Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Rahab's Story

When I was young, I thought the stories in the Bible were about good people. But, I soon discovered God's epic story was full of unexpected characters, one of whom was Rahab, the Harlot. She was a Canaanite, living in Jericho whose residence was imbedded in the city wall right next to the city gate. This made it easy for traveling men to find her and for city dwellers to notice who was frequenting her business. While she was able to hear all sorts of news from travelers who used her services, she was probably scorned by women in her community and probably maltreatment at the hands of the men frequenting her.         

Her story takes place after Moses died and when Joshua sent two spies to Jericho to spy out the Promised Land. When the spies arrived in Jericho, they went to Rahab's house and she was forthright about the state of her city. She told them she knew the Lord God had given Israel the land in which she lived and shared that her city upon hearing how the Lord had given them victory over the Egyptians and the two kings of the Amorites beyond the Jordan had become fearful. She also revealed what was in her own heart, "For the Lord your God, He is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath." She had responded to what she had heard, by believing in Jehovah. 

Someone saw the spies enter Rahab's place and reported it to the king of Jericho. He sent a band of men to her home to get them, but Rahab had taken the spies to the roof and hidden them under drying flax. She told the king's men the spies were not there and sent them on a wild goose chase. Once the band of men were gone, she went up to her roof and boldly asked the spies to deal with her with the same loving kindness she had shown them. She requested that they save her parents, her siblings and their families, and her when they came to take the city. They instructed her to remain silent about their visit, to bring everyone into her home for safety, and to hang a scarlet thread from her window. They promised that as long as she did as these things, they would be faithful to deal kindly with her and her family.  

On the day of battle the doors of the city were shut tight. Instead of coming in with weapons blazing, the Israelites came in quietly and set up camp. Then every morning for six days the men of Israel rose up and marched silently around the city walls. On the seventh day, they arose and marched around the city seven times and then blew trumpets and shouted a warrior's cry. The city walls crumbled--all except for the part of the wall containing Rahab's home. During those seven days, Rahab waited patiently, standing firm in her faith. She waited when she heard the walls of her city crumbling all around her in what had to sound and feel like a holocaust. And, she waited until the Israelites came for her and her family. 

Rahab was taken in by the Israelites. By faith and the mercy shown her, she was given a new start, which resulted in her becoming a wife to Salmon who was the founder of the city of Bethlehem and a mother to Boaz whose story is in the book of Ruth. We know Rahab was a changed woman as her husband was well respected by Israel and her son was a man of impeccable character who showed great kindness as we will see next week. Because of God's redemptions she was the grandmother to a king and was grafted into the lineage of the King of kings. 

Maybe God put Rahab in the Jesus' family line to remind us we don't have to let our past define us. In Christ, we are not victims to what we were, we have the power to make different choices now. In Christ, we can have the boldness of Rahab and become the women God created us to be. We can be mothers and grandmothers who break the bondage of generational sin to raise up godly men and women who do great things for the Kingdom of God. In Christ, we don't have to let our culture and what others say about us limit us. We can boldly ask the impossible of our God who has unlimited power to do above and beyond anything we can think or ask. In Christ, a godless heritage no longer defines us, because God places us in His family, giving us His heritage to call our own.  

Maybe God put Rahab in the family line to remind us of His faithfulness. Each of us has been given knowledge of God. It is written on our hearts at conception. It is written in nature where His splendor is on display for all to see. And, His story is being lived out in the life of every believer like an open book available to be read by unbelievers. When just one person in one community responds to what they know in their heart of hearts, to what they have seen around them, and to the testimonies they have heard, He will mercifully rescue them and set them free from the bondage of their sin. Just as God faithfully led the spies to Rahab, He will faithfully send someone to help those He has called His own.  

Maybe God put Rahab in Christ's family line to remind us our sin does not define us. No matter how bad our sin was, Jesus' love was big enough to reach out to us. His blood spilt on the cross was pure enough to cover even the sin we deem the worst. This means that when we are saved, those ugly labels like dirty, unworthy, addicted, murderer, thief, slutty, adulterer, gluttonous, defective, forgotten, invisible, weak, broken and outcast no longer matter to God. All that matters are the labels that describe who we are in Him--chosen, called, forgiven, accepted, redeemed, reconciled, restored, clean, strong, healed, worthy, gifted, and beloved children of God. 

Maybe God put Rahab in the family line to remind us we have Hesed. This is a legal agreement to cover someone with protection. It is like being under an umbrella in a storm. The umbrella can't stop the rain, but it can protect us from it. It is what Israel experienced in Egypt during the Passover when they painted blood over their doors and were protected from the angel of death. It is what Rahab and her family experienced when she hung a scarlet cord from her window and were kept safe from the walls falling and the battle raging around them. Just as Rahab was safe under Hesed, we are safe under Hesed, fully protected by the blood of Jesus from the wrath of God for sin. 

Maybe God put Rahab in the family line of Jesus to remind us faith is to be exercised by actions not just talk. Rahab was rescued because she exercised faith by hiding, protecting, and leading the spies out. She exercised faith by hanging a scarlet cord in her window, inviting her family in, and remaining in place as she waited on God's timing. Her story reminds us there will be times when life gets rocky and we experience fear. That is when we have the opportunity to exercise faith, not only through words, but through deeds and courageous restraint. We don't have to understand all that is going on, we just have to stand firm in faith, acting out of who God says we are instead of how we feel in the moment. 

Rahab responded to what she heard about Jehovah with faith--faith that resulted in her and her family being saved, in her having a new life in which she became a wife to Salmon the founder of the city of David, and a mother to Boaz the grandfather of David and a forefather of Jesus. May we be a people so touched by Rahab's story that we never forget our God is not a God who rewrites stories, but a God who takes the most sinful, ugly, painful stories and weave them into a glorious redemption story. 

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!