Mar 7, 2011

Rahab: Grace turns a harlot into a hero

eYesterday I preached on the story of Rahab in Joshua.  It was subtitled "The Transforming Power of Grace."  Rahab's story is a often overlooked one in the Bible.  She was a woman born in the wrong place and had the wrong lifestyle but crossed paths with the glory of the God of Israel and decided to place faith in a God who can part the seas instead of the gods of her people.  Rahab found herself at a crossroad of life.  Surely "prostitute" wasn't what she wrote in the ten-year plan of her senior memories book.  She probably opened up an inn hoping to start a reputable business but found out that she had to make compromises in order to make ends meet.  In the process, she became the town slut.  She was nothing more than a commodity to the people of Ninevah - a means to an end.  However, through the stories of the men who frequented her house she heard about a God who delivered a nation of slaves from the most powerful country on the planet, who sent plagues of frogs and locusts, and who parted the Red Sea to let them cross before drowning Pharoah's army.

These stories were nothing new.  However, while most people in Ninevah heard the stories and began to make contingency plans on how to encounter this nation in the wilderness, Rahab began to believe that if there was a God that powerful then he was the one, true God.  One wonders how the encounter began with the two spies that night.  Was there something noticeably different about them when they came in?  Did she offer her usual services only to be surprised when they said all they wanted was a bed?  Did she notice that their dress or skin tone showed them to be foreigners?  What is certain is that she decided her fear of their God was greater than her fear of her king.  So she lied to the king in order to save their lives.  She is never condemned nor commended for her lie.  Her faith in this God was infantile and not yet established enough to believe that if she had given up the spies that they would still be spared.  There had been no Shadrach, Mesach, and Abednego yet.  There was no Daniel in the lion's den yet.  However, her testimony "for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath" and her actions to save the spies revealed the repentance of her heart.  Consequently, she and her family were all saved.

In the end, Rahab and her family integrate into the nation of Israel.  She meets a man named Salmon and bears a son named Boaz who becomes the kinsman redeemer for Ruth.  From her line come Jesse and eventually King David.  From David comes the Messiah.  Only God's grace can take a prostitute and from her body bring forth the lineage that would usher in the Messiah.  That is grace.

Like Rahab, we all have baggage.  We may not have stooped to selling our bodies, but we have all exchanged our love for God for 1000 other lovers much less glorious.  But God's grace is sufficient to redeem and restore.  Good news that we all need.