RAHAB [A LINEAGE OF GRACE]

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This story left me awed throughout, by how much Rahab, not just a Canaanite woman, but a prostitute, sang the praises of God. She had never known Him, never experienced Him, she did not know His word, did not know His law, but she had a belief so strong she couldn’t help but sing His praises at every opportunity.

Being a prostitute, she was living in sin, every day of her life, yet she did not relish it. She hated the state she was in and although she had been raised in pagan tradition and immorality was not a big deal to them, she already saw herself as unworthy, undeserving and so she begged to be shown mercy, she promised her entire being if the God of the Israelites would deliver her from captivity. She was not only imprisoned within the walls of Jericho, but also within the walls of sin.

…no one knew the fierce heart that beat within her. No one suspected the stored resentment, the gathering fury, the aching hunger to break free and escape. She was in a prison others had made for her, a prison she had succeeded in filling with earthly treasures. But she had other plans, other dreams and hopes. And they all depended on the God out there; the One she knew had the power to save those He chose. Somehow she had known…that He was a true God, the only true One.

She had completely surrendered her will to this God that was yet unseen. She had made plans but she acknowledged that the success of them depended on God. It is simply amazing how much she praised God, it is simply amazing and it made me compare her state to some, if not majority of the Israelites whom through the act of unbelief, had incurred the wrath of God and had caused them to wander in the wilderness for forty years. The people, who had seen God’s wonders, felt his presence, heard him speak, their God, and yet the belief that the outsider, Rahab had was far stronger, dare I say more genuine. She wanted to serve that God. She only wanted to know how. She had no idea how to do it and so she promised all she had;

‘O how I wish I were one of Your people, for you alone are a true God…I would bow down to You and give You offerings if given the chance!…I would love him!…I would serve Him any way He asked. Given the chance, I would bow down before him and rejoice to be counted among his people!’

She was doing what those who claimed to be part of God’s chosen people should have been doing; living a life of praise, accepting that you are nothing without God, letting Him show you the way to serve Him well, to please Him. I am again reminded of a hymn by Horatius Bonar, asking for this quality Rahab possessed;

Fill thou my life, O Lord my God,

in every part with praise,

that my whole being may proclaim

thy being and thy ways.

 

Not for the lip of praise alone,

nor e’en the praising heart

I ask, but for a life made up

of praise in every part!

 

Praise in the common things of life,

its goings our and in;

praise in each duty and deed,

however small and mean.

 

Fill every part of me with praise;

let all my being speak

of thee and of thy love, O Lord,

poor though I be, and weak.

 

So shalt thou, Lord, from me, e’en me,

receive the glory due;

and so shall I begin on earth

the song forever new.

 

So shall each fear, each fret, each care

be turned into a song,

and every winding of the way

the echo shall prolong;

 

So shall no part of day or night

from sacredness be free;

but all my life, in every step

be fellowship with thee.

For a Canaanite woman, she was already living through these verses, “poor though she was (in spirit) and weak (prone to even more sin)” Many times, a lot of Christians tend to justify their sin in so many ways so as not to feel guilty. Guilt is of course, a mighty weapon, cripples you, leaves you beating yourself up, hating yourself, leaves you feeling worthless. This feeling is one that we all must deal with when it creeps up on us. This is because it leaves us where we are, without any motivation to pick ourselves up and move forward. Guilt is not what one must feel when engulfed by sin. When we allow guilt to reign, we only deal with it by covering it up with more sin. The sin of rationalization and justification, thinking that one can never be able to cease from sin, one cannot resist temptation, and so we let ourselves go, comforted by the lie that because of the saving grace, sin is okay.

But look at Rahab. Rahab hated the sin she was living in, yet she still felt she had a chance if she kept asking, if she prayed without ceasing, she was not broken down with guilt so much that she just sat brooding, she was charged up by conviction, which is a different kind of feeling. The feeling of remorse, regret, but not condemnation, the resolve to not turn back, and the acknowledgement of your weakness and inability to do resist sin by your own strength and so you pray, like Rahab did, you pray against every temptation, while trying to do it, God makes the way. Rahab said this prayer;

‘…please come…I don’t want to die. I don’t want my family to die. Send someone…open my eyes so that I’ll recognize them before the guards do. If they see them first and report to the king, all is lost!’

After saying this prayer, she didn’t go coil up in bed. And mind you, she believed her prayer had already been answered. Note that after she asked for God to send someone, she went on to ask God to open her eyes, because she knew someone will be sent, and so she’d need to recognize the person(s) before anyone else did. She then went to sit in her window, day in day out she sat and again, as seen in Tamar’s story, waited. In faith, she waited, and all through it never stopped

God did answer her prayers, God answered all her prayers. God had chosen her for greater things beyond what she had asked for. And as a chosen one there was need for her to go through what the Israelites went through before they were delivered. Her deliverance needed to be that complete. And so this brings me to how this story parallels the story of the Passover.

Rahab made the spies she had hid promise, by God, that they’d remember her and her entire family when the time of destruction came (angel of death) and they did. When they were about to leave, Salmon, one of the spies told her;

‘Listen to me, Rahab. We can guarantee your safety only if you leave this scarlet rope hanging from the window. And all your family members….must be here inside the house. If they go out into the street, they will be killed, and we cannot be held responsible…’

Now going back to the Passover, in Exodus 12 : 13, God said, “But the blood on your doorposts will serve as a sign, marking the houses where you are staying. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.”

Well in Rahab’s case it was a cord…scarlet; a scarlet code…Coincidence? And this time it was Jericho that was the target, unfortunately not just their firstborn, but every single one of them and their animals. By that scarlet mark that Rahab left, she also experienced the Passover, which I believe is a very significant part of the story.

One other thing worth noting in this story is how willing Rahab was to let go off sin. The life she had lived made her rich, independent, the king’s confidante, but when the spies came to her, she took the opportunity and asked them about their God, and about their laws;

There are laws against fornication and adultery

They told her, and she went straight into defense. However, note what happened to this Jerichoan Harlot;

I didn’t choose this lifestyle,’ she said in quick defense. ‘I was presented to the king by my father when I was a girl and had no say…’ (see what happens here) She stopped when she saw Salmon’s grimace. What did it matter how she had come to be what she was? She had sensed from the beginning that it was wrong. What did it matter that she had been just a girl and had to do what she was told? Did that excuse continuing in her profession these past few years and gaining wealth from it? No! She frowned and looked away…She looked at them again, calm and accepting. ‘If God loathes prostitution, then I’m done with it.’

Just like that, this woman was able to catch herself midway through an excuse that would have justified her sin. She stopped herself, and then fully accepted her fault. But it did not end there. She openly stated that she was done being a harlot. If it displeased the God she so longed to serve, then there was no way she was going to go on with it. Who deliberately angers the one she loves? She left sin behind for God. That is what He expects from us. Tell it to Him, “I’m tired of sin and straying Lord, I’m coming home.” And mind you, you just said this prayer while stranded in the middle of nowhere, you do not know where the road to home is, there’re so many paths before you, so this is what happens, as with Rahab, who cried out to the Lord, ceased from sin, and waited for redemption to come, so would also wait in faith for the Lord to guide you back home. He will be by your side, giving you strength to overcome the filthy habits, to resist sinful urges, to pray more, study the word more and completely break out from the dark zones where you were once shackled.

Rahab’s faith was proven after she and her family had been safely delivered. She wanted more than just her life that had been spared. She knew it was meaningless without God, that life. And so she continued to fight to be a part of God’s family.

Meanwhile, through all this, Salmon, the spy, had taken note of her, not merely as a man will look upon a woman of beauty, for Rahab sure was gorgeous, but her very character awed him and this is what he thought of her;

God could write His name upon the heart of anyone He chose – even a Canaanite prostitute! Out there in the darkness, across the Jordan inside the wall of a pagan city was a pagan woman of contemptible reputation who’d never seen a miracle, tasted a bite of manna, or heard a single word of the Law. And yet her faith was strong enough that she had greeted, welcomed, and protected those who were coming to destroy her and her people. ‘The Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below,’ she had declared.

He couldn’t help but admire her as that complete package and so it was not surprising that he married her in the end. Rahab was moved so deeply by what God had done for her, she couldn’t have asked for more, but she got much, much more. She asked Salmon,

Why would God take note of an unworthy woman like me?

And Salmon answered;

Because the Lord knows His people wherever they are, even when they’re inside the walls of a pagan city. He  knew you, Rahab, and He answered the prayer of your heart. God saved you from death, and God is now offering you a way to be grafted into His people.

It is still true of God today. He knows his people. His people are not just those who are already in the fold, living godly lives, but also those who are bent under the weight of sin, who yearn for respite, who thirst after God, who are pleading, wanting to be set free, yet not knowing where to go, what to do, how to go about it. To these, God stretches out his hand, God sends help, God delivers them. And after He does so, you become numbered among His people. Then you would know that to stay clear off sin, you must keep your hands in His. For as the hymn says, all things are possible to God;

The most impossible of all

Is, that I e’er from sin should cease

Yet shall it be, I know it shall;

Jesus, look to Thy faithfulness!

If nothing is too hard for Thee

All things are possible to me.

From Rahab and Salmon’s union, came Boaz. Boaz begat Obed, Obed begat Jesse, Jesse begat David the king, David begat Solomon another king, and from there the Messiah was brought to earth.

What I learned from the woman Rahab;

  1. Strong resolution
  2. Conviction
  3. The act of praise
  4. Power of prayer
  5. Strong faith (again)

Stay tuned for the story of Ruth.

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