A prominent figure during the Conquest of Canaan was Rahab the harlot. Even though the Holy Spirit recorded this unsavory fact about her for all time, everything else recorded about her points to a rare faith.
Before Israel stormed into the land, Joshua sent two spies to secretly test the people to check out the lay of the land. The spies went into Jericho but ended up running from the authorities, eventually hiding out in Rahab’s house. She hid them on her rooftop under some flax she was drying, and she sent the Jericho police on a wild-goose chase outside the city.
Rahab’s expression of faith impresses and resonates with us today:
“I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Now therefore, please swear to me by the Lord, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth, and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” (2.9-13)
Rahab stands as a monument of active faith, and the New Testament writer, James, characterizes her in James 2.25 as having been “justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way.” He continues in 2.26, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Not only did she believe; her faith motivated her to movement. God does not seek people who merely mentally assent to Him as God. On the contrary, “he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11.6). The Hebrew writer also mentions Rahab in this way: “By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace” (11.31). What was the difference between Rahab and all the others of Jericho? Rahab believed in the one true and living God.
But Rahab is also connected with Jesus! How so? If you check out Jesus’ family tree in Matthew 1, you will find in verse 5, “Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab.” Oh yes, this is the very same Rahab from Joshua 2. Among the firstfruits of the Promised Land, it seems God gathered this woman to Himself and placed her in an auspicious position as one of the mothers of Jesus! What grace God demonstrates in this, that He can take a heathen harlot and bless her on such a grand scale!
What might God do with you?