The Essence of Rahab
For 40 long and rigorous years, Moses led the Israelites through the wilderness. God delivered them from Egypt, helped them cross the Red Sea on dry ground, and defeated the enemies who tried to thwart their path to Canaan.
Around 1400 B.C., the Israelites were about to enter the land promised to them by God. God appointed Joshua as the new leader of Israel. Before the Israelites entered Canaan, Joshua sent two spies to the land just west of the Jordan River, telling them to pay special attention to the formidable city of Jericho.
The spies soon reached Jericho, a bustling, fortified city strategically situated in the plains of the Jordan valley. They blended in with the busy pedestrians outside the great city walls. Jericho’s massive fortifications were visibly impressive. The spies were to take mental notes of the city’s layout and fortifications. They soon realized that these man-made barriers would never be breached or destroyed unless God miraculously intervened for the Israelites.
The incredible events that followed includes an encouraging lesson involving a woman who had lived an ungodly life. Rahab, the harlot, helped save the lives of the Israelite spies, which in turn set Israel on the path to conquering Jericho and moving into the Promised Land.
The whole city received news about the miraculous events and conquests of the wandering nation of Israel, yet Rahab was the only resident of Jericho who was resolved to fear and obey Israel’s God. Although the Canaanites had many gods, she had enough understanding to realize that the God of Israel was no ordinary Canaanite deity. Rahab possessed the wisdom and revelation of a great apostle. She spoke with passion and intelligence to the guards who came looking for spies.
When the king of Jericho heard that spies from Israel had entered his city, he immediately sent soldiers to Rahab’s house. Rahab received a warning that the king’s men were coming to investigate her and her two guests. Understanding the gravity of the situation, Rahab hid the spies under the drying flax on her rooftop. (To break down and separate the fibers, the flax was soaked in stagnant water, then laid out to dry. Imagine the smell, the sogginess of the drying flax). No one would be looking for spies under such a nasty wet blanket.
She made a covenant with the spies that she would help them to safety and in return, they would ensure that she and her family would be spared. She used a scarlet cord to lower the men out the window. The plan was for her to leave it hanging there as a signal to the Israelite army to save that one house and its residents.
“Yes, the men came to me” (Joshua 2:4), she admitted to the King’s men. She spun a tale about not knowing where they’d come from or where they’d gone at dusk when it was time to close the city gate.
God gave Jericho into Israel’s hands. The walls were flattened. Rahab’s home stood directly on top of the wall but it was left standing, as had been previously agreed.
Rahab and her family were delivered. They made their home with Israel from that day on.
The safety of Rahab’s home and family stood on the promises of God and her faith in Him.
The Hope of Faith – Today
Rahab is one of two women named in Hebrews 11 that served as examples of godly faith. The other is Abraham’s wife, Sarah. She exemplified Christian values and qualities. But Rahab?
Why would God include the name of a harlot as one of His faithful saints?
How could a Canaanite prostitute know about the one true God?
Jesus would later say to Peter, “This was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 16:17).
God had shown Rahab who He was, and she had embraced that truth. He showed His great mercy and power through human weaknesses. Out of Rahab’s weakness, she was made strong in FAITH—through the power of God.
“By FAITH the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace” (Hebrews 11:31).
In addition to her infamous profession, Rahab processed flax. The flax was dried on her rooftop and made into linen.
For being faithful, God gave her the lives of her family. A husband and a home, a heritage, a fortune, and a future.
Rahab married Salmon, the son of Judah’s tribal leader. From this marriage would come their son Boaz, a faithful man of God. Boaz would marry Ruth and their son Obed would be the father of Jesse, the father of King David. From David would descend the Savior of all mankind, Jesus Christ.
A former prostitute of Canaan had become what every Israelite woman hoped to be—a mother in the line of the Messiah.
A transformed life, like that experienced by Rahab, is there for you if you follow the apostle Peter’s instruction: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” Acts 2:38
It took courage for Rahab to overcome her past. It took courage for her to assume the risk. It took courage for her to change the course of her life.
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
Jesus said, ‘With God all things are possible’ Matthew 19:26
This is far more than the power of positive thinking. It is the power of God that makes what seems impossible possible. Nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).
In what ways are you able to show your faith by what you do?
We can leave behind our past and walk forward in grace with God.
When you think of Rahab, does her story remind you of anyone in your world? Someone who needs to be reminded that they are loved by God no matter their story?
Always be ready to assure them of God’s abundant love, mercy, and grace.
“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us” (John 1:4:15-16).
Rahab’s amazing story of faith is a lesson for us all. God has a plan for all of us. Our job is simply to be a willing vessel.