A passenger in a taxi wanted to ask the driver a question. The passenger gently tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention. The driver screamed, lost control of the cab, nearly hit a bus, drove up over the curb, and stopped just inches from a large plate glass window.
For a few moments everything was silent in the cab. Then the shaking driver said, “Are you OK? I’m so sorry, but you scared the daylights out of me.”
The badly shaken passenger apologized to the driver and said, “I didn’t realize that a mere tap on the shoulder would startle someone so badly.”
The driver replied, “No, no, I’m the one who is sorry. It’s entirely my fault. Today is my very first day driving a cab. I’ve been driving a hearse for 25 years.”
Fear is a prime human emotion implanted in our system by the Creator. It can present negative reactions with debilitating effects or be a positive motivating force to success. In the well-known story of Rahab, Scripture says that the entire city of Jericho was scared: “a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you” (Joshua 2:9, NIV). This Canaanite city had heard of the power of the God of Israel, and instead of surrendering themselves before Him, they trembled with fear. This was a negative reactive fear because they did not know the true character of God.
Joshua did not need to send the spies to check the land; God had already given it to them. However, true to His loving and merciful character, God allowed the inhabitants of this city another opportunity for repentance. From a distance, while the Israelites camped by the Jordan River, Jericho could see the pillar of fire at night and the cloud to protect them during the day. They had seen the manna fall. They knew the power of the God of Israel.
Ellen White shares: “The inhabitants of Canaan had been granted ample opportunity for repentance. Forty years before, the opening of the Red Sea and the judgments upon Egypt had testified to the supreme power of the God of Israel. And now the overthrow of the kings of Midian, of Gilead and Bashan, had further shown that Jehovah was above all gods. . . . All these events were known to the inhabitants of Jericho, and there were many who shared Rahab’s conviction, though they refused to obey it, that Jehovah, the God of Israel, ‘is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath’”
(Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 492).
The spies asked Rahab to help them escape, and she did to the best of her abilities. One thing she asked in return—one very important thing. She could have asked for gold to be financially set for life. Israel had plenty of it. She could have asked for land, a prime asset, especially for a single-labeled woman of her time. She could have escaped and saved her own life, but she made this request: “Swear to me by the Lord that you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you. Give me some guarantee that when Jericho is conquered, you will let me live, along with my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all their families” (Joshua 2:12, 13, NLT). Of all the things she could have asked for, the only thing that was of great value to her was her family and their salvation.
The Scriptures tell what happened: “Joshua said to the two spies, ‘Keep your promise. Go to the prostitute’s house and bring her out, along with all her family.’ The men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, mother, brothers, and all the other relatives who were with her. They moved her whole family to a safe place near the camp of Israel” (Joshua 6:22, 23, NLT). And for this very important reason she stayed on the wall.
Rahab the prostitute became Rahab the intercessor. Regardless of her past choices and mistakes, regardless of her failures and fears, she got hold of the promises, believed in the God of Israel, and saw her life transformed. In fact, she ended up in the lineage of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5).
We are living again on the borders of the Jordan River, very close to the heavenly Canaan. God is sending you and me to intercede on behalf of our families. We are to put that scarlet cord on the windows of our homes. This cord represents commitment and repentance, salvation and eternal life.
Rahab’s scarlet cord was so strong that all of her family used it to get out of the destruction of Jericho. In the midst of the fear we are experiencing today, God is calling us to stay on the wall because “‘you will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you” (1 Chronicles 20:17).