Summary: A sermon that examines the risk taking faith of Rahab.
What causes ordinary people to take risks? What prompts people to gamble or engage in extreme sports such as skydiving, hang gliding, scuba diving, auto racing, rock climbing and whitewater kayaking? Psychologists have determined that it is more a personality trait rather than a behavior. Some people love to take risks; they thrive on the adrenaline rush and the feeling of escaping the ordinary. However, the majority of us prefer not to take risks we prefer the comfort of some security in our lives. We have committed ourselves to playing it safe. We hedge our bets, cover our tracks and dot every “I” and cross every “t”. From being over insured to eating low fat diets we try to minimize our risks as much as possible. In fact we do not mind taking risks as long as someone else is doing it. Jesus made it clear that following Him would be a risk. In fact He wants us to risk everything that we have to follow Him. He told the rich young ruler to give up all of his possessions to follow Him. In His parable of the talents, Jesus came down hard on the one talent man who refused to take a risk with his money. Jesus tells us to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him. Following Christ is very risky business. Following Christ is not for the faint of heart, it is a life that will challenge us to the very core of our being. Today we are going to meet a woman by the name of Rahab who had a faith that moved her beyond her comfort zone and caused her to take risks.
I. Rahab: a true risk taker.
A. Rahab is a very unlikely person to be listed among the great heroes of the faith.
1. The last thing we would expect to see in this list of great faith heroes is a prostitute.
2. In fact she is given more space than many of those great Bible heroes we grew up hearing about such as Samson, Gideon and David.
3. Certainly she knew the risk of helping the spies, worse, of concealing them. She was especially aware at the inn of the travelers’ talk about the approaching Israelites.
4. From tiny bits of information came enough faith to do one little thing. It was enough to show where her heart was. Faith without accompanying deeds is a useless thing. With them it is powerful.
5. Despite having lived a life of sin she took one great step of faith that made all the difference in her life.
B. Joshua who followed Moses as the leader of the Israelites was preparing to lead the people across the Jordan River to the Promised Land.
1. The spies proceeded immediately to Jericho. They found lodging in the house of a prostitute named Rahab. Perhaps they chose this house of ill repute because they thought that fewer questions might be asked of them there. Even so, the men were quickly spotted, recognized as Israelites, and reported to the king of the city.
2. Messengers were sent to Rahab ordering her to bring out the men who had entered her house. If Rahab was a sacred prostitute connected with one of the temples of the city that might explain why the authorities did not simply barge into the house and seize the strangers
3. Rahab was not too sure that the sanctuary of her house would be respected by the king’s men. She took the precaution of hiding her guests among stalks of flax on the flat roof of her house.
4. As it turned out, this was unnecessary. Rahab was able to convince the soldiers that the strangers had indeed come, but they had left about sundown when the city gate was closed.
C. The question is: What made Rahab such a hero?
1. The story about Rahab also teaches the value of obedience even if it is a small deed.
2. As it did in verse 27 the NIV adds the word “because” as an interpretation of an adverbial participle. The Greek text does not require “welcoming the spies” to be seen as the reason that she escaped death. It may as correctly be translated simply “after she welcomed the spies.”
3. Nothing is mentioned here about her saving her whole family, nor about the scarlet cord which was the means of this preservation. A small deed, done quickly with little advance notice, built on a general fear of dire consequences, was all she had available. It was all she needed.
4. By that one little deed she won for herself a place in the hall of fame of the faithful and in the lineage of the Messiah (Matthew 1:5).
II. The things that Rahab risked are the very things many have risked for the cause of Christ and what God calls us to risk today.