Joshua vs Rahab: Who would you put in Hebrews 11?

Updated: Jan 23, 2021

In Sunday’s sermon (Jan. 17, 2021) I made the observation that Joshua is not named in Hebrews 11 (the faith hall of fame chapter) but Rahab, the Canaanite prostitute, is. What’s up with that?

Now, let’s not go too far, clearly Joshua was an amazing leader and he did have faith-and Hebrews 11 does mention the walls of Jericho falling, but in Joshua 2 it seems that the chapter is laid out in such a way as to point out that, at that point anyway, Rahab’s faith is perhaps greater.

The chapter starts with Joshua sending 2 spies (even though God never told him to) and ends with this report of the spies (2:24);

1) Truly, the LORD has given us the land

2) The inhabitant of the land melt away because of us (they are afraid)

But, in the middle of the chapter we have Rahab’s confession of faith. She says, “I know that the LORD has given you the land (2:9), the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.

She says, that the fear of you has fallen upon us (2:9), and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you (2:9), and that our hearts melted, (2:11), and that there was no spirit left in any man because of you (2:11).

As I read the chapter, it seems that while Joshua is looking for confidence in all the wrong places, Rahab has simply heard and has demonstrated courageous belief. And ironically, she is preaching truth statements to the 2 spies on a roof. Interesting moment.

Rahab never experienced the miraculous deliverance of the Red Sea or of the victory over the Amorite kings across the Jordan - she just heard about them – and believed!

Isn’t it interesting how some people seem to have a quick and simple faith like Rahab, and others, sometimes those that grow up within the walls of Christianity, seem to struggle to believe? I do not know why that is, although some have observed that formal and systematized religion can inoculate young people against a relationship with Jesus.

So, I don’t want to discount Joshua’s faith – he led Israel into the land and is one of the few characters of the Bible without major sinful blemishes. But I do admire Rahab’s faith – it was simple but costly.

What can you do today to cultivate a simple faith like Rahab had? Have you been inoculated against Christianity? Do you have lots of excuses for why you don’t believe in God or Jesus? Do you need to forgive someone? Do the pages of the Bible seem hard to believe? Ask God to show Himself to you – pray to Him and give Him a shot. I’ll bet He’ll speak to you.

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