’s redemption we’re reading about — it’s our redemption as well.
And after the Romans had put Jesus to death on the cross and Josephus and Nicodemus had put His body in the tomb, Jesus’ spirit went to Hades, the place where the spirits of all people at that time went upon death. But unlike everyone else who had gone there before, Jesus didn’t remain there. The gates of Hades rang shut on Him as they had on all others, but they couldn’t stay shut. Like Samson ripping the gates and their posts up at entrance to the city of Gaza and carrying them off (Judges 16), Jesus tore the gates of Hades right off their hinges! As Peter would say in Acts 2:24, “It was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.” As Jesus had said, “ . . . on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18). And they didn’t.
The walls fell at Jericho, the gates were torn off the hinges in Hades and God is ready to deliver anyone today who comes to Him through Jesus.
That’s the story.

Find more of Bruce’s writings at his website: a-taste-of-grace-with-bruce-green.com.