Ugly Tree Branches

Dan Howard   -  

This last Wednesday’s service was full of technical difficulties. It happens. If you were following at a distance, I don’t want you to be left behind.  So let’s set the stage. After wandering in the desert for 40 years, the people of Israel are brought to the Jordan. Moses passes into eternal life, Joshua is commissioned and he sends spies into the region.  Two men cross the Jordan to explore and scout the area around the city of Jericho. Jericho, the story we traditionally jump to.  These men have only knows the wilderness, they have never had a permanent home. They were raised on the teaching of Moses himself.  Israelites through and through. Brave Men to venture behind the lines.

These men were sent in verse one of Joshua chapter 2….guess how the verse ends: So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.

So, do you think they went there to scout? Were they doing evangelism? Were they checking out the “lay of the land?”

They left the wilderness and ventured into the city, and immediately found themselves where they shouldn’t be. Sure you could say I am just speculating here, but I am simply going to make this observation. How did they know that the men were Israelites? You could say it was their accents or their mannerisms…or perhaps because they bore the mark of the covenant…they were circumcised. I would propose they revealed too much in Raheb’s house. A house in the wall. A house where many could see who goes in and out. The king gets word, after all spies were just as essential to keeping the peace in early cities, and he goes searching for the men.

The men are hiding.

But then something strange happens, they get a lesson in faith from a gentile prostitute.
Her words are simple, and yet profound.

“I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt….When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.”

That was 40 years ago. A lifetime in the wilderness.
They lived 40 years in the wilderness preparing for this moment.
Those on the outside spent 40 years wondering when they were going to be invaded.

One woman was bold enough to ask a simple question.

“Will you save me….a prostitute…..can I be saved?”
And then she is bold enough to extend that protection over her family.

And she was accepted.  She was allowed into the camp of the Israelites. In fact, if you read Matthew 1:4-5 you find these words:

And to Ram was born Amminadab; and to Amminadab, Nahshon; and to Nahshon, Salmon; and to Salmon was born Boaz by Rahab . . .

A man named Salmon married her. Not because of what she was, but because of who she was redeemed. Where others perhaps saw a prostitute, this man named Salmon saw a woman willing to defy her culture. He didn’t see an outsider, he saw a mother for his children…. Of, and by the way…did you notice who she was the mother of?

Boaz…the man who would marry the Moabite woman named Ruth. A Moabite…a child of Moab. The product of Lot and his daughters incest. Perhaps that is why Boaz could see past where Ruth came from and could accept her for who she is.

The prostitutes Son, marries the offspring of a vile sin. Why do we care? Because those are stepping stones on the way to Christ. If those are branches in Christ’s family tree, than it shows there is room for me, and room for you.

Christ makes the most heinous sinner clean. My friends, don’t let a sin of your past label you. You are more than the mistakes you have made. Not because you have made yourself better, or have earned God’s love. But only because Christ loved you.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

Given and Shed For You and For Me,

God be praised,

Pastor Dan