Summary: The story of Rahab gives hope to all the sinners of the world that they too can become children of God by faith in the Christ who will cast none out who come to Him in faith.

Women do not have fight to play a major role in war. The

gentle schemes of women are often able to do what bombs and

bullets cannot do. Mary Murray is a great example from the

Revolutionary War. George Washington and two of his

generals had escaped from the British in New York, but

General Putnam was still evacuating lower Manhatten. What

they did not know was that they were marching right into the

path of the British General Howe, who had just come to the

colonies with 8,000 fresh troops. It would have been a terrible

defeat for the colonies.

Mary Murray, the wife of a wealthy New York merchant,

learned of this impending disaster, and she went into action.

She invited the British General to stop for a cooling drink in

the spacious parlor of her mansion. This pulled him off the

road, and she sent one of her servants upstairs to watch the

cloud of dust so they could know when the American troops

had passed by. Fortunately, it was a hot day that September

15, 1776. General Howe accepted the invitation, and when he

prepared to leave she insisted he stay for a mid-day lunch.

General Howe hesitated because his men had to stand in the

hot sun. She solved that by having tables set out in back

under trees. The whole British army was kept cool and

entertained until the Americans were safely past.

The British never knew that a great victory slipped

through their hands because of a kind hospitality of a woman.

On Park Ave. of New York City there is a tablet honoring

Mary Murray for her heroic hospitality that made it possible

for the American army to escape. She helped win the

Revolutionary War with the weapon of kindness. It is a very

effective weapon, and we want to focus on a biblical woman

who became one of the most famous women in history

because she was kind to the Israelite spies, and helped them

escape from what appeared to be a hopeless situation. This

one act of kindness led Rahab to become a part of

Israel's history, and to even become a link in the chain that

led to the Messiah. She is part of the genealogy of Jesus

Christ. She is referred to by James as a great example of the

power of works, and in the book of Hebrews, chapter 11, she

is one of the two women named in that great faith chapter as

a great example of faith. In spite of all her fame, and all the

coverage she gets in God's Word, her name never became a

popular name, which is usually the case with women who do

good and great things in the Bible. The reason for her name

never becoming widely used is due to the first aspect of her

life that we want to consider.


Rahab was a harlot, or better known in our culture as a

prostitute. Here is a paradox, for she was a heathen harlot

who became a messianic mother, her name never escaped the

taint of her past, even though she did fully escape that past,

and will be singing in eternity the song of the redeemed. The

study of Rahab forces us to look at the subject of prostitution,

for this profession is always linked with her name except for

one time in the genealogy of Matt. 1. Even when she is held

up as a great example of faith and works she is called Rahab

the harlot.

The question that comes to our minds is why? Why is

prostitution so persistently prevalent all through history? It

is known as the oldest profession, and it is a profession that

has played a major role in history. You cannot study the role

of women in history, and not study this aspect of it. The Bible

recognizes it as a major subject. Harlot is used 40 times in the

Old Testament, and 8 times in the New Testament. Whore,

whoredom, and whoring, are used 83 times in the Old

Testament and 9 times in the New Testament. These

represent just a partial list of the biblical material on

prostitution, but they represent 140 verses of God's Word on

this issue. There is more on prostitution in the Bible than on

many other subjects, and it is because God knows the heart of

man better than we do.

Prostitution is, and always has been, a major economic

issue. Women have turned to it all through history for

survival. Men have always been tempted to cash in on the

willingness of other men to pay for sex. God knew the Jews

would be no different, and so He warns in Lev. 19:29, "Do not

degrade your daughter by making her a prostitute, or the

land will turn to prostitution and be filled with wickedness."

God knows that prostitution is the door to every other form of

evil, and once you open that door, the nation is on a downhill

slide. With it comes drugs, gambling, and crime of every sort.

It gives the underworld a major in road to society.

The point I want to focus on out of many we could

consider is that the degrading of women by means of

prostitution is primarily the responsibility of men, and when

men treat women this way, they destroy their own values, and

their own ideals. Men cannot treat women in a lowly manner

and expect to rise themselves. Men rise or sink depending on

how they treat women. Keep in mind that for every prostitute

there are many men who keep this profession alive.

This means that women are only a fraction of the problem.

The main problem is the lust of men.

The reason prostitution can never be eliminated by men is

because men are the power behind it. I have never studied a

subject that was more frustrating. Millions and millions of

women are enslaved, and almost nobody cares because the

power structure of our world demands these slaves. The

economic system of many nations depends upon prostitution.

Tourism and prostitution go hand in hand around the world.

Business is a key supporter of prostitution, and men are

rewarded for a good job by being given a night with a

prostitute. Governments and businesses entertain customers

and diplomats with prostitutes.

This is not a new thing in our day at all. It has been a part

of history. So basic is prostitution to the way of life of sinful

man that the great leaders of the church were not in favor of

abolishing it. St. Augustine, one of the most influential men

in the history of the church, said, "Remove prostitutes from

human affairs, and you will unsettle everything because of

lust." Centuries later the great theologian St. Thomas

Aquinas said, "Prostitution in the cities is like the sewage

system in the palace. Do away with it, and the palace will

turn into a place of filth and stink." Church councils have

supported prostitution as a way to control men's lust so that it

does not lead to rape, adultery, and the contamination of the

marriage bond. My point in all this is that the prostitutes of history have

been some of the most pathetic people because they have been

slaves that no one is interested in setting free. Even

Christians have not really tried to eliminate this blight,

because they see beneficial fringe benefits. The vast majority

of prostitutes hate what they have to do, but they have to no

way of escape. Poverty forces most of them into it, and

economic necessity keeps them there. You can, in

self-righteous pride, say I would starve first, but you do not

understand what life does to so many women.

In Indonesia, for example, the extreme poverty forces up to

60% of the women into prostitution. In Jakarta back in 1979

there were 600 Christian prostitutes who joined together to

care for their children. They had Bible studies and prayed

together, but there was no other way to survive, and that is

why they were prostitutes. Studying the history of this tragic

reality of life has helped me understand why the Bible

conveys such a message of sympathy for the prostitute. I can

better understand why Jesus let a prostitute wipe His feet

with her hair. I can better understand why He was willing to

accept the woman at the well in spite of her shabby past. I

can better grasp how Jesus could let the woman taken in

adultery go free and unpunished. What I can better see is

that God understands that women are victims of system that

forces them into immorality that they would not choose if they

were free to make a choice.

I am not blind to the many wicked women in history who

love evil, and who love to enslave other women, as well as men.

That is a part of history as well, but the fact is, the

majority need compassion for they are slaves and victims. By

the providence of God Rahab got the chance to be free of her

past, and she grabbed it and became a godly woman. If the

prostitutes of the world were given a chance to be free and

have the ability to make a decent living, most would make

that choice. Jesus said to the Pharisee that the harlots and

Publicans would enter the kingdom before them. The

implication is that they would respond to the Gospel and

become godly people.

What we need to see is that the ministry to prostitutes is a

valid ministry of compassion. Economic inequality has

always been the main cause for prostitution. The more poor

women you have in this world, the more prostitutes you have.

There are those, of course, who are rich and high class, but

the majority in the world are pathetically poor. Only women

themselves can stop the exploitation of their sex. The power

structure of men will never stop it. Abortion is so hard to

fight for the same reason. Any effort to halt the free

expression of man's lust will face enormous opposition.

Unless women organize to change the way things are the best

we can hope for is that, like Rahab, one by one there will be

those who escape this oldest profession to live a life of dignity

and respect. The second thing we want to focus on is-


As we confront her in our text she is a woman of faith, and

not a woman of filth. She is intelligent and not immoral. She

is an impressive person who is decisive, and she makes a

choice to save her family at the risk of her own life. So much

is noble about Rahab that it is easy to see why one of the spies

fell for her. According to Jewish tradition one of these two

spies later married her, and she became a part of Israel, and a

mother in the blood line to Christ. Her son Boaz grew up to

marry Ruth the Moabite, who was another Gentile. With a

mother like her he had no fear of marrying a Gentile woman,

for he knew they could be marvelous. God did also, for both

of these Gentile women became a part of the blood line to the


Rahab possessed a keen intelligent mind. She kept up on

current events, and she knew what the God of Israel had

been doing. She listened to the news, and paid attention to

the changing times. She was ready to change to fit the new

circumstances that history was bringing. She could see her

people were doomed, and that the future was with Israel. She

was prepared to act on her faith in that future. It was not a

self-centered choice. She loved her family. She may have

been the black sheep of the family, and may have been

rejected for her decision to be a prostitute, but she did not

reject them. Her deal with the spies included her whole


It is not true that a prostitute is incapable of love. Rahab

was one of the most loving daughters we have any record of in

the Bible. We do not know what her parents and siblings

thought of her, but we know how she felt about them. In

spite of her degrading profession she still possessed a deep

love for her whole family. People caught up in the most

degrading aspects of human life can still be very likeable and

loving people. Rahab still possessed the capacity, in spite of

all the lust and abuse she had seen, to see the beauty of what

God intended in the male-female relationship. I have read

stories and seen movies of prostitutes who fell in love and

made good wives. This is not fiction, but fact. Many

prostitutes have married and made wonderful respectable

wives. It takes a unique man to make it work, however, and

many men could not handle it. It was certainly providential

that one of the spies was just such a man.

What we see in Rahab is the other side of the depravity of

man. We see the dignity of man. We see that even in the

fallen state men and women still possess the shattered and

tattered image of God. Rahab had a lot of good qualities even

as a heathen harlot. That is why it is important for Christians

to approach all people from the point of view of respect. Even

the harlot has the capacity to respond to what is good, noble,

and righteous. The harlot has the same capacity to chose to

follow the light as anyone else. The result is we have a story

in the Bible of Jewish spies entering into an agreement with a

pagan prostitute. They made a treaty with her, and they

promised her deliverance because of her faith in the God of

Israel, and her action to preserve their lives.

Don't write people off because of who they are, or what

their past is. God providentially led the spies to Rahab for

her sake, and for a lesson to His people for all time. The

lesson is not that everybody will turn out good if given a chance,

for this is not so. The lesson is that people in every

category must be offered a chance, for no matter how

depraved they are, they can chose to trust God and rise to a

level of dignity and usefulness in the plan of God.

Jesus was virgin born, but lest anyone gets the idea that

God will not use anyone who is less than perfect, there are

women like Rahab in Christ's genealogy. The majority of the

human race is closer to Rahab than to Mary, and Jesus came

to seek and to save the fallen and the lost. The plan of

redemption cannot be fully seen by looking at Mary. We

need to see Rahab as well before the picture is complete.

Then, and only then, can we see the glory of God's amazing

grace. Had God consulted the Pharisees He would have been

told it was in bad taste to include a harlot in His Son's

genealogy. But God is not concerned about what people

were. He is concerned about whether or not they possess

faith. If they do, then that present possession can wipe away

the bolt of their past profession.

By faith Rahab saved her future husband by helping him

to escape. By faith she saved her whole family. By faith she

saved herself, and by faith she has saved many others because

God used her example in His Word so that many others

through history could see the good news of her deliverance,

and put their trust in the same God to deliver them. Like the

woman at the well, this Old Testament woman of ill repute

gained the reputation of being one of God's best tools for

evangelism. The last aspect of her life we want to focus on is-


We are looking at what she became in history long after

she was gone from the stage of history. No one could ever

dream that a woman like Rahab could gain a position in

Israel, and in God's plan, that would make her a great

example. She was a Gentile, and a woman, and a prostitute.

The only possible way she could have sunk any lower would

have been to add to this list the term leper. She was, for all

practical purposes, the least likely person to ever become an

example for anyone, let alone the people of God. She

illustrates that a Gentile can become a Jew by faith and by

marriage, but more important, she illustrates a person in

darkness can become a great light by the grace of God.

It is important that we see that the Bible gives us great

examples of women who are redeemed so that we never think

they are secondary in God's plan. Lydia was the first

Christian convert in Europe, and Rahab was the first pagan

convert to Judaism in Canaan. All through history we see

that women are often the first to respond to the grace of God,

and they open the way for men to follow. Women are often

spiritual pioneers who blaze new trails that become highways

for millions.

There are other prostitutes who have become famous, but

none as famous as Rahab. As a youth, when I stood by her

grave on the hill outside Deadwood, South Dakota, I thought

that Calamity Jane was a great woman. I later learned that

she was one of the worst women who ever lived. She was a

foul mouthed, crude, and very unfeminine prostitute. But her

story illustrates two points I am trying to convey in this

message on Rahab. She was forced into prostitution by

society. Her parents with 6 children were pioneers, and

shortly after her mother died on the trail, her father died

when they reached Salt Lake City. The younger children

were taken by the state and put up for adoption. Jane was

15, and so she was left on her own. She became a prostitute

for survival. This is the way millions have become prostitutes

through history. A study in Paris in the year 1828 showed

that there were 1255 prostitutes in that profession because

they lost their parents, or were abandoned.

The more you read about the causes of prostitution, the

more compassion you have for those women who are in the

worst of all types of slavery. I cannot admire Calamity Jane

as I did in my youth, but neither can I despise her because of

what I have learned about her background. Jesus had such

compassion on sinners because He knew why people lived on

such a low level of immorality. It often takes us along time to

understand the reasons why people are what they are.

Calamity Jane also illustrates the fact that the worst have

something of the image of God in them yet. In 1878 when

smallpox swept through Deadwood, and people were dying

like flies, she worked day and night nursing the sick and

dying. The paper referred to her then as an angel of mercy.

She was a dark angel, to be sure, but she set an example.

Rahab's example is the greatest, however, for she

abandoned all other loyalties, and put her faith in God. She

risked everything, and even became a traitor to her state. She

rejected her pagan gods, and put her trust in the God of

Israel. This was a daring thing to do, but she did it and

became one of the only two women in Heb. 11 as great

examples of faith. Sarah is the other woman, and Sarah

means princess. So we have the princess and the prostitute,

the high and the low, but both are examples of great faith,

and they make it clear that faith is an open choice for all. No

one need miss God's best because of their past, however vile

and out of God's will. A present faith in Christ can lead

anyone to have a future position in God's eternal kingdom.

The story of Rahab gives hope to all the sinners of the world

that they too can become children of God by faith in the

Christ who will cast none out who come to Him in faith.