She surely felt unworthy, desperate, and hopeless; trapped in a life she hated, and unable to find a way out, until… Two strangers came to town.
The two strangers were sent into her city as spies. Their mission was firm: Determine the easiest way for the others to come in, and estimate how many people would have to die. The high command was crystal clear: Leave nothing that breathes, alive.
Rahab the harlot was most likely plying her trade on her front porch when she caught a glimpse of the two spies. Seeing these men caused an immediate hope to spring up in her heart like a flood. But not just any hope…this hope was a “confident expectation,” and Rahab knew what had to be done.
Calling to the strangers, she hurriedly beckoned them into her home. And by doing this, she literally put her life at great risk. These two spies were from the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, but feared and hated by other cities and nations. When Israel went to war, entire nations were slaughtered, and Rahab knew well their bellicose reputation. As a matter of fact, Israel’s fierceness had caused all of Jericho’s citizens to melt with fear.
The men entered Rahab’s dwelling just moments before the stomping of the King’s horses were heard approaching. Rahab rushed the spies to her roof, and hid them among her things. As soon as she had run down the stairs, the knock on her door rattled the house.
The King knew the spies had entered the prostitute’s home, and he was determined to take them captive. He sent his soldiers to demand Rahab to hand over the two men. Rahab found herself to be at a crossroads of sorts: She could easily earn some major Brownie points from the King by handing the men over, favor she could’ve used badly for once in her life, but instead, she replied to the soldiers, “The men you seek aren’t here. They just left but I know not where they are going.” Did they believe this common whore? If not, she was as good as dead. “If you leave now, you can catch up to them,” she continued, praying they would believe her. Staring intently into her eyes…they did, and headed off through the city gate just as it was closing for the night.
Adding ‘Liar’ to her list of condemning sins, Rahab sprinted up the stairs to uncover the men from their hiding place. Boldly, Rahab said to the spies, “All of Jericho has heard of your great exploits, and how your God goes before you into battle,” She began. “The men of this city are very afraid of you…Because I’ve shown kindness to you, swear an oath that you will not harm me or my family…swear it!”
The two Israelite spies considered her demand, and then swore to her that because she was kind to them, she would be saved from certain slaughter. “You must do this one thing, however, if you expect us to protect you,” The men proclaimed. “You must tie this scarlet cord to your window. When we see it we will know its you, and you will be saved.” After safely lowering the men down the wall that night, Rahab wasted no time securing the blood red cord to her window.
Well, because Rahab the Harlot is included in the bloodline of Jesus Christ, we may safely conclude that she was in fact saved from destruction after the walls of Jericho fell. And what I find interesting about this story is the courage Rahab mustered that day. She had a confident expectation that the two spies could introduce her to the One True Living God. And she risked her life to make that introduction.
Also, the two spies are not quoted as mentioning Rahab’s line of work, whatsoever. They obviously knew what she did for a living by the way she displayed herself to the public, but it didn’t matter to them. What mattered was the purity of her heart in showing the two strangers kindness. The spies knew that once she met their living God, and had a genuine encounter with Him, her behavior would naturally change.
Being courageous takes guts. And courage is not ‘the absence of fear,’ it is recognizing fear, but pushing ahead anyway.
Hoping in such a way that you are confident in expecting what you hope for takes faith. And faith, if you are ever so brave to initiate it, activates the power of Almighty God.
And the power of God, once He comes into your heart and life, revolutionizes you, and transforms you into a very precise and usable vessel for His Glory.
Rahab the Harlot… Not a sermon you are likely to hear in church anytime soon, but can’t we all relate to her plight? Don’t we all know what its like to be looked down on; to feel unworthy? Yes, and may we all someday come to know exactly what she felt as we too step out in courageous hope and expect God to grace us in profound ways.