'I AM' Bible Study
Lesson Eleven

** I am reposting last week's Lesson because of the many of you who sent me emails saying you were unable to participate due to vacation, busyness, etc. There will be a new Lesson next week and then every two weeks until the end of September to give
everyone time to 'catch up'. :)**

Fist Shakers vs Faith Takers

Background Reading:
Joshua Chapter 2

Key Verses:

"This day I will begin to put the dread and fear of you upon the people everywhere under the heavens, who, when they hear the report of you, will tremble and be in anguish because of you." Deut. 2:25

"When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath." Joshua 2:11

As we continue in our study of the fame of the Lord, this week's focus will again fast-forward us some time into the journey of the Israelites as they begin their conquest of the Promised Land.

I have always loved Joshua Chapter Two. It is so James Bond, isn't it? We have two men sent by Joshua to spy out Jericho in order to form a plan of attack. They are almost discovered and find refuge with Rahab the harlot who hides the men and gives them just the information they need. The excitement and intrigue have all the makings of the perfect action flick. They don't call it Holy SCRIPTure for nothing! We'll just pray Tom Cruise never gets cast in this one...(Can I say that in a Bible Study? :)

Our focus today will be taken from Rahab's report given to the spies in Joshua 2:9-11:
"I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you and what He did to the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. When we heard it, our hearts melted, and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath."

The fame of the Lord will always strike fear into the hearts of men (and women). Some people will not admit they are afraid of a coming judgment, but I do not believe there is a person anywhere who has never given eternity a second thought or secretly wondered, 'what if it's all true?'. The fear of the Lord is our common ground, but the response to that fear can be broken down into two types of people:

1. 'The Fist Shakers' respond in mortal fear for their temporal bodies.

The inhabitants of Jericho were terrified of the news they had heard - primarily the utter destruction of Sihon and Og. Often, when people are threatened with impending judgement, instead of submitting to the one who has power to execute justice they instead go into defense mode. They lash out instead of reach out. They run instead of succumb. They spew hate rather than accept love. In essence, this encounter becomes a war. Those who choose not to believe decide they must hate the thing which they perceive is threatening them - in this case a loving, yet righteous God. This is why they shake their fists at the sky. Don't we all know people like this? We tell them about a loving God and we are met with rejection and even anger when we suggest eternal damnation is the consequence for unbelief.

Another perfect example of Fist Shakers were the Pharisees. Their fear was loss of control. They were not willing accept the divine paradox which says you must lose your life to find it . You must serve in order to lead. You must become lesser in order to be greater. (Luke 17:33, John 13:16, John 3:30) When Jesus confronted them with this, instead of accepting Him, they killed Him. Again, this is still the truth today as people who reject the Gospel are ultimately quashing the voice of the Holy Spirit and as a consequence, hardening their heart for the next go round. Remember the Pharaoh of the Exodus? I believe this concept can be applied to His continued refusal to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt even though his country was falling down around his ears. This battle was one of self-preservation and control. The power to preserve and control belongs to One alone. Fortunately, it was not the Pharaoh and is not you and me! The heartbreaking truth is often it takes rock bottom to make one finally look up and drop their hands in surrender, if they ever surrender at all. Oh, Girls! We have a huge task on this planet to hold the hands of our lost sisters so they'll stop shaking those things at the sky!

2. The Faith Takers will experience a holy fear that will transcend their bodies and cut straight to their souls.

Faith is a gift which is freely offered to everyone (Romans 10:17, Eph 2:8) however, the open hand of the 'Faith Taker' manifests itself in action instead of anger. As Rahab told the spies of the fear she shared with her countrymen, she went on to make a critical confession that was lacking in the response of the king and citizens of Jericho , "..for the Lord your God, He is God of Heaven above and Earth beneath." For a worshipper of the Canaanite deities and a peddler of debauchery, this statement was huge. Rahab recognized in the mighty wonders God had performed on behalf of the Israelites that He indeed controlled everything above her head and beneath her feet and salvation would be found in no other name (Acts 4:12). Rahab somehow comprehended she should not 'fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.' (Matt. 10:28) She submitted herself to the God of Israel and bound herself to this nation from this point forward. Her faith demonstrated in action on behalf of the spies resulted in the salvation of her household and inclusion in the lineage of Jesus Christ.

In his most excellent book, Twelve Extraordinary Women, John MacArthur makes a point about Rahab's ability to quickly hide the spies. He says,

"The speed and ingenuity of her scheme to hide them suggests that she was experienced in this kind of thing. Apparently the stalks of flax, 'which she had laid in order on the roof', were there for precisely that purpose, in case a jealous wife came looking for a client. Rahab had a long rope handy too. No doubt she had arranged similar escapes, but for different reasons, in the past. The hiding place certainly served a high and holy purpose this time."

When I read this, I immediately thought back to Lesson "Instrument of Wonders", and our discussion over how our past sin and failures could be redeemed for the glory of God. It may interest you to know some scholars theorize one of the the spies was actually Salmon, the man Rahab later married. This may or may not be true but if it is, talk about transforming a common object as a tool for wonders! The flax which once hid Rahab's secret lovers now covered a man who would look past all her sin and love her unconditionally, just as Jesus Christ continues to do for us today. The rope which once provided a means for escape for the lowlifes who frequented her establishment now gave God-speed to the righteous men who would secure her salvation. This same scarlet rope which once symbolized Rahab's shame now represented atonement and would be the marker that saved her life as well as the lives of her family. I get chills just thinking about it! Even if Salmon was not one of the spies, Rahab received something from these Israelite men she had not experienced from a man in a very long time. Dignity. Honor. Respect. I can imagine Rahab walking through her home for the last time and seeing the flax and rope. The spies redeemed the images she would have related to those objects. Nevertheless, I believe she left them behind and never looked back.

Rahab's one request of these men was to 'deal kindly' with her father's household by sparing their lives from death. (Joshua 2:12-13) The Hebrew word for 'kindly' can be translated as 'unfailing love'. The same love God demonstrates towards His children is what Rahab both gave and received. Because she allowed her fear to become faith, Rahab "lived in the midst of Israel" for the rest of her life.

Amazing isn't it? Rahab lived in the Promise but was not under the Promise. Spiritually speaking, Canaan was returned to her in an entirely new way. This is what I call a full circle experience - where everything and nothing are the same. The same thing can be seen with Moses after he led the Israelites to the base of Mt. Horeb where the Lord first said to him, "Certainly, I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you; when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain." (Exodus 3:12) Moses left as one man and returned a nation, all according to the Lord's promise.

In all these things, what stirred action was fear met with faith instead of fist. Let's talk about it a bit in our 'Burning Questions'. (Yes, I've renamed our Discussion Questions - Get it? Burning bush, Burning Questions? :))

Burning Questions

1. When is the last time you encountered a Fist Shaker? This may be a stranger to you or as close as a loved one in your own home. Does anything in our description help you to understand their animosity towards God? Are you able to have more compassion towards them?

2. Does anything about Rahab's redemption strike a nerve? This may be a question you would like to ponder privately. Sexual sin and/or victimization can be an area where Satan has an enormous stronghold because it can hold so many painful and shameful memories. If Rahab teaches us anything, please know God can redeem any life and any situation, no matter how heinous it seems, and plant you unashamedly 'in the midst of Israel'. Rahab deserved death according to Mosaic Law, however she was shown nothing but lovingkindness by the God and nation of Israel.

3. Is there an area of your life in which you feel you have come full circle? Where you've come to a place where everything and nothing are the same? (I'm thinking Lord of the Rings when Frodo goes back to the Shire after his long adventure. You have no clue what I just said if you are not an LOTR nerd so just ignore this if it doesn't make sense! :)

4. When you were born again, did you gain a new appreciation for your surroundings as Rahab did when she received the Promise along with the Promised Land? Has some old place, object, or relationship been redeemed by now serving a 'high and holy purpose'?

5. Believers can still be Fist Shakers. Do you have circumstances in your life in which you find yourself shaking your fist at God? Something He has asked you to endure, asked you to do, seemingly taken away from you? Can you see how shaking your fist is keeping you from your Promise? (I'm not talking eternal security here - Only abundant living.)

If you are posting your responses on your blog, please sign the Linky and leave a comment! Also, remember to link to your post and not your homepage for ease in finding your responses.

Just another quick note - You do not have to post a full response to these questions in order to participate in the study. Feel free to leave discussion on any portion of the study in my comments.