“By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace” (Hebrew 11:31)
How often have we heard not to judge a book by its cover? That’s because we don’t know what we will see once we look inside. The hardness of the cover could easily conceal the softness of the story. This is abundantly true in the case of a book I just finished reading about Rahab, the Harlot. It was rather short and, although I finished it in two days, I keep thinking about her character. The story itself contained much speculation about her background, about what led her to hide the spies and how she met Salmone, her future husband. However, some of the ideas expressed in the book got me thinking about the things that are not mentioned in the Biblical account of Rahab.
How did the spies get to her house? How did she know they where spies? How did she hear all the stories of the Exodus and of what happened to them in the desert? What were her expectations for herself after the walls came down?
There are many questions I’d like to ask her. Yet, one thing is clear – she had faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. She knew God will give Jericho into the hands of Israel. God undoubtedly chose Rahab to welcome the spies and to encourage them. This is evident from her statement: “I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (Joshua 2: 8-11). But, He also chose her to bless her. Outwardly, she was a harlot according to profession in the flesh, perhaps rejected by society, captive in this way of life and longing to escape it. Inwardly, according to her profession of faith, she was a new creature, her heart being renewed and belonging to “God in heaven above and on earth beneath”, who, because of her faith, grafted her into His family. This sort of faith came about as she heard of the miracles and wonders God had performed (Rom. 10:17) and here was her chance to start afresh under the wings of the God of Israel. Many hear the truths of the Bible even today, yet few choose to believe. Rehab chose to believe. She knew that the battle was the Lord’s and that He God had already won the battle.
Rahab possessed a strong faith that many of her contemporaries, and ours, lack. Yet, she is still referred to as a harlot. I always thought it was some sort of an insult to her to mention her former profession. However, today, as I think of it, it is a testimony to God’s work of grace in her life. God showed His love for her by saving her life when Jericho fell and then went further by making her part of His people. God saw her heart beating with faith, admiration and love for Him and He rewarded her by making her a part of the lineage of the Messiah, the Lord Yeshua.
We are blessed because of Rahab’s faith. How many others will be blessed because of ours?