By faith Rahab the prostitute received the spies in peace and didn’t perish with those who disobeyed. Hebrews 11:30
The story of Rahab is far bigger than her hiding two spies on her roof. If I remember her only for this, it’s hard to fathom why she is in this Hebrews 11 lineup of faith giants. I need to look at the bigger story.
- She embraced Yahweh before the spies ever came to her house. The fame of Israel’s God had spread throughout the land of Canaan. Rahab was the only one who heard the stories and trusted God in response. She left the Canaanite gods. She changed sides. I don’t know if her faith was public but it was heading that direction as her story continued.
- She disobeyed the king of Jericho when his henchmen came looking for the spies. She said that the spies had already left when, at that moment, they were still on her roof. She knowingly acted against her king and her own people.
- She made a covenant with the spies, not only for herself but for her family. That meant that she had to convince her family to change sides too. She put her life on the line. Any one of them could have reported her. Family does betray family on matters of religion after all.
The Hebrew word used to describe Rahab in Joshua 2 literally means “a prostitute woman.” She might have been involved in cultic prostitution related to Canaanite religious practices. Yet in spite of her past, her conversion was real. God’s plan for her life was not thwarted by her life of sin. Her faith changed her destiny and her standing before God.
Finally, her message to the spies validated her faith and is legendary and instructive. “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that dread of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt in fear before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites that were beyond the Jordan. As soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no courage left in any of us because of you. The LORD your God is indeed God in heaven above and on earth below.” Joshua 2:9-11
Here is the irony. Rahab reveals that the stories about Yahweh were famous throughout the land of Canaan. God, and His people, were feared. Yet forty years earlier, Moses sent 12 spies to Canaan to see how easy, or difficult, it would be to take the land. They were seized with fear over the giant-sized men and the seemingly impenetrable city walls. Their fear incurred God’s wrath and He cursed them with forty more years of wilderness wandering. What a tragedy. They feared the people who feared them!
This is my takeaway ~ The enemy we are often afraid of ~ is really afraid of us.
With You on my side, whom shall I fear? Amen