Do you worry about how people see you? What people think of you? I can categorically tell you that what matters is not whether people consider you worthy. What matters is God’s opinion of you. Nobody knows this better than Rahab.
Like the other three “unbelieving” women mentioned in Matthew 1, Rahab’s place in Jesus’ lineage is in itself a testament to the very grace that drew salvation’s plan. They were raised by God to become part of His Son’s ancestry, in order that He who came to save sinners, Himself being born of sinners, might destroy the sins of all.
Jericho was the worst of the cities of the Amorites, and as a result, God commanded Joshua to destroy both the city and its residents. Joshua sent out two spies to check out Jericho in preparation for war and when they got there, they hid in the home of a prostitute, Rahab, leading to her life and the lives of her family members being spared. Here are a few noteworthy things about “Rahab the Harlot”.
- She was a sinner.
Thrice the Bible refers to Rahab as “the harlot,” and the Hebrew term zoonah and the Greek word porne have at no time meant anything else but “harlot”. However, God saw beyond that.
- She was successful
By the standards of her day, that is. Although Rahab indulged in illicit sexual activities, as traveling merchants came her way and were housed in her iniquitous residence, she was also wealthy and influential. She had a large house of her own on the wall of the city (prime real estate!) and access to the king of the city.
- She was unfulfilled
While she may have always looked perfectly turned out and well put together in the clothes, make-up, and hair that high-class prostitution requires, Rahab was deeply dissatisfied with her life. She realized she needed to get off a sinking ship.
Rahab was living in a city that was on the verge of conquest. Destruction was on the horizon and staying put meant death. So when the Israelite spies needed a place to hide, Rahab was ready to be set free. She assured them, “Fear not, I will not betray you nor your leader. Follow me.” She brokered a deal with them — their safety for her life and the lives of her family members. Are you in a relationship, a career or a business you know will only end in destruction for you? God will get you out if you put your faith in Him!
- She was a woman of faith
Rahab was familiar with the gods of her people. She knew that they could not save her. Neither could her looks, money, connections or fame. So she took the initiative and asked to be saved — by the only God who was able to save her. Joshua 2:9-11,
“I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us…. The Lord, your God he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”
Rahab did not know Jehovah for herself, but she knew she was part of a race accursed of God for its crimes and idolatry, and her desire to be separated from such a doomed people, to belong to God Almighty, made her willing to sacrifice her own nation, an act which would have been otherwise treasonable. Her declaration of faith in Jehovah — her confession of his power and purpose — placed her where she needed to be to be saved.
- She had a deep concern for others
With the shadow of death and destruction over Jericho, Rahab extracted a promise from Joshua’s spies not only to spare her but also all those bound to her by human ties. While her life of sin and shame may have estranged her from her family, self was not her sole consideration in her request for safety. She desired all her loved ones to share in the preservation.
Are you satisfied with just your own salvation? Have your parents, siblings and other family members received Jesus Christ or are they doomed to eternal destruction? Are you praying earnestly for their salvation?
- She obeyed God’s instructions
Rahab was specifically instructed by the spies she had sheltered, to place a scarlet cord in the window of her house. Just as God promised to see the blood on the door and let death pass over the Israelites’ houses, Rahab and all in her house would be spared death if she obeyed this simple instruction. Are you doing what God told you to do? The way He said it should be done? Are you walking in obedience or cutting corners? Choosing obedience is choosing life. You can’t go wrong following God’s commands.
- She became an ancestor of Jesus Christ.
Rahab married one of the spies who she hid in her house- Salmon. Salmon was a prince of the house of Judah, and thus, Rahab, the one-time heathen prostitute, married into one of the leading families of Israel and became an ancestress of our Lord.
When Rahab was confronted by the king of Jericho, she told a lie. However, under the rules of war, Rahab is not to be blamed for her protection of those righteous forces set against the forces of evil. Moreover, what the Bible commends is not her deception, but the faith that motivated her actions.
Paul praises Rahab for this vibrant faith — Hebrews 11:31,
“By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she received the spies with peace.”
Activate your faith!