Text: Joshua chapters 2 & 6
The story of Rahab is so fascinating. Rahab was a woman who lived the life of a prostitute. It was clear that this was what she did for a living, and everyone knew about it. I find it interesting that the Israelite spies chose the home of a prostitute to go and stay in. Obviously God had plans for Rahab, and it was not by coincidence that the spies came to her.
Rahab lived in a time when all the nations were scared of the Israelites. Their fame had spread because of the miracles God had done for them, starting with their deliverance from the land of Egypt.
But, whilst people knew of them and saw them as threats, Rahab saw something more. She realised that God was with these people, and that her and her family would be destroyed if she did not get on their side. I want to look at five aspects of Rahab’s character that we could all learn from.
1. Wisdom. Rahab showed a lot of wisdom in the way she dealt with the spies. By hiding them, she risked her own life, because she would definitely face the wrath of the king, and receive the death penalty if she was caught. But, there is Godly authority and earthly authority, and Rahab knew the difference between the two. When the king sent word asking her to bring the spies out, she said they had left and sent the king’s men on a wild goose chase. Rahab showed wisdom in her actions because she knew these were no ordinary spies. Some might focus on the fact that she lied to the king but when it comes to choosing between man and God, there should be no contest. God and His word should always come first in our lives.
2. Loyalty. Rahab thought about her family. This reminds me of Esther who put her life on the line to save her people. It’s very easy to think only of yourself when you hit the big time, or something good happens to you, but Rahab didn’t. If she was going to be saved, she was taking her parents, brothers and sisters and everyone they loved together with her. I imagine that her family may not have wanted much to do with Rahab as a prostitute, and perhaps she was even cut off from them because of her profession. Whether or not this was the case, Rahab chose not to hold it against them but instead made sure their lives were spared. This showed that not only was she not selfish, she was kind and loyal, and we should be too.
3. Boldness. Rahab was bold in what she asked of the spies and I think this is something we can learn as Christians. She could’ve hidden the spies, let them go on their way, and just hoped for the best. But, she didn’t. She asked for the lives of her whole family, and those that belonged to them. This is real boldness! Here is a woman that wasn’t an Israelite, didn’t know God personally, and had absolutely no right to ask for anything. But she did, and my, did she get more than she could ever ask or think! Does this challenge you? If this ‘heathen’ could be so bold as to ask for something from the spies because she knew that God was with them, how much more us? Because of what Jesus did on the cross the Bible says we can come boldly before God’s throne to receive grace and mercy to help us in our time of need. So, go on, ask!
4. Trust. Rahab trusted the spies, even though she didn’t know them. They were complete strangers, but she put her trust in them and in their God. I imagine that it was not very easy for her, as a prostitute, to trust men, especially as she was used to men using her just for sex, and nothing else. I imagine that she had probably been let down by a lot of men in her time and may have put up a guard to make sure that she was not taken for granted again. But, somehow, she knew that these men were different. They didn’t come to her for sex. In fact, they had something that she didn’t, and she recognised it. We need to learn to let down our guard and trust God. Human beings may disappoint us and let us down, but God will never let us down. He is trustworthy.
5. Obedience. Rahab obeyed immediately. She did not waste any time in tying that scarlet rope once the spies left. She didn’t know when they would be coming back, but she wasn’t going to delay. We need to obey God when He speaks to us. I’ve heard someone say that delayed obedience is disobedience. The Bible also says that ‘To obey is better than sacrifice’ (1 Samuel 15 verse 22). When we disobey, or delay in our obedience, we may end up losing the blessing that God has in store for us.
What I love most about Rahab’s story is the fact that it demonstrates that God is a God of second chances. In the genealogy of Jesus Christ in the book of Matthew (chapter 1 verse 5), Rahab is mentioned. This woman, a known prostitute, was given a second chance by God and ended up being an ancestress of the Messiah. When the heroes of faith are listed in Hebrews chapter 11, she is also listed amongst other heroes such as Abraham. Isn’t God just wonderful? So, if you’re feeling like you’ve messed up so badly today, be encouraged, knowing that God’s grace is so much bigger than your mistakes, and if you will hand your life over to Him, He can give you a fresh start; a new beginning.