Behind the walls

Do you ever feel like you’re sometimes stuck in no-man’s land: caught between a war not of your making, unsure whether you’re going to come out crying ‘freedom’ or just get sucked under the carnage? As a Christian I often feel that I am somehow caught between two planes of reality: one where God is love, and I live to be in His presence; and the other where it seems the world has gone mad and I’m struggling to see Him through life and its chaos.

I imagine this ‘war’ as being similar to the biblical story of the battle of Jericho as told in Joshua 2 and 6 in the Old Testament. Do you remember the old children’s song? ‘Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and the wall’s came tumbling dowwwwwwn.’ Well, there is one very important person in that story that the song fails to mention, and that is Rahab: a woman who betrayed her kingdom to save her and her family’s life. It is through her eyes that my version of Jericho is portrayed.

We have all heard at some point in our lives that History is written by the victors, and this, for the most part, is true. That is why I found Rahab so interesting!

When writing history, you want to make note of the facts. When writing a story, you want to see the facts through as interesting a light as possible, through eyes that make the printed ink come alive! It’s the same when it comes to song writing. I tend to see the story starting with Rahab wandering through the streets of Jericho on her way to pick up a few things at the market, when suddenly these two men come racing round a corner and knock her shopping all over the street, hastily apologising. Of course, their clothes and accent would have given them away (even if they’d managed to steal some local attire). That’s when she saw her one chance for freedom, and she grabbed that hope – and the hands of the two spies – and took them to her house, hiding them on the roof away from the watchful eyes of the soldiers patrolling the streets.

In the biblical account of the day, we hear in her own words that the people of the city of Jericho were terrified of the invading Hebrew nation, and were still talking about the parting of the Red Sea which had happened over forty years earlier! She knew her city would not be able to stand against the warrior Joshua and his mighty God, so she risked her life, and in turn saved many others. But at what cost? For surely the betrayal of her people and loss of her city must have torn her apart?

A less violent and bloody analogy of this could be likened to a basketball match. At least in my head! Picture this: It’s a home game, and Rahab has taken her seat in the stalls, but on the opposing team’s side. She is even wearing their scarlet colours! Can you see the faces of those playing? They recognise her defection. You can see the hurt and hatred in their eyes as they size up the opposition and the baying crowd; all too late in realising their fate. But still she cheers for them! I can feel her heart breaking with every beat as she watches the far superior opposition step onto the court. Although the home team’s defences are renowned for being unbreakable, the invaders are far better equipped, so well trained it appears supernatural! It’s like they’ve got Flubber stuck to their shoes! They just keep flying across the court! What’s more, the match was rigged from the beginning. Home-team Jericho didn’t stand a chance.

To me, the story of Rahab is one of great pain, and great hope. Even though she knows she will live with the victorious, she still cheers on her team, encouraging them to the end, to either see sense and defect like she did, or to go down fighting with all their strength while she watches them fall from the sidelines.

‘Swallow your fear, and all your pride

You won’t go down without a fight

Or an audience to cheer you as you fall

And take your side.’