Monday, May 11, 2009

The Best Little What in Jericho?

Many years ago Hollywood put out a movie starring country music legend, Dolly Parton. The movie was called “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” I guess if we wanted to put a Hollywood subtitle to the message we looked at Sunday to open our Chick Flicks of the Bible message series, we could easily call it, “The Best Little Whorehouse in Jericho.” Joshua 2:1 says, “Then Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as spies secretly from Shittim, saying, ‘Go view the land, especially Jericho.’ So they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lodged there.”

Let’s break the content down piece by piece. First, let’s look at the main PERSON in the story which is a woman named Rahab. There are three things you need to note about Rahab that would make her “most likely never to become a hero of the faith”. First, she was a Canaanite, a very wicked group of people God promised to send judgment on. Second, you could bet the farm that she was an idolater as the Canaanites worshipped many gods other than the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Finally, she was a prostitute. Now some theologians will say that this is not the same thing as when we think of a prostitute today. They will tell you that she was an innkeeper who ran a place of lodging (like the Motel 6 in jericho). I have no doubt that travelers spent the night in Rahab’s establishment, but you can be sure that there were incidentals offered beyond a wake up call and a continental breakfast. She was a harlot. That is what she is called in Joshua 2:1 and what the writers of Hebrews (Hebrew 11:31) and James (James 2:25) called her.

Now let’s look at the main PLACE mentioned in Joshua 2:1 which is the city of Jericho. This city was the gateway to land of Canaan. It was a beautiful cultured city, an oasis surrounded by desert and rocky ravines. The city covered about 8 acres, surrounded by both inner (12 ft thick) and outer walls (6 ft thick). Both walls stood approximately 30 feet high and the top of the walls were wide enough to build houses on top of them.

Joshua 2:1 also tells us of a PLAN which involved two spies. As the story unfolds, Israel is camped at Shittim which was east of Jericho, on the other side of the Jordan River. Joshua secretly sends out two spies to scout out the city for intelligence. Once entering the city the spies found shelter in the house of guess who? Rahab. Some have wrongly implied immoral behavior on the part of the spies by going to “the best little whorehouse in Jericho.” I see no reason in the text to come to that conclusion.

There were, however, three very good benefits to their going to Rahabs. First, two foreigners entering a brothel would raise very little suspicion. Second, her house was located on one of the city walls which would have been ideal for the intelligence report they were sent into the city to get (Joshua 2:15). But it is the final benefit that it is the most amazing. This was a Divine Appointment. While Joshua sent the spies into the land to gather intelligence, God sent them there to meet one woman who was far from God but whom He wanted to draw to Himself. And as we will see, God does just that.

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