According to Origen Proverbs 22:21 originally said, "And do thou portray them [the scriptures] in a threefold manner." The three manners he referred to are the historical application, the spiritual application, and the prophetic one. Each issue of Pilgrims Promise will discuss the prophetic meaning of one of the episodes in the Bible. This issue examines Rahab who lived in Jericho contained in Joshua, chapters 1-4.
Rahab, the harlot, lived in Jericho. She housed the two Hebrews sent to spy out her city. When the governor of Jericho heard of the spies and ordered her to give them over to him for judgment, she refused. Instead, she hid them in some straw and told the guards sent to arrest them that they had already left.
Rahab's house was on top of the wall surrounding Jericho. When the way was safe, she let the spies down from her window with a rope. Outside the city, they easily escaped back to their own people.
Before letting the spies go, Rahab asked to be saved when the Hebrews captured her city. They promised her that all those gathered into her house would be spared. So that there would be no confusion, they told her to mark her house by tying a scarlet ribbon to the window through which the spies went.
When the Hebrews entered Canaan, the land God had promised them, they crossed the Jordan River near Jericho. The Levites who carried the Ark went first. As soon as their feet touched the water, the river, like the Red Sea had done, divided so that the entire nation walked over on dry ground. After the last Israelite had passed, the Levites holding the Ark, who had remained in the middle of the river during the crossing, left the river bed. Immediately upon their exit, the river began flowing again.
The Canaanites in Jericho saw this miraculous event. News had already reached them about the power of these invaders. They shut the gates to their city and prepared for a great battle.
Joshua, the Israelite leader, did not immediately attack Jericho. Instead, the Hebrews marched around it. Levites blowing on seven hunpets led the procession, followed by other Levites carrying the Ark. The rest of the army went behind and remained silent. Each day they encompassed Jericho once and returned to camp. On the seventh day the Hebrews circled the city again, but this time they marched around it seven times. Afterwards, as the priests blew their trumpets, the people shouted. The walls of Jericho fell down and the army took the city. Every Canaanite perished in the battle, except Rahab and those gathered into her house. Although not descendants of Jacob, they became Israelites and, with them, enjoyed the benefits of the promised land.
This event has two prophetic implications. The most important is its description of how the righteous are saved in the heavenly kingdom. Just as Rahab was a harlot before meeting the two Hebrews, God's covenant people, each person is a sinner before learning of God's covenant. They learn of the divine promise through the Word of God written in the scriptures. The scriptures are divided into two parts. The Word of God searches, or spies out the hearts of people to draw the faithful to him. Rahab could do nothing to make herself a child of Abraham, but knowing that God delivered His people from their enemies, sometimes destroying them, and knowing that she was among the enemies of the Hebrews, she threw herself on their mercy. Sinners can do nothing to make themselves children of God, but those fearing divine power can cling to God's men who is Jesus Christ and find salvation.
Those coming to Christ are reborn. They become new creatures in him, carrying the marks of his stature in their bodies. The opportunity for anyone to obtain regeneration through the gospel was provided by the wrought on the cross. By the blood of Jesus, believers can be washed from their sins and converted into images of the Savior: Christians. While Christians spiritually mark themselves with the blood of Jesus, just as the enslaved Hebrews in Egypt signified their house with the blood of the sacrificed lamb on Passover and escape divine judgment, Rahab marked her house with a scarlet thread. She tied it at her window through which the spies went.
The spies promised Rahab that all those gathered into her house would be saved. Her testimony of an impending Israelite invasion could have caused some citizens of Jericho to fear the power of God about to befall them. Those believing and obeying her warning gathered into her home for protection. They came to a house of faith, for both they and Rahab trusted God to save them from the approaching calamity.
Rahab's house represents the church of Christ, which is charged with gathering the faithful by the preaching of the word and preparing them to meet God. Just as those gathered into the house of Rahab could enjoy the light coming from the window marked by the scarlet thread, view the progress of the chosen people, and catch a glimpse of the Ark of the Covenant, the faithful, whether through spiritual manifestations or the sacred scriptures, can bask in the light of the Holy Spirit that comes from the crucified Savior, view the progress of believers as they proceed toward glory and catch a glimpse of Jesus.
When a person dies, his spirit returns to God (Ecc 12:7). It crosses the river between the wilderness of this life and the promised land of the life to come. God's children, like the Hebrews at the Jordan River, are not engulfed in that event. They rest in the merciful arms of Jesus. He said, "If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death" (Jn 8:5 1), "but is passed from death into life" (Jn 5:24). Jordan means "to come down." When it comes time for a person to leave this life and go to his inheritance in glory, he must come down into death. Just as the Ark borne by the Levites stopped the tide from engulfing God's people when they crossed the Jordan River, Jesus, who is the Ark of God in the flesh, stops the tide of death so that his people can safely enter the promised land. When judged after death, those relying of the power of the Savior will receive an inheritance in his celestial kingdom.
While the history of Rahab has prophetic implications for eternity, it also foreshadows the rise of God's temporal kingdom in the last days. To bring that kingdom, God must destroy all worldly nations even as He destroyed Jericho. Daniel prophesied, "In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom,which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to another people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever" (Dan 2:44). Just as Joshua ordered seven trumpets to sound until the walls of Jericho fell, Jesus, as John predicted, will send seven angels to sound their trumpets (Rev 8:6) and cause the fall of Babylon.
Today believers live in the midst of Babylon. Like Rahab, they reside among many who assail the people of God. Their close association with those not dedicated to righteousness sometimes leads them into error. Before destroying Babylon, God will dispatch two witnesses to greet the church. Although soiled by spiritual adultery, for what Christian denomination has not occasionally left the Savior and those stalwartly trying to follow him to entertain the humanistic philosophies of the world and court the political leaders of the earth, it will be reinvigorated. When Satan made war against the church Jesus built, God gave it the wings of an eagle so that it might fly into the wilderness for refuge (Rev 12:14). America was that wilderness.In America the Reformation escaped the tyranny of the Papacy and those states competing for its dominion so that it could more perfectly fulfill its mission. However, the efforts to find a pure church in America have been spoiled by disbelief and infidelity now rampant in our society. That is why when John the Revelator was taken into the wilderness after the flight of the church there, he saw a harlot instead of the bride of Christ (Rev 17:4-5). Like the Savior who forgave the woman found in adultery and told her to sin no more, God will forgive the church in its soiled condition and commission it to gather the faithful under its roof so they can escape the prophesied devastation.
Paul wrote that when the times of the Gentiles was fulfilled, all Israel would be saved (Rom 11:25-26). For Israel to enter its promised kingdom it must cross Jordan. Since Jordan means "to come down," they must come down into the water even as the Ark, or Jesus, did. When Jesus came down to Jordan, he commanded John to baptize him. Baptism brings remission of sins and prepares the way for the reception of the Holy Ghost. Through Ezekiel God promised to eventually wash Israel with clean water and grant them His spirit (E 36:25-27). Their baptism and subsequent reception of the Holy Ghost evidences their salvation.
While Israel, the northern kingdom, was dispersed in antiquity, God promised to gather them in the last days. Jeremiah prophesied, "0 Lord, save thy people, the remnant of Israel. Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth. He dial scattereth Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doeth his flock" (Jar 31:7,8,10). Just as God through Moses led the Hebrews from Egyptian bondage to the promised land in the last days God will lead a remnant of Israel into the land of their temporal kingdom. It will be away from the coasts as Jeremiah said (Jer 31:8) and in the midst of the land as Ezekiel showed. This must be in the middle of America. To accommodate them, the inhabitants, like those at Jericho, must either welcome them or face destruction.
Rahab received the Hebrews. The church will receive the gathered remnant of Israel. The rest of Jericho resisted the Hebrews and fell. Those not gathering into the congregation of the faithful will not participate in the establishment of God's holy kingdom on earth. From the time that the church in America is called to repentance until the time all of Israel is gathered, the mission of the church is to warn people of the impending disaster and invite them to trust in Gods promised deliverance. Believers leaving this life rest in the arms of Jesus and escape the condemnation that would otherwise be theirs. The faithful who leave the things of this world in anticipation of the glory of Christ's earthly rule will escape the destruction preceding his advent. Like Jericho, America will shake, but those depending upon God will be spared. Their faith will make them heirs to the promises made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They will be citizens of God's kingdom on earth and enjoy the blessings of their Savior's peaceful reign.