Summary: Rahab’s example encourages us to step out in faith and to risk for God.
Faith’s Hall of Fame: Rahab
I have been a pastor at Shiloh Bible Church for eleven years. But my association with the church began long before that. My in-laws, Harold and Dorothy Wills, retired to the Bloomsburg area back in the 1980’s. And they started coming to Shiloh. And so when our family would come up from Washington to visit, we would attend Shiloh with them. And we got to know Pastor Hummel and the people of the church. And Larry was gracious enough to invite me to speak here on occasion.
It was during that time that I was teaching down at Washington Bible College with young Charlie Dyer who, of course, was raised in this church. Well, Charlie and I would eat lunch together every day and he would tell me stories about growing up here in Bloomsburg. He even mentioned some of you in his stories—which have helped me understand you considerably in my pastoral ministry!
Well, once I remember Charlie telling me about 2 people in the community that he knew as he was growing up. But he said he never knew their last names. That’s because they were always referred to by their occupation. The first man was named Joe—Joe the Barber. Charlie said for the longest time he didn’t know the man’s last name because he was always called Joe the Barber. He had a barber shop down on Old Berwick Road in Espy. Who am I referring to? That’s right—Joe Deitrick. But Charlie only knew him as Joe the Barber. The second man’s name was Dick. And Charlie didn’t know his last name either. He delivered mail to the Dyer house and so he was simply referred to as Dick the Mailman. Do you know who I’m referring to? Our very own Dick Casey! But growing up Charlie never knew Dick’s last name—he was simply Dick the Mailman.
Now, many people probably wouldn’t mind being identified with their occupation—Charlie the Truckdriver, Wade the Electrician, Brenda the Nurse, Chris the Teacher. And I guess that’s not a bad way to be remembered. Unless, of course, you have a less than desirable occupation. Such is the case with a particular character in the Bible. We all know what she did for a living. Now, I’m going to say her name, and I want you to tell me her occupation: Rahab the _______ (Harlot). Interesting! We all identify her by her occupation—not simply Rahab, but Rahab the Harlot.
How would you like to be stuck with that title for the rest of your life? Rahab the Harlot. That’s what she was, and that’s what the Bible calls her. And even now—3,000 years later, 3,000 years after her death—we still refer to her as Rahab the Harlot. But even though Rahab was a harlot, a prostitute, a madam, her name is recorded in Faith’s Hall of Fame as someone who exhibited great trust in God.
Turn with me to Hebrews chapter 11. I would like us to see what writer of Hebrews says concerning this woman’s faith.
Now, someone has said there are four types of faith. There is faith that receives, as when we reach out to accept Christ’s free gift of eternal life. Then there is faith that reckons—that counts on God to undertake for us. Thirdly, there is faith that rests—that’s the kind of faith that, in the middle of pain and suffering, sits back in confidence that God will deliver. And then there is faith that risks—a faith that moves out for God and depends on Him in the midst of a dangerous situation.
This fourth kind of faith—a faith that risks—is what gained Rahab the harlot a spot in Faith’s Hall of Fame. And so we read in Hebrews 11:31: “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.”
We find the story of Rahab’s faith—a faith that risks—in Joshua chapter 2. Please turn there with me in your Bible.
You’ll remember that last Sunday morning we examined the faith of Joshua. The people of Israel had wandered in the Sinai wilderness for 40 years. God then led them through the Jordan River to the threshold of the Promised Land. But in order to claim that land, they had to first conquer the city of Jericho that stood at the entrance to the Promised Land. And Joshua did conquer Jericho. Hebrews 11 tells us that Joshua conquered the city by faith. But faith was exhibited not only outside the city of Jericho, but inside the city as well. And that leads us to the story of Rahab the harlot.
And so we begin reading in Joshua 2:1. “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.”