Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Risk (05/17/12)
TITLE: Her Risky Business
By Allen Povenmire
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The Bible has several examples of these names: John the Baptist, James the Lesser, Simon the Zealot, to name a few. But one person carries a stigma that none of us would want to have. She’s mentioned in the Old and New Testament. She’s found in prominent passages alongside such Biblical giants as Moses, Abraham, Joseph, David, and Noah. And though she’s held in such high regard in scripture, there’s almost always an attachment to her name that she seemingly never escaped. She’s Rahab...Rahab the prostitute.
She might have been the subject of many of a gossip session. Respectable women probably shunned her very existence. Men could have ogled her, made crude jokes about her, but some visited her in the night. Of all the people that God would use in a critical situation, Rahab the prostitute would seem least likely. And yet, this woman is used by God to help carry out a plan of leading the children of Israel to overthrow the city of Jericho.
In Joshua 2:1-4a, we read:
"Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho. ” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there. 2 The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” 3 So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them...” (NIV)
By disobeying the King’s orders to produce them, Rahab risked her life and the lives of her family. But she had formed a faith in God that is somewhat unexplainable. As a Canaanite, she was an enemy of the Israelites. They didn’t worship the God of Israel. But somehow, Rahab had heard and developed this great faith.
Someone must have brought the true God to Rahab’s doorstep and because of them, Rahab became a believer. Society today would look at Rahab as beyond hope. God views people differently. As I look at the story of Rahab, I wonder who in my life I’ve deemed beyond hope, who I see as outside of God’s reach. Sadly, we often apply our own limitations to God.
Rahab’s house was built into the walls of the city of Jericho, making it easy to find for travelers. Also being outside the mainstream of society, it was a place men could access without being noticed. All this might have been good business strategy on her part, but God used Rahab right where she lived. The Bible says her location helped the spies escape their would-been capture because: “...she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall(Joshua 2: 15, NIV). God uses people where they are, and in Rahab’s case, quite literally.
Through her faith, Rahab not only saved her life, but also the lives of her family. As the city of Jericho was being destroyed by the Israelites, the Bible says “...Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho —and she lives among the Israelites to this day.” (Joshua 6:25, NIV) One can’t help wonder if Rahab’s relationship with all her family was strong. How many of her family had shunned her for her profession, but because of her act of faith, saw her differently? Most importantly, how many of them came to know God because of their prostitute relative?
By consistently referring to her as Rahab the prostitute, scripture isn’t attempting to stain the woman listed among the Biblical giants of faith in Hebrew 11. Rather, the epithet serves to demonstrate that by pursuing God’s purpose for our lives, our past can no longer hold us captive.
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