04 Jun A Lesson from Rahab
With the prevalence of social media and 24-hour news, it is very easy for people to be defined by their worst moment. It maybe something as simple as a random tweet or Facebook post or it could be that distinct point in time when a history of errant behavior is publicly revealed. A person can be identified by one mistake and can spend a lifetime trying to reverse the damage that has been done.
In the book of Joshua, we meet a woman named Rahab, who was defined by her sinful past. Rahab was a prostitute and despite her good deeds, the Bible repeatedly reminds us of this fact. When Joshua sent two spies into Jericho to look over the land, the spies stayed at Rahab’s home. She hid them there while others searched for them. Before the spies left, Rahab told them that she knew that the Lord had given them the land and then went on to declare to them that “the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above and in earth beneath.” She asked them to return her kindness by sparing her and her family members’ lives when the Israelites overtook the city. As a result of her actions and quick thinking, Rahab and her family were saved when the Israelites attacked. (Joshua 2:1-24, 6:25)
Rahab showed great faith and bravery in her encounter with the two spies and is even mentioned in the infamous “Faith Hall of Fame” in Hebrews 11. It states that “by faith, the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not when she had received the spies with peace” (Heb 11:31). When I first read that verse I was disturbed by the fact that even in the New Testament she was still being referred to as “the harlot Rahab.” Why couldn’t she just be Rahab? After some reflection I realized that there is indeed a lesson in how Rahab is referred to in this verse and throughout the Bible. Rahab is considered a woman of faith and is even believed to be the same Rahab that is mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus. She is a woman of distinction in the Bible not in spite of the fact that she was a prostitute, but in relationship to the fact that she was one. Her dishonorable occupation made her faith and her actions stand out even more. Yes, Rahab was a harlot, but she was also a woman of faith who was instrumental in God’s plan for His people.
Many people spend a lifetime trying to escape their past but our past is a part of who we are. Good or bad it is what made us who we are today. We should constructively deal with our past and then embrace it as part of our story. Our testimony of who we are today includes the totality of our greatest accomplishments and achievements as well as our biggest mistakes and disappointments. We need to remember that God can replace our ashes with beauty, our mourning with joy and our spirit of heaviness with a garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3). He can take the torn remnants of our past and create a beautiful tapestry to display His glory and grace.
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