The Faith of Rahab

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, January 7, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

Now that we have officially entered a new year, it’s a good time to reflect on how we are doing with recognizing our need for the Lord and trusting in him to get us through anything. You may look back on challenges that you faced in 2017 or you may be anxious as you think about the difficulties that might be coming your way in 2018, but faith encourages us to persevere and to learn what trusting fully in God means through each of those things. There’s a great old hymn that was redone a few years ago by Matt Maher called “Lord, I Need You” which reminds us that we don’t just need God’s presence in our lives on Sunday mornings at church or when we feel overwhelmed by our circumstances; we actually need him EVERY HOUR!

I remember a little over a year ago, at the end 2016, when three notable celebrities all lost their lives over a span of 4 days. After the deaths of George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds, some people that I know publicly mourned their deaths on social media. But what may have begun as typical tributes and remembrances for what those people contributed to the world quickly turned to anger over the deaths. Some people, including several Christians I know, posted things like, “Okay 2016, time for you to go away!” or “2016, you suck!” People would talk about it as if the year itself had something to do with these deaths. Some people couldn’t hide their frustrations over these deaths being added to the deaths of people like Prince, Arnold Palmer, and others that took place earlier in the year. I understand that nobody likes death and we all deal with it in different ways, but I was so confused as to how people could throw their anger at a YEAR of all things.

These celebrities were not personally known by the vast majority of the people I’m talking about. Yet, death is something we all have to deal with on a personal level as well. When someone we love is taken from us, how do we respond? Do we throw our anger at God or something else? I believe it’s one of the things God uses to get our attention, to remind us of how fragile our lives are and to encourage us to depend on him. I remember hearing a sermon by John Piper one time when he was teaching on Luke 13:1-5 and pointed out that when we see great death and destruction, we shouldn’t be asking why so many died. He said the more appropriate thing to question is why we have been spared so far! If we truly understand our sin and God’s righteousness, we should wonder why we are allowed to live, not why others die.

Faith in who God is gives us a proper perspective. In the Old Testament, a woman named Rahab came to understand who God was even when everyone around her didn’t, and it literally saved her life. Hebrews 11:31 tells us about her faith, which led to her being spared while those who were unbelieving around her were killed. In order to understand the magnitude of her faith in the midst of a disobedient society, we have to go back and read the original story.

In Joshua 2, we see that Joshua and the people of Israel are preparing to cross the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land (the land of Canaan that would later become what we know today as “Israel”). It’s only wise to count the cost and see what they might have to deal with when they cross, so Joshua secretly sends spies to scope out the land, “especially Jericho” because that would be the first city they would have to conquer. God was giving them this land, but that didn’t mean the pagans who lived there were going to give it up quietly. As we saw in last week’s post, God worked a miracle and caused the walls of Jericho to fall as soon as the people followed his complete instructions. So, this type of reconnaissance didn’t really end up being necessary. Nevertheless, Joshua was acting in wisdom and God was going to use it for a different reason.

The reason was to bring Rahab to salvation. She is listed in Hebrews 11:31 and Joshua 2:1 as a “prostitute." First and foremost, we must see the truth here that faith is not something that only happens for the “religious” or “self-righteous." It doesn’t happen by going to church, and it’s not about our parents. No matter where we come from or what we’ve done, faith is an individual choice and is shown through action. Rahab did a lot of things wrong and lived in a pagan city enslaved by the filth of the world, but she chose to have faith when she came to realize she needed God the most. Her home was a logical place for the spies to go and stay because no one would have suspected anything out of the ordinary. That was their human plan, yet it was foiled and Joshua 2:2-3 tells us that the men are found out and the king of Jericho asks Rahab to bring them out. They had to be thinking they were toast. They would be killed unless God worked a miracle.

Joshua 2:4-13 then tells us that, at the moment of truth, Rahab lied and told the king that she sent the men away even though they were actually hiding on the roof. The men, who I’m sure were shocked at her choice, then get to hear her reasoning. She shares that she knows the Lord has given them and their people the land, and goes on to say, “The Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below” (v. 11). This was an amazing statement! A woman with no godly upbringing whatsoever learned what it meant to fear God. And when she realized what God was up to, she knew it was time to get on his side. Notice how she said “the Lord YOUR God” (caps mine). Rahab was not yet a follower of God, but she was willing to learn more about what that meant. And it started with one step of faith that ultimately saved her and her family. An old pastor of mine used to pray, “Lord, I’m not willing, but I’m willing to be made willing." Sometimes that’s all it takes. Yet, we get caught up with religion and judgments. Rahab had no idea what it meant to follow God, but she made her choice and there was no turning back.

Rahab told a lie, and that is never right in God’s eyes. But Rahab is not remembered for her sins, but for her faith. And in that regard, she’s no different than anyone else in Hebrews 11 or any of us. We all make mistakes and do things wrong, but faith is still a choice each and every moment of our lives. And besides that, we cannot judge people who are not believers to follow a believer’s standard. Jesus invites them in. Jesus actually enters the houses of SINNERS. Maybe we should stop judging the actions of unbelievers and start spending more time getting to know them. We never know when that person might make a life-changing decision of faith.

The spies make a deal with Rahab to show them a sign when they come into the city that will tell them she has not changed her mind and is still on their side. Then, Joshua 6:22-25 tells us that, during the overtaking of Jericho, Rahab and her household are indeed spared because she kept her end of the deal and proved to be faithful. We see at the end of that passage that she “lives among the Israelites to this day." Rahab became a believer AFTER she made the choice to be faithful. She grew in her faith and learned more and more about this God she became aware of. She learned about how much she needed him in her life every hour. And because of her faith, she becomes so much a part of God’s story that Matthew 1 lists her as one of only 4 women in the genealogy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So again I urge you, stop wasting time judging yourself or others for past mistakes and start trusting God for everything. Accept that you need him every hour of 2018 and beyond, and let your life be the example that brings sinners to a saving relationship with him!

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