James 2:25

James 2:25  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 8
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ANOTHER example is cited from the O.T. in support of faith not bare but working by love, so needful to impress on the Jewish mind. Rahab's case is in its circumstances as different as can be conceived from that of the father of the faithful; for it is a woman, a Gentile, of the accursed race, and of previously bad character; yet after believing she entered the line of great David, and hence became an ancestor of David's greater Son. It was, therefore, no less pertinent and powerful.
“And likewise was not also Rahab the harlot justified by (out of) works, in that she received the messengers and sent [them] out another way?” (ver. 25).
Apart from faith the work of Rahab was no better than Abraham's trial. If done without God as the object and spring and authority, both were not only of no value but abominable. Viewed humanly, one was willing to kill his own son and heir, the other to betray her king and country to their destroyers. As faith wholly changed the character of their respective acts, so those acts proved the divine principle and the living power of their faith. This has been pointed out in the former instance. Wherein did it consist in the latter?
Rahab believed the two men to be the messengers of Jehovah's people. “I know,” said she, “that Jehovah hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you.” How did she know this? Not a city was taken in Canaan, not an inch of its territory was annexed, not even a blow had yet been struck. Jordan ran its barrier against Israel on the other side, and it was at that time overflowing all its banks. How did Rahab know what neither king nor people of Jericho knew? It was by faith. “For we have heard [and faith comes by hearing] how Jehovah dried up the water of the Red Sea before you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did to the two kings of the Amorites that were beyond Jordan, to Sihon and to Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. We heard, and our hearts melted, and there remained no more spirit in any man because of you; for Jehovah your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath” (Josh. 2).
The rest of the inhabitants had heard no less than Rahab; but the word of the report did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those that heard. It reached Rahab's conscience, and she bowed to God in the face of every natural reason and feeling. She rightly judged the folly and the sin and the ruin of fighting against the God who had delivered His people from the power of Egypt, and crushed irretrievably their Amorite foes. His purpose to give Israel Canaan was notorious; and therefore she hid the two spies as the representatives of the people to whom God gave the land by promise and oath: two immutable things in which it was impossible that God should lie. Her faith lay thereon. Could any anchor be more secure or firm?
Yet Rahab did not despair for herself or others; she counted on mercy in Jehovah's name, as true faith does. “And now, I pray you, swear to me by Jehovah, since I have dealt kindly with you, that ye will also deal kindly with my father's house, and give me a sure sign, that ye will save alive my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our souls from death.” The sign was given as solemnly as it was kept. As she received the messengers in faith, she sent them out by another way in the same faith.
Thus Rahab's faith was self-evidently fruitful. She had swamped all patriotism in her fear of Jehovah. As she believed in the bond that attached Him to His people, she looked, and not in vain, that assuredly as He should destroy Jericho, He would rescue her and hers. In spite of her habits hitherto impure, notwithstanding her unscrupulous readiness to deceive and baffle where her heart was engaged, faith was energetically at work; and the heart-knowing God bore her witness. “And likewise was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works?”
For her it was no barren acquiescence that Jehovah was the God of Israel. It was the living active faith that He would work on their behalf in Canaan as in Egypt, in the wilderness, and in the borders of the promised [and. Hence she acted in a faith which issued in works exactly and highly suited to His purpose for His people. Unbelief might suggest failure for herself as well as for them. But her faith overcame all fears and rose above all difficulties. It was easy to conceive hitches, and to apprehend the indignant and cruel destruction which must follow their discovery of her treason. But her faith was simple and strong in what Jehovah was to His people; and it expressed itself not in words only but in deeds which she well knew exposed her naturally to the most suffering and ignominious death. Her faith laid hold of the sound principle that the highest of all rights is that God should have His rights. Therefore she dreaded not the wrath of king or people, gave to the wind her fears, and endured, as seeing Him Who is invisible. Was not she too justified by works?