Rahab’s story is one of my favorite Old Testament Bible stories. The Book of Joshua chapters 2 and 6 tell of how a Gentile woman found favor in the sight of God and His people. Rahab is even highlighted in the ‘Hall of Faith’ of Hebrews 11. She is also mentioned in James 2:24-26.
We’ve all been told of how Joshua ‘fit the battle of Jericho’. Rahab’s part in the narrative begins when two Jewish spies were sent to secretly spy out the land. Once in Jericho, they came to Rahab’s house and stayed there. Rahab’s house was on the town wall. When the king of Jericho heard the spies were at Rahab’s house he ordered for her to bring them out. Rahab refused. Instead, she hid them on the roof of her house and told the king that the spies had already left. Later, she let the spies down by a cord through the window.
Rahab had heard of how God dried up the Red Sea for the Israelites to leave Egypt. She had heard of how the Israelites had defeated other kings. Rahab knew that the Israelites were about to conquer Jericho. Before the spies left, she made them promise that when they returned to take the city they would keep her and her family alive since she had helped them. The spies agreed to this. And we know that they kept their word and Rahab’s family was saved. What can we learn from the brave action of this woman of the Word?
1. Rahab lied. In order to keep the two spies safe, Rahab told a lie to the king of Jericho. Even though she was doing the right thing, the way she went about it was wrong. Lying, however “necessary” it may be, is always wrong. But we can learn from Rahab’s situation, that God often uses our sins and wrong actions to His advantage.
God used the failure of Adam and Eve to set in motion His plan for the world to have a Savior.
God used the meanness of Joseph’s brothers to save an entire family from death by famine.
God used the sin of David and Bathsheba to allow the wisest man who ever lived to be born.
God used the lie of Rahab to bring His people closer to the Promised Land.
Even today, God is at work using our mess-ups, screw-ups, failures, mistakes, and sins to write into His divine story an epic chapter. And the words that God puts down are never in need of being erased.
2. Rahab believed. Hebrews 11:31 says: “By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.” Even though she was not Jewish, Rahab believed in God. In Joshua 2:11, Rahab told the spies, “for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.” The belief of Rahab is very unlikely. First, she lived in a land which was full of paganism and corruption and which was under the judgement of God. Second, she was a prostitute. But because of her faith, Rahab and her family was saved and she became an ancestor of Jesus the Christ.
After the Jericho incident, Rahab married a Jewish guy called Salmon. Salmon was from the tribe of Judah. They had a son called Boaz, who later married a girl called Ruth. Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, was a direct descendant of Ruth and Boaz. If Rahab had been one of those who did not believe, she would not have been saved, her family would have been slain, and she would not have become a part of God’s family.
God did not look down on Rahab as an unworthy prostitute. Because she courageously believed He extended His grace to her and beautifully had her interwoven into the lineage of His Only Begotten Son and our Saviour, Jesus the Christ
3. Rahab backed up her faith with action. Like Rahab was saved from the doomed city of Jericho, we are saved by the grace of Jesus through faith. But true faith without works is dead. Rahab showed her faith in God was real by taking action and hiding the spies He sent.
We also need to show our faith in God is real by works. James 2:26 reads: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Dead faith does not show work through its action, instead it frets and worries over problems and has no patience to wait for Jesus to work. Having a dead faith drags us down and causes us not to believe in miracles and God’s grace.
On the other hand, a living faith is more than words. A living faith is action. Living faith shows obedience through obeying God and His Word and choosing to do right. Living faith walks by faith, not by sight. Works are not what saves us, faith is; but works are what shows we have been saved by faith.
If a common harlot of Canaan could become an uncommon saint of faith and courage and receive the privilege of motherhood in the line of Jesus Christ, then surely nothing is impossible with God. Rahab’s amazing story is a lesson for us all.
– Jerold Aust