“Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove. He instructed them, “Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.” So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night.“ – Joshua 2:1 (NLT)
I love the story of Rahab because it illustrates the wonder and beauty of God’s grace in a fairy-tale story. Before Israel showed up outside the walls of Jericho, Rahab wore a label. Her neighbors, fellow citizens, and customers knew her as Rahab the prostitute. But regardless of that label, when Rahab was given the opportunity between dying with her countrymen and surrendering to God, she chose God.
Rahab acknowledged Israel’s God as the most powerful God and then hid his servants. That was it. Rahab’s label was not an obstacle to God. And neither are the labels that we have today. The reality and the embarrassment a label causes you in life is not an obstacle to God’s grace. You, like Rahab, are invited as you are, label and all. You, like Rahab, have been invited to join God in a relationship initiated by faith.
We don’t know how long it took Rahab to shake her past. We don’t know how long it was before she no longer measured her life based on her past. It most likely took some time. There were probably bumps in the road as she went. In the same way, it may take you some time before you can put away your label once and for all. Old labels don’t fade fast. And sometimes it takes a while for new ones to stick as well.
It is all about faith. Surprisingly, Rahab is one of two women named in Hebrews 11 as examples of godly faith. The other is Abraham’s wife, Sarah. Few would question Sarah’s inclusion. She exemplified, in most respects, what are generally considered Christian values and qualities. But Rahab? Why would God include the name of a prostitute as one of His faithful saints?
God shows His great mercy and power through human weaknesses. Rehab was made strong through faith. Hebrews 11:21 says, “It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.”
Very few people would willingly risk their lives for family and friends. Rahab risked her life to protect “enemy” spies. Rahab focused on the godly mission of the spies coupled with her realization that they represented the God of Israel. Rahab believed it was He who was bringing Israel into the Promised Land. Risking her very life, she had no more evidence to go on than the reports from others that somehow, in some way, the God of Israel had given His people great victories over more-powerful foes. Rahab was living by faith and not by sight. Though she saw none of these events actually happen, she had faith to believe that Israel’s God was more powerful than all others and would take care of her and her family too.
Rahab’s faith and conviction gave her the courage to look death in the face—and live. As Proverbs 28:1 tells us, “The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions.” Courage is born from unwavering faith, as Rahab demonstrated.
- Read Joshua 2: 8-13. How would you describe Rahab’s faith? Think about the decision Rahab reached about God—why was it still such a huge step for her to take the risk of helping the spies?
- What are some of the specific ways that God asks us to act on our faith? What obstacles might keep you from following through on these things?
- Do you think God cares more about what you believe or what you do?
- What do you think God has been asking you to act on, but you have been hesitant to do it? How can you take a step of action this week?