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Hebrews 11:30–31

“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.”

One of the recurring themes of Hebrews 11 is that true, saving faith involves trust. We trust God will keep His word even when all that we have is His promise. For instance, Noah was moved by his trust to build the ark when the Lord said He would send a flood on the earth (v. 7). Having never seen such a deluge before, Noah had no other foundation for his faith than God’s solemn word of promise (see Gen. 6:11–22). Similarly, Abraham and Sarah had nothing but God’s covenant promise to give them a son, for naturally speaking it was impossible for them to conceive. Nevertheless, they trusted the Lord. His word to them was enough for their faith (Heb. 11:11–12; see Gen. 18:1–15; 21:1–7).

In the case of the fall of Jericho, Hebrews 11:30 tells us, the people of Israel again faced the challenge of believing God’s word of promise when that word was all they had to rely on. We remember that the divinely given strategy for the Israelites to conquer Jericho involved marching around the city seven days, blowing trumpets, and then giving a final shout (Josh. 6:1–5). As many commentators note, an ordinary human general would never have devised such a plan. It could be followed only if the people were confident that God Almighty would bless it with success. Joshua led the people in the prescribed actions, and God acted on account of their faith to demolish the walls of Jericho (vv. 6–21). After all, it takes more than loud noises to make fortified walls come tumbling down. John Calvin comments, “The walls did not fall through the shout of men, or the sound of trumpets; but because the people believed that the Lord would do what he had promised.” Similarly, John Chrysostom writes, “Assuredly the sound of trumpets cannot throw down stones, even if one blows for ten thousand years, but faith can do all things.”

As Joshua 6:22–25 indicates, the Canaanite prostitute Rahab and her family survived Jericho’s fall and were incorporated into God’s people Israel. Hebrews 11:31 mentions this, reminding us that she was saved because Rahab acted by faith in hiding the Israelite spies (Josh. 2). Rahab believed that the God of Israel would defeat the gods of Canaan, placing her trust in Him and sheltering the Lord’s servants. Not being an Israelite by blood, Rahab shows us that saving faith is not bestowed by the right family relation. God accepts anyone who trusts in Him through Christ alone no matter their history (Acts 10:34–43).

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

That God received Rahab is comforting to us given that she was a notorious sinner. The grace of the Lord is not limited to those who have made good life choices. It extends to all people who are willing to rest in Jesus alone, turning from their sin. The church must be prepared to receive all kinds of people into fellowship, especially those with a disreputable background. If God receives them through faith in Christ, we cannot refuse to do so.


For Further Study
  • Hosea 3
  • Matthew 1:1–17; 21:28–32
  • James 2:25

When Grace Becomes a Cliché

The Faith of Many

Keep Reading Christian Discourse

From the August 2020 Issue
Aug 2020 Issue