God’s People, part 27: Rahab

Read Joshua 6:20-27

“Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab). Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth). Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon (whose mother was Bathsheba, the widow of Uriah).”  (Matthew 1:5-6 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

rahabPart 27: Rahab. Most people familiar with the story of Joshua are familiar with the name Rahab. She was the “prostitute” who helped Joshua’s spies escape Jericho without getting captured. She was the unseemly woman who read the “tea leaves”, as it were, and did the seemly thing in order to save herself and her family.

At best we look at Rahab in the same light that Vivian Ward is viewed in the 1990 hit film, Pretty Woman. If you recall that film, you will remember it centers on the main character, Vivian, who is a “hooker” who is down on her luck. She can barely turn enough “tricks” to make end’s meet and pay her rent. She’s ultimately looking for “Mr.Right” to come in like a knight in shining armor; however, what man of that caliber consorts with prostitutes?

Of course, such a man does come to the rescue and saves the day. Well, sort of. He was actually a rather cold, calculating, arrogant, and driven business man who was ultimately looking to “let loose” with a call girl. It was only through getting to know her situation, and through getting to appreciate the quirky aspects of her personality that he saw the human behind the label. It is only in that moment that he began to fall in love with who she was as opposed to what she could do for him.

At best, Rahab is seen in that kind of light. She’s the “hooker” who was lucky enough to have a couple of men (no stereotypical thinking there, right?) come in and save the day. At worst, she is seen as the kind of “low life scum” that God is willing to save if they would only do the right thing for a change. Sadly, both the best and the worst case ways that Rahab is often thought of in only goes to betray how judgmental we are, and how much this story was MEANT FOR US as a reminder that our judgment is  way, way off.

Yes, Rahab was a prostitute. Yes, more than likely, the house that she “lived in”  was an inn and a brothel one of the major city-states in Canaan. Yes, it is more than likely that she and/or other prostitutes that worked under her “serviced” the two spies of Israel. Yes, that her line of work was shady and not what God would want for any human being to do for a living. And, yes, it is true that she did strike a deal with the spies, because she had a hunch that their God was going to deliver the victory to them over her own people. Smart move on her part.

There is no doubt that Rahab was a sinner and that her line of work is sinful. Prostitution is a degrading of one’s own body, one’s own sacred sexuality, for the purpose of making money. No one…well, mostly no one would argue against that. But the real sin here was not Rahab’s,  but that of the society. The real sin was the society’s for creating a culture where women were left destitute and forced to exploit their own bodies in order to survive.

The sin was that of the men, and men were ruling Rahab’s world, who saw women as nothing more than property and/or objects to use and abuse. And let’s not be fooled, women weren’t the only one’s being exploited. Men and women alike, in the ancient world as in our time, have been exploited and prostituted out for profit. Men and women alike have been bought and sold as property and seen as nothing more than a means to an end. The word shameful doesn’t even do it justice. The world EVIL, on the other hand, does.

The thing is that God is always on the side of the oppressed, not on the side of the oppressors. God was on Rahab’s side that fateful night she brought two spies into her brothel. God was on Rahab’s side the fateful night the spies returned with their army and spared her life. God was on Rahabs side, and chose her to be the mother of royalty, and one of the pillars in a long lineage that led right to the Messiah, the Son of God, himself.

That’s right, Jesus descended from a prostitute. But God saw more in her than the labels other human being threw on her. God saw more in her than she saw in herself. God saw a woman of character, a woman of integrity, and a woman whose gracious hospitality would lead to the ultimate embodiment of grace. The challenge for us is to see other human beings through God’s eyes and not our own. After all, who are we to deem the worthy from the unworthy. Only God can be that judge. Rather than placing ourselves in God’s place, let us put ourselves to the work of God…the work of liberating all human beings from exploitation and oppression.

“Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” – The Holy Spirit (Acts 10:15)


God, it is not what is on the outside that defiles us, but what comes from within. Purify me, and renew a right spirit within me. Amen.

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