What do you think of when you think of Rahab? You might say, “Is she the one from Genesis or the prostitute that saved the spies?” At least that’s what always came across in my mind: I knew she was a part of Jesus’ lineage, but I always got Tamar and Rahab’s stories mixed up. Last week I told you the story of Tamar who fought for her true identity in her own family.
This week I will tell you the story of Rahab the
Rahab’s story is mostly told in Joshua 2. There’s a reason everyone calls her “Rahab the prostitute”—because that’s the first description she’s ever given in this story. I can imagine the children of Israel telling the story told over and over again by the hearth: “Can you believe God delivered this city to us by a prostitute?”
Now, snuggle up with your Christmas cocoa and hear the story of a woman who believed, and it was counted to her as righteousness by God himself.
The story heard ’round the town
So here’s the story about a woman whose business is sex. Her business was doing so well that she had her own house on the city wall. Her city of Jericho is a pagan worshipping city that’s known for its might. Rahab lives alone–at least with no other permanent residents–and doesn’t appear to have any children, but clearly still loves her father’s household.
And she’s heard of the Living God of Israel.
She’s heard about how He parted the Red Sea for them. She heard about how He delivered them from the mighty hand of the Egyptians. She heard about how God gave over the powerhouse Amorite kings–how rag-tag Israel, “utterly destroyed them.”(verse 10)
While the hearts of the Canaanites “melted away.” (v. 6 & 11) Rahab’s heart bowed.
Her heart bowed to the God of “heaven above and earth below.” (v 10) She believed that this wasn’t just another god to add to the mix. She then had the audacity to ask that she be counted a part of the family. You see, at this time in history, gods strictly associated with their certain people groups, and certain people groups strictly relied on their gods.
Rahab had no reason to abandon her gods.
Rahab had no reason to betray her government.
Rahab had no reason to abandon the tall, tough walls of her city that had endured other attacks.
But she heard the news. The good news of a God who hears the cries of his people, sees their distress and rescues them.
The difference between Rahab and the rest of her people is that all they saw was a terrifying and strong god, but Rahab saw a savior in Israel’s God. And she believed. Her belief was demonstrated in the way she hid the spies, sent her own people on a wild goose chase, and helped them escape to deliver the good new to Israel: God has given us the Promised Land.
So here we have it: the first 2 women of Jesus’ lineage. Both prostitutes at some point in their lives. Both over looked by their family or society or both. But both honored in Jesus’ family history: both by name and by having their story recorded in Israel’s history.
What does this say to us about Christmas?
Over and over we see God exalting those discarded by society. We see Jesus move toward women with bad reputations. We see the early church take special care of the widow and orphan. Rahab recognized Israel’s God as one who rescues and saves. What better way to honor the coming of our savior than by caring for the needs in your community?