I like a good action story, especially if it is historical and biblical. But Rahab has never been one of my favorite characters. I've studied the Old Testament numerous times, the book of Joshua, the Women of the Bible, etc. Rahab is always included. I never have figured out why I have not warmed up to her. So I thought there might be something clashing in our personalities.
I have had my personality analyzed numerous times - most recently a few Wednesday nights ago along with your fellow WINGS leaders. Colleen Frost led us through a short, Jeff Walling's version of a self diagnostic of a personality profile. (Bears, Monkeys, Owls, Deers)
I concluded that Rahab was likely a Monkey/Bear - quick thinker -
entertainer, people oriented, fast-moving, spontaneous, etc.
Now I like Monkeys as well as anyone. Monkeys are influencing and
inspiring and creative as well as bring laughter into the world.
So it must not be Rahab's personality that is repelling me, so I must conclude it is her actions in this short chapter that is not endearing her to me. Let's examine the facts:
Yep, those things will definitely turn a friendship off for me. How about
you? I'm shocked at her morals. She definitely is not living a lifestyle
that is acceptable to me. Therefore, God should not accept her either.
As a harlot, Rahab was probably not living a life acceptable to her fellow countrymen either. She was a temptress. She was living on the edge of society. But what a society that was.
Canaan was not organized into a strong political unit, but into city-states. It was a buffer territory between the strong Egyptian country to the southwest and the Mesopotamian/Assyrian countries to the north/northeast. Tribute money was paid to whomever was in power.
The united Israelites will conquer this God-given region by entering across the River Jordan straight in to Gilgal, first to conquer Jericho, then on to Ai -- then westward, then a southern campaign, back to their base camp at Gilgal, then north all the way to Hazor.
The Israelites will be told to purge the land of the inhabitants and all their gods. The Canaanites had over 70 gods and goddesses. The legends say gods had no morals and in fact were very sadistic and evil toward each other and toward mankind.
Child sacrifice, sacred prostitution, snake worship is quite acceptable. With the morals of the gods and their priests being so low, is it any wonder that the morality of the people and the society was so low that God gives them up in favor of the Israelites? The gods were warring on each other and the city-states were often shifting alliances and warring on each other. In a society like this where its own gods and leaders turn on each other, is it surprising that any one person would turn on one's own people?
Let's go back and examine Rahab. What is it that God sees in her that I, "a good Christian woman," do not?
First, like all of Jericho, Rahab hears of a different kind of God -- unlike the gods of Canaan. A God that acts in the best interest of His people -- the Israelites. Although that God is not her God, she has to respect that God.
She believes that God has worked a miracle. She has faith that the God of Israel is mighty and that He had dried up the Red Sea so that His people could cross on dry land. No Canaanite god has done such a kind deed. Can it be that such a God exists?
I can't honestly say if Rahab repents of her past life and sins, but I do believe she is ready for her life to make drastic changes. She is bound to understand that the consequences of her actions that day of harboring Israelite spies and aiding their escape will alter the future of Jericho and thus her future. Her life will change and she is ready and willing to change.
She puts her life in the hands of these two spies and ultimately into the hand of God by verbally asking them to save her and her family. Faith in action that is followed through. She doesn't second guess her decision. She hangs the scarlet cord out the window right away, securing her salvation on Jericho's judgement day that is to come.
The woman that I was snubbing and turning my back on, God was looking at her heart and extending His grace toward.
Now we see a Rahab worthy to be included in the Hall of Faith in the Book of Hebrews [11:31]. A Rahab worthy to be honored. The wife of Salmon, the mother of Boaz, who is to become an ancestor of Jesus [Matthew 1:5]. We should all be so strong and courageous to literally put our life in God's hands.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR