Sunday, October 23, 2011

Touching Base! Part 144

Wherever you are, someone’s been there, Part 3

(This article can also we found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

“I threw the hot dog toward Tiger Woods because I was inspired by the movie ‘Drive.’ As soon as the movie ended, I thought to myself, ‘I have to do something courageous and epic. I have to throw a hot dog on the green in front of Tiger.’” This was the quote from the guy who threw the hot dog at Tiger Woods. Is this really epic and courageous? What do you equate with epic? Have any examples of epic either in your own life or in the lives of others?

In the walk of faith, our faithful God asks us to walk by faith. Sometimes the step He asks us to take can feel epic-like. It can demand a lot of courage. In fact it may seem so epic-like, that we are not sure we can or want to move in the direction in which God is calling us to go.

Why is it that we might feel that what God is calling us to do is so epic-like? What is it about the call, the act of obedience, that prompting from God that can be so challenging? Let’s look at our story to uncover some answers. We will get to the answers once we unpack the story.

Text – Read Joshua 2
The context is that Joshua has taken the helm from Moses. What Moses was denied - the Promised Land - Joshua is going to embrace. God is going to come good on His promise (1:3). God is a promise keeper, and Jericho is the first city in their sights as they move on from Shittim.

SCENE 1 (V.1-8)
Who are the characters? Where is the tension? What catches your attention in this scene? How are the characters feeling?

Notice that Rahab lies. Many have debated the ethics of this. My point is not to get sidetracked with this issue, but it might be worth stopping here with your group and asking - Would you lie? If caught in the same situation would you deceive? Think she was right? Wrong?

Don’t make enemies in your group if you are on opposite sides of this. Even Corrie Ten Boom found herself living with this tension.

During World War II, Corrie Ten Boom was working on watches and enjoying life. As Germany invades and ultimately occupies Holland, we discover that her family’s faith in Christ as Saviour and Lord of all, regardless of race or gender, drives them to aid the Jews, who are being persecuted. It is quite amazing to note that the Ten Boom family practically fell into their smuggling operations. It is also interesting to note that they disagreed on how to handle certain ethical issues such as lying to the police (some members would and some would not) based upon their faith.

Well, about a year before the end of the war, the Ten Boom family was betrayed and sent off to prison and concentration camps. It is here that we really see what a life of faith and obedience to God means. In the end, Corrie survived the camp and set out to assist those who were impacted by the tragedy that was World War II.

Now the next scene in Rahab’s story, I think, will reveal Rahab’s true motive for protecting these spies. But I also think possibly something else is going on here. We know that Rahab was a prostitute. Not a temple prostitute, but a lowlife prostitute who was marginalized, abused and probably forced into prostitution because of financial need. I think part of the motivation to lie was that she saw these men as her ticket out... out of an oppressive lifestyle, deliverance from a culture that marginalized her. Freedom from the abuse, hurt and pain.

Look at some hard facts about sex workers today (a study that interviewed 854 women currently, or recently, involved in prostitution):

• 73% were beaten or hit by a caregiver as a child
• 84% were sexually abused as children
• 91% were physically assaulted
• 76% were raped
• 95% want to leave prostitution

Who can identify with the plight and pain of sex workers today, or even the pain in Rahab’s heart?

SCENE 2 (V.9-13)
What do you notice about Rahab’s heart? I think this scene identifies the most powerful motive for her to cover for the spies. She is convinced of the supremacy of Israel’s God. Note v.11b. She wants to be on the winning team. How do you think the spies felt when they heard how God had obviously entered Jericho before they did? God was at work behind the wall, in an unknown place. For me this is an amazing verse, demonstrating the incredible grace of God and the mysterious ways of God. We may, at times, wrestle with God’s harsh judgment in the OT, but a text like this reminds me of God’s big heart for lost people.

Ever been surprised to see where God is working? Got any walls you wish He would penetrate?

SCENE 3 (V.14-24)
Read to the end. Comments?
Back to our question, Why is it that we might feel that what God is calling us to do is so epic-like? This story provides some answers. Our faithful God asks us to walk by faith. That walk of faith at times will.......

Move us into the unknown
Think about the spies. Imagine them in Shittim being told by Joshua to go spy on Jericho. At this point in the story, what is unknown to them? Finish this sentence, “They have no idea that...” Scan the story for your answers.

Think of Rahab. Perhaps the greatest unknown is whether she can actually trust these men. Who else had she let down from her window, late at night so no one could see? Not just spies but perhaps husbands, fathers, politicians, businessmen who had come to her for sexual service. Men that she had learned not to trust, men who had willingly lied to others about their sexual escapades with a prostitute living on the wall, men who had stared their wives in the face and denied unfaithfulness, men who had said one thing in private but something completely different in public. MEN! And now she was betting the farm on these two men that they would be men of their word, men of honour, men she could trust would keep their promise, and when they saw that scarlet cord, would show grace.

When God calls us, and leads us as Christians, sometimes that calling will make us face up with some of our greatest challenges like trust, fear, vulnerability, risk, and maybe trusting the opposite sex. God sometimes calls us to move from the known to the unknown. What we have is the promise of God, but beyond that we have no idea how things will unfold. Ever been there? That is exactly where the spies and Rahab are.

Secondly, the walk of faith at times will...

... Call us to break with the past
Again Rahab and the spies have this in common: the spies come from a nation that, at one time, was characterized by collective stubbornness and unbelief. Read Num. 13:1-14:4. In this story we see how popular opinion sided with the pessimist, not the promises of YHWH. Perhaps this is why in v.1 Joshua commissions the spies in secrecy, not wanting to repeat the mistakes of the past. He is not interested in what the nation thinks. To be obedient to the voice of God, they are going to have to break free from a decision that had crippled their nation for the past 40 years. It would be fair to say that Israel was in rut. A rut has been defined as “nothing but a grave with both ends kicked out.” Instead of fear, they would need faith, instead of intimidation, courage, instead of human logic, trust in God’s capabilities. For some of us to take that “next step” with God, we have to break free from patterns, and a history that has shaped us

Now look at Rahab: any evidence that she broke free? Read Hebrews 11:31 and Matthew 1:1-5. What evidence is there that she got out of the rut?

Graves (ruts) have all kinds of labels. Can you think of any labels?
How has God delivered you? What do you need deliverance from ?

Finally note the imagery of the scarlet chord, symbolic of a place of grace, faith and hope. Take some time to thank God for His grace in our lives as He calls us to Himself to walk this walk of faith.

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