March 7, 2006
"Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. "Go, look over the land," he said, "especially Jericho." So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there." (Joshua 2: 1)
I'm sure that there were more respectable women in Jericho. I'm sure there were many that had high moral standards and values. I'm sure that there were wealthier, more beautiful, more appropriate women in the city for the spies to choose from. Why did they choose Rahab and her house? And were they the ones who chose?
The Bible doesn't tell us how they chose. The spies may have seen her walking the streets and followed her. They may have been attracted to the fact that her house was built on the city wall. We don't know for certain, but we do know that this was a woman of "ill repute." She wasn't just an innkeeper as some would say. The Hebrew word "zona", and the Greek, "porne" (Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25) classify her as a common harlot. She was an immoral woman. Even the meaning of her name had bad connotations...it meant "insolence; pride." She wasn't entirely bad however. She also had an honest occupation of linen weaving and dyeing. But God chose to point out her harlotry in His word. He didn't say that the spies entered the house of a linen weaver named Rahab. No, the word says that they entered the house of a prostitute.
Could it be that the spies were led entirely by the Lord when they found Rahab's house? Was she prepared beforehand for this very day? I believe that God, in His providence, led them there. The God who knew her in her mother's womb (see Jeremiah 1:5) had a plan for her life. She was predestined and chosen before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). She was "God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for [her] to do." (Ephesians 2: 10) And all of this was true in spite of her lifestyle and reputation. Two unknowing spies collided with one immoral woman by the perfect plan of God and salvation was brought to her and her household. The spies were there to get the necessary information for a successful battle. Rahab was there to have her life changed for all eternity. God had already decided to spare her from the judgement that would fall upon Jericho and use her to fulfill His purposes.
In Joshua 2, verse 11, Rahab declared her faith in Israel's God. In chapter 6, verse 25 we are told that Rahab, her family and all who belonged to her were spared. The grace and mercy of God met Rahab right where she was and won! She was met in her sin, and God chose her before she ever changed her ways. She was deserving of divine judgement just like the city she lived in, but Mercy said No! Knowing that she was a harlot boldly tells us about God's mercy in giving her faith and in sparing her. Rahab and her family were incorporated among the Jewish people. She afterwards became the wife of Salmon, a prince of the tribe of Judah (Ruth 4:21; 1 Chr. 2:11; Matt.1:5) and the mother of Boaz. She became a convert to the God of Israel and even became a part of the messianic line.
Rahab's story is my story. It may be your story as well. I can remember when God met me right in the middle of my sin. He didn't wait for me to change. He didn't expect me to be righteous before He would call to me. He was whispering my name each and every day while I continued to ignore Him, resist Him and go on sinning. But He was so patient with me. Every time that judgement demanded my death, Mercy said NO! He knew that I would eventually respond because He knew me all the way back before the creation of the world. He knew me and chose me in my mother's womb and had a plan for my life even then...just like Rahab. Jesus said that tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of the "righteous". (see Matthew 21:31). Add my name to the list. Add your name as well.
So again I ask, "Why Rahab?" Because she was a sinner. Just like you. Just like me. Maybe you were not a prostitute, but you were a sinner. And so was I. Sin is sin. And we are compelled to look at the grace and mercy of our loving God in her story and in our own personal journey. A God who was willing to enter into our mess and pull us out. He then makes us into something beautiful for His divine purposes. Let's remember our story each and every day of our lives. Always remember where you came from and Who pulled you out lest you be quick to judge the Rahab's around you. You never know what God has planned for anyone. Ask me "Why Rahab?". I say "Why not?"