Today we’ll finish chapter 2 by looking at the second of two biblical examples that James gives to underscore the importance of works.
Jam. 2:25-26 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? (26) For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Rahab’s story is recorded in the book of Joshua. Here is the act of faith that James was talking about:
Jos. 2:1-6 And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there. (2) And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. (3) And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. (4) And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: (5) And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. (6) But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof.
The book of Hebrews also records this act of faith by an immoral woman from a heathen land:
Heb. 11:31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
It’s helpful to think about when Rahab first had the faith that she demonstrated in this passage. I believe Joshua 2 also answers that question:
Jos. 2:9-11 And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. (10) For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. (11) And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.
Her faith didn’t begin when the spies showed up on her doorstep. Rahab believed in the God of Israel when she heard what He did for them in Egypt and in Ammon. Her reception of the spies revealed a faith that existed long before that day. Rahab is another example of someone who revealed the reality of her faith by what she did.
For the third time in this chapter James hammers home the point that, “faith without works is dead.” It’s as dead as a body without a spirit.
Read James 3:1-4 for tomorrow. Consider how your words offend others, and how they direct your own life.