Read: Joshua 2
Rahab is one of the most fascinating women in the Bible, even though her story is almost completely encapsulated within this one chapter of Joshua. Not only is she a Canaanite, an enemy of the people of God, but she is a prostitute, a woman who was considered defiled, and whose adulterous lifestyle would have earned her death by stoning within Israel. Not to mention she was a woman, who in most other ancient cultures would have been considered little more a commodity to be bought and sold.
And yet this woman who most people would have dismissed as the lowest of the low is a major player in one of the most iconic stories of the Old Testament, the fall of Jericho, and ends up becoming the great-great-grandmother of King David (Luke 3:32) and therefore named in the lineage of Yeshua (Jesus) himself.
In Hebrews (11:31) Rahab is counted among the “greats” of faith, not because her life was exemplary, or because she was a paragon of virtue, or because she was steadfast in obedience to the law, but because in spite of her past, her heritage, and her profession she professed that Yahweh is the One True God.
The Canaanites worshipped gods that were localized: gods of the air, gods of the sun and moon, gods of earth and water, but in spite of living in Jericho, one of the most powerful strongholds in Canaan, Rahab comes to understand that Yahweh is God over all Creation. And her courage in lying to the king’s men and sending them on a wild goose chase—the punishment for which would surely be death—is reminiscent of some of the heroes and heroines of WWII who laid their lives on the line to protect Jewish lives from the Nazis.
We don’t know what convinced Rahab of the truth. Perhaps it was simply rumors of what Yahweh had done in Egypt, or perhaps as I conjecture in my book Wings of the Wind, it was some eyewitness account of the power and mercy of the God of Israel. But something convinced her so thoroughly that she not only protected the spies and trusted that they would save her and her family, but then she, a Gentile and a former enemy of the Hebrews, joined herself to the very forces that invaded her homeland and later married one of them.
As the Hebrews were spared from death by a smear of blood on their doorways, so was Rahab’s family spared by the crimson cord she hung from her window, a symbol of the trust she was placing in the Hebrew spies to fulfill the vow they guaranteed with their own lives, and thereby, their own blood. And just like the Hebrews, and just as we are, Rahab was not saved by her works, but only by her faith in the grace and mercy of Yahweh.
We have a tendency to feel as though we cannot be used to accomplish great things for the Lord unless our lives are “cleaned up” or unless we are (fill-in-the-blank)—older, more mature in faith, formally trained, etc. But are these true limitations? Or are they simply barriers we’ve put upon ourselves, and on the God who is able to accomplish his purposes through even his enemies and through anyone who is willing? Rahab was certainly not perfect, and she did not fit in the box of a warrior for God, but she was willing to lay it all on the line, which is why her faith is still celebrated today.
We should be like this enemy prostitute who simply said “Yahweh is God over all” and then stepped forward into the fight with the only weapon she had: faith. She didn’t just say she believed, she lived out that belief by grasping ahold of the salvation offered to her and walking away from her former life into whatever unknown destiny lay ahead. Who knows, perhaps like Rahab, the aftereffects of even our small steps of faith might reverberate for generations.
Spend some time today considering what Yeshua saved you from and what your life would be like without him. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what gifts you’ve been given for service to the Lord. Ask him to make up the difference in whatever you consider to be a weakness, and then take a first step toward whatever battle he’s called you to fight in. Be willing, and then watch what amazing things he will accomplish with even your small steps of faith.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
How has your life changed since you were given new life by Yeshua? Have you, like Rahab, turned away from everything that held you in bondage and stepped forward into battle with Yahweh?
What is holding you back from being “all in” in the fight against the forces of sin and death? Have you taken hold of the armor of God (Eph 6) promised to those who believe that he is the One True God? Do you consider yourself a warrior? How does this label change your perception of yourself?
What limitations have you put on yourself when it comes to serving God? Are you using those limitations as an excuse to avoid the fight against the enemy? What steps can you take to throw off these self-imposed barriers to freely serve in whatever capacity Yahweh has gifted you?