Achsah: Just Ask

After the battle of Jericho we find the Israelites continuing to make conquests, and continually subduing those lands they took over. We find four scriptures among all of these conquests and land divisions, about Achsah, Caleb’s daughter. Glancing over the verses her story gets lost very easily, but when we take a closer look we find a woman brave enough to make a simple request, brave enough to just ask.

In Joshua 15:16. Caleb, an integral spy and warrior for the Israelites, offers his daughter as a reward to the man who can overcome a place known as Kirjath-sepher. Regardless of all the behind the scene emotions and possibilities of being offered as a trophy, she becomes the wife of Othniel, the victor. Here is where it gets interesting, verse eighteen leads us to believe she persuades her new husband to ask for something in addition to receiving her as a bride, to request a piece of property from her father, perhaps a like a dowry. Something that would sustain their lives and the family she anticipated in the future.

In study this stopped me for a moment. She could have just accepted her place as a new bride, but she wasn’t satisfied with that. She knew and recognized the value of all her father possessed enough to make a request of him.

I realized there is a parallel hidden in this story. Like Caleb, Achsah’s father, we have a heavenly father who possesses everything we need, and at the times in our lives when change is occurring, all we need to do is ask Him for whatever we need to handle the change. Matthew 7:11 says if we in our imperfection and sinful nature, know how to give good gifts to our children how much more can we expect our heavenly Father to supply when we ask Him!

And that’s what Caleb does, he agrees to give the newlyweds a southern portion of land. However, as the events unfolded a thought came to Achsah, enough to cause her to move out of her current position and make another request. She says to her father, “Give me a blessing; for you have given me a southern land; give me also springs of water. “

She understood, and in wisdom realized, that the property he gave them could be cut off from water if the northern property owners chose to block the streams. I can see Caleb smiling a little, as he realized the intelligence of his daughter. In his graciousness he blesses her with upper springs, always guaranteeing they would have water coming down from the mountains, as well as lower springs that would be readily accessible.

I can think of another woman in John 4, whose story is for another day, but who Christ spoke to and offered her springs of living water from a well that would never run dry. This unnamed woman had spent her life looking for love, in all the wrong places, and the sources kept drying up. As she drew water from the well she learned how to quench the thirst within her soul.

Jesus is offering that same living water to you today. All you have to do is ask Him. Not just a one-time request, but if and when you are experiencing situations in life where perhaps your joy, your strength, or your faith seems to be drying up simply ask for a fresh drink. God will supply, and like Caleb did for Achsah, your heavenly father will reward you with what you need now and what you need in the future.

John 4:14 Jesus answered and said whoever drinks of the water I shall give him will never thirst, it will become a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. He will satisfy completely.

John 7:38 Whoever believes in me, rivers of living water will flow from his heart. His joy and strength will flow in you and out of you spilling over into every part of your life.

Revelation 22:17 Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. He already paid the price for your peace.

Isaiah 58:11 And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

He will never fail you, there will always be enough to meet your need.

Just Ask

Biting her lower lip, Achsah rehearsed the words in her mind for the hundredth time and prayed they were the right ones. In just a few moments she would leave her father’s tents to live with her husband and his family.

She glanced shyly at the man she’d married only a day ago, as he gathered their small caravan together and attempted to pack her belongings, generously bestowed by her father Caleb, in what little space they had available. Othniel was a good man, known for his wisdom and knowledge of the Law of Moses, and the surprising victor over Kirjath-sepher which also won her hand in marriage. He had not been the strongest, or most skilled, or wealthiest of the warriors who fought for that right but his cunning resulted in the victory.

They would still be residing with her father Caleb if she had not persuaded him to ask for land. And the request, to their delight, had been answered with a sizeable amount of land that almost equaled what her brother’s would inherit someday.

But the property boundaries could not boast their own spring of water.

And now she practiced the words once again that she would bring before her father. Laying a hand on her stomach to ease the nervousness within, Achsah, took a deep breath. She could do this, she must do this, and they would need more water to sustain any crops or herds. How hard can it be to ask? She thought.

Asking for something did not come naturally, in fact, growing up with only brothers she figured out early on how to do things herself, instead of waiting for one of them to agree to do anything. Her father boasted of her capabilities and independence, and now she thought to brave tradition and asks for a blessing usually reserved for the male line.

 

Activity bustled around her as Othniel approached. “Are you ready then?” he asked, holding out his hand for hers, eyes lit with the new love blossoming between them. Taking his hand he led her to the small donkey she would ride and helped her get seated. She knew she should have asked to speak with her father but found her mouth too dry to speak. Othniel turned to find his place at the front of the line and a small group of servants and family began to call their farewells.

Looking up, Achsah saw her father standing not too far away, his hand raised in farewell. Now, she thought, I have to do this now or there may never be another chance. Sliding off her donkey, she made her way to her father’s side, and stood staring at him.

“What’s this, my little one? You cannot miss me so much already.” He chuckled and pulled her into his familiar embrace, the scent of cedar wood engulfing her. For a moment she realized how much she would miss him, and leaned into his embrace.

Pulling away, the words she so carefully planned came out in a rush, all mumbled and sounding nothing like the confident voice she so carefully practiced.

“What is it you wish daughter?” Caleb asked a look of confusion written on his face.

She slowed her speech and began again. “You have given us land and I am so thankful, but I ask for a blessing. Give me also springs of water.” Achsah held her breath waiting for his response.

Caleb’s eyes twinkled, and a grin played on his lips, although his next words he spoke with a seriousness and authority for all to hear, “Alright. I give unto you my daughter, Achsah, the upper spring from the mountain and the lower spring that it creates.”

Thrilled, she looked to found Othniel looking at her in surprise, and feared he would be angry at her boldness. Instead he called from his horse, “Thank you Caleb, for the springs, and the blessings of a wife who thinks of things I do not. Now come Achsah, the sun grows higher in the day.”

She hurried toward her mount, but then stopped, turning she ran back to her father and threw her arms around him, “Thank you, Abba Father, I am a woman most blessed.” He hugged her in return and Achsah basked in his embrace.

Rahab: Exercising Faith

A Closer Look

Cold bits of rain ran down Rahab’s arm, sending a chill along her spine. She waited, with all of Israel, as Joshua carved the law of Moses into the stones at Mount Ebal. Finally, he spoke aloud, his words carrying the anointing of the Lord God.

Rahab shivered again, this time from the power of the blessings and warnings of God’s commandments being declared. Closing her eyes, Rahab allowed her mind to completely absorb everything spoken. Long after Joshua finished, the congregation disbanded around her, Rahab stood with eyes closed, attempting to grasp a measure of God. A gentle touch brought her into awareness, and Rahab looked up to meet the gaze of Salmon.

“How is it that your God, in all His greatness, spared me? Until this day I have not known or followed any of the law of Moses, but here I am with your people. And I wonder, why do so many seem unmoved by his greatness?” Rahab shook her head in disbelief.

Salmon’s heart ached as he struggled to find the answer to Rahab’s question, one he had often asked himself. “Joshua reminded me, not long ago, that if you look you can find the Almighty in everything, but you have to look. Many of my people have become so used to feeling the power of the Lord that it no longer moves them. They take His presence with us for granted and no longer see Him in everything around them.”

Salmon paused a moment, looking into the distance. “A humble heart and a willing spirit led the God of Israel to you, Rahab. I have watched as you have been faithful to all required of you and left everything, including your family who chose to stay close to Jericho’s remnants, but you have remained with Israel. Even now, you are being led, as am I.”

Salmon took a deep breath and reached for Rahab’s hand. “It would honor my family, and I, if you would become my wife. Become a true daughter of Abraham and a mother of children of Israel.”

Rahab pulled her hand away quickly from the warmth of his grasp. Her heart had been his from the very first moment she met his eyes, but she loved him enough to understand the impossibility of it all. “I am barren. I am not worthy of a prince of Israel. My life before, in Jericho, I served in the temple.” Unable to continue, she turned to walk away, but in doing so she found herself unable to maintain her balance. Salmon’s hand steadied her, and she could not help but to relax into his strength.

“Rahab,” Salmon whispered into her ear, “let me tell you a story. One about a woman named Sarah, and another about Rebekah, and one of Rachel.”

“Who are they?” she asked.

“My grandmothers. Women who were barren. Women the Lord filled with faith and families.”

They married and were blessed with a son, named Boaz who married Ruth, the great grandmother of King David, among whose descendants would be Joseph, husband of Mary, mother of Jesus.

Read Joshua 8:30-35, Read Hebrews 11, Read Matthew 1:1-16.

Blessings,

Laura

Rahab: Hidden in Christ

A Closer Look

Watching from her window, Rahab could barely see the Israelite encampment. Three days had passed since the spies escaped from her window, now all of Jericho awaited the Israelites next move. Every gate and entrance had been closed and fortified, like a tomb, Rahab thought.

Rahab's Rope

She leaned her head against the window as the sun started to rise. Staring into the distance, she thought she saw movement. Holding her breath, the minutes ticked by, until a definite band of men could be seen marching toward the city. Immediately, her hand gripped the scarlet cord that hung brazenly from her window. Tugging hard, she reassured herself for the hundredth time that the rope would not come loose.
Running down the stairs, she stopped just short of the door. Standing motionless, her mind screamed, where are they, why have they not come? She wondered if she should go to her family and beg them to find safety with her, but fear held her paralyzed. Outside the door, there was no scarlet rope, no guarantee of life.

A heavy thud, thud, thud broke the silence. Rushing back to her window, she expected to see swords drawn and men preparing to attack. Wave after wave of armed Israelites marched past her, the steady drum of their feet in perfect rhythm with one another. None of them spoke or made a sound, only the resilient sound of rams horns, and the continual beat of their march, announced their presence.

The sound of the horns drew near, and her eyes beheld seven men, bearing a golden box aglow in the sunlight. As they passed beneath her, a wave of power pushed her to her knees. Trembling, she realized the presence of the God of Israel. Toward sundown she noticed the last of the Israelite host making its’ way around the wall. Darkness fell, and then nothing. No attack or war cry, no battle, only silence.

Her breath came in short gasps, and the familiar heartbeat of anxiety made her feel faint. What have I done? They left me, they aren’t going to attack. What if the people of Jericho find out I hid the spies? I still have time to make it to the temple, my lateness won’t be noticed. But I don’t want to go back. I want to be free.

Tears came as the stress and doubt battled in her mind. Taking hold of the window frame, she pulled herself up. Lights blinked from the Israelite encampment, a sign of their continued presence.

Her father’s voice filled the silence. Her family had entered quietly and unannounced, their fear of the Israelites evident on their faces. “How can you trust them? They will kill everyone, how do you know they were not lying to you? How can you be sure? Should we not all go to the temple and sacrifice to the goddess?”

Taking a deep breath, as the silent battle raged within her, she teetered on the precipice of insecurity. Finding her voice, she replied, “It is not them I trust, it is their God. It was in Him they promised. I have been a servant to the goddess Inanra these past ten years and never once has she done anything to guide or protect me, the way their God does for them. He is not locked in a stone statue the way she is, but is living with them. This is what I trust, this is what I believe in.”

Read Joshua 2.

Read Rahab: An Introduction. Watch Rahab: Labeled by the Cross

 

Rahab: Labeled by the Cross

Today’s vlog post begins with a dramatization of what may have happened, in between the scriptures, as Rahab first encountered the Israelite spies sent to Jericho. The focus shifts to the label placed upon her, how that could have impacted her choices, and the effect labels of society can have on us today.

I am ever thankful for the grace of a Savior, who has called me His own, labeling me forever with the mercy of His love.

Read background information here, Rahab: An Introduction.

Blessings,

Laura S.

© Copyright 2016 | A Closer Look

Rahab: An Introduction

Rahab's RopeOver the next few weeks I will be presenting thoughts, and of course bits and pieces of story, covering the account of Rahab. Rahab’s story stands out in scripture, for her name is woven with the events of the dramatic fall of the walls of Jericho.

Before beginning the series, I wanted to share some research and facts that may bring the story to life for you just a little bit more.

Rahab’s name is first written in the book of Joshua. A book attributed to have been written by Joshua himself. The time period of the battle of Jericho, and consequently Rahab’s life, is dated sometime between 1400 B.C. and 1250 B.C. For those history lovers, like me, this would have been around the same time period as the Trojan War.

Rahab can also be found in the books of Matthew, Hebrews, and James. An alternate spelling, Rachab, is found in the book of Matthew.

The inhabitants of Jericho, Canaanites, were a polytheistic people, meaning they believed in many gods. Temple prostitutes were a normal part of their religion. The Bible does not specify if Rahab was a temple prostitute, but the fact that she owned her own house indicates she had some measure of independence and wealth. There is historical evidence that high-ranking temple priestesses owned property and managed businesses. In an effort to merge the sources this is the position taken in the fictional portion of the study.

When the spies, Rahab hides, were sent out it was the time of the barley harvest, meaning the flax would also have been ripe in the Jordan valley. Isn’t it amazing how impeccable God’s timing is? The flax on the rooftop used by Rahab to conceal the spies would have been an expected site to see.

We find a woman, who despite all her circumstances in her life, has faith in an unseen God and unquestionable belief of His capabilities no matter what the circumstances.

Rahab’s choices are why we read and study about her today. All the people of Jericho heard of God and of the miracles performed for the Israelites, but only Rahab chose to be on their side. Her choices, just like the ones we make everyday, shaped the outcome of her life. Her choices brought her faith to life.

Rahab’s acts of faith resulted in a promise with the people of Israel that saved her life and that of her family. Just like Rahab, we have promises throughout the Bible to help sustain our lives and give us tools to reach out to others with God’s promise that He will never leave or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)

Find historical and archaeological facts about Jericho.

Study Joshua chapter 2 .

I am looking forward to what this study and the month of July holds.

Blessings,

Laura S.

© Copyright 2016 | A Closer Look