Theme: Rahab’s Faith
This week’s lessons describe how by faith Rahab became an unexpected recipient of the grace of God.
And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there. And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out.
Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt 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 devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” And the men said to her, “Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the Lord gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.”
Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall. And she said to them, “Go into the hills, or the pursuers will encounter you, and hide there three days until the pursuers have returned. Then afterward you may go your way.” The men said to her, “We will be guiltless with respect to this oath of yours that you have made us swear. Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household. Then if anyone goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be guiltless. But if a hand is laid on anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless with respect to your oath that you have made us swear.” And she said, “According to your words, so be it.” Then she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.
They departed and went into the hills and remained there three days until the pursuers returned, and the pursuers searched all along the way and found nothing. Then the two men returned. They came down from the hills and passed over and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and they told him all that had happened to them. And they said to Joshua, “Truly the Lord has given all the land into our hands. And also, all the inhabitants of the land melt away because of us.”
Thus, with all her liabilities, she did have one great thing going for her: she had heard about the true God. And when she begins to speak to the spies in the heart of the story, which is really her testimony, this is what she talks about. She says, “I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you because we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.” Just hearing that was sufficient to lead her to faith in the true God.
An interesting thought occurs to me at this point because I ask myself, from whom did she hear it? Well I suspect the people from whom she heard it were the men who frequented her establishment. You see, there probably was no greater place for gossip or for catching up on information than the house of Rahab the prostitute. Guests would come and ask each other if they heard about all that happened in Egypt, and all that God had done for Israel in delivering them from slavery by bringing great judgments upon the Egyptians.
I find that interesting because although the Bible certainly does not endorse prostitution, it was in the context of that kind of life that Rahab heard what for her became the good news. And, you see, as long as that’s true, you can never say, “Well, I despair of the salvation of so-and-so.” Or, “I just don’t see any hope in that situation. Why, there’s so much sin. There’s so much disobedience. Things are so bad. How could God possibly work there” God delights to work in situations like. The story of Rahab show us that we must never despair of the salvation of anyone, including ourselves.
Do you know that this woman is praised twice in the New Testament for her faith? One of the places in which she is praised for her faith is the great eleventh chapter of Hebrews, which contains a roster of the heroes and heroines of the faith. It says of her there in verse 31, “By faith, the prostitute, Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” It’s a short reference, but it’s a good one. And it’s as long as the references that are given for Jacob, and Joseph, and a number of the others who are mentioned.
The other reference is in James, who also praises her for her faith in 2:25: “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?” You see, what James is saying—and what Hebrews says as well—is that hers was a true faith because it was based on knowledge. And it resulted in action—in her case, the saving of the Jewish spies.
But there’s even more than this. When you begin to think of what Rahab did, and when you put that in the context of her culture, not only was her faith a genuine faith expressing itself in action; her faith was a heroic faith because it was exercised at great danger and in near isolation. Just think what she did. First of all, she put her life on the line because Jericho wasn’t a nice city. This wasn’t a pleasant suburb somewhere; it was a military outpost. And in a military outpost, especially in war time, you do not take the existence of traitors lightly. If the messengers of the king had not believed her answer that the spies had left the city before the gates were closed, when they had searched her house and found the spies, imagine what would have happened to Rabab. She and probably her family would have been arrested on the spot, taken before the king, undoubtedly tortured, and killed perhaps in the cruelest way possible. Yet still she put her life on the line. Rahab risked it all in order to identify with what she perceived by the work of God in her heart to be the truth concerning the Jewish God.
Secondly, Rahab turned her back on her own people. Now, this was war time; the Israelites were set against the inhabitants of Jericho. And this was a war to the death. The inhabitants of Jericho knew that if the Jews succeeded in overrunning the city, they would kill everybody. And by contrast, if the citizens of Jericho had won, they would have killed all the Jews. And yet, here was Rahab the Amorite, the citizen of Jericho, who nevertheless was willing to turn her back on her entire past and upon her people because of her conviction of who God really was and what God required of her.
The third thing Rahab did was to identify with the Jewish people. She well could have said, as Ruth said to her mother-in-law, Naomi, “Your people shall be my people and your God my God.” Now think about that because when God took Rahab into Israel, God did not bring her in as a second-class citizen. Hers was not a second-class salvation. Apparently, Rahab was received from the beginning with full standing in the Jewish camp. And, moreover, she also married into it, and by the grace of God, through that marriage, she actually became an ancestor of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
There was a prince in Judah among the Jews whose name was Salmon. Salmon married Rahab, and the son born to them was Boaz. And Boaz was the one who married Ruth. Then from them came Obed, who begot Jesse, who was the father of King David. And we know that eventually from King David came the Lord Jesus Christ. Isn’t it marvelous that God took this woman—a Gentile, even an Amorite prostitute—and saved her simply through hearing about the Jewish God? From there, He took her out of her environment and incorporated her among the company of His people so that she actually married into a line that produced the Lord Jesus Christ.
From the lesson, what does Dr. Boice say was the one thing Rahab had going for her?
Read the two passages from the New Testament that talk about Rahab’s faith. How did she put that faith into action?
From the lesson, what three things did Rahab do as an expression of her faith?
The story of Rahab show us that we must never despair of the salvation of anyone, including ourselves.
Most of us have family members or friends who are not Christians. Commit to praying for them every day, asking that they might come to saving faith.