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Scripture Memory: Security.
VERSE : John 10:27, 28 
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."

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O Worship the LORD in the Beauty of Holiness

18 November 2012
8 am & 1045am Worship Service:

Rev Charles Seet (Rahab: Testimony of a Living Faith, Jos 2:9-11)
6:00 pm Evening Service:
Rev Colin Wong (David’s Psalm of Praise, Ps 145)

25 November 2012
8 am & 1045am Worship Service:

Rev Colin Wong (John the Baptist: More than a Prophet, Mat 11:2-19)
6:00 pm Evening Service:
Rev Quek Keng Khwang (God is So Good! Psa 116)

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RAHAB’S ACT OF DECEPTION

Imagine that you live in Jericho, a city God has condemned to be destroyed by the Israelites. You have come to believe that God is holy and just to destroy Jericho because of its awful sins and corruption. Your only hope of escaping destruction is to trust in God for mercy to save you through His people, the Israelites.

By God’s providence, two of them happen to visit your house. They had been sent to Jericho on a secret mission to gather information for the battle. Instead of doing your duty to hand these spies over to your king, you decide to risk your life by allowing them to stay in your house and providing them with all the information they need.

Suddenly, you hear loud knocking on your door and some men shouting, "Bring the spies out! We know that they came here!" Knowing the grave danger they are in, you quickly hide the spies. Then you open the door to tell the king’s men, "Two strangers did come here and I do not know who they are or where they come from. But they have just left a short while ago. If you want to catch them, you must go after them right now!" Your ploy works. You have successfully saved the spies God sent to your house from certain death. But you did it by deceiving the king’s men. Was this the right thing to do?

Many have debated whether it was right for Rahab to deceive the men who came to her house to look for the Israelite spies. There are some who say that Rahab should have been truthful or silent and that she should simply have trusted the Lord to protect the spies in some other way. They claim that though her intention was noble and good, it does not justify her method. To them, Rahab’s lie is recorded but not approved; the Scriptures approve her faith but not her falsehood.

Is this the way we should view Rahab’s act of deception? It must be stated here that under normal circumstances it is wrong to deceive others. Since the Lord is a God of truth (Deuteronomy 32:4) everything we say and do should be characterized by truthfulness. Deceit is sinful and is prohibited by the commandment in Ephesians 4:25 – "Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour."

However there are situations where deliberate deception is permissible and even necessary. Here are some examples from the Bible:

• Joshua was instructed by God to set up an ambush on the city of Ai (Joshua 8:3-9). An ambush is one of the deadliest forms of deception in war strategy. In a well-executed ambush, the enemy does not suspect anything at all, until he realises too late that he had been deceived.

• Ehud came to Eglon the Moabite king on the pretext of bringing a message, but killed him with a hidden dagger (Judges 3:14-21).

• Gideon deceived the Midianites into thinking that they were being attacked by a massive force (Judges 7:19-22).

• Jael deceived Sisera into thinking that she was helping him, when in fact she was planning to kill him (Judges 4:18-21; 5:24).

• A woman in Bahurim hid two allies of King David in her well and camouflaged the hiding place. When Absalom’s servants came and asked her for the whereabouts of the two men, she lied that they had gone over the brook of water (2 Samuel 17:18-20).

• The midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, disobeyed Pharaoh’s order to murder the male Hebrew babies they delivered. When they were questioned about this, they lied that the Hebrew women gave birth too quickly. By the time they arrived for the delivery, the babies had already been born and hidden away. For doing this, God rewarded these god-fearing midwives (Exodus 1:15-21).

The common denominator in all these instances of deception is that the ones who were deceived were enemies of God and His people. Deception was necessary to prevent them from perpetrating evil against God and His people. Truth must always be given to whom it is due, but it should not be given to an enemy who may use it for evil purposes.

Moreover, in times of war, deception is often used as a strategic weapon by all parties. This is the reason why soldiers wear camouflage and hide themselves. A soldier takes a great risk if he trusts the words of an enemy force.

In Rahab’s case, it must be remembered that God was at war with Jericho. When she changed her allegiance from being loyal to the king of Jericho to being faithful to the God of Israel, Rahab instantly became God’s agent in His war against Jericho. If she now affirmed to the king’s officers that the spies were still in her house, she would have betrayed the trust of the spies and proved herself unfaithful to God.

Therefore in this unique situation, Rahab’s deliberate act of deception should be understood as a responsible and praiseworthy act of faith rather than condemned as a transgression of God’s law.

THE FALL OF JERICHO

The history of Jericho goes back far beyond the time of Joshua, to about 7000 BC, making it one of the oldest inhabited sites in the world. Walls were built around the mound as early as 6000 BC. Because of its good location next to the main ford on the lower Jordan river, Jericho was a point at which nomadic tribes entered the land west of the Jordan. From Jericho several main valleys ascend up to the central ridge of the country.

Around 1900 BC a new wave of immigrants hit Jericho. They were the Canaanites. Excavation of tombs have made it possible to reconstruct life in the city, which was a typical urban complex. Excellent pottery, wooden three and four-legged tables, stools and beds, basketry, trinket boxes of bone inlay, metal daggers, circlets, platters of fruit and joints of meat have all been preserved due to the presence of methane gas in some of the tombs. The people were however not wealthy.

According to Eugene Merrill, "There is no question that the city of Jericho was strongly fortified and that under ordinary circumstances could easily withstand a siege of several years. The walls were high and thick, the access to the city was most difficult because of the steepness of the slopes of the ancient mound, and there was a plentiful supply of water within the enclosure." The city wall may originally have been as high as 10 metres (cf. Deuteronomy 9:1). Humanly speaking, it was impossible for anyone to penetrate the impregnable bastion of Jericho.

And yet in 1406 BC the Israelites led by Joshua did just that. As Joshua 6:20 records, "...and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat…" The word "flat" here may be more precisely translated "beneath it," that is, down the slopes of the mound.

In 1930-1936 John Garstang conducted a series of excavations at Jericho, and found convincing proof that these walls dating from the end of the 15th century BC did fall outward. This is remarkable when we consider that in ordinary warfare we would expect the walls to fall inward beneath the blows of battering rams and other instruments of war existing at that period.

Moreover, the heaps of bricks from the fallen walls had formed natural ramps against the steep slopes of the mound. This made it easy for the Israelite soldiers to enter, "…so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city." (6:20b)

What made the city walls fall down? Some believe that there was a perfectly timed earthquake. Others suggest that that shock waves produced by thousands of Israelites marching in precise cadence or a wall-shattering note from the trumpets of the priests. None of these have proven to be sufficient. Hebrews 11:30 gives us the only acceptable explanation – "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days."

A German excavation led by Ernst Sellin and Carl Watzinger found a short stretch of the lower city wall on the north which did not fall as everywhere else. They also found that houses had been built against that wall. Could one of them have been Rahab’s house? (Joshua 2:15 – "…for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall.")

Besides the fallen walls, archaeologists found a layer of burned ash and debris one meter thick. As Kathleen Kenyon who did excavations in 1952-1958 describes, "The destruction was complete. Walls and floors were blackened or reddened by fire, and every room was filled with fallen bricks, timbers, and household utensils; in most rooms the fallen debris was heavily burnt, but the collapse of the walls of the eastern rooms seems to have taken place before they were affected by the fire." This finding accurately corroborates the biblical record in Joshua 6:24 – "And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein…"

One unique find in the city’s ruins was many storage jars full of grain that had been caught in the fiery destruction. Under normal circumstances, conquerors would plunder the grain first before burning a city since it was a valuable commodity. Why was the grain strangely left untouched at Jericho? The answer is that Joshua had commanded the Israelites not to plunder the city lest they made themselves accursed (Joshua 6:18).

The fact that these storage jars were full of grain bears testimony to another biblical fact: In war time a city would store enough food to last for many months or even years since a siege normally lasted that long. But Jericho was conquered in only seven days. This feat is impossible with man, but certainly not with God who created the entire universe in less than seven days! – Pastor

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EMMANUEL REFORMED BIBLE LECTURES

Time: 7.30 pm – 9.30 pm; Venue: Beulah House.

Mondays: The Poetic Books of the Old Testament (Rev Charles Seet)

Thursdays: The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Rev Ho Chee Lai).

Lectures begin on 7 January 2013.

Please complete registration forms available at the reception counter and place them in the box.

‘Early Bird Discount’ of $5 will be given to those who register before 3 Dec 12.

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1) LTF Camp 2012. Speaker: Rev Peter Chng. Theme: "Metamorphosis!" (2 Cor 5:17). Dates: 10-14 Dec. Age: 12-17. Please register early. For more information, contact Elder Lim Ching Wah at 9183-6783.

2) YF Camp 2012. Theme: Fear of the Lord. Speaker: Rev Jack Sin from Maranatha BP Church. Camp dates: 17-21 Dec. All youth aged between 16-24 are invited. Registration ends TODAY. Contact John Lim (9660-5446) for more information.

3) Infant Baptism on Christmas Sunday, 23 Dec 12. Parents who intend to have their infants baptised must register by 25 Nov 12. Please call the Church office (65949399) or email Yin Chan giving child’s name, date of birth and parents’ names and contact.

4) Catechism Class for Easter Baptism on 31 March 2013 commences on 2 Dec 12 at Beulah Centre Rm 5-4, 9.30 am. Those seeking baptism, reaffirmation of faith and transfer of membership must attend the Catechism Class.

Preaching appointment: Rev Wong at Life Evening Service, 6.00 pm. Rev Quek at Thai Grace BPC, 4.00 pm.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25