Rahab’s experience of love and grace can inspire us. Despite her background and being in a situation of great danger, Rahab’s faith in God enabled her to make difficult decisions to protect her family.
Prostitutes in the Old Testament
A number of women who lived in Old Testament times are mentioned in the New Testament. Rahab is among them.
Was she a prostitute as the word has been translated in several versions of the Scriptures or was she simply the owner of an inn? It is my understanding that, when Rahab lived, it wasn’t uncommon for both to be true of the same individual. We may never know definitively, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this woman was, indeed, a prostitute.
We need only consider some of the others the Lord chose to include in His Word: an elderly woman who laughed at the idea of giving birth to a child, even though God made a promise to her husband; a second elderly woman who gave birth to the forerunner of the Lord Jesus; a woman from whom Jesus drove seven demons; and so many more.
He fulfills His plans through doubters, liars, adulterers, murderers, and the like. God doesn’t choose us to be part of His unfolding story because of our credentials or qualifications. He doesn’t choose us because of our superior character or spirituality.
Rahab in the Story of Joshua
So, was Rahab a prostitute? Perhaps. But that’s not the focus of the story we read in Joshua 2.
Let’s read excerpts from the first 14 verses:
And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly … as spies, saying,
“Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there. And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out. Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you … the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” And the men said to her, “Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the Lord gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you” (ESV).
Rahab recognized the power of these travelers’ God. She acknowledged Him as “God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” This realization led to action, as it should in our lives as well.
While others thought they were safe in their fortified city of Jericho, Rahab knew better. She knew that thick walls and those who would seek to defend those walls were no match for the God of Joshua’s spies.
Rahab hid these men on her roof and lied to the king of Jericho when he came in search of them. I won’t get into a discussion about whether or not it’s right to lie in such situations. I don’t think this is the main point of the story, just like I don’t think we need to know for sure if this woman was a prostitute.
Rahab was not only seeking to preserve her own life when Jericho fell; she was also looking out for her family. Many of us can relate to going to extreme lengths when the health and wellbeing of our family members is at stake. And if their lives were threatened? In that case, our protective instincts would really kick in.
What Can We Learn From Rahab?
What can we learn from Rahab and her story? In what ways should we be just like her?
We must acknowledge that the God of the Bible is more powerful than any power that would set itself up against Him. We may look around and question that truth, but we can rest assured that the Lord is He “who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11 ESV).
That realization ought to result in action. We must be willing to come alongside God’s children and care for them even when we must make sacrifices to do so. There are 59 “one another” statements in the New Testament, including Romans 12:10, which says, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (ESV).
God’s Mercy & Grace Seen in Rahab’s Story
Rahab may have been looking out for the physical needs of her family when she asked that they be shown mercy when the city was overthrown. However, experiencing God’s mercy and grace would undoubtedly have an impact on their spiritual wellbeing as well. We must look not only to the physical needs of our family and friends, but even more importantly, to their spiritual needs.
Rahab was willing to put herself at risk for the wellbeing of others. Are we?
Stephanie is a freelance writer and a contributor to our Christian internet radio station, HopeStreamRadio. Read and hear more from Steph Nickel on the contributor’s page or at Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests.
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Images courtesy of:
Woman on Wall – Pexels
Sky – Ungnade
Walls – Pexels
Stones – jeonsango