God Pleasing Faith, Rahab, Woman of Faith, Lesson 19, Hebrews 11:31
Hebrews 11:31, By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
This faith verse begins by crediting a harlot named Rahab with faith.
God is telling us here that harlots can have faith for remember that harlots belong to a caste that the Bible calls sinners and all of us also belong to that caste.
Godís word is clear that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
There is none righteous no not one.
But one of the habits of sinners is to compare ourselves among ourselves and when so doing we usually place ourselves above others and will always place ourselves above harlots for none of us would think our self so low.
We are prone to use a description of sinners where we add adjectives in order to classify ourselves out of the group.
Perhaps some we think of simply as sinners, thatís ourselves, some we call dirty sinners or some rotten sinners but some we ascribe as filling the whole gamut and we call them dirty rotten sinners.
But the Bible does not apply adjectives to the description of sinners for God sees us all fitting into the same category.
All we like sheep have gone astray!
So thinking that a harlot cannot have faith is thinking that some sinners are better than other sinners and are more worthy of Godís attention.
God has given us in his word men and women of all descriptions and character.
Women in the Bible run the full gamut from Jezebel to Deborah to Mary, to what we would consider the lowest to the highest.
We are introduced to men who range from deceivers, crooks, murderers and thieves to mighty men of valor.
But one thing we see is that all sinners, whether we think of them as low or high are able to have faith in God and God rewards them accordingly.
We so value honesty, responsibility, integrity, trust, attitude, perseverance, and self-discipline as we should value these but these things without faith are vain and will not please God.
Faith is the key and that is why Rahab, identified by the vocation Harlot who sold her body for profit, is listed in Godís Hall of Fame for Faith.
So who was this Hero, who was this woman whose faith brought her special recognition by God himself who placed this account in his word?
We read of her in Joshua 2, And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there. 2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. 3 And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. 4 And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: 5 And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. 6 But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof. 7 And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate. 8 And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof; 9 And she said unto the men, 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. 10 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. 11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. 12 Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the Lord, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token: 13 And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death. 14 And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the Lord hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee. 15 Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall. 16 And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and afterward may ye go your way. 17 And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear. 18 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. 19 And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him. 20 And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear. 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. 22 And they went, and came unto the mountain, and abode there three days, until the pursuers were returned: and the pursuers sought them throughout all the way, but found them not. 23 So the two men returned, and descended from the mountain, and passed over, and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all things that befell them: 24 And they said unto Joshua, Truly the Lord hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us.
And after compassing the city 13 times the walls came down and promises were kept because Rahabís faith was rewarded by a faithful God.
We read of this in Joshua 6:22-25, But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot's house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her. And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel. And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
So all of Jericho, all of faithless Jericho save Rahab and her family were lost.
Joshua, a general in Godís army, who himself had gone into the land long ago as a spy now as a responsible leader sends into Jericho two spies to gather intelligence from their enemy.
Their mission was I imagine, well defined however we see in this account of their work Godís hand to bring out of Jericho a woman who believes God knowing that God can deliver.
A lesson is here of course for those who walk by faith that God may have a mission for you in addition to that which you hope to accomplish.
We are most times so intent on taking care of our daily tasks as these spies were but God was more intent on rescuing a woman of faith.
Walking by faith means being available to God at all times to do his will for as he brought the two spies into this particular house to be helped by a woman of faith they were also to help her to be saved.
Who would have thought that the only candidate in Jericho that God would save was a harlot.
The message to us is to be open and not let our biases and prejudices get in the way of doing Godís will.
Rahab was a woman, a Canaanite, and a prostitute.
In those days she was the lowest, one could be in society but strategically her house was chosen because it was normal for men to be seen going there.
Most likely her house, situated by the city gate, also served as an inn for travelers to stay the night with extra services as only Rahab chose to supply.
So it was normal for the two spies to lodge in Rahabís house.
Hers was the house that was open at night, with men entering and exiting without discrimination or without asking too many questions.
Most likely their presence was noticed by other customers, they dressing differently, talking perhaps with a foreign accent and soon others gave warning to the king that strangers were in Rahabís gate side inn.
It was a good place for spies to hide and seek refuge and then to leave as quickly and furtively as they had come.
There is nothing given in scripture that the spies went there to sin but only because it would be a good hiding place.
Most likely a women of Rahabís vocation would not be one prone to reveal to the authorities the evil of others for she herself lived on the wrong side of society and I imagine both sides had little respect for each other.
But this event was not random for we know that faith enters the picture and where there is faith God is also there.
The spies had well founded reasons for doing what they did but behind those reasons we find Godís providence.
God knew Rahabís heart which would be revealed in her care and protection of Joshuaís spies and God wished to bring to her heart His grace and His salvation of her and her family.
This whole account of the perishing of Jericho should cause us to wonder at Godís grace for God commanded Israel to kill everyone in this Canaanitish town.
When speaking to Abraham centuries earlier God had said the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.
And now the long suffering God declared that the iniquity was full and He determined that Jericho was to be destroyed and yet in that city was a woman of faith whom God also determined to save.
The news had spread of their forty years with God in the desert after delivery from Egypt, defeating the Amorite kings, and now the Israelites surrounded Jericho in a march led by God.
But nothing but ridicule was to be heard from the inhabitants, no repentance, no calling upon Jehovah, no faith but one faith, that of Rahab.
Rahab who had told the spies in faith that the Lord hath given you the land, that your terror is fallen upon us, and we faint and our hearts did melt as we pondered the destruction of Kings Sihon and Og whom ye utterly destroyed.
But Rahab in faith clung to God whom she confessed as the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.
Rahab, by faith, chose to separate from her city, her people, her culture, even her livelihood for she too saw salvation only in the God of the Hebrews.
Who would have thought that this particular woman of sin, a woman of dark and wicked reputation, would by faith perish-not for our eyes only look on the outward but God looks on the heart and God saw faith in Rahab.
Rahab feared God and in that fear faith was born for she turned from her sin and believed in the one and only true God, Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and now Moses and Joshua.
What a glorious lesson Rahab brings to us for Rahabís past life did not disqualify her from Godís grace.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure, his power no boundaries known unto men.
Oh how we put limits to his love, measure to his grace and boundaries to his power for that is what faithlessness does.
So God in His Word gives us examples of his grace that we too can never think to categorize souls into groups worthy or unworthy of Godís saving grace.
Rahabís faith was an obedient faith for we see her taking explicit instructions from the two spies.
There was order to their instructions and it was a must to obey them exactly as given.
Even the color of the hanging rope called a thread in the scriptures was important for it identified a particular window of a particular house that was to be saved from destruction.
Its hanging was similar to the Passover story of Moses 40 years earlier when the blood was applied to the doorposts that the death angel passed over.
Here the scarlet rope signified the saving of Rahab and her family by the blood.
This of course is part of the connecting blood red thread of the Bible that leads us to the precious blood of Christ, the scarlet rope eternal that hangs from the window of every blood bought soul.
And to take part in Rahabís salvation her father, her mother, her brethren and all her family obediently gathered into a particular place in order for Joshua and his forces to bring them through the destruction of the remainder of the city.
The Apostle James wrote that faith without works is dead.
Rahab had not dead faith for her faith led her to hide the spies from the king, and send them away through the window by means of a cord, at risk to her life, for the gates were closed.
We are given to know of the physical salvation of her family but this of course brought them to become a part of the people of God where they had opportunity to trust the same God that Rahab, their daughter, trusted in Jericho.
God uses one to reach another and God chose to extend his grace not only to the woman of faith Rahab but to her loved ones expecting her to introduce them to her Saviour.
What a lesson this is, for Godís arm is not shortened that he cannot save.
God saved the thief on the cross, minutes from death and heartbeats away from entrance into a fiery Hell.
God saved Rahab who was saved to marry Salmon and bear a son named Boaz, who married Ruth, the Moabitess, who bore Obed, the father of Jesse, who by the grace of God brought into Israel King David.
And from King Davidís line came our Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, the scarlet thread, to seek and to save that which was lost.
Rahab, not by sight, not by profession, not by works, not by birth, but by faith and faith alone joined others of faith in all of Israelís spiritual privileges and was even honored to become a grandmother of Christ.
For she by faith chose God and let go of all vain things for she too was given the promise that God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
God gives us this picture of the destruction of Jericho but in the midst of this destruction he gives us a picture of his grace for he reaches down to this evil place, and snatches up a few souls.
And those souls are caught up only because of faith.
This is a picture of what is to come when God will call from the skies to come up hither and souls who have placed their faith in Him will rise, some from the grave and some from the living but all that remain will suffer loss.
The question is, where do you choose to live, in Jericho or in Rahabís safe house of faith?
God patiently waits but as with all things this too has a season for in time God will judge as he did Jericho.
Hebrews 11:31, By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.