Written by: Bonnie Pue
She roamed and waited for business. Her skin and her posture were her advertisements. She knew how to work the room and she sold her feigned affections to pay the bills and satisfy her hunger. She was Rahab of Jericho.
You might know the story of Jericho; the people of Israel were getting ready to cross the Jordan River and begin the invasion of the land of Canaan, the land God had promised to give the Israelites hundreds of years prior. Joshua was the newly established leader at this time and secretly sent two young men to spy on the barricaded city fortress of Jericho, which was the first on their to-conquer list.
While exploring the city and watching for weak spots that could be advantageous, the royal court heard of their presence and became suspicious. Rahab somehow found them and offered to hide them up on the top floor of her condo, which was built into the wall of the city. They agreed and we read her bold speech in Joshua 2 where she honored their God as the true God of heaven and earth. She then requested that in exchange for her act of hiding them, they spare the lives of her and her family. The two agreed, snuck out her window, down a scarlet cord, and stole back to Israel, reporting all that had happened to their commander Joshua.
Weeks later as Israel launched their first ever attack in the Promised Land, Joshua remembered Rahab and ordered that she and her family be protected.
Let Joshua’s example be a sticky-note reminder of the value that God places on all the Rahab’s of the world. These are the women with scarlet cords hanging out of their windows. She fears the Lord and desires salvation, but she may not know the extent of what she is allowed to hope for. It is our responsibility to remember her and to remind her of the redeeming strength of our Savior.
Don’t Forget Rahab.
She is the one embarrassed of her past.
In Jericho’s culture, I suspect that her job may have been more likened to a porn star, because it seems that she still had strong connection with her family as well as a voice of influence with the city guards. Yet because she was violating her own design as a woman, we can be certain that she felt the sting of loneliness and the insecurity of wondering if a man would ever want her for more than what she could do for him sexually.
When she was rescued and then brought to live with the people of Israel, her richly-painted lips and tinkling-anklets made her feel out of place among the bright-eyed culture of chastity that was now prized among Hebrew families. The enemy of her soul would have been all too happy to whisper in her ear that she didn’t really belong.
Shame always tries to keep her from the place where it can be broken, so she needs to hear from us, “We are glad you are here. There is a place for you in the seat right next to me. You don’t have to get it all together before you are welcomed into the throne room of heaven.”
Jesus isn’t shocked by her past and we need not be either.
She is the one who fears the future.
After this dramatic transplant from paganism to monotheism, from prostitution to the laws of God that outlined sexual abstinence and fidelity, I wonder how many nights she lay awake wondering if her dreams could come true.
“Would her new friends reject her if they knew who she used to be? Would a noble man ever want to marry her if he found out her past?
We need to be trumpeting a clear message, “Purity is not just about the history of your body, it is about the direction of your heart and affections towards the Lord Jesus.”
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the outrageously good news that no matter who we used to be, the Spirit of God has the ability to make us into a new creation. Old things are dead and buried in the waters of baptism and if we preach a gospel like this, men and women become free to dream of and enjoy healthy marriages and families.
Jesus brings our dreams back to life.
She is the one who lives on the outside.
While living in Jericho, we see that Rahab lived on the edge of society. Though she may have had a nice view of the surrounding landscape, she was also perilously placed in the line of enemy attack. Not only was she geographically on the outside, she also had trained herself to interact with humanity based on what was on the external.
A lie in our culture says that our primary value is in our sexuality, in external features, and in our performance. This performance hinders true intimacy and trust and we have become one of the loneliest generations in history.
The beautiful thing is that the Bible records a progression in the life of Rahab. Joshua 6:23 speaks of Rahab and her family outside the camp, but just a few verses later we see that she moved to live in the midst of the Israelites. Finally, we see in the book of Matthew in the genealogy of Jesus, Rahab came to marry an Israelite man and became the mother of Boaz and the great grandmother of King David.
We cannot risk forgetting Rahab, because God sees royalty within her.
Jesus welcomes the one who once lived on the outside, and invites her to live in His presence.