Devotional: May 22, 2020
Before the spies were down for the night, the woman came up to them on the roof and said, “I know that God has given you the land. We’re all afraid. Everyone in the country feels hopeless. We heard how God dried up the waters of the Red Sea before you when you left Egypt… We heard it and our hearts sank. We all had the wind knocked out of us. And all because of you, you and God, your God, God of the heavens above and God of the earth below.
“Now promise me by God. I showed you mercy; now show my family mercy. And give me some tangible proof, a guarantee of life for my father and mother, my brothers and sisters—everyone connected with my family. Save our souls from death!”
Joshua 2: 8-13 (excerpted) The Message
The woman in this story is a woman of faith. She is a native of Jericho, and this takes place prior to the Israelite’s famous battle of Jericho. The men that had come to survey their enemies, and had needed to hide within the city halls. She is hiding these men because she recognized that their God is the true God. Indeed, she gives a wonderful statement of faith: “Your God [is] God of the heavens above and God of the earth below.”
In addition, she exhibits a genuine concern for her family. She recognizes that God is going to deliver her city of Jericho, and her native land, into the hands of these Israelites. Thus, she tries to plead here with the Israelite spies. She desires mercy for her family when the impending Israelite invasion eventually comes.
What makes all of this remarkable is the name and the profession of this woman of genuine faith: this is the story of Rahab the prostitute! The writer of Joshua mentions that the two spies who came to Jericho found lodging at the home of Rahab the prostitute. The author mentions this salient fact as though it is just another profession.
Yet, what I find striking is that in spite of her profession, Rahab is a woman of genuine faith who loves her family. And what is more, she shows kindness and mercy to the Israelite spies. She hides them, and gives them specific instructions on how to escape out of the city without being detected.
Her kindness is remembered when the Israelites invaded Jericho, for she followed their instructions to mark her house, built into the city wall, with a scarlet thread. By this single thread, they are saved! The expression, “hanging on by a single thread,” certainly fits here.
The story of Rahab reminds us that we should not be too quick to judge someone. Who would expect a bold statement of faith from a Canaanite prostitute? Yet, that is exactly what Rahab delivers.
She eventually left her questionable profession, for she goes on to marry a man from one of the twelve tribes of Israel. She becomes the mother of Boaz, who then marries Ruth. She is lifted up as a person of faith (Hebrews 11:31), and good works (James 2:25). What’s more, she is listed in the genealogy of Jesus himself (Matthew 1:5).
When the Pharisees chide Jesus for eating with tax collectors and prostitutes, they seem to have forgotten their own scriptures. An entire chapter of the Book of Joshua is devoted to Rahab. Jesus came for all of us, regardless of our history, our profession, or where we were before we met Jesus. It is what we do with our lives after meeting Jesus which matters to God. That is the good news for today, and every day!
You constantly surprise us. Faith springs up where we least expect it. Kindness is found where one would expect competition, and maybe even betrayal. Your grace abounds! May our stories of faith always be inspired by the greatest story of faith: Your word. We pray this prayer in the name of Your son, and our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.