So we talked about Ruth last week, this week we are looking at Rahab. Now if you thought it was unconventional for God to use Ruth, brace yourself for this next one.
Like Ruth, Rahab was also not part of God’s chosen nation Israel. She lived in Jericho, a city that the Israelites were actively trying to overtake. If that isn’t enough to make it seem unlikely that God would use Rahab, Rahab was also a prostitute. Yes, you read that right. Rahab was not the wife of a ruler, or the daughter of an esteemed teacher, she was one of the least, one of those living on the margins of society. These are the people God likes to use, the unexpected, the disrespected, the least of these.
Our story starts when spies from Israel came to Jericho to scope it out and plan their attack. Rahab let the spies stay in her home (Joshua 2:1). Now, I wasn’t there, but I feel like it’s safe to assume that people liked to gossip just as much in ancient times as they do now, and I’m sure Rahab was always the source of town gossip. It should come as no surprise that word of her house guests quickly got back to the king of Jericho (Joshua 2:3). Rather than tell the king where the men were, Rahab hid the men up on her roof and spun a tall tale about where they had gone, setting the king’s men off on a wild goose chase (Joshua 2:4-7).
I would have been terrified if I was Rahab. Can you imagine lying to the king? I would’ve been all sweaty, and stumbling over my words as I spoke, but for some reason I imagine Rahab being cool as a cucumber, because she knew she was protecting the spies.
Rahab then goes upstairs to talk to the spies hiding on the roof. She tells them that she has heard of the amazing works of the Israelites’ God (Joshua 2:6-10). She says, “When we heard of it our hearts melted...The Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below “(Joshua 2:11). Rahab never had any formal training about God, but she saw his works among the nations and couldn’t deny that He was all powerful. The Bible says he "heart melted", how awesome is that! We serve a God powerful enough to soften and change any heart. Rahab knew that her city could not stand against the power of God, so she asks the spies to show mercy to her and her family (Joshua 2:12). The spies agree.
Rahab helps the spies by telling them the best way to exit the city without being spotted (Joshua 2:16). The spies instruct Rahab to have her entire family in her house on the day of the siege on Jericho, and to hang a scarlet cord from the window of her house so they know which house to save (Joshua 2:17-20). I love that Rahab didn't try to sabotage the spies. She already knew God is so powerful, that her city didn't even stand a chance against Him.
Rahab’s fearless faith saved herself and her entire family. Joshua 7:24-25 says, “But they burned the whole city and everything in it… But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute with her family and all who belonged to her because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho.” Rahab was responsible for saving her entire family. Because of the stories she had heard, she knew that the Israelites’ God was the one true God, and she was willing to risk everything for him. This is amazing to me! I have been raised in the church and seen God work in countless seemingly hopeless situations, yet I still have trouble surrendering my life to Him. I still want to do things my way, and try to fix things myself. What would it be like to have as much faith as Rahab, who entrusted the safety of her entire family to a God she knew very little about?
So what became of Rahab after her city was destroyed? Rahab and her family lived with the Israelites. Rahab ended up married to a man named Salmon and they had a son. Now, their son is someone who you should know, his name is Boaz. That’s right! Boaz, as in Ruth’s husband! Rahab was Ruth’s mother-in-law and the great-great grandmother of King David. What an amazing testament to what can happen when we decide to fearlessly follow Christ.
Not only is Rahab one of only 5 women listed in the genealogy of Jesus, she is also listed in Hebrews 11. Hebrews chapter 11 is a sort of hall of fame for the heroes of our faith. She is listed alongside men like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David and Gideon, what a group to be a part of! Verse 31 says, “By faith, the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” Wow! Rahab is proof that God is looking for those who will be faithful. God does not need you to come from the perfect family, or have no ugly mistakes in your past, or have the perfect job, or have huge amounts of Bible training. He only needs you to trust him and to be faithful to Him in all things.