The Book of Joshua describes a very interesting woman in biblical history. At least, she's interesting to me. Her name was Rahab and she was a prostitute. I don't know about you, but that grabs my attention pretty quick. I mean, why would God include a story about a prostitute in His Word? And not only is her story included in the Bible, but if you'll take a look at Matthew 1:5 you'll see that she is included in the lineage of JESUS!!
Now if that doesn't grab ones attention, nothin' will!
Rahab lived in a town called Jericho. The Israelites, led by Joshua since Moses had died, are preparing to overtake all the towns and people that occupy the land that God is giving to them--The Promised Land. Jericho is part of that land. Two spies are sent to Jericho to scope things out. Rahab hides them in her house so the king's men can't find them. Then, to top things off, she helps them escape after obtaining a promise that when they do come back and destroy the city, they'll keep her and her family safe. (Joshua 2)
OK. I have about a million questions at this point!
WHY did Rahab help these guys? They were strangers to her. They were foreigners. WHY would she risk her own life to hide them and then help them escape?
HOW did the two spies know they could trust Rahab? HOW did they meet her? Some translations and scholars say Rahab was simply an innkeeper, so the spies obviously sought her out for a place to spend the night. But Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25 refer to her as a "prostitute." I'm no Hebrew language scholar, but I don't see how the word for innkeeper could be mistaken for prostitute. If both James and the author of Hebrews, who was by all accounts a very educated Jew, refer to her as a prostitute, then I'm swayed to go with them.
Despite the dark life Rahab leads, she obviously has knowledge of God. In verses 8-13 she speaks of "the Lord" and knows about the Promised Land. When the spies tell her they'll save her if she'll let down a scarlet cord from her window--the same window she used to help the men escape--she does what she's told.
The author of Hebrews credits Rahab with faith (11:31) while James calls her righteous (2:25). Then there is the indisputable fact that she is listed in the lineage of our Lord and Savior.
How does a woman go from being a prostitute to being called righteous and being listed as Jesus' Great (etc) Grandma?!
I believe something pretty amazing happened to Rahab from the moment the spies first entered her home. Maybe even before they arrived. I think Rahab had an encounter with El Roi, the God Who Sees Me. The same God who saw Hagar back in Genesis 16. The same God who sees us today. I think Rahab's heart was ready to hear God and to know Him in a way she hadn't experienced before.
It changed the course of her life.
It also changed the course of her loved ones' lives. Because Rahab was faithful and obedient, her entire family was saved (Joshua 6:22-24) while Jericho and its inhabitants were destroyed.
This story begs a question.
Can I be as faithful as a prostitute?
A prostitute named Rahab.