The Bible is chocked full of stories of sinful people who repented and were forgiven by God. You might say the Bible is a book about messed up people that God rescued and made into His masterpieces. One of my favorite redemption stories seen in the Bible is about a woman named Rahab.
In chapter two, Joshua sends two spies into Canaan to examine the land on the other side of the Jordan River – especially the city of Jericho. The spies swam across the flood swelled Jordan River during the night and entered the walled city of Jericho as merchants the next day. They spent the day scouting Jericho then they spent the night in the house of a prostitute named Rahab. Their thinking was, “Strangers go in and out of a harlot’s house all the time.” But, someone notified the King of Jericho that two Israelites were spending the night in Rahab’s home and he immediately sent soldiers to Rahab’s house to capture the spies. But, Rahab had hidden the men in a secret hiding place in the roof of her house.
Four things we learn about Rahab in Joshua 2:1-15:
1. She traded sex for money.
We are not told how or why Rahab was a prostitute. Studies have shown that most women who enter the sex trade do so because they have few other options to make a living. Perhaps Rahab grew up in poverty or she was abandoned by her husband, or she could have just chosen the sex trade because she wanted to make lots of money. We don’t know when or why, but at some time in Rahab’s life, she chose to sell herself to men for money.
2. She was very popular.
Rabbinical tradition says Rahab was one of the four most beautiful women in the ancient world. So, you can imagine how popular she was with the men in Jericho and the surrounding area. Even the king of Jericho was “friends” with Rahab.
3. She lived inside the walls of Jericho, but outside the will of God.
Rahab was a successful businesswoman. We know this because she lived near Jericho’s main gate in a house that was built on the wall (2:15). Rahab was a rich woman, but she wasn’t a happy woman. You see, Rahab knew trading sex for money was not what she was supposed to do with her life. She felt the load of her sin and lived each day with the fear that she would one day be severely judged for her sin by God! Rahab was rich and popular, but she felt destitute and detested because she didn’t have a right relationship with her Creator.
4. She put her faith in the one true God.
Rahab had already heard about Israel’s God before the two spies sought refuge in her home. She had listened to dozens of stories about how Israel’s God had delivered His people from Egyptian slavery and miraculously provided and protected the Hebrews for their forty years in the wilderness. Rahab had already decided Israel’s God was the one true God before the men showed up at her door. Rahab the harlot chose to protect the two spies because she believed their God could and would forgive her of all her sins and give her a new life (see: Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25).
If you fast forward to Joshua chapter six, you will see how the Israelites marched around the city of Jericho for seven days and the walls of the great city fell down. As you read chapter six, you are forced to stop and see that God is both severely judging the sinful people of Jericho and rescuing a repentant sinner named Rahab.
When the people heard the sound of the rams’ horns, they shouted as loud as they could. Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the town and captured it. They completely destroyed everything in it with their swords—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep, goats, and donkeys. Meanwhile, Joshua said to the two spies, “Keep your promise. Go to the prostitute’s house and bring her out, along with all her family.” The men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, mother, brothers, and all the other relatives who were with her. They moved her whole family to a safe place near the camp of Israel. Then the Israelites burned the town and everything in it. Only the things made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron were kept for the treasury of the Lord’s house. So Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute and her relatives who were with her in the house, because she had hidden the spies Joshua sent to Jericho. And she lives among the Israelites to this day. Joshua 6:20–25 NLT
The mighty walls of Jericho collapsed, that is except for the portion of the wall that held up Rahab’s house. The prostitute who used to be a pagan was pardoned from God’s judgment and given a new beginning! After Jericho fell, Rahab joined the Israelites and eventually married a man named Salmon (some people think Salmon was one of the two spies Rahab had hidden in her roof). Salmon and Rahab had a son named Boaz who married a Moabite woman named Ruth (you can read about their amazing love story in the Book of Ruth). Boaz and Ruth had a son named Obed who was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of King David. I could keep going but if you fast forward through history you will see that Rahab was an ancestress of Jesus – the Messiah (Matthew 1:5)!
Rahab repented of her sins and placed her faith in the one true God, and the Lord took her messed up life and made it into a masterpiece of His grace! And, I believe the Lord can do the same for you!
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