Hebrews 11:29-31 29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned.30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
The author now shifts to the exodus from Egyptian slavery and the conquest of the promised land. Although this was a challenging time of testing and growth for the Hebrews slaves, it was also a time for growth. They did not know much about God or what God expected before the exodus. They had been in a culture full of Egyptian gods and goddesses. Their hope in delivery from slavery may have been low or weak. They may even have faced discouragement. Along came Moses with a message from the Almighty “I AM.” Their hope for freedom and trust in ancient promises made to their forefathers drove them to trust in this former Egyptian prince. They had experienced the plagues and had begun to understand the power of God. Facing a sea, however, was a new test of faith. Could they trust the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob enough to go forward in their faith? Their faith in God is contrasted with the faith of the Egyptians who refused to believe in Yahweh. As represented by their Pharaoh, they consistently rejected the true God and as a consequence, were drowned in the Red Sea.
The author turns to another story that illustrates his key point of faith is trusting in God’s promises. The Israelites experienced a test of their faith by marching around Jericho for seven days. It would seem like an odd command, at least from a modern perspective. The people of Jericho obviously thought it was odd by their ridicule of the Israelites. But the Israelites kept their vigil by obediently following God’s directions in order to experience God’s promise.
Rahab, the prostitute, appears at different points in biblical history (Joshua 2, 6, Job 9, 26, Ps 87, Matthew 1, Hebrews 11, James 2). Rahab is a mysterious person in that we do not know much history about her. Was there something within her or from her experiences that gave her hope and prompted her to help the Hebrew spies? Being a prostitute may not have been her wish and she may have hoped for a better life. She saw that in the story of the spies. Perhaps there was something that the spies said to her while they were in her home hiding. They may have sparked hope and faith in her through their witness. Whatever the case, the stories of her were passed on for generations and she even became part of the lineage of Jesus. We never know how our faith and the choices we make to follow hope in God will influence the future.
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