Thursday, November 15, 2007

Women of the Bible - Rahab: Prostitute used by God

This is the second in my Women of the Bible series.

Rahab, one of the more infamous women of the Old Testament.

I never quite knew how to approach her, she was a sex worker that hid the Israelite spies, lived among the Israelites, is eventually one of the Great-great-great-something Grandmothers of Jesus and is mentioned as one of the people of Faith in Hebrews. (incidentally the only woman of faith mentioned by name in this passage)

Briefly this is her story;
(I've just included the basics, please follow the links to read the whole chapters)

Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies . . . they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there . . . But the woman [Rahab] had taken the two men and hidden them. [To the palace guards who wanted to know where the spies were] She said, "Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, the men left. I don't know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them." (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.)

[When the Israelites were attacking Jericho] Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, "Go into the prostitute's house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her." So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel
. . . Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.
Joshua 6: 22-25

[The genealogy of Jesus] Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, Matthew 1 : 5

One thing that has always bothered me about Rahab's story was that she deliberately lied to the guards about where the spies were. Would things turned out differently if she had told the guards where the spies were or refused to talk to them? Obviously God had Rahab in his plan to save the world through Jesus, so I'm sure he would have still kept her safe even if she had told the truth. That's just an aside, something that I always think about. I'm no Biblical scholar so I have no answers.

Another thing; they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab What were two Israelite spies doing going into a prostitutes house?!! Did they know of her already? Was there knowledge of a woman in Jericho who had sympathies to the God of the Israelites? Did God lead them?
We aren't told these details so I guess they mustn't be that important, but I still can't help wondering (sheepish grin).

Okay, back on topic. What does the story of Rahab show us?

Rahab was, as you could, say 'ripe for the picking'. She knew a lot about God, in verses 8-11 of Joshua 2 she lists some of the miraculous things that God had done for the Israelites that she had heard of. (Perhaps her 'profession' meant she was in contact with many different men who told her these stories?) She feared God and wanted to become part of his people, eventually she lived as one of the Israelites.

We need to remember that God calls all people, we shouldn't be selective about who we share the gospel with because we think 'they wouldn't be interested'. You never know who God is planting seeds in right now.
Also when a person comes to be part of Gods family, who are we to discriminate? We should be all inclusive, becasue God is.

Rahab was available to God. She could have gotten herself into alot of trouble by taking in the spies. She opened her house to the spies and hid them.
Are we available to God? Are we ready to do what he is asking even if it's hard or scary?

Rahab had a past, but God gave her a future.
No matter what you have done, what sin you have in your past, remember that God has forgiven you. We are all sinners in Gods eyes and through Jesus we can all be pure before God. Some times Christians can be judgemental about different sins, but God never is. God took a Gentile prostitute and made her a Woman of Faith.

Praise Be to God.
(Photo courtesy of vivre at stock.xchng)


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your article about Rahab.
I especially appreciated your insight in the
statement, "Rahab had a past, but God gave her a future." That is a beautiful thought that is true of each of us. It sums up the idea of redemption of man in just a few words. Thanks! That will stick with me.

I think Rahab is a beautiful woman. I have no idea of her outer beauty, possibly quite lovely, but her inner strength and faith are truly glorious!

I intend to teach on Rahab next month concerning the rewards of our faith. She is a perfect example of one who is rewarded for her faith.

God bless your efforts to educate young women on His grace in their lives.

patriarch said...

I agree with the post which thanked you for your statement "Rahab had a past, but God gave her a future." A very simple but insightful thought, and I plan to quote it as I teach about Rahab to a class of adults tomorrow. James in his letter spoke of Rahab: James 2:24-26
24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?