Summary: What we learn from Jesus' grandmother that will help us today
“Jesus’ Grandmother, Rahab”
September 8, 2019
Jesus had quite a colorful grandmother or great, great (add 30 greats) grandmother. This week in my morning devotions I read about Rahab, again. I have read her story dozens of times - but this time it struck me like never before. It piqued my interest – so I did a little study of this dear lady. Let me share with you what I found. I found there is a lot of controversy about Rahab. The Church, through the ages, has tried to ‘whitewash’ her story.
According to Bible gateway, both Jewish and Christian writers have tried to prove that Rahab was a different woman from the one whom the Bible always speaks of as a “harlot.” To them it was abhorrent that such a disreputable person should be included in our Lord’s genealogy, and by Paul, as a woman of faith. So her story has been distorted in order to further a theology of salvation based upon human goodness. But the fact remains that Rahab, Tamar and Bathsheba were sinful women who were purified by God, and had their share in the royal line from which Jesus sprang.
It has been suggested by some “Bible Scholars” that the word “harlot” can be translated “innkeeper,” thus making Rahab the landlady of a wayside tavern. Guesses have been made that she had been a concubine, such as Hagar and Zilpah had been, but that in Jericho she was a reputable woman identified with a respectable business. The Bible, however, makes no attempt to smooth over the unpleasant fact that Rahab had been a harlot. Three times Rahab is referred to as “the harlot,” and the Hebrew term zoonah and the Greek word porne have at no time meant anything else but “harlot”—a woman who gives herself indiscriminately to every man approaching her. Rahab indulged in sex for pay as traveling merchants came to her ill-famed abode. Evidently Rahab had her own house and lived apart from her parents and family, but apparently she never lost her concern for her dear ones. We are told that prostitution was not regarded with the same horror then, as now, but the Bible with one voice speaks of harlotry with revulsion and social ostracism.
Rehab was a harlot, a Canaanite and a liar. How could someone like this be included in the genealogy of Jesus? Jesus could have picked anyone and arranged anyone to be in His royal line – but He didn’t. He included Rehab. Why? Hebrews 11, the faith chapter tells us. It says,
“By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.” Hebrews 11:31
Did you get that? She was a woman of faith. She was a believer. That is what made her different. We can learn a lot from her life.
First, God rewards the righteous. This is but one of many examples of that. He promises over and over to reward us when we do the right thing.
“There is a reward for the righteous.” Psalm 58:11
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
“God will repay each person according to what they have done.”
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58
I could go on and on quoting the fact that God rewards doing the right thing. The Bible is full of examples. The Bible says,
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
We can’t please God without faith. We must believe that ‘He IS” (by faith) and that He will reward those who diligently seek Him. We have to choose to believe (by faith) God is a rewarder of those who do right.
Rahab did the right thing because she believed. And that is what faith is. It is not just believing – it’s believing enough to do the right thing.
Secondly, We learn from Rahab that God does not hold your past against you. We have a hard time forgiving ourselves and family and friends may have a hard time forgetting our past, but God doesn’t. My mother used to say that God threw our sins into the “sea of forgetfulness”. The Bible says,
“Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”