I contemplated who to commemorate on International Women’s Day and decided that Rahab the prostitute, a woman of courage and faith, was a great candidate. I chose her because my favorite stories in the Bible center around God using unlikely people to do great things. Moses told God that he wasn’t a good choice to lead the Israelites out of Egypt because he was a lousy speaker. But Moses pleaded with the LORD, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.” Exodus 4:10. Peter denied Christ three times. You can find his story in Luke 22:54-62. Paul hunted down and persecuted Christians and describes himself as the least worthy candidate for an apostle in 1 Corinthians 15:9. The Bible is loaded with stories about God using very flawed individuals to do amazing things for His kingdom.
So who was Rahab the prostitute? Her story begins in Joshua chapter two. I will paraphrase but you should treat yourself to the entire story found in Joshua chapters two through six. God told Joshua that he would finish the job that Moses started and lead the Israelites into the promise land. Chapter two picks up with Joshua sending two spies from the Israeli camp to assess the situation across the river and especially at Jericho. They arrived at an Inn run by Rehab the prostitute and planned on spending the night. However, someone told the king of Jericho that two Israelis who were suspected to be spies had arrived that night. The king sent a police squadron to Rahab’s house demanding that she surrender the spies. Rahab lied and said that the men left the city at dusk and she didn’t know where they were going, suggesting that if they hurried they could catch them. She had actually taken them up to her roof and hidden them under piles of flax that were drying. The police left and went all the way to Jordon River looking for them, but not before seeing to it that the gates to the city were kept shut so that no one could get in or out.
Before the two spies retired safely in the inn for the night Rahab went to talk with them. She told them that she was fully aware that their God was going to give her country to them. She told them that everyone was terrified if the word Israeli was even mentioned. They all heard about how God made a path for the Israelites through the Red Sea. The story of how they ruined the land and completely destroyed the people of two Amorite kings was well documented. She begged them to let her and her family live because she had helped them. The two spies promised that if Rahab didn’t betray them she and her family would be spared when they came back to destroy Jericho. They promised to defend her and her family with their lives in return for her help.
Rahab’s house was on top of the city wall, so she lowered the men out of a window with a rope. She had instructed them to stay hidden for three days until the men searching for them would give up a return to Jericho. Before they left they told her to leave the scarlet rope hanging from her window and to make sure that all of her family members remained in her house and they would be protected. They said that if any of them were in the streets they would not be held responsible for them and that they would most likely be killed.
The story of how God helped the Israelites bring down the walls of Jericho is an amazing one, but I’ll leave that for you to discover for yourself. I’ll fast forward to chapter six verse twenty five, “Thus Joshua saved Rahab the prostitute and her relatives who were with her in her house, and they still live among the Israelites because she hid the spies sent to Jericho by Joshua.”
In the New Testament Rahab is mentioned as an example of a person of faith in Hebrews 11:31, and James refers to her as a person of good works in chapter two verse twenty five. Both accounts refer to her as a prostitute. Why do you suppose it is repeatedly pointed out that she was a harlot? I believe it is because God wants people to know that flawed individuals can do wonderful things when doing them for His sake.
So if you are a woman with a checkered past or you have made terrible mistakes in your life and you don’t believe that you can be redeemed, think about Rahab. Remember that God uses the foolish to confound the wise and people of ill repute to change history. Celebrate the Rahabs of the world on this International Women’s Day. Make up your mind to be used by God to do great things and make a difference in this crazy messed up world. It goes along well with this year’s theme of Be Bold For Change. That is my life’s goal and I plan on helping as many people as possible to make it theirs.
If you’d like to talk about how your mess can become your message, I’m here to help. Sign up for a free twenty-minute strategy session and let’s see what God will do.