06. Rahab: An Affection for Truth from the Word (Jos 2:4-11)

Joshua 2:4-11
And the woman took the two men and hid them, and said, This way the men came in to me, but I did not know from where they were. (5) And it happened as the gate was to be shut at dark, even the men went out. I do not know where they have gone. You go after them, and hurry, for you may overtake them. (6) But she made them go up on the roof, and hid them with stalks of flax, which she arranged on the roof. (7) And the men went after them the way of the Jordan, by the fords. And they shut the gate afterwards, when the pursuers had gone after them. (8) And before they had laid down, she came up to them on the roof. (9) And she said to the men, I know that Jehovah has given the land to you, and that your terror has fallen on us, and that all those living in the land have melted before you. (10) For we have heard how Jehovah dried up the water of the Sea of Reeds before you, as you were going out of Egypt; also that which you have done to two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan; to Sihon, and to Og, whom you destroyed. (11) And we have heard, and our heart has melted, and there still does not rise spirit in any man, because of you. For Jehovah your God, He is God in the heavens above, and in the earth below.

Arcana Coelestia 4007[4]

…the truth of faith does not exist with any who believe that they have faith of themselves and so believe that they are wise of themselves. Rather, it exists with those who believe that their faith and wisdom come from the Lord, for faith and wisdom are imparted to them because they do not ascribe any truth or good at all to themselves. Even less do they believe that they possess any merit through the truths and goods residing with them, and less still any righteousness, but only by ascribing these to the Lord, and so everything to His grace and mercy… There are two things which all who enter heaven cast aside, namely their proprium and consequent confidence, and merit that is their own or self-righteousness. Then they assume a heavenly proprium which comes from the Lord, and the Lord’s merit or righteousness. And to the extent that these are so assumed those persons advance further into heaven.


We have seen in our dealing with the first part of chapter two of the Book of Joshua that self observation begins when we are able as a matter of our life to acknowledge that the Lord alone is righteousness and deserving of merit. This is a fundamental truth on which a genuine spiritual life is founded and it is repeated throughout the Heavenly Doctrines to help us separate from our proprium’s tendency to claim to itself merit for good. Without truths to guide our thinking we live in a belief that this good is ours and this belief ends up closing us off to receiving more fully the life of heaven.

The Heavenly Doctrines teach that everyone, prior to being regenerated, claims merit for what is the Lord’s to themselves. This is because prior to a person becoming aware of truths they are caught in the appearances of the senses that convince them that the life they possess is their own. It follows on that if we believe our life to be our own then we can’t but believe that the good we do is also something that belongs to us. Truths from the Word and the Heavenly Doctrines are able to remove us from the false beliefs that our senses generate so that we can see things in regard to our states of life much more clearly. This ability to see our states of life arises not from us but from the truths we have and because it is the truths that enable us to see into ourselves, and these truths are from the Lord or the Word, all seeing, all understanding, in regard to spiritual matters is from the Lord alone. In other words our ability to self reflect and respond is the Lord in us as the Word.

So truths teach that we all claim merit for what belongs to the Lord, whether we can see it or not depends on our willingness to work from truths in regard to our inner states of life. It can be a little disconcerting when we read that this claiming merit for good contains all kinds of evils that flow from the loves of self and the world and that before committing to an inner path of self examination and repentance we can’t see this, but not only that, we are told that our state is such that we are so blind that we can’t help but call our evils something good and our false beliefs as something true. Our natural man recoils at this in disbelief, and always looks to justify whatever is required to defend the false self image of goodness it projects as our sense of self. But at the end of the day its not about whether we agree with truths, its more about whether we can see their truth for ourselves.

This is why, firstly, it’s so important to believe what truths teach and not what we feel or what we want to believe and, secondly, that we make an effort to discover for ourselves the reality of what truths teach in the experience of our own lives. Let’s come back to the task you were offered some weeks ago; to make an effort to be aware of when you claim merit to yourself or to take note of when you find yourself offended because you haven’t received praise you think you’re deserving of. Practising simple tasks of this kind can have a profound effect on the self image we tend to project.

The story of Rahab teaches that it is through a practice of responding affirmatively to our understanding of truths that we open the way to being influenced by truths of a higher quality. This willingness to respond is what is represented by Rahab the harlot. There’s more to Rahab than meets the eye, and her importance is emphasised in the fact that we find her mentioned as one of the women in the Lord’s genealogy in the book of Matthew…

Matt 1:5 …and Salmon fathered Boaz out of Rahab…

So from the literal sense of the Word we see that Rahab forms an important link in bringing about the Lord’s birth into the world. Now because the Word is primarily concerned with spiritual matters we can establish that she must represent some essential spiritual element that supports the spiritual birth of the Lord within us. This birth is an inner birthing that we experience in the realisation that the Word is the Lord within the human mind. From the perspective of Spiritual Christianity the genealogies in the Word are accounts of spiritual births within the human mind or if you like the progressive development of goods and truths, or evils and falsities depending on the context.

Nothing of a genuine spiritual nature can be born without there being an affection for what is good and true. Such affections don’t come from us but are from the Word and so belong to the Lord. In the early stages of our spiritual development we have a desire to live a spiritual life, to do good, be everything we think a spiritual person should be. We start out chasing our own ideal of a spiritual person failing to see that this is based on a lot of misconceptions. In actual fact in the early stages of spiritual development we are largely driven by self interest which we don’t see due to a lack of real understanding of the truths we profess to believe.

This means that we tend to live from a different set of values and beliefs to those we profess to believe. Spiritual work involves seeing these kinds of contradictions that exist within our minds. When we start out on the inner journey of spiritual life our affection for truth doesn’t yet have a true understanding of truth to guide it we end up claiming what is of the Lord for ourselves. This state is captured in the description of Rahab as a harlot. The spiritual state is called harlotry due to our ignorance of truths which results in the mixing of a desire for good with false beliefs.

And so to represent this state of our affection for truth being caught up in falsities due to an ignorance of truth we find Rahab the harlot caught up in the city of Jericho which is inhabited with Canaanites. We can see this illustrated in the fact that Rahab, like us in the early stages of the process of coming into the life of truths, has a knowledge of God. In verses 9-11 we read…

Jos 2:9-11 And she said to the men, I know that Jehovah has given the land to you, and that your terror has fallen on us, and that all those living in the land have melted before you. (10) For we have heard how Jehovah dried up the water of the Sea of Reeds before you, as you were going out of Egypt; also that which you have done to two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan; to Sihon, and to Og, whom you destroyed. (11) And we have heard, and our heart has melted, and there still does not rise spirit in any man, because of you. For Jehovah your God, He is God in the heavens above, and in the earth below.

This knowledge is excited due to the presence of the spies who represent truths we use to examine our life. What’s illustrated here is that a point has to be reached when our knowledge of truths moves beyond mere knowledge and becomes something that motivates us to make real changes in our life.

Rahab, as the affection for truth, is something in us that the Lord can use despite our ignorance of truths. The kind of ignorance here however is not so much a lack of knowledge of or access to truths, as we have just seen Rahab has a good knowledge of God’s dealings with the people of Israel, but rather is a lack of the kind of understanding or insight into these truths as they relate to our own situation personally. It’s the difference between knowing that all righteousness and merit belongs to the Lord because the Word teaches this and seeing for yourself that your proprium is in a continual state of claiming merit to itself, and that you buy into this falsity. Rahab is an important factor in this shift occurring. She represents an essential element that will play an important role in the destruction of Jericho which is every false belief that heaven is something we can earn or merit by being good.

This shift is described in verse 1 where it is said that the spies enter into Rahab’s house where they are said to “lie down.” This term, “lie down” in the Hebrew carries a sexual connotation, and as far as the spiritual sense is concerned this is an important point, because it indicates that a level of conjunction has occurred with the two men which suggests that spiritually speaking this affection for truth has come into conjunction with the truths represented by the spies. Ignorance is beginning to give way to an understanding of truths not as mere knowledge but as something that constitutes our very life. This recognition that what truths teach is actually true and that we are obliged to respond to them is what protects them from what is represented by the King of Jericho.

This is how the actions of Rahab are to be understood in terms of their application to the processes involved in a person’s regeneration. Using truths from the Word to examine our states, represented by the spies being in Jericho, stirs up those things within the mind that are resistant to the things of heaven. We see then that the story offers a wonderful illustration of the means by which truth is able to penetrate the human mind and do its work. This truth it must be remembered is the Lord with us, for it is the Lord alone who is able to penetrate and shine a light on the falsities and evils of the proprium that make up our selfish states of life.

In verse six we read what her response is…

Jos 2:6 But she made them go up on the roof, and hid them with stalks of flax, which she arranged on the roof.

What we see here is how the affection for truth protects what is true. By “making them go up on the roof” speaks of a state of reception into our life, or of a willingness to take truths into the deeper levels of our being, for “to go up,” spiritually means “to go within” and so we see that it is our willingness to take truths into our life on a deeper level that actually protects them. And truths are only taken into the life through applying them.

On the roof we read that she hid them within the stalks of flax arranged on the roof. The effect of taking truths into our life results in things in our mind being set in order. So here with the men hidden within the flax we have an image of living truths becoming established at a deeper level within our raw state of understanding and desire for what is good represented by the flax stalks. The stalks of flax represent a basic understanding that it’s a good thing to be useful and to love others, but as yet this is only seen as something external, it isn’t yet something truly spiritual with which our minds can be clothed.

AC 7601[3] The meaning of ‘flax’ or ‘linen’ as truth has its origin in representatives in heaven. In heaven those who are guided by the truth of the natural are seen clothed in white, like the whiteness of linen. The actual truth of the natural is also represented there as fabric made from the finer kind of flaxen threads. These threads have the appearance of silken ones, and clothing made from them has a similar appearance – brilliant, wonderfully translucent, and soft – if the truth represented in that way is rooted in good. But on the other hand those threads which look flaxen do not have a translucent, brilliant, or soft appearance, but a hard and brittle appearance, though they are still white, if the truth that is represented in that way is not rooted in good.

We get linen from flax, and linen is used in the manufacture of cloth for clothing. When there is a genuine affection of truth operating, then the raw material of our mind in regard to our understanding of what is good and true represented by the flax stalks can be organized around living truths that now exist on a deeper level of our being represented by the men have been received into the house or good that Rahab represents. This reception is nothing more than a willingness to apply the truths we have to our lives. In the specific case that has to do with recognizing that the Lord alone as righteousness and deserving of merit, and that we have nothing in ourselves that can be called good other than what is from Him.

Amen.

 

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