The Ironic Story of Rahab
“It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.”Hebrews 11:31
The story of Rahab is told in Joshua 2. It is a beautiful rescue story. A woman who is far from God ends up becoming a believer and then takes heroic action to save two Hebrew men that would otherwise be her enemies.
Why would she do that?
It’s simple. When she heard the amazing stories of all that had happened to them in their journey from Egypt (parting of the sea, etc.), Rahab became a believer in their God. She was convinced that nothing could stop them because God was on their side (v. 10-11).
Rahab hid the men from their pursuers and then lowered them to safety from a window with a rope – not just any rope – but a scarlet one. Then, out of appreciation for her kindness, they pledged to save her and her family from the impending invasion of Jericho by the Israelites.
As the story plays out, everyone keeps their word and against all odds, Rahab becomes a part of the family. Even more crazy, she ends up marrying a Jewish guy by the name of Salmon, who, based on the genealogy in Matthew 1, is the great, great grandfather of King David, which would make Rahab David’s great, great grandmother.
And if that weren’t enough, keep following the lineage and you will see that Rahab would also become part of the legal ancestry of Jesus.
Why is all this so ironic? Three things come to mind:
- Her lifestyle. Before she became a believer, Rahab was a prostitute. It was part of her identity. She was known as “Rahab the prostitute.”
- Her religious background. Before she became a believer, Rahab was a pagan, an outsider to the faith.
- Her ethnicity. Rahab wasn’t one of God’s chosen people by birth. She was a gentile, a foreigner, something else to make the whole story so improbable.
Over the millennia, much ink has been spilled on the significance of Rahab’s story and what it teaches us about God, about His love for all people, and so on. We probably cannot add anything new to that conversation.
But what we can do is not miss one important point from Rahab’s narrative, which is this: By grace, we are saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Rahab has the distinction of being mentioned in Hebrews 11, known as the Hall of Faith. She came to believe in the one true God and her actions proved it. She risked her life to help others because she believed God was on their side. Little did she know, because of her faith, God was on her side, too. The only reason her past lifestyle was mentioned was to show how faith can change anyone’s narrative
What a beautiful story.
No matter how messed up we are, no matter how much of a misfit we might be, where there is faith in God, the favor of God will always follow.
It’s a new day with God. Run with it.