Have you ever wondered how it occurs that two people can have a touch from God in which one turns towards Him while the other runs away? Perhaps closer to home, you have siblings with similar upbringings in your family where one follows God and the others reject Him. God’s Word is His story seeking relationship with us. He is relentless in His pursuit. It becomes our decision on how we respond. Two stories from the Old Testament show us how each key character made a decision following the great mercy shown to them and their families and how that influenced the trajectory not only of their own lives, but generations yet to come.
Judges 1:22-26 NKJV tells of the continuing conquest of Canaan by the house of Joseph. Verses 22-26 are as follows: “And the house of Joseph also went up against Bethel, and the LORD was with them. So the house of Joseph sent men to spy out Bethel. (The name of the city was formerly Luz.) And when the spies saw a man coming out of the city, they said to him, ‘Please show us an entrance to the city, and we will show you mercy.’ So he showed them the entrance to the city, and they struck the city with the edge of the sword; but they let the man and all his family go. And the man went to the land of the Hittites, built a city, and called its name Luz, which is its name to this day.” Bethel means house of God. This city had a rich history for the Jewish people beginning with Abraham’s first sacrifice to God, followed by Jacob’s revelation from God. The former name of Luz carries the meaning deceit or perversion; however Jacob renamed the city after his encounter with God there. Mercy in verse 24 in Hebrew is #2617 checed defined as kindness. Surely the man who gave key information to the Jewish spies in exchange for his life was shown great kindness along with his family. It was at this point in time that he made the decision to leave the house of God and return to his former ways by establishing a new city centered on deceit and perversion.
Joshua chapter two recounts the story where he sent two spies into the city of Jericho. These spies went to the home of a prostitute named Rahab. The king of Jericho learned of it and told her to bring the men out. She hid them under stalks of flax on her rooftop, lied to the king that they had already left, then helped them escape after requesting protection for her family and herself. The spies agreed to spare them on condition that a scarlet cord be bound in her window to differentiate them on the day of attack. Chapter 6:22-26 NKJV reveals the culmination of the story, “But Joshua had said to the two men who had spied out the country, ‘Go into the harlot’s house and from there bring out the woman and all that she has, as you swore to her.’ And the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, her mother, her brothers, and all that she had. So they brought out all her relatives and left them outside the camp of Israel. But they burned the city and all that was in it with fire. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they were put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.”
The man from Bethel who left the house of God in the quest of a new city of deceit and perversion is never spoken of again as he remained nameless in the Biblical account. He chose his own way even after being shown great kindness. On the other hand, Rahab was desperate for God and chose to be with His people which became her people. Not only was she not nameless, her name is recorded in Matthew chapter one as the wife of Salmon, the mother of Boaz, and the great-great grandmother of David. The genealogy goes even further naming Jesus Christ, the crowning glory in her lineage!
Our decisions are pivotal and do not just pertain to our own lives. Did God have a plan for the Hebrews to enter the Promised land? Yes. Did he have a plan for a harlot to be used in the family line of the Messiah? Yes. He even had a plan for the man who helped the spies in Bethel. Unfortunately, his decision to leave behind his hope resulted much differently than Rahab’s faithfulness. We are all given the decision to choose God, who has given us indescribable mercy. Learn from history and choose wisely.