Recently, I took one of them online time wasting quizzes for fun. It was a personality quiz, the purpose was to discover which of Jesus disciples I was most like. The answer: Thomas (figures, I am a realist). However in the footnote the result told me the Biblical female character I was most like – Rahab! “Oh great” I thought, “I am either a doubter or a prostitute.”
Early the next morning my thoughts turned to Rahab, but more specifically I wondered why I did not want to be considered like her (even if it was only a piece of fun). I had to admit it was because of her ‘unsavory job description.’ God challenged me about this.
Rahab was indeed a prostitute, but she is so much more. In Joshua 2 we read how she helped save the lives of the Israelite spies by hiding them in the roof of her home before letting them down through a window to escape the persuing guards of Jerico. Rahab was a wise and discerning lady. The whole city of Jerico had been gripped in tense fear. They knew the Israelite’s were heading their way and that God was with them. But only Rahab had the wisdom to turn to God when she sensed the immanent danger, throwing himself on His mercy. In doing so she saved her own life, and the lives of her family, Rahab said:
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. Joshua 2:9-11.
It was because of her acknowledgement of the God of Israel as the God of Heaven and Earth that she was saved. Rahab put her trust in God to rescue her from certain destruction. Rahab’s protection was conditional. As the spies left they told her to hang a scarlet chord from the window, in order to mark her out; with the promise that anyone inside the house with her would be saved but any member of her family who stepped outside would perish.
This marked out protection is similar to Gods earlier command to the people before they left Egypt. They were instructed to mark the tops and sides of their doors with the blood of the Passover lamb and to stay inside the house (Exodus 12). This act of faith ensured the children of Israel would not suffer the same fate as Egypt. This act of faith is how God rescued and liberated his people. A little later on Rahab is being asked to display the same courage in faith by displaying the scarlet chord from her window.
Faith is not passive, it is always active. Faith is life in motion; it is a doing word. Rahab’s faith was recognized as she was rescued from the destruction of the city. Her faith is celebrated further by mentioning her by name in the great ‘heroes of faith’ chapter in Hebrews 11.
By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies Hebrews 11:31
Rahab is also one of five women (all of questionable character) mentioned in Matthews genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1).
Rahab is an incredible woman of strength, courage, character and faith. She is also an ancestor of our Lord and should rightly take her place in the hall of heroes in Hebrews 11.
The Bible is littered with ‘types of Christ’ and this account in Joshua 2 could be viewed as one of them. Rahabs faith in action, her willingness to trust Gods people at their word and display the scarlet chord demonstrates her faith. The chord could be seen as a type of blood (like the Passover lamb, those in the house were safe).
Jesus is our ultimate sacrifice, he shed his real blood in order to welcome people into the house of God where they will be safe. The Bible tells us that faith in the crucified and risen Lord will save us from imminent destruction.
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
The Bible also tells us that when we place our trust in God, through Jesus we become born again, a new creation.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 1 Corinthians 5:17
If we become a new person then, our past lives, our past mistakes are forgotten by God. If God chooses to remember our sin no more – why should we? When we hold on to things we have done in our past, we are in effect, trying to say we know better than God – which is not only stupid and dangerous, but is also plain rude!
However, I feel perhaps it can be worse than that, remembering someone else as they used to be, rather than how they are now because of Christ is appalling. Casting judgment on another because they used to sleep around, they used to drink alcohol to excess, or take drugs or rob chocolate from the corner store…..denies the power of Christ at work in them but it also limits the work Christ is able to do in us.
Our past mistakes cannot be held against us if we are in Christ Jesus – if we have trusted in God to do as he has said we are indeed a new creation…a liberated human being! So are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus himself said:
Judge not, that you be not judged. Matthew 7:1
My sense of self righteous indignation at the thought of being compared to someone like Rahab was stupidly short sighted. In actual fact i would be honoured to be considered a person of such faith as Rahab – even if only in a silly quiz! When we focus our attention on the past we miss out on God’s blessing for the now (and also the future).
Lord – my prayer: help me to love and not to judge… the past is behind us, it is old news.