Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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Rahab: Woman of Faith, the Harlot

April 26th, 2009 by Vic

Joshua 2

Rahab is mentioned 8 times in the Bible.  Five times the title harlot is attached to her name.  Rahab is one of the great women of the Bible who lives with a title that is not so great.  Like this community of Liberal, the name can have negative connotations, but Liberal really means generous.

In history several great men have had a title attached to their name.  John the Baptist, Alexander the Great, Tilla the Hun.  You may also have a title you were given by your mom, on the play ground, or at work, but by God’s grace you can get a new name.

Some legalistic Christians have trouble with Rahab’s occupational title because she became the mother of Boaz (Matt 1:5), the great grandmother of David, and the ancestor of the Christ.  Hebrews 11:31 lists her as a woman of faith.  James says she was justified before God just like Abraham.  She is one of five women mentioned in the lineage of Jesus and one of two (Sarah) in the Hebrews hall of faith.  How can a woman with this much honor in the Bible be a harlot?

These immature Christians who think they have to defend the Bible say that Rahab was really just an Inn Keeper.  That is an interesting thought when you read in history that “An innkeeper’s bill from the Roman period” printed in a book by D.J. Barslag, in the Netherlands.  “Wine and bread, 1 ace; Hot meal, 2 ace; Hay for mule, 2 ace; One girl, 8 ace; p.s. “There is no separate cost for the bed; that was included with the last item.”

If the Lord can use a prostitute to change history, he can use you.  He does and He will if you let Him.  How did Rahab change?  It starts with hearing about God then believing in God and trusting Him for yourself and your family.  How did Rahab hear about God?  Rahab probably entertained a lot of travelers.  She was a major source of world news in her neighborhood.

Jericho was a fortified city before the time of Abraham.  It may have been 1,500 years old before the walls fell out.  The walls enclosed about 8 acres.

Joshua 2:1 Why are spies sent out?  Moses had sent them out to see if the land was really as good as the Lord had told them.  Joshua sends them out to plan strategy for conquest.  The motivations are a little different.  Moses wanted to know what the people were like, what the land was like, and if this was the time to possess the land.  Joshua was more specific.  He wanted to know how they we going to possess it.

It does not seem wise for spies to stay at an inn.  There would be a newspaper reporter there interviewing travelers.  It would seem to be more covert to stay with a harlot, who knew how to keep secrets.  But it was a small city and the counter intelligence was good.  Maybe she was also the innkeeper.  They could not stay hidden, because God had a plan.  There was a divine appointment.  It was necessary for the spies to stay at Rahab’s house.

2:2-7 The king of the city asked Rahab to bring out the spies to the soldiers.  There was an interesting custom that would not permit any man to enter a woman’s house without her permission.  Rahab was not sure the soldiers would be courteous and follow protocol, so she had already hid the spies under the stack of flax drying on her roof.  Whether they searched her home or not is not recorded.  The writer was emphasizing God’s protection through Rahab.

During the day Rahab must have made linen from the flax.  Maybe that is why she had enough on the roof to hide 2 men.  Flax harvest was usually during flood stage on the Jordan.  Prov 31:13 says a virtuous woman was a keeper of flax.

Rahab is risking her life.  She lies to the local government officials.  She had made the decision to side with the spies and the God of Israel rather than all the gods and government she grew up with.  She could have been a local heroine if she had betrayed the spies.  Why is she risking her life?  Why is she choosing a radical change in her life style?  Has God been speaking to her?  Are the spies different from other men she has known?  Where did she get this hope for something better?  Can 2 godly young men influence a harlot?  If God is with them.

Rahab lied.  She was called a woman of faith in the NT and she lied.  Some immature Christians who are uncomfortable with mystery point out that she lied before her statement of faith in verse 11, but she lied and God used her.  Instead of arguing about her lie, we need to examine our lies.  She lied and saved a nation.  We lie for petty things.  Is it ever right for a Christian to lie?  Your wife asks you, “Honey how do I look?”  “How are you feeling?”  The phone rings, “Tell them I’m not here.”  “I’ll stop by and see you soon.”  “I’ll pray for you.”  1 Sam 21:2 David lies to Ahimelek the priest and Saul kills the priest for believing David’s lie.  1 Sam 21:12 David pretends to be crazy.

One of the 10 commandments forbids lying or bearing false witness.  The NT is very clear that we are not to lie to one another.  Paul says it is impossible for God to lie.  Rahab tells a lie because she believed in the God of the spies.

2:8-14 It had been 40 years since these nomads have left Egypt and the Lord made a road through the Red Sea.  It has just been a couple months since they had conquered the kingdoms of Sihon and Og.  Rahab says, “We have heard” (10-11).  She tells the men in 2:9, “I know that the Lord has given you the land…”  And 11b says, “The Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”

This is why Rahab is in the hall of faith.  She models faith.  Hebrews 11:31 says she did not die in war because of her faith.  She had a saving faith.  Because she had faith in God there were good works that followed her statement of faith.  James 2:25 says Rahab has a faith that works.  John 3:16 says basic faith (belief) in God’s plan will save you.

She had a singular faith.  She seemed to be by herself.  She seemed to be the only one.  But her singular faith saved her household.  Acts 16:31 says, believe in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved, you and your household.  Your faith can make a big difference.

She was not worried about everyone else’s opinion.  She was not politically correct.  She believed in a foreign God.  She did not respect her government.  She was a radical.  Any dead fish can go with the flow.  Being a Christian is becoming less and less popular.

She had a stable faith.  The appearance of things made her faith look foolish.  Facts and circumstances did not make faith seem reasonable.  The walls of Jericho were very thick and had never been conquered.  The Jordan River was at flood stage.  No army could bring horses and war machines across it.  Jericho had a lot of gods protecting them.  But she heard the word and had an unshakable faith in the God of Israel.  Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

She had a self-denying faith.  When the soldiers knocked at her door, she had a decision to make.  Would she fear the Lord or the local king?  Would she protect 2 strangers and risk the lives of her family?  She was well known.  She had a secure job.  Was she ready to give up her way of life and risk receiving what God was ready to give her?  She took a risk to save her family.

She had a sanctifying faith.  To sanctify is to set apart for God’s use.  The house of ill repute was gone.  She received a new home and a new name.  She married Salmon.  Their son was Boaz.  Their daughter-in-law was Ruth.  Rahab chose to believe in God and her life was turned around.  She was set apart from her past.  Confess in your heart and with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.

You may have some title tacked to your name.  Your life is headed for destruction.  Your past does not matter to God.  Your choice today can save you from destruction.

The Jews were not to make oaths with other countries.  The spies hear Rahab’s faith and kind of adopt her.  Rahab is now considered one of them.  They make an oath.  They plan the safety of her family.  There is no doubt that destruction is coming.  There will be salvation in the midst of destruction all around.  How will they be saved?  In the house of Rahab the harlot.  Why didn’t God tell them to hide in the temple?  Does God have a sense of humor?  Can God receive glory in a house of ill repute?  Sure!  Her family probably did not come to her home very often.

Why is everyone else going to be destroyed?  The iniquity of the Amorite is now full.  Today people ask why God sends people to hell.  He doesn’t.  They send themselves by rejecting God’s salvation.  God has made it easy for you to be saved.  Or some may ask how can a loving God send me to hell?  The loving God sent His Son to die for our sins.  We must believe the word and confess with our mouth to be saved from destruction.  The house of safety was marked with a (red light) scarlet thread.  It is like the blood of the Lamb on the doorposts at Passover.

The red thread runs through the Bible and points to Christ.  When Adam and Eve sinned, God provided leather clothes.  Animals died for their covering.  God used all the sacrifices to point to the blood of Christ that atoned for the sin of the world.  Rahab was saved by faith working.  She hid the messengers of God and hung the scarlet cord out her window.

2:15-21 Her home was on the wall.  The gates to the city were locked.  The conditions of her safety were agreed.  James calls these two men messengers (Ja 2:25) rather than spies.  Joshua 6:17, 25 also call them messengers.  They were spokesmen of God.  They were speaking God’s Word.  Rahab could say, “So be it according to your word.”  Real faith is taking God at His word.  You can’t submit to God’s word unless you know His word.

How can a red rope save a family from a heavenly earthquake?  It is faith in a promise that was made.  How can the blood of Christ cleanse you from all sin and the wrath of God to come?  It’s is faith in a promise that was made.  God did it and does it.

2:22-24 40 years earlier an evil report was given by the 12 spies.  Now a positive report is given.

3:1-3 God needs to be in the lead before you cross your obstacles, trials, or difficulties.  Jesus is the pioneer of our faith.

3:4 Give God adequate space to lead.

3:5 Sanctify yourselves

3:13 Step out in faith.

4:3-8 Set up a memorial to remember God’s work.  God wants us to have a testimony.  He wants us to remember He stopped the river with his hand.  Remember the miracles in your home.

4:9 Joshua made a memorial in the river.  No one would see it, but he knew it was there.  Just as secret sins will destroy you, so secret good deeds will strengthen you.  You are your secrets.  Some memorials are public and some are private.  Baptism is public.  Communion is more private between you and God.

4:6, 21 A word is given to the fathers.

5:1 Surrounding nations hear how the Jordan River dried up.  The soldiers are circumcised, which is another private memorial confirming the old covenant.  Communion is a private memorial confirming the new covenant.

5:12 Rahab and her family were watching all of this preparation.  They watched the army march around.  When the army left for the day, maybe they would run out and get some more food and water.  She had not heard from the spies for over 2 weeks.  Had they forgotten her?  Where is the rescue party?  Shouldn’t they get here before the fighting begins?

6:17-18 The city and all that is in it belongs to the Lord.  Don’t take any loot.  I was trying to picture what was happening.  There are 40,000 armed men marching around 8 acres.  If all the men could stand in the city, they would be twice as thick as Christmas trees.  Picture them crossing the Molalla at flood stage up by Camp Onalee.  They march ever day a couple miles to Liberal.  They march up to the railroad tracks, left toward Molalla, right back to Hwy 213, right back to Liberal and then back to Camp Onalee.  In the middle of Mike’s farm is an 8 acre fortress.  On one side you could see a scarlet rope hanging out a window.  You couldn’t say a word, but when you got back to Camp, you talked about the scarlet rope.

6:22-25 Rahab and her family were witnessing destruction happening all around them.  Then there was a knock and 2 familiar faces.  In the midst of all the rubble and 40,000 troops, Rahab is led to a radically new way of life.  The old things have passed away.  All things have become new.  She believed God and now knew a peace that was beyond all understanding.  She believed when others didn’t.  She chose the God of Israel as her God.  She took a big risk and acted on her faith.  Her faith in God was so strong, her whole family came to stay with her.  Her whole world was changed.  She married an Israelite.  She was blessed by God.

What you are today is not what you can be in Christ Jesus.  Pay attention to what God is doing and join in.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  Follow in His steps.  Believe the word.  Act on it.

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