This week we rejoin a series I began in 2021 titled Faith Heroes.
In 2021, we looked at four faith heroes from the Bible. They were:
This month, we are going to dive in and explore four more faith heroes found in the Bible. Each week, I will introduce you to a new faith hero.
We begin our faith hero series this year with Rahab.
Who is Rahab?
Rahab is mentioned in the Old Testament for her bravery in protecting God’s chosen people.
In the New Testament, she appears in Hebrews 11 as one of the faith heroes, as well as in the line of Jesus. You might be wondering who she is. I’m glad you asked. Rahab was a prostitute in Jericho.1
Are you scratching your head yet?
You might be wondering how a prostitute ended up mentioned as a faith hero alongside some of the greats like Abraham and David. That’s a great question.
Let’s dive into why Rahab is a faith hero.
Before I share how Rahab is a faith hero, let me set the scene for you. The Israelites were up to their antics again, and they have spent the last few years wandering the desert.
The Lord promised them a land flowing with milk and honey, but somewhere along the way, their grumbling and complaining made its way to God’s ears, and he sent them on a little trip through the desert.
That trip lasted forty years. Over the course of those years, Moses died and Joshua took his place as leader of the Israelites. He was charged with taking the Israelites into the Promised Land of Canaan.
As Joshua assumed the mantel of leadership, we see clearly in the first chapter of Joshua, three times that the people of Israel are to be “strong and courageous”.2
It wasn’t that the Israelites would be on their own, the Lord God was going to hand over the land to the Israelites – He was going to fight the battles for them.3
As the time neared for the Israelites to cross the Jordan River and take the land of Canaan, he sent two spies out to check out Jericho.4
However…the king of Jericho heard that some Israelite spies were checking out the land.
Rahab’s Encounter with the Spies
Rahab first entered the scene in Joshua 2:1:
“So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.”
Scripture further says in Joshua 2:2-3:
“The king of Jericho was told, ‘Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.’ So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: ‘Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.’
You might be asking, how did the spies get to Rahab’s place?
Scripture is not clear on why they entered Rahab’s home. Scholars believe her house functioned as an “inn” for the town5 which makes sense when we see the request from the king to her.
We see Rahab’s thoughts and actions,
“But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, ‘Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from.’” – Joshua 2:4
Jericho Will Fall
Rahab was intuitive, but she had also heard what the God of the Israelites had done throughout the land over the years. We see this in her encounter with the spies. She knew something was going to happen, but she didn’t what.
The spies shared that God was going to hand over the city of Jericho to the Israelites. Rahab wanted out, so she made a deal with the spies.
She would give them safe hiding and a way out, and in return, the spies would not destroy the city until she and her family were safe.
They shook on it, and the deal was brokered.
Rahab’s home was on the exterior of the city – we know this from the description provided in the account. She lowered the spies out through the window to safety leaving the scarlet cord tied to the rope.6
It Was Time – Jericho’s Fate
When the spies returned to camp, they told Joshua,
“The LORD has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.” – Joshua 2:24
The Israelites crossed the Jordan River on dry ground in preparation for their march around Jericho.7
The agreement with Rahab was that her family would be spared, but only if they were all in her home, and she did not warn anyone of the coming destruction.8
For six days, the Israelites marched around the city of Jericho. On the seventh day, they walked around the city seven times. On the seventh time, they blew the ram’s horns, trumpets, and made a loud noise.
The Lord caused the walls of Jericho to come crashing down, and He delivered the city into the Israelites hands, but as for Rahab’s household, they were spared because of her faithfulness.9
Rahab in the New Testament
Rahab is mentioned three times in the New Testament:
- Matthew 1:5 as part of the lineage of Christ – she was the mother of Boaz who eventually married Ruth.
- Hebrews 11:30-31 – the destruction of Jericho
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been marched around for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she welcomed the spies in peace.”
Rahab is mentioned alongside the founders of the faith (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), Moses, Gideon, Samuel, King David, and a few others.
It says that Rahab did not perish because ”she welcomed the spies in peace”. God used Rahab to play a significant role in the history of the world.
- James 2:25 – Rahab is mentioned with Abraham as an example of faith and action.10
God Uses Everyone
God uses likely and unlikely characters to accomplish His will and plans. We seem to think that you have to be near perfect to be chosen by God to accomplish His plans, but that’s not the case.
By most standards, Rahab would have been deemed an outcast. Someone who was not worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as Abraham, but we saw how God orchestrated the escape of the spies because Rahab “welcomed” them.
Have you ever judged someone? I have. I am in good company – Samuel, the prophet, did it when looking for King David. God told him that “man looks at the outside appearance while God looks at the heart.”
The Pharisees certainly judged people for not following the countless rules set up. And, I hate to say it, we do this as well. We make assumptions based on someone’s appearance or the way they talk or you fill in the blank.
God chooses the right people for the job. If it were left up to us, we would probably want to see someone with multiple degrees, a near-perfect resume, and so much community service that it would make our heads spin.
But…God is different. He judges and measures the person based on their hearts. I think we could all learn a lesson from Rahab. You never know who you are entertaining or welcoming into your home.
I have heard it said before that you could be entertaining angels, and never know it, so treat people well.
Believe me, it is easier said than done, and we need to ask God for extra amounts of grace and care especially now.
I hope you can see why Rahab is a Faith Hero.
Lord, thank you for the example of Rahab. Thank you for the reminder that you use ordinary and broken people to accomplish your will and purpose. I ask you to forgive us where we have missed the mark and judged others. I ask you to show us how we can be better people, and view others like you see them. Thank you for your love and grace. Amen!
- Faith Heroes series
- RAHAB THE PROSTITUTE A Canaanite prostitute who aided Israelite spies in Jericho. As a result of her belief in the God of Israel, she and her family were spared during Joshua’s conquest of Jericho. Included in Jesus’ genealogy and praised in the New Testament for her faith and her actions.Moore, S. R. (2016). Rahab the Prostitute. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, L. Wentz, E. Ritzema, & W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Lexham Press. ↩
- Joshua 1:6, 1:7, 1:9 ↩︎
- Joshua 1:9 ↩︎
- Joshua 2:1 ↩︎
- The two Israelite spies spend the night at Rahab’s house or inn.In his retelling of the biblical story, Josephus portrays Rahab as an innkeeper. He might have chosen an alternate interpretation of the Hebrew term זנה (znh), which is most frequently translated as “prostitute” or “harlot.” On the other hand, he may have deliberately glossed over the issue of her profession (Antiquities 5.6–30). In either case, her “house” may indeed have functioned as an inn (Hess, Joshua, 83). In comparison, the Septuagint and the authors of Hebrews and James all use the Greek word πόρνη (pornē, “prostitute”).Moore, S. R. (2016). Rahab the Prostitute. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, L. Wentz, E. Ritzema, & W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Lexham Press. ↩
- Joshua 2:16-21 ↩︎
- Joshua 3-5:1-12 ↩︎
- Joshua 6:17 ↩︎
- Joshua 6:22-23 ↩︎
- Items 1-3 listed here are taken from the following reference:Moore, S. R. (2016). Rahab the Prostitute. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, L. Wentz, E. Ritzema, & W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Lexham Press. ↩
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