“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.”
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions [sins] from us.” (Psalm 103:12)
The New Testament says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
Our sins are gone, when we repent of them. It is hard for us to believe because, even if we forgive – we have a hard time forgetting. But God doesn’t. When we are forgiven it is as if we are innocent as new born babies. There is no past sins.
I used to tell our kids in the Christian school to imagine that there is an angel assigned to you to write down everything you do – both bad and good. In your mind you can think of him using a chalkboard or a diary or a computer. But everything you do is written down and recorded. On one side of the page is every good thing you have ever done and the other side is every bad thing you ever done. When you repent, pray and ask forgiveness – the angel erases every bad thing you ever done. What’s left? Only the good things. Judgment Day doesn’t hold any fear for the faithful one. It will be a time of great reward and honor. The sins are gone. We can look forward to it with hope and anticipation.
Rahab was a liar, an idolater and a sexually immoral person. But she believed God and He forgave her. He did not hold her past against her and He rewarded her for her righteousness. He will do the same for you. Whatever great sins you have done in your past – they are past. They are forgotten – if you have repented of them and asked forgiveness. God sees you as a pure innocent bride with eyes of love. He will not hold your past against you.
Thirdly, we learn from Rahab, that God adopts the faithful into His family. Imagine! This woman with such a past became a part of God’s family. In fact, she became a part of the lineage of Jesus. In my family I am proud to have a heritage of military men. We have served from the Revolutionary War to the present day conflicts in the United States Army, primarily. Some served in other branches but most all served. My brother and I served in Vietnam era. My Dad in World War Two. My grandfather in WWI. My great, great, grandfather fought for the North in the Civil War. My Son, fought in the Gulf War era. My cousin, Dave, makes us all proud for the military and law enforcement work that he does today. That is a proud heritage I belong to. But it is nothing compared to Rehab’s heritage. She was blessed to be a part of the Savior’s blood family. A part of her DNA ran in Jesus’ veins. She belonged to the family of God. But so do you. Listen!
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God” 1 John 3:1-2
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” Romans 8:14-17
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” Ephesians 1:3-5
Do you understand that you are a child of God? You have been adopted into the family and have all the rights and privileges that any son would have. The Gaithers understood it and wrote a wonderful song called, “The Family of God”. The last verse goes,
“From the door of an orphanage, to the house of the King- No longer an outcast, a new song I sing; From rags unto riches, from the weak to the strong,
I'm not worthy to be here, But, praise God, I belong!”
You belong! You are a child of God. You have been adopted into God’s family and join heirs with Jesus. And being an heir to the King – there is another thing we learn from Rehab’s story. Fourthly, God has a blessed future for the faithful. Paul wrote,
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
“The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him” 2 Timothy 2:11–13
“Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:6
I do not know what those Scripture mean. I don’t know what wonderful things God has planned for us. Maybe they are so wonderful that we can’t comprehend them right now. But we do know this. God has plans for us – wonderful plans. God has a future for us – an eternal future. Jesus said,
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
Do you understand how special you are? God loves you so much that Jesus died for you. God loves you so much He has sent the Holy Spirit to help you and lead you and empower you to do His will. God loves you so much He is building a mansion for you right now. There is a place for you. Contrary to what the Enemy of our souls would say, you are never alone. Every sacrifice will be worth it. Every time you deny yourself something for the Lord – it will be worth it. That’s the first thing we learn from Rehab. 1. God rewards the righteous. 2. God does not hold your past sins against you. 3. God adopts the faithful into His family. 4. God has a blessed future for the faithful.
God seems to delight in taking the least likely to succeed and blessing them. The Bible says,
“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
God took this lease likely of people to honor and bless – because Rahab believed and was obedient and faithful. If you will do the same – God’s blessings will fall on you as well.