This week, my Good Morning Girls group started reading in the Book of Joshua. Even though I have read the book of Joshua many times before, this time Rahab’s legacy of faith really spoke to my heart!
In the book of Joshua, we are introduced to one of the most extraordinary heroines of the Old Testament, a harlot by the name of Rahab. Rahab is one of those unexpected characters in the Bible. Since she was a harlot, she was not a very likely candidate for a heroine of faith, but she was selected for high honor in the Faith Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11:31.
By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. (Hebrews 11:31)
Joshua sends the two spies into the land. In it’s day, Jericho was the most important Canaanite fortress city in the Jordan Valley. It was a stronghold directly in the path of the advancing Israelites, who had just crossed the Jordan River (Joshua 3:1-17). The king of Jericho heard that two Israelite spies were within his city and ordered them to be brought out to him.
The first stop of the Israelite spies might raise an eyebrow because they stop at the house of Rahab the harlot. Rahab was a prostitute in the city of Jericho, with a bad reputation to boot. As a prostitute, she lived on the edge of society, one stop short of rejection. Her house was built right into the city wall, which provided both lodging and favors to travelers passing through. This was a natural place for the Israelite spies to stay, as they would be mistaken for Rahab’s customers. This was the perfect place to gather information, because a harlot would answer questions without asking any in return, and her house was in the perfect location for them to see the land but also to escape easily. She told them how the citizens of Jericho had been fearful of the Israelites ever since they defeated the Egyptians via the Red Sea miracle 40 years prior. She agreed to help them escape, provided that she and her family were spared in the upcoming battle. The spies agreed to her request, giving her three conditions to be met:
She must distinguish her house from the others by hanging a scarlet rope out of the window so the Israelites would know which home to spare.
Her family must be inside the house during the battle.
She must not turn on the spies later.
Rahab was perceptive, intelligent and well informed. She identified the spies for what they were, hid them, and had a plausible story ready with which to deceive the king’s agents. Rahab didn’t deny that she had entertained the men. She says that they left at dusk when it would be difficult for anyone to be sure of clearly seeing anything. The agents did not dare to risk stopping to search Rahab’s house because, if they did, the spies might get away. Rahab gives the two Israelites excellent advice. She tells them to hide in the hills for three days before attempting to cross the Jordan.
The two spies safely escaped the city and returned to Joshua, reporting that the “whole land was melting with fear.” The Israelites crossed the Jordan into Canaan where they laid siege to the city of Jericho. The city was completely destroyed, and every man, woman, and child in the city was killed. Only Rahab and her family were spared.
Rahab’s legacy of faith did not end in Joshua 2. Her extraordinary act of faith saved generations, even putting her in the lineage of the Lord Jesus Christ. Rahab went on to marry Salmon, an Israelite from the tribe of Judah, and became the mother of Boaz. Boaz became the kinsman redeemer of Ruth. She is the lineage of David, and the lineage of Christ. Her story lives on as one of only two women in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. She is also mentioned as an example of faith in James 2:25-26.
In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (James 2:25-26)
Spiritually, Rahab was not an ideal person to come to faith in the one true God, the God of Israel, the one worth risking her life for. She was a citizen of a wicked city that was under God’s condemnation. Rahab was part of a corrupt, depraved, pagan culture. But, Rahab had one distinction, she had heard from the many men she came into contact with that the Israelites were to be feared. She had heard stories of their escape from Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, the wanderings in the wilderness, and their recent victory over the Amorites. She learned enough to reach the correct conclusion: “For the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (Joshua 2:11). It is this change of heart, this faith coupled with the actions prompted by faith that saved her and her family.
Rahab had something that was precious to the Lord. She had a willing heart open to Him. God works through people like Rahab, whom we are prone to reject. God remembered her because of her faith, not her profession. In spite of Rahab being a prostitute she was still a woman we can all learn from. God sees people for what they can be. She did not allow fear to affect her faith in God’s ability to deliver. She believed and she acted on her faith. She could have been killed if she had been caught harboring the Israelites, but, Rahab took the risk, because she sensed that the Israelites relied on a God worth trusting. God took Rahab, a harlot and placed her right in the lineage of Christ. What a beautiful picture of redemption! If your life feels like a failure, just remember that Rahab rose above through her trust in God. And YOU can do the same! If God is willing and able to do that in her life, imagine what He can do in yours!
Once we come to Christ, our past no longer matters. The slate is wiped clean for all who believe and accept the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross on our behalf. Rahab was no longer viewed as an unclean prostitute, but as one worthy by grace to be a part of the lineage of our Lord Jesus Christ. Just as she was inserted into the line of Christ, so we become children of God and partakers in His inheritance (Romans 11). We find in the life of Rahab the inspiring story of all sinners who have been saved by grace. In her story, we learn of the amazing grace of God that can save even the worst of sinners and bring them into an abundant life in Christ Jesus.
Perhaps you can relate to Rahab on a certain level. Your life is far from perfect, but God seems to be calling you to have a legacy of faith, similar to Rahab. God can and will use any willing heart that will surrender to him. Rahab’s life was full of sin, but God can mend and change the pieces of a broken life. God can use the Rahab’s of this world to change the design of the future.