Inductive Bible Study on Joshua 2 – Bible Study Lessons in Joshua

Joshua 2

Discussion Questions

Did God tell Joshua to send spies in to the land? Why did he then? Was he taking initiative or being presumptuous?

Why spy out “especially Jericho?”

Why would they enter the house of a prostitute?

Why did Rahab hide the men? What does this show us about her?

Was she right to lie to the people who came looking for them? Why or why not?

What statement does she make starting in verse 9? What can we learn about Rahab from this statement?

What do we learn about God and His plans from this statement?

What does the phrase “our lives for your lives” mean?

Who else would be saved beside Rahab? What principle can we learn from this?

When did she tie the cord in the window? Why did she do it so quickly?

What principles or applications can we learn from the spies?

What principles or applications can we learn from Rahab?

What does this story tell us of God’s character?

Cross-References

Hebrews 11:35 – Rahab in the hall of faith.

James 2:25 – Rahab proved her faith by works.

Matthew 1:5 – Rahab is in the genealogy of Jesus.

Joshua 6:1-27 – The fall of Jericho.

Colossians 3:9 – Do not lie to one another.

Romans 11:6 – Salvation is by grace, otherwise grace would not be grace.

John 1:16 – We have all received grace upon grace.

Isaiah 42:6, 49:6 – Israel was to be a light to the Gentiles.

Exodus 9:16 – God raised up Pharaoh so that he could glorify His own name among the nations.

Teaching Points

  1. Joshua takes initiative – In the text there is no evidence that God told Joshua to send spies in to the land. God told him to “get ready to cross the Jordan river.” It seems that in Joshua’s mind sending spies was one way of “getting ready.” God’s sovereign power and supernatural miracle working on their behalf did not nullify Joshua’s responsibility to do everything he could to prepare well. Proverbs 16:9. The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Making plans and being prepared is not contradictory to living a life of faith and following God’s will in our lives. The problem comes when we make plans without seeking God’s direction or refuse to be open minded to change those plans or cancel those plans if God directs us otherwise. Application:
  2. A prostitute named Rahab – How many of you have ever met someone named Rahab? It is not a common name. Few people name their children Rahab. Why? Because in the Bible she is normally referred to as a “Rahab the prostitute.” Rahab is identified as a harlot (prostitute) multiple times. Joshua 2:1, 6:17, 25, James 2:25, Hebrews 11:31. Many scholars/teachers/pastors have tried to argue that the word for Rahab could mean “innkeeper.” They argue that she was a business women who ran a simple business perhaps a lodge and restaurant. Why do they argue this? Do you think Rahab was an innkeeper or a prostitute? Why? There is no compelling reason to conclude this. Rahab is a story of God’s grace, not a story of a good person deserving of salvation.

The Hebrew word Zoonah is used, which means harlot. In Greek (in the New Testament), “porne” is used. These words make it very clear that Rahab was a harlot. We don’t need to try to brush over her sins or her history. It should not be surprising that she was a prostitute. Even a “holy” nation like Israel often had prostitutes. A pagan place like Jericho would surely have many. This likely was considered a “necessary evil.” Rahab would have had a low social status like prostitutes do even today.

Because she had her own house, she could have had a duel business, both running an inn and also hiring herself out to sleep with visitors. The spies may have wished to find a quiet night’s rest out of the public’s eye in this “shady” area of town and rented a room at her house.

Rahab is identified in the Bible five times as a prostitute. Here are a few verses on this issue. Deuteronomy 23:17-18, Proverbs 6:20-7, Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20. Harlots were social and moral outcasts in Israel. They were the lowest parts of society. This is someone who routinely on a day to day basis sold herself for money to gratify others’ sexual lusts. As 1 Corinthians 6 shows, this life is incompatible with a life following after God. This lifestyle is never necessary either. God will always provide for His followers if they seek Him first. No believer has to turn to this life or any sin in order to provide for himself/herself. Unless we think we are better than her, see Matthew 5:27-28. Yes, Rahab was a sinner. But so are we all. We can’t reach God’s standard anymore than she could.

God is in the business of saving sinners. Her sinful past makes her faith in God and subsequent life transformation even more amazing. From Rahab’s story we will learn that God shows mercy and grace to save even the worst of sinners.

Matthew 1:5. Rahab is one of only four women listed in Jesus’ genealogy. Batsheba and Tamar both were similar in that their sinful and impure lives were recorded in the Bible. Ruth was a Moabite. It is interested that all four of the women listed in Jesus’ genealogy would be looked on negatively because of their sins or nationality. It is like Matthew is showing us that Jesus was born of sinners and took on our own sin in order to save us from sin. At the same time it shows us the hope that even the worst sinners can be restored and used of God. Indeed the Savior of the world was descended directly from Rahab. He can redeem and transform the worst of sinners as well as turn their lives around and use their lives for His own glory.

In addition, Rahab was the mother of Boaz by Salmon (Matthew 1:5). Jewish tradition says that Salmon was one of the two spies. The spies were likely leaders of households, so Salmon would have been a very respected leader in the community. Rahab’s staunch faith in God and life transformation evidently won his heart so that like Boaz later on, he willingly looked past her nationality and past life and took her as his own.

  1. Rahab’s lie –

In which verse or verses did Rahab lie (2:4-5)? What do you think about this? Did she have a good reason? Was her lie acceptable? Are there times when we should lie for a good reason? 1 Timothy 1:10, Colossians 3:9-10, Proverbs 12:22, Exodus 20:16. Lying is sin with no exceptions. It is not surprising that she lied considering her environment and lifestyle. She was beginning to show a faith in God, but that didn’t mean her choices were all immediately right or she would be perfect right away. What could she or should she have done instead?

In this case, the lie seems to be well intentioned. Although God was beginning to work in Rahab’s heart, she was still heavily influenced by the culture around her. She had not yet learned of God’s perfect holiness and hatred of every type of sin. She had not been taught Scriptures such as in Exodus 20:16. But nonetheless, it was a sin. Some sins are committed in ignorance. Some sins are committed with good motivations. And some sins are committed intentionally. Do you know what all three have in common? They are sin. How can we guard against committing sins in ignorance? What are some types of sins people commit, but perhaps have good intentions? What would you say to these people?

  1. Rahab put others first – Putting others first – She took a great risk in sheltering the spies and hiding them. Although her lying wasn’t the right way to handle it, it shows that she was willing to die for her belief that God would give victory to the Israelites over her own people. She was willing to sacrifice her life for her belief in God. She joined God’s team. This came at great risk to herself. If her people found out, she could have been executed for treason. Application: When we follow God sometimes it is necessary to take decisive action. Sometimes that action needs to be taken in the face of great peer pressure. And sometimes that action requires a great personal sacrifice.
  2. God does sovereignly make use of sinful people’s actions –
  3. Rahab’s statement of faith in verses 9-11 – This is what she is most famous for. Read her statement of faith. Joshua 2:8-14. Did Rahab have special information that other Jericho-ites did not have? No, they all heard of what the LORD had done for the Jews in Egypt. Her knowledge of the Lord was united with faith while the rest of the people in Jericho hardened their hearts and made up their minds to stubbornly resist until the last. Application: Place your bet on the winning team – Rahab correctly believed that the Jews would defeat Jericho because of God’s power. Basically it was good against evil, the one true God against false gods. She believed that the power of the one true God who had already done miracles would prevail. We must realize that God’s victory over Satan is assured. Good will prevail. The world may look and bleak at times, but ultimately all of God’s prophecies will come true and He will finally judge all people who do not obey His Word. We can choose to follow God or the world. Following God will probably not be the popular choice, but it is the right choice and those who make the choice to follow Him with their lives will be rewarded.
  4. God’s plan in the Exodus from Exodus 9:16 fulfilled –
  5. Keeping promises – They kept their promises to Rahab even though she could not do anything about it one way or another.
  6. Through Rahab’s faith her family is saved – Concern for her family (shows a kind and compassionate heart) – Rahab helped the spies and could have asked for a lot of things in return. She could have asked for money. She could have asked for a new home, or money, horses, and a wagon (so that she could go wherever she wanted.) But her request was that her entire family could be spared. One person’s faith can have a great positive influence on those around them. Can you give any other biblical examples? One person’s sin can have a terrible negative effect on those around them. Can you give any biblical examples? Application: We should use the influence we have for the good of others.
  7. The spies’ statement of faith in verse 24 –

More on Rahab from http://calligraphyforgod.com/biblestudy/rahabcharacterstudy.html

Here is the key lesson and applications from the life of Rahab:

God is in the business of saving even the worst sinners – To most people Rahab was a nothing. But to God, her soul was valuable. He loved her from creation even in the middle of all of her sin. He chose to save her, Rahab, from before the beginning of the world. When Jesus came, He spent a lot of time and effort on these types of people, so much so that the Pharisees often criticized Him for it. Mark 2:13-17. What are applications we can make from this? There are several applications:

a)        Thank God that He saved you in the midst of your sin. Though our exact sins may be different from Rahab’s we are equally guilty. All of us have given in to the lusts of the flesh and eyes and the boastful pride of life. God loves us and redeems us anyway. Righteous people don’t need saving.

b)        God can save any of your relatives or friends no matter how bleak it looks. Maybe you write a list of unsaved friends who you want to pray for. When you get to one person you think, “There is no need to write down their name. They will never change.” Don’t give up on them. God can save anyone no matter what they have done or how disinterested they seem to be.

c)        No matter what bad habits you have now, there is always hope (1 Corinthians 10:13). If Rahab could change, you can change. It requires faith in a big God (Joshua 2:11). He is the God of heaven, meaning He has all power. And He is God on the earth, meaning He sees everything we do. He sees what we do and He cares about us as individuals and He wants to see our lives transformed.

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