A Story of Faith, Hope, and Love
The story of Rahab the harlot in Joshua 2:1-14 is a story of faith, hope and love. Joshua sent two men as spies into Jericho before Israel entered into the Promised Land… The two spies lodged with Rahab the harlot whose house was on the wall of the city. The King of Jericho heard that spies were in the land and that they had stopped at Rahab’s house. The King sent his own men to Rahab’s house to find the spies. The harlot Rahab secretly hid the men and told their pursuers that the spies had already left. She told them that if they hurried, they might be able to overtake the spies. When they had left, she came up to the roof of the house where she had hid the spies under a pile of flax. Rahab told the spies that the reputation of the Lord whom they served had preceeded them… How God had stopped the waters of the Red Sea so that the children of Israel could pass safely through. Then when the Egyptians tried to pursue them through the sea, the Red Sea came crashing down and drowned the Egyptian host of horsemen and charioteers.
Rahab lived a hard life in Jericho. She was a harlot. In those days, harlotry was not as despised a profession as in the Puritanical setting of Hawthorne’s novel “The Scarlet Letter.” Hester Prynne, according Hawthorne’s novel, wore the scarlet letter “A” to brand her as an adulteress. In the King James Version of the Bible, the moniker “harlot” was not to remind us of Rahab’s sin, but rather to remind us of God’s unconditional grace and mercy…for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
The story of the harlot Rahab is a story of God’s redemption. This story is also an illustration of the three gracious gifts that abide: faith, hope, and love. After the account in the story of the tower of Babylon, God had a plan to redeem mankind. His plan of redemption to was be accomplished through the line of Abraham through his son of promise Isaac. The story continues through Isaac’s son Jacob, and the story of Jacob’s son Joseph who became prime minister of Egypt. Through the revelation that God provided to Joseph, the children of Israel came to Egypt to escape the famine. The twelve tribes of the house of Israel ended up in Egypt and after several generations when everyone forgot the story of Joseph, Israel became slaves of the Egyptians. After four hundred years in Egypt, God called Moses to lead Israel from captivity. When Moses died, God called Joshua to lead the Children of Israel into the promised land. God promised that Israel would defeat the inhabitants beginning with the city of Jericho. Joshua sent two spies to the city to report back to him about the city. The spies went to the harlot Rahab’s house so that they wouldn’t be discovered.
Rahab helped the spies of Israel escape because the reputation of Israel’s God had preceded them. She was acting on the historical record of God’s deliverance of the Children of Israel through the Red Sea forty years earlier. The spies gave Rahab the harlot specific instruction on how to save herself and her family when God would destroy the city of Jericho. In their promise to spare her, the spies offered her three gifts from God: Faith, hope, and love. She needed these gifts from the Lord because she had reached the end of her earthly resources.
First, the gift of faith… Rahab knew that she had to act on the word of Joshua’s spies. Believing faith upon the Word of God is the first step to receiving the promises of God. She walked in faith and took a risk to commit herself to act upon the word. Her action to hide the spies was an act of faith. For by grace are ye saved by faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. This verse is about salvation. What does it take to commit our lives to him for salvation? The ability to take that “leap of faith” is a gift of God. For instance, when you chose your spouse, there was a high degree of faith required. How do we know that Jesus Christ is the means by which we shall obtain eternal life? The only way to know is by making an absolute commitment to know something that we could not know by means of our own earthly minds. God made us with two natures, one with a desire for the things of the flesh, and another nature of the spirit to relinquish control of our own lives. A leap of faith requires that we relinquish control over our own lives and exhibit humility by trusting in his word.
The second gift given to Rahab was hope. She was a marginalized woman in a male dominated culture. She had no status within her society. Racially, socially, physically and culturally she was the lowest of the low without hope. God gives two types of grace: common grace and saving Grace. Common Grace is given to all men. However, you need God’s saving grace in order to have hope. Rahab found hope in the promise of God’s deliverance. She found hope in the God whom the spies served. Hope is the substance of things prayed for, the evidence of things not yet seen.
Rahab’s third gift was the gift of Love. She found her rescue from spiritual darkness because of the Love of God. Our security may vary, but often we do things that make us feel loved. Unless we are loved unconditionally with the love of God, we will never know fulfillment. According to Matthew 1, Salmon, son of Nashon, had a son with Rahab. Their son named Boaz married Ruth, who was in the line of David in the line of the coming Messiah. Rahab, a desperate harlot became a princess in the line of the King of Kings Jesus Christ. She was a woman without status, security, or worldly credentials who sold her body to eke out a meager existence. Even though Rahab was known for reprehensible sin, the grace and mercy of God exalted her to the status of a princess. Morning by morning new mercies we see. We want to be reminded not of our sin nature, but of the promise of the gift of God’s salvation by grace. For he who knew no sin was made the perfect sin sacrifice on our behalf that we may be made the righteousness of God in him. And now abideth faith, hope, and love…but the greatest of these is love.
What God did for Rahab, he did for the women in our lives: He saved her by faith, he gave her the hope of the return of Jesus Christ, and he loved her unconditionally with the love of God.
May God richly bless you!
Your brother in Christ,