Women in the Bible Series: Rahab
“So the young men, the spies, went in and brought out Rahab and her father and her mother and her brothers and everything that she had; they also brought out all her relatives and allowed them to stay outside the camp of Israel [at Gilgal during the time required for ceremonial cleansing]. Then they completely burned the city and everything that was in it. They put only the silver and the gold, and the articles of bronze and of iron, into the treasury of the house (tabernacle) of the Lord. So Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her father’s household and everything that she had; and she has lived among Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers (scouts) whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.” (Joshua 6: 23-25, AMP)
Have you ever been in a place where you honestly believed your sin discounted you from serving God or made you unworthy of salvation?
I’m sure we’ve all been there. We’ve all grappled with our worthiness of God’s goodness from deep within the
sin that separates us and Him. You think what you did was bad, but have you ever been a lying, deceitful prostitute? We find one in the pages of the book of Joshua; Rahab, a prostitute living in the city of Jericho– yes, THAT Jericho– a city that was one of the biggest bosses that Israel had to defeat before reclaiming the land promised to them by God.
You see, Jericho was a military giant. They had big, beefy walls surrounding the city, fortified and solid; and back in that day, if your walls were secure, any invading army was going to have a hard time breaching them to come in and take the city. And for Israel, getting into the Promised Land meant crossing the Jordan and coming for Jericho. Since it was no easy task, Joshua– Israel’s fearless leader– sent two spies into the city to see if they could get any information about the city or any weaknesses they could exploit to take the city.
These two spies ended up finding a place to hide in Rahab’s home, trying to disappear into a place where the comings and goings of strange men wasn’t anything to raise eyebrows at. When officials of the King came knocking on Rahab’s door, demanding she bring the spies out to them, Rahab plays dumb. She says she didn’t know the men were spies and they left just before the city gates closed. In fact, if the king and his men left now, they might be able to catch them. Little did these guys know, the men they were looking for were hidden on Rahab’s roof.
Once the men were gone, Rahab tells the spies to climb out of her apartment window, conveniently built into the city wall, and hide in the hills for a few days until the king and his men came back to the city before returning to the Israelite camp. Then, she asks the spies, “...the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. And now, please swear [an oath] to me by the Lord, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s household (family), and give me a pledge of truth and faithfulness, and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, along with everyone who belongs to them, and let us all live” (Joshua 2:11-14, AMP)
And if you’ve read the story, you know that the spies honor that request, and give her a scarlet cord to hang from her window in the city wall, that would mark her house as a place that should be spared when Israel conquered Jericho and came in to raid the city. But here’s the reason Rahab is spared, and it’s not because she aided the spies or because she threw the king off their scent so they could get away… It’s because Rahab confessed that their God was the one true God over heaven and earth.
Rahab’s confession of who God is was her salvation. God saved her because she had an understanding of who He was and believed that if she put her faith into that, she would be saved when God destroyed Jericho. Rahab, a prostitute and a liar, was brave enough to voice her need for salvation and her faith in God’s power, sovereignty, and ability to keep her and her family safe.
And you know what? As someone who knows how debilitating the shame of sin can be– how it can make you believe you are undeserving of salvation and God’s kindness– Rahab’s boldness and trust in God’s character despite her own shortcomings is one of the most pure and powerful moments of faith in the whole Bible. Rahab didn’t let the shame of who she was diminish the knowledge of who she knew God was, and she was brave enough to put all of her flaws in His hands and lean on His salvation.
And when Jericho was defeated– y’know, when the walls came tumbling down?– Rahab’s home, which scripture clearly states was built INTO the city wall, was left fully in tact, everyone inside it was saved, and that family remained in Israel. Even further than that, the disciple Matthew drops Rahab’s name in chapter 1 of his account of the gospel as the mother of Boaz, husband of Ruth, great-grandfather of King David, who is ultimately within the bloodline of Jesus.
So that lowly, sinful prostitute? She’s a matriarch within the bloodline of King Jesus, son of the God that saved her from the walls of Jericho. All because she was bold enough to put off who she knew she was in order to put on who God said she was.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that the information those spies went into Jericho to get? None of it was used in order to conquer Jericho. So ultimately, what was God’s reason to even send them in there to begin with? The only thing I can come up with is Rahab herself.
And in the end, that’s what is really so mind-blowing about this story: God orchestrated this whole mission, sending in two men under the ruse of bringing down a city that the Israelites already had in the bag because God desired it, was not so that Israel could put an impressive win under their belt. It was so one woman and her family could be saved from the wreckage of a wall that God knocked down Himself, fully knowing that this woman was a piece of the puzzle He was putting together.
So the next time you think that your sin has completely disqualified you from God’s redemptive plan and love for you, remember that He went completely out of his way to save someone who was deep in her own sexual sin, and loved her so much that He drew her to Him anyway.
And in the face of that, how much more is He drawing you to Himself today? Here’s the thing: God is not looking for total perfection. He’s not looking for a long resumé of good deeds. He’s not even looking for some semblance of normal. He’s looking for people who know who He is, are sure that nothing they can do can add or take away from who He is, and aren’t afraid to lean fully into trusting Him.
So if you can be brave enough to put whatever shame you’re struggling with aside today, and put your full understanding on the fact that God is who He has always been, then He will be faithful to extend salvation to you and free you from the shame spirals you’ve been living in.