Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there. (Joshua 2:1)
Rahab The Prostitute
The Bible is filled with some very unusual stories. None as when the children of Israel approach Canaan sending spies into the land and the men finding refuge from a harlot. The presence of the Israelite’s has not gone unnoticed and the king of Jericho has raised the alarm. He has also been told spies have entered his city and discovers that a prostitute is harboring the Hebrews. Sending word to Rahab he demands the men brought to him. She tells the king the men had escaped during the night and scouts should be sent out immediately to find the spies. The city is sealed as the king’s men pursue the spies that in fact are hiding on the rooftop of the harlot. Rahab comes to the two men and tells a marvelous story of God’s grace upon a woman who sold sexual favors to men. The woman of Jericho is a Gentile who has heard of the incredible stories of the people who escaped from Egypt. She is familiar with the story of how the Red Sea had dried up (forty years before) when the Hebrews left out of Egypt. The military victories of Israel against the two kings of the Amorites are well known. Because of these stories the people of the land were fainthearted at the coming of the nation of Israel. Rahab tells the men the terror of Israel had fallen upon all the people. In a remarkable statement of grace, she tells the men she knows the Lord God has given the land to them. Rahab begs for the life of her family when the war comes. The men assure her that she and her family will be spared. When the Israelite’s come against Jericho, the entire city is destroyed and the inhabitants killed save Rahab and her father’s household. The promise was kept.
Rahab’s story could end there but it does not. She would marry into the Israelite nation to a man named Salmon and have children who had many children. The lineage of the Jericho prostitute becomes one of the most remarkable stories in the Bible. Rahab and Salmon have a son named Boaz who will marry a Gentile woman from Moab named Ruth who will have a grandson called David. From this lineage, Rahab will be included in a genealogy that comes to the birth of a little baby boy born in Bethlehem named Jesus. The ancestry of the Son of God includes a woman who was a prostitute. Three women stand out in the genealogy of Jesus: Tamar (who was guilty of incest), Rahab the harlot and Ruth the Moabites. All of these women are in direct line of the genealogy of Jesus Christ. How fitting that God’s Son would show that He is the Savior of all men and that all men can find grace in the eyes of the Lord with the evidence of His own family lineage. Some men would want to hide the knowledge of a prostitute being in the family crest. God shows His love by leaving an example of what His grace can do in the lives of people – even a heathen prostitute.
Rahab became a devoted believer to the one true God. The Hebrew writer will extol her faith when she received the spies and will be included in the chapter of faith with Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jacob and her grandson, David. James will write about how the faith of Rahab was justified by her works in protecting the spies. The prostitute, harlot, sexually indiscriminate woman of Jericho is remembered for her faith in God and taking her place in the direct lineage of Jesus Christ. Praise God for His powerful love, mercy and grace upon Rahab. She stands as a symbol of God’s undying love for all people regardless of what they have become. Sadly she is remembered as a harlot although she gave up her ungodliness. The consequence of sin may never remove the stigma but God removes the sin. It took great faith and courage to trust in the spies but she was rewarded because of her faith. She saved her father, her mother, her brothers and all she had because she trusted in the Lord. Rahab was a harlot. God’s grace turned the heart of a harlot to be in a special place among the annals of holy scrip remembered for three thousand years to all men.
A final lesson must be told in the story of Rahab. Prostitution is a demeaning and horrible life. The reason she was in this life is unknown. What mattered most is her faith in God and trust in His word. God was faithful and she was saved. Few people have experienced the base and worthless life of a prostitute but the grace of God can save anyone. Rahab was created in the image of God just like any man or woman. She changed that glory to the pleasure of the flesh. Faith brought her out of that life and God raised her up to be a glorious woman. If God can save Rahab in her harlotry, what can He do in my life? She changed her life because she believed in the power of God to bring about that change. There is nothing that I have done that God will not forgive if only I come to the power of the blood of Jesus and let His cleansing blood heal my sinful heart. Her faith and obedience justified her and my faith and obedience will justify me. Including Rahab in the genealogy of Jesus was not a coincidence or mistake. It was a message of grace for all men to see the Son of God came to save all men (and women).