Bible reading for June 30.
"Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father's house, and give me a sure sign..." (Joshua 2:12)
SPY MISSION. The Israeli Mossad agents slipped across the border into enemy territory... No, wait, that was a movie... But this is a little like that: two Israelites on a mission to reconnoiter the land before Israel crosses the Jordan into the promised land. Jericho was on the eastern border, not a large city, but heavily fortified. The spies find shelter at Rahab's house, probably an inn. She is described as a prostitute (inns also served as brothels in that day). Her confession to them is remarkable: the Canaanites are very frightened of the Israelites. She hides the two men from the authorities and asks from them kindness (Heb., hesed) in return for their lives. It is clear she now believed that the Lord (Heb., Yahweh) is God and seeks shelter in the Lord for her family. She acted on her faith and kept the spies safe (Jas 2:25).
IS IT RIGHT TO LIE? Did she sin by lying to the Jericho authorities? Biblical writers never address this, but rather, she is commended for her faith (Heb 11:31). She put her trust in the Lord, which meant that she changed allegiance from the king of Jericho to the God of Israel. In wartime captive soldiers are not required, even expected, to tell the truth to the enemy. This would endanger the lives of fellow soldiers in the field. Rahab did the right thing in saving those lives. Amazingly, she does not disappear from the biblical saga. This Canaanite woman marries a Jewish man and in time becomes the great-grandmother of King David (Matt 1:5). Indeed, much kindness was shown to her and her family!
RAHAB'S FAITH. This wonderful story teaches us that anyone -- anyone -- can be brought into the family of God through simple faith (Heb 11:31). She did not know a lot of theology but she knew which God was the real God and asked to be remembered in kindness. I think of the thief on the cross who said something similar and was immediately granted eternal life (Luke 23:42). We serve a great and merciful God of grace!
"Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore." (Psalm 125:1-2)
SONGS OF ASCENT. These fifteen psalms (120-134) are called the psalms of ascent, because traditionally they were recited on the way to the temple mount in Jerusalem. Each psalm has a particular theme related to being a pilgrim on the way to worship at God's house. Here are the next three themes: mercy, deliverance, and security.
MERCY (123). In this psalm the pilgrim expresses faith in the care and compassion of the Lord, as a servant is dependent upon the care and power of his or her master. In humility we too lift our eyes to the Lord for his continued mercy (Heb 4:16).
DELIVERANCE (124). We have confidence in the Lord who rescues us from our enemies (2 Tim 4:17-18). If it were not for the Lord's powerful protection, God's people could be easily swept away and lost. Jesus taught us to pray, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matt 6:13; cf 1 Cor 10:13).
SECURITY (125). The pilgrim needs to know that the Lord himself surrounds his people. What assurance this brings, knowing that God will not allow his people to be destroyed (Rom 8:28-30). The Bible tells us that we have come to "the city of the living God", and that we have received "a kingdom that cannot be shaken" (Heb 12:22-29).
TAKEAWAY. Because we now belong to Christ, we are on a journey to a new world, a new land where righteousness dwells (2 Pet 3:13). That is our future inheritance and we are now pilgrims on the road. In The Pilgrim's Progress, the main character, Christian, says, "I am seeking an inheritance that is not subject to decay and that cannot be tarnished and that will never fade away. It is kept safely in Heaven to be given at the appointed time to all who diligently seek it. If you will, you can read about it right here in my Book." -- The Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan (Tyndale House edition, 1991; Cheryl Ford translation).
And just for fun, here is the last stanza of Larry Norman's song, "Reader's Digest" (1972)...
"And everybody has to choose whether they will win or lose
Follow God or sing the blues, and who they're gonna sin with.
What a mess the world is in, I wonder who began it.
Don't ask me, I'm only visiting this planet. ...
This world is not my home, I'm just passing through."
Image credit: album cover of "Only Visiting This Planet" (1972) by Larry Norman, courtesy Verve Records.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The NET Bible is a free, online resource, and a ministry of bible.org.