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Hosting His Presence: rediscovering the Bible III – Rahab

The third in Jasmin Zubida Baidoo’s series on lives of women who figure in the Bible reflects on the story of the Canaanite woman Rahab, a harlot who carried out God’s purpose

James 2:25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?

In ministry, I have had the opportunity to meet quite a number of beautiful young women with beautiful hearts who have gone off the rails for manifold reasons. Rahab was no different: she is almost always mentioned in the Bible as “Rahab the harlot”.

But her story goes far beyond simply being a loose woman. At the time of Joshua’s leadership in Jericho, the promised land, Rahab was useful.

I remember my mother’s favourite line growing up. “Every liar is a thief or prostitute,” she would say, annoyingly, every single time anyone told a little white lie. In my mum’s opinion, lying always accompanied theft or prostitution, so one must desist from it completely.

In Rahab’s story, her most remarkable deed was to tell a lie to protect two spies of Joshua. She lived in Jericho, the promised land at the time of Joshua’s leadership, and she was useful in assisting the Israelites to capture the city by hiding two men who had been sent to scout the city before the Israelites’ attack.

It is not obvious that she should be considered a likely candidate for the list of esteemed characters in the Bible, but she has indeed earned her place.

For sinners, not saints

You may have met women or men who have had quiet a stream of sexcapades out of youthful exuberance. Others may have had a child or two out of wedlock, making them baby mamas of young papas with child support issues to deal with.

Some of them do not snap out of the delusion quickly and still enjoy being mistresses to hungry men who may not even understand the consequences of their actions on their families and their own future.

Does anyone remind you of these descriptions? Perhaps, even you yourself have made certain mistakes that you think are unpardonable.

I would like to remind you that Jesus died not for the saints, but for sinners to repentance. We are to teach the people around us to forgive themselves and learn to do the same for ourselves.

Rahab was a Canaanite, a tribe that was hated by the Jews. She was also a harlot by trade. Her background, by default, did not give her an advantage.

When the Hebrews were camped at Shittim in the Jordan valley, Joshua sent out two spies to assess the fighting force of Jericho. At the time, Rahab’s house was built into the city wall, making her home the most suitable place for the spies to hide.

Naturally, everyone would have thought the two men who entered her home probably went there to engage her services. On the contrary, Rahab covered them with flax from the roof to hide them and protect them from capture (Joshua 2: 9-13).

Vessels of God’s power

Her help didn’t go unnoticed. On escaping, the spies agreed to spare Rahab and her family after conquering the city.

They placed a red cord outside her window to mark her house. That was how Rahab secured her safety and that of her family.

Hebrews 11:31

By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.

This story reminds me of the story in Exodus (Exodus 13:12):

When the Lord was going to strike down every Egyptian firstborn of both people and animals, He asked them to mark their doorposts with the blood of lambs so that no destructive plague would touch them when he struck Egypt.

God knew exactly who Rahab was and considered her for such an important role at the time of Joshua’s leadership.

When God puts a calling on your life He factors in all your flaws.

Rahab the Canaanite prostitute/Israelite/Bible
“Rahab Helping the Two Israelite Spies” by Frederick Richard Pickersgill. Taken from “Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us” (1897) by Charles Foster

Rahab’s story doesn’t end there. She is actually a direct ancestor of the Lord Jesus himself. She bore Boaz, who happens to be David’s great-grandfather, with Salmon. Obed, the father of Jesse, was Boaz’s son who bore David. The Gospel of Matthew begins by calling Jesus the son of David, which traces him back to Rahab’s lineage.

God can turn every accident into a miracle; He uses the most unexpected places at the most unexpected times and the most unexpected people. If there’s one thing I have learned, “God is mighty in a mighty way.”

Rahab is proof that God uses anyone He deems fit.

No matter how you have wandered off track, there is still hope for forgiveness and an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the people around you.

Rahab’s life is a great story. Despite being a harlot, she was a believer (Hebrews 11:31). Does that sound familiar?

The same grace she experienced is available to you and me today. All we need is to receive Jesus into our lives.

Rahab’s story can be found in the Bible, specifically in the Book of Joshua (chapters 2 and 6).

Prayer for today:

“Lord, like Rahab, grant me the courage to trust in Your plans, even in the face of uncertainty, and find refuge under Your protective wings. Give me the strength to change the things I ought to, guided by Your grace and wisdom. Amen.”

Jasmin Zubida Baidoo

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