(The Faith Forum Series)
The book of Joshua chapter 2 speaks about a woman called Rahab. She was a harlot (prostitute) and living in the land of Jericho. She was not an Israelite.
When Joshua sent two spies to Jericho to view the land that God had promised the Israelites he would give to them, they went and Rahab allowed them to stay at her house. When someone subsequently told the king of Jericho that Rahab was harbouring enemies in her home, the king ordered that she bring them out so that they could be dealt with, given that they were enemies of Jericho.
However, Rahab chose to disobey the king’s command and instead, hid the men, admitted that they had been lodged at her place but stated that they had since left and denied knowing where they had gone. To distract them, she also encouraged the king’s men to pursue after the two men so as to overtake them and so the king’s men did just that.
Jericho was surrounded by a great wall and had a gate that was shut as soon as the men had gone out of Jericho to search for the spies. It was therefore not possible for the spies to leave Jericho through the gate. However, because God is the greatest strategist of all, it just so happened that Rahab’s house had been constructed upon the town wall itself, so she was actually living on the wall.
When the King’s men left on the false trail she provided, Rahab let the Israelite spies (who she had hid on her roof), down by a chord through her window. She also told them to go to the mountains and not back the way they came, so as to avoid a confrontation with the king’s men who had gone the way of Jordan, hoping to overtake the spies and catch them. She instructed them that they hide themselves in the mountains three days until the king’s men returned and then they could make their way back from where they had come.
WHAT INTRIGUES ME ABOUT RAHAB
What intrigues me about Rahab was not the fact that she was a harlot (prostitute) and made a living by selling her body for money. What intrigued me about her was the extent of her faith.
- It was her faith in the true and living God that saved her and not just her but her family.
- It was faith in the God of the Israelites (who she had never personally met) but had heard much about and believed in, that caused her to be delivered when the Israelites did arrive at Jericho and destroyed the people within.
- It was her faith in the God of the Israelites that made her accommodate the Israelite spies at her place. There is no mention of them forcing her to accommodate them and I believe she did it willingly.
- It was her faith in the Israelite God that made her decide to defy the king’s command that she turn the men over to him and instead, hide them. See, she feared the God of heaven more than she did the earthly king, although this God was not the God of her people, nor her own but of the Israelites.
(A) RAHAB’S STRONG FAITH – I believe that the Israelite God is Lord over all
Rahab told the Israelite spies in Joshua 2: 9-11:
- “I know that the Lord hath given you the land and that your terror is fallen upon us and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed…for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above and in earth beneath.”
These are beautiful Bible verses. First of all, they demonstrate that “…faith cometh by hearing…” as stated in Romans 10:17.
Rahab said: “I KNOW that the Lord hath given you the land… FOR WE HAVE HEARD how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea…”
She had faith in this Israelite God whom she had never experienced for herself, based solely on what she had heard. When she heard, she did not doubt that the story was true and she believed that this Israelite God was so powerful, that he could do anything he wanted. She did not say that she was ‘of the view’ or she ‘thought’ that ‘maybe’ he would give them the land of Jericho. She expressed assurance and complete conviction of the fact and said “I know…”.
In faith, she already saw ahead, that Jericho would be conquered by the Israelites through their God and that the inhabitants would be destroyed, just like God did with the kings of the Amorites. She did not have to wait to see if it would happen. She believed wholeheartedly that it would.
LESSON 1: Faith enables a person to see ahead.
The verses are also beautiful because they remind us of the scripture in Proverbs 18:21 that states that, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…”
Rahab’s life was literally saved by her words. She stated words of life by confessing that God was “…God in heaven above and in the earth beneath.” She even referred to him as “the Lord your God…”
She therefore believed in her heart that the God of the Israelites was God over all and she confessed this truth with her mouth, acknowledging with her lips that he was Lord.
Perhaps it was these very words that granted her favour in the eyes of God.
(B) RAHAB’S STRONG FAITH – Wall? What wall?
What amazes me about Rahab’s faith as well, is that it was so strong that she did not even consider that there was a great looming, seemingly impenetrable wall standing between Jericho and any army that wished to destroy the inhabitants within.
She did not think to herself that, as noble as their intentions may have been, that the Israelites would never be able to get past that great barrier. See, she was not focused on the Israelite ability but on the omnipotence of their God!
Naturally speaking, getting past that great wall was impossible for men but Rahab was convinced that it was possible with God. She knew, as Jesus himself stated many years later in Matthew 19:26 that, “…With men this is impossible but with God all things are possible.” She could not in her limited human thinking, ever figure out how God would do it but that did not stop her from fully believing that he would. In fact, she made no mention of the wall, as if it did not even exist! In her mind, it was as if it did not, whenever the God of heaven showed up.
She said: ““I know that the Lord hath given you the land…”
She remembered what she had heard he had done in the past with the Red Sea and to other seemingly impossible situations and she believed that he had what it took to do the seemingly impossible again.
(C) RAHAB’S STRONG FAITH – I am making advance request for the safety of myself and my family
Rahab was so convinced that God would give the Israelites access and victory over Jericho, that she saw it fit, in faith, to ask in advance for her and her family to be saved when that fateful day came. In her mind, Israel’s victory over Jericho, (despite Jericho’s army and the great wall that stood as a formidable barrier and had stood as just that for so long), was a done deal. God had already willed it and to her, once God willed it, that was it. It was already done. All that she could do therefore, in her mind, was to plead for the lives of herself and her family.
LESSON 2: Faith believes that what God has willed is already done.
This Rahab did on faith alone. She did not need to wait to see the Israelites actually coming or see the nature and extent of their weapons or see the wall actually falling or the Jericho army actually being overthrown and losing the battle. She acted immediately, in advance, to secure herself and her family. Through strong faith in the God of the Israelites, she was therefore able to capitalize on an opportunity to save her and her family alive.
LESSON 3: Strong faith enables us to see and capitalize on opportunities that those without such faith will not see.
Had it not been for such strong faith, Rahab and her family would have surely perished. The men made a deal with her, that when they returned to Jericho with all of Israel, she was to gather her parents, her sisters and brothers and all that pertained to them, in her house and she was to also bind a line of scarlet/red thread in her window so that her house would be identified as the house wherein all the occupants were to be saved on that fateful day. I don’t believe they told her when they would be returning, so she had to be in a state of alertness and preparedness.
LESSON 4: When you have faith that what you believe will one day happen, this will make you maintain a state of alertness and preparedness.
(D) RAHAB’S STRONG FAITH – I am not waiting until later. I am acting now
The Bible states in Joshua 2:18:
- “And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear. Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father and thy mother and thy brethren and all thy father’s household, home unto thee…”
LESSON 5: Faith requires you to act.
Now hold it right there! Let’s take a look at this verse again.
The spies clearly told Rahab that she was to act to save herself and her family when they returned, so there is another lesson here, in that faith requires you to act. However, there is something else equally wonderful revealed in this verse.
Rahab was to do nothing until they returned with the rest of the Israelites, at which point it would be clear to all, that they had come with the intention of invading Jericho and possessing the land. The verse says, “…WHEN we come into the land thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window.”
However, Rahab did not wait until that day came to act! Her faith that God would indeed give the Israelites the land at some point in the future (although she had no idea when) was so strong, that she moved immediately.
Don’t believe me? Let’s read it.
The Bible states in Joshua 2:21: “And she said, According unto your words, so be it. And she sent them away and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window.”
Did you see that?
They instructed her to wait until she had seen with her eyes that they had actually, physically come into the land before binding the scarlet thread in her window but her faith said No. I am not waiting. I don’t need to wait until I see it to believe it. I am binding it now.
LESSON 6: Faith, strong faith in what God has said, his character and his promises, does not need to wait to see it to believe it. It believes that once he has willed it, it is already done, no matter the obstacles we see. Such faith is therefore not content to just sit around and wait to see the natural manifestation of what is already done by God in the Spirit. It begins to move!
In my own life, I believe that God in his mercy and faithfulness, has promised me certain things and I just could not wait until I saw them manifest in the natural realm. I began to move!
People around me probably thought and maybe still think that I am a bit crazy because I keep talking about the promises and doing things in anticipation of it with absolutely no natural sight of it. However, I see it in the Spirit because whatever God has willed is bound to come to pass and all his promises are yea and Amen.
And so, I have acted and keep on acting and when God finally does his thing and establishes his word, I will have it as a testimony of his power, faithfulness and the power of faith when activated. I can say from now, that by the grace of almighty God, it’s going to be glorious!
I think the level of faith Rahab had is often underestimated. She did not just have faith in a God that, up to that time, she had never met or experienced but had merely heard about but yet it was a STRONG, unshakeable and immovable faith. It was that faith that justified her.
LESSON 7: Faith in God and in his Son the lord Jesus Christ justifies and saves!
If you go through the New Testament of the Bible carefully, you will see that the majority of people (if not all) that Jesus healed, he healed through their own faith or that of the person making the request for their healing. Faith is the medium or instrument through which God chooses to operate.
Just like how Rahab’s faith in God saved her and her family from destruction (note that they too had to demonstrate faith in leaving their houses and going to her house, the safe house), it is the same way today. Faith in God’s Son the Lord Jesus Christ, will save us from eternal damnation, hell fire and the wrath of God on judgment day. Faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, also triggers healing, cleansing and restoration.
In the Bible, we see that the people who needed healing or for one of their loved ones to be healed, would make statements of complete faith that showed they believed that Jesus was Lord and could heal them or the person for whom they were making the petition.
So for example, the leper in Matthew 8:2 “…worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”
The centurion whose servant was sick at home told Jesus when Jesus offered to come to his home to heal him, “Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only and my servant shall be healed.” (Matthew 8:7-8).
The ruler in Matthew 9:18 came to Jesus and “worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her and she shall live.”
Interesting! On a side note, we see here that worship, while it can certainly be expressed through song, is not singing or jumping or raising our hands. It is not even crying or shouting. We can do all those things and worship could still be absent. We worship Jesus whenever we come humbly, reverentially and in full and complete faith and trust that he is Lord and has all power in his hands. Worship therefore is a heart condition.
On the issue of faith and how God operates through it to save, Jesus himself would often say things, like:
- “…thy faith had made thee whole…” (Mark 5:34);
- “Be not afraid, only believe.” (Mark 5:36);
- “Believe ye that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28);
- “According to your faith be it unto you.” (Matthew 9:29);
- “…I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel…Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee…” (Matthew 8:10,13);
- “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” (Matthew 15: 28);
- “…Whosever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11: 26);
- “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” (John 11: 40).
The last statement was made by Jesus to Martha, when her brother had already died and had been dead for four days and rotting!
What was Jesus saying? He was saying that faith in him was enough to even raise the dead and stinking back to life!
Now, back to Rahab. I digressed somewhat because I could not help myself. I love talking about faith and seeing the power of God through faith. I know full well that it is nothing but my faith in Jesus that will save me from Judgment and will get me out of the situation I find myself in presently. I will not divulge but suffice it to say, I am in a sterile place but the good news is, Jesus is coming to rescue me!
God loves it when his children have faith in him and in his power to do all things and that he will do it, if it pleases him to do it.
“…without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11: 6)
No wonder Rahab was rewarded. She believed that God was the true and living and ever powerful God and she sought mercy/a reward of spared life for her and her family for how she had diligently attended to his children, the two spies in Jericho.
(E) RAHAB’S STRONG FAITH – Possibly mother in law to Ruth and included in the genealogy of Christ
If the Rahab of Jericho was the same Rahab that is referred to in Matthew chapter 1 verse 5, then no wonder God saw it fit to include her, although not an Israelite, into the genealogy of king David and of Jesus Christ. If the Rachab referred to in verse 5 of Matthew 1 is the same Rahab the harlot, then it meant that she was the mother of Boaz, who eventually married Ruth the Moabite.
I’m going off again on a tangent with this but when I read this verse this morning, it dawned on me: If the mother of Boaz was Rahab the harlot (and I am inclined to believe that it was), then no wonder Boaz was so kind and understanding and was not condescending to Ruth. (SEE THE BOOK OF RUTH IN THE BIBLE).
Ruth was a foreigner. She was not an Israelite and worse yet, she was a Moabite, which was looked down on by the Israelites due to their history with the Moabites.
Yet, Boaz did not think like the man who was of closer kin to Ruth due to the family of her now deceased husband and whose right it was to marry her. That closer kinsman stated, in Ruth 4: 6 that he could not marry Ruth because he did not want to take the risk of marring his own inheritance.
All he saw in her therefore, was the fact that she was not an Israelite, was from that dreadful place called Moab and had a history of bad things happening in her family. After all, how he saw it: Ruth’s father in law, brother in law and her own husband had all died.
If he had only known…
Boaz on the other hand, through what I believe was discernment from God, saw only inner beauty in Ruth’s character, especially in light of where she had come from and all that she had been through. When he first met her, he spoke highly of what he had heard about her character and her faith in a God that was not even her own. She had faith in this God because she did not abandon Naomi and take what seemed like the easy way out and go back to Moab, the place they had just come out of and where her parents resided. Instead, she trusted the God of Naomi (perhaps even more than Naomi herself), to provide for both of them, although no husband was in sight and the possibility of her marrying an Israelite again, as a Moabite, was highly unlikely.
Boaz said to her in Ruth 2:11 and 12 :
- “…It hath been fully shown me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother-in-law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother and the land of thy nativity and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore. The Lord recompense thy work and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.”
Boaz was right. Ruth wanted the God of Israel to be her God as well and she placed her trust (just like Rahab once did) in him. In Ruth 1:16, she told Naomi earlier, when Naomi was trying to persuade her to go back to her people in Moab: “Entreat me not to leave thee or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people and thy God my God.”
It is highly possible therefore, that Boaz saw traits of his own mother Rahab (if she was in fact his mother), in Ruth. Rahab was a woman of faith, although she was an outsider and so was Ruth. No wonder he married her and considered himself, not as doing her a favour because she was poor but as blessed, to have been considered by her as a marriage prospect.
He appeared to be honoured that she did not look down on him because he was not young and he was of the view that she could have set her sight and interest on a younger man. He said in Ruth 3:10: “…Blessed be thou of the Lord, my daughter: for thou hast shown more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich.”
He then bestowed on her the highest compliment a woman of God could hope to have from a godly man, by giving her the title of a virtuous woman. He told her in chapter 3:11, “…for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.”
Now, I have read the above scripture on Ruth several times throughout my life but this is the first time I realised what Boaz was really saying to Ruth when he called her a virtuous woman. In so doing, he was in essence saying that she was marriage material! Not just that. He was also saying that he thought her precious, valuable, rare and someone that was trustworthy. He was also bestowing on her all of the other virtues mentioned in Proverbs 31 about a virtuous woman.
In Proverbs 31:10 and 11, king Lemuel in talking about finding a wife states, “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.”
Boaz accepted Ruth fully, although she was an outsider, perhaps because his own mother (if that was the case), had been a harlot and from Jericho but through her strong faith in the Israelite God, had been saved from destruction and grafted in with the Israelites. Indeed, so well grafted in was Rahab, that God saw it fit (if it was indeed she) to include her in the highest esteemed genealogy that included king David, a series of kings thereafter and finally, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ.
All that I wrote before are in a nutshell, what intrigues me about Rahab the harlot or perhaps I should say:
- Rahab the mother of Boaz or
- Rahab the mother-in-law of Ruth or
- Rahab the ancestor of king David, a man after God’s own heart or
- Rahab an ancestor of the wisest man that ever lived (Solomon) or
- Rahab an ancestor in the lineage of Jesus Christ (if of course it is the same woman of which Matthew speaks) or
- Rahab, that woman with a shameful past but a STRONG FAITH FINISH.
(Written on 22nd March, 2016)