25 Days of Christmas – A Giant Leap of Faith, Rahab of Jericho
Every family has a few skeletons in the closet, a few people we’d rather hide than recognize as family. And yet in the genealogy of Jesus the skeletons are listed. The gospel account of Matthew lists five women. The first was Tamar, who in shear desperation slept with her father-in-law in order to have a child and a connection to the line of Jesus. The next woman was Rahab, who started out in fear of God but overcame that fear in a tremendous leap of faith that saved her and those she loved and gave her a place in Christ’s lineage. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
Let’s take a few steps back. The land was Canaan, the city Jericho. The people of Jericho were pagan. Wickedness ruled that city. It was so wicked that when God told His people to take the city He told them to destroy every living thing. The reputation of the Hebrew God, Jehovah, was well known in this city. They had heard of the parting of the Red Sea and the people’s escape from Egypt. They had heard of the provision of the people by God in the desert. They had heard of the pillar of fire and the cloud that proceeded the Jewish people. Jehovah traveled with His people. And now they were headed their way, with orders to take the city.
Rahab was a woman with limited options. She ran an ” inn” built into the wall near the entry to the city. She was well aware of the talk about the Hebrews and their God. She was in the hub of the action. She was in the information business so to speak. You see Rahab was a prostitute. Like Tamar, she was desperate. She knew that when the Hebrews and their God came, it was over for her and her family. She was a Canaanite after all. But something about this Hebrew God intrigued her. She decided that when the opportunity came, she would throw her lot in with Jehovah.
That time did indeed come. Joshua, the Hebrew leader, sent two spies into Jericho to case the place out. They ended up at Rahab’s. They were obviously foreigners so authorities were sent to her place to take them into custody. But Rahab hid them on the roof and then lied to the authorities. That was quite a risk! When the spies got ready to leave, Rahab asked them to save her and her family when they came to destroy Jericho. They made a bargain but she had to get her relatives to her house and hang a scarlet cord on a window to mark the house. No guarantees were made if she failed her end of the bargain. Rahab kept her word and she and her family were saved and after the destruction of Jericho they lived among the Jews and she eventually fulfilled a role in the lineage of Christ.
But let’s think about this for a few minutes. It’s a cool story, but the army didn’t come the next day. The spies hid for three days before returning to their people. Then the army had to get ready. Then God had the army march around the city for seven days. So it was a week and a half to two weeks minimum before the town was taken. Rahab’s mother, father, and siblings were spared. Now most families don’t make it a habit to hang out with hookers, even if they are related. So how did Rahab get them all to her residence and then keep them there for almost two weeks? How did she keep the authorities from discovering her lie? After all there were witnesses that saw the men visit her establishment and now her whole family was hanging out there. And she had to keep herself and her family members inside. Did they have indoor plumbing? It must have been tough. And she did all this on the word of a couple of cornered spies. In reality, she did it on faith. She threw her lot in on the God she had heard so much about. Fear may have prompted her but faith propelled her through it! And the book of James counts her as righteous because of her faith. She joined the Hebrew people, and bore a son named Obed. This son was a good man, righteous in God’s sight so she must have raised him right.
God did not approve of her prostitution. He did not approve of her lying. But he approved of her faith in Him. He approved of the action she took to live out that faith. And even if she had been caught and tried she now belonged to Him. Because of her actions, her family was saved from the destruction of Jericho and she lived on in the Jewish line of David, a royal line. Rahab risked all. Some might think she was so low that she really had no where to go but up. Isn’t that really all of us? We all are sinners and are saved only by faith in Jesus and the grace of God. We all need to be rescued. Christmas is the story of God coming to earth to rescue and redeem the human race. As we draw near to the day of celebration, why not take a risk and side with Christ. Who knows where that choice will lead you!