We hear the cat calls and whistles as she sashays by the group of men on the corner. Rahab is a stunning woman…living in Jericho…running an “inn”…and has a questionable resume. The reputable people of Jericho don’t associate with her. The upstanding women in town cross the street when they see her and whisper behind her back. She’s not invited to the high-class social soirees. She’s popular…but for all the wrong reasons.
Joshua and his army are camped outside the city and need spies inside Jericho. His Chief of Staff is strategizing how to seize the city…and they need reconnaissance. Why Joshua’s spies go to the house of a prostitute is not clear. Outside of obvious reasons, there may be people there who don’t care who hears them talk about the town’s affairs. In any case, the spies are at Rahab’s when who should come looking for them? Why the King’s soldiers of course.
Now, in addition to being beautiful, Rahab is a quick-thinking woman. In her most distracting way, she bats her eyelashes and lies that the men were indeed hanging out with her but have since left. And then tells them to pursue quickly because she’s confident they’ll overtake those bad men before they get out of town. There’s nothing like a little schmoozing to get the King’s soldiers out of your face. Little do they know the two spies are hiding upstairs on the roof.
So, not only is she a woman of questionable means, she’s evidently a liar and willing to betray her own people. She approaches the men and confesses she knows they are Joshua’s spies. Since Joshua is a well-known warrior, his conquests are in all the headlines. Believing they’re the good guys, Rahab strikes a deal.
Now then, since I have dealt kindly with you, swear to me by the Lord that you in turn will deal kindly with my family. Give me a sign of good faith that you will spare my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death. ~Joshua 2:12-13
Joshua is good for his word when the recon mission is complete. When the soldiers take the city, they look for a red rope hanging from a window of a house at the edge of town. Rahab and her family are safely tucked inside, protected from the chaos happening outside her door.
Rahab is a survivor, and someone we can certainly learn from, once we get past her “history.”
* She risks everything and takes a monumental leap of faith to secure her future. After all, if she’s wrong, she’ll be put to death for treason.
* As an outcast, she puts her trust in strangers who follow a God that is unknown to her.
* She trusts this God of the Hebrews will not reject and abandon her based on her past.
* She was not solely considering her own selfish needs in the situation. Her family probably had abandoned her, but she still chooses to save them in her house when the city is taken by Joshua’s army. She chose not to cut a deal that was only in her best interests.
Rahab is willing to turn her back on her past, and walk by faith into the future. And God blesses her new life because of her faith and her actions.
In biblical genealogy circles, women are not typically mentioned. But as Matthew is documenting the lineage of Jesus, he includes 4 women; Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheeba (by reference). Bathsheeba is Jewish, the other three are not. All four share the shame of sexual scandal in their lives. Not exactly the royal, upper crust lineage we’d expect for the Son of God. Perhaps that’s why Jesus had such a soft spot for women of questionable pasts that walk by faith and forgiveness into the future.
Do you believe your past is a deal-breaker for God’s grace?
Can you take a leap of faith, blindly trusting God will catch you?
Can you now walk with faithfulness and change your life for the better?
Submitted for ABC Wednesday