Summary: We've looked at many people on our journey through the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. And while it wouldn't surprise us to see names like Noah, Abraham and Moses, the next name on our list might raise a few eyebrows. Today we'll look at the faith of Rahab
IT TAKES FAITH (part eleven)
INTRODUCTION: We've looked at many people on our journey through the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. And while it wouldn't surprise us to see names like Noah, Abraham and Moses, the next name on our list might raise a few eyebrows. Last week I talked about the fall of Jericho. I started by referring to Joshua sending out the spies and encountering Rahab. Today we'll explore the details of that encounter as we look at the faith of Rahab.
1) Rahab had faith but the rest of Jericho didn't.
Heb. 11:31, "By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient."
Jericho was a city whose inhabitants were violent and depraved. They were so corrupt that when God commissioned the city to be destroyed Joshua 6:26 states that anyone who sought to rebuild the city would be cursed. God wanted this place wiped from the map. But it wasn't before they had an opportunity to believe.
"Those who were disobedient". Here, the word disobedient can also mean unbelieving. It makes sense because we need to answer the question of how did Rahab come to have faith? How would she come to believe in the one, true God if he hadn't revealed himself to her? And since God is no respecter of persons I would conclude that he afforded the same opportunity to the rest of the city.
However, the only one to show faith was this woman of ill-repute. The people of Jericho perished because they did not believe as Rahab did. Therefore, she and her family would be the only ones spared. God's righteous judgment would come upon the rest of the city for their unwillingness to believe.
Just like Noah. God destroyed the world by flood and the only one who believed in the one, true God was Noah. It's not much different today. Believers are of the minority. That means, like Noah and Rahab, we have to contend with the majority being non-believers. We have to go against the flow. It's much easier to go with the flow; it's much easier to do whatever we want rather than resist temptation.
It's not easy to persevere when there's so much opposition around us but that's what we are called to do and we've been given the power and ability to do it. And we are motivated by those who went before us who overcame and were victorious. It takes faith to stay committed.
2) A prostitute and a liar commended for her faith? What gives?
Joshua 2:1-7, "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. The king of Jericho was told, “Look! Some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” 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.”
But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, the men left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut."
"Rahab the prostitute." If you have footnotes in your bible you may see a little 'a' after the word prostitute. At the bottom of the page it says "or possibly an innkeeper". Some have used this to suppose that Rahab was not a prostitute but simply a woman who ran a hotel. But the Hebrew word and the Greek word both mean what it says-prostitute.
With that said, it would make sense that she could easily be both an innkeeper and a prostitute. But to remove the prostitute from the innkeeper is not keeping with the reality of the text. In fact I think it diminishes the impact of the outcome. To know and understand what Rahab was helps us to commend her for the faith she had and the things that resulted from it. To realize her past would help us to believe that there's hope for all future prostitutes and anyone else caught up in a sinful lifestyle.