By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient,
after she had welcomed the spies in peace.
Faith–real faith–can get messy. Because sometimes, faith doesn’t fit in our checklist of “Christian Disciplines” or even The Ten Commandments.
So, let’s talk about Rahab. The harlot. The woman who ran around giving herself to men and held a place among the most despised women in the city of Jericho. Men used her, then mocked her. She was trash.
But when Joshua sent spies to Jericho to check it out he invaded the city, Rahab housed them. But there was a problem with her good deed: the King of Jericho figured out the spies were at her house. He sent word to Rahab, “Bring out the men.”
Rahab had a simple choice. She could sell out the spies and remain safe, or she could take a risk that maybe these spies were on God’s side.
Making a deal with the spies to spare her family, Rahab chose to break one of the “Big 10” of commandments. She lied. Because faith is messy. Rahab was messy too, so it was a perfect fit. She sent the king’s men off in the wrong direction as Joshua’s guys sat quietly in her attic.
When the people of Israel conquered Jericho (after all of that circling of the city, which doesn’t make a lot of sense because faith often doesn’t make sense), Rahab and her family were spared because Joshua kept his promise. She apparently chose well.
We should all be thankful that when faced with a decision demanding faith, the messed-up Rahab made the right call. After her life was spared, she married a guy named Salmon (not the fish), and gave birth to Boaz. Boaz married one of the Bible’s heroines; Ruth.
Following that line through a bunch of generations (forgive me for not counting them all), we find King David, then a man named Joseph. Who served as Jesus’ dad as he grew into a savior.
Rahab’s life was a disaster. Until she took one small step of faith. Then, everything changed for her–and for us.
I wonder sometimes, “Who is the next Rahab?” Who is the next messy, downtrodden, worthless person who will take one step of faith? And will that step change the world again?
Rahab the Harlot was still known as “Rahab the Harlot” in the Book of Hebrews, written hundreds of years after her deeds were chronicled in the Book of Joshua (Chapters 2-6 if you want to read it all). Sometimes, it’s hard to shed our past.
In the Kingdom of God which awaits, I’ll probably walk over to her and say, “You’re uhhh, Rahab the . . . .” And I’ll wonder how to get my foot out of my mouth.
I’m guessing however, that Rahab will smile at me with eyes full of joy and say, “The Harlot. Yes, I’m Rahab the Harlot. It’s okay. Thanks for reading my story.”
At that moment I hope I’ll say, “Thank you, for showing me what true faith really is, and who faith is for.”
We sometimes get caught in the trap of thinking faith is only for the giants of Christianity; those who have walked faithfully for decades, who have put in years and years with ministries or churches. Don’t misunderstand; faith is for these people and we should be thankful.
But faith is for the “anyone else’s,” too. It’s for the struggling and the hurting; for those who believe they’ve ruined their lives beyond repair. Because at the most surprising time, any of us may be asked to make a choice which takes us one step forward toward the God who cares so much for us.
Rahab, perhaps the most unlikely “faith candidate” one could imagine, chose faith.
Her decision led to a series of events, culminating in God raising Jesus from the dead, opening the door to eternal life for all of us.
I owe my very life–at least in part–to Jericho’s town prostitute.
Thanks to one small step of faith.