As we have been walking through the Old Testament, focusing on the fact that God has promised to send a Savior to rescue mankind from his greatest enemy, himself, we have seen many different people trust in God’s plan of salvation. Adam and Eve trusted in God’s salvation. Able trusted in God’s salvation. Noah trusted in God’s salvation and he shared the message of salvation with everyone who would listen. Only his family chose to believe him. Abraham trusted in God’s salvation. Isaac trusted in God’s salvation. Jacob trusted in God’s salvation. Joseph trusted in God’s salvation. Moses trusted in God’s salvation. Joshua trusted in God’s salvation. We saw that both Jews and Gentiles experienced God’s salvation. In this lesson, we are going to see how a lying prostitute named Rahab comes to trust in God’s salvation. This story reveals that God’s salvation is not based on merit. God’s salvation is based on His character, the revelation of His mercy and grace to a world that is far from His presence. Rahab was far from the presence of God yet, in His mercy and grace, He sent out His message to her.
I. An unworthy recipient
The Lord establishes the fact that Rahab is an unworthy recipient of God’s salvation by revealing her character in Joshua 2.
1 Then Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as spies secretly from Shittim, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lodged there.
Rahab is a Gentile. This means that she is a pagan who more than likely worships idols. She grew up in a culture that was pagan and lived as pagans. If you were wondering what the pagans of Canaan were like, God explains in His Word. Deuteronomy 18 Deuteronomy 22 Leviticus 20:10-22 lay out the sins practiced in the pagan land of Canaan:
- Witchcraft in all of its forms (spiritism, divination, astrology, spell casting, illicit drugs etc.)
- demonic in nature
- harm the one who practices them
- harm others
- Sexual sins
- cross dressing
- Child sacrifice (abortion of their times)
Rahab was no better than her people. She was a prostitute. She practiced sexual sins. She was also a liar. Rahab’s name means “wide” or “liberal”, possibly meaning “easy” the way that we use the term today when talking about girls who are vulnerable to sexual advances from men. She has done nothing to deserve God’s mercy and grace. She deserves punishment for her lifestyle like all sinners do.
9 and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you.
10 “For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.
11 “When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.
12 “Now therefore, please swear to me by the LORD, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth,
13 and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” (Joshua 2)
Rahab had heard about the Lord. She knew of His mighty deeds, how He delivered the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt. She also knew about the parting of the Red Sea and how the Lord had protected Israel from the other pagan nations along the journey to the Promised Land. She also knew that the Promised Land would be given to them. There are also indicators that Rahab was familiar with the character of God. She knows that God is Jehovah, the self-existing One. She also knows that God is Elohim, the all powerful Creator God. Based on God’s character and what she has heard about Him, she appeals to God’s mercy and grace the way that the Tax Collector in the Temple did and He answers her. She did not deserve the mercy and grace of God and that is the beauty of the Lord’s salvation. None of us deserves it yet God still offers it to us. Rahab hears the message of the Gospel, she believes the message of the Gospel, and God transforms her from a lying, pagan prostitute and adopts her into the family of God. This is the same message for modern man. We are all born like Rahab, separated from God, deserving eternal damnation yet, God, in His great mercy and grace, extends His salvation to everyone. Have you experienced God’s salvation the way that Rahab did?
II. Faith in action
Notice that Rahab believed the message of the Gospel first, was transformed by the Lord and then, that faith led her to act.
14 So the men said to her, “Our life for yours if you do not tell this business of ours; and it shall come about when the LORD gives us the land that we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.”
The Promise to Rahab
15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall, so that she was living on the wall.
16 She said to them, “Go to the hill country, so that the pursuers will not happen upon you, and hide yourselves there for three days until the pursuers return. Then afterward you may go on your way.” (Joshua 2)
Faith and works are not opposed to each other. Some teach that good works lead to salvation while others teach that good works have nothing to do with salvation. Both of those extremes are incorrect. Genuine faith, like Rahab’s, leads to salvation that produces the good works of obedience. The Apostle James uses Rahab as an example to show that good works do not produce faith but, genuine faith does lead to good works. The good works of obedience in the life of Rahab were saving the spies lives and choosing to join with the children of Israel in conquering the Promised Land.
III. Eternal Blessings
Rahab did not just receive temporal blessings by helping the spies and then the children of Israel. She also received the eternal blessing of salvation.
23 So the young men who were spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and her mother and her brothers and all she had; they also brought out all her relatives and placed them outside the camp of Israel.
25 However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. (Joshua 6)
Not only was Rahab’s life spared but, so were the lives of her family members. She shared the message of God’s mercy and grace with them and they also believed. They were able to be adopted into the family of God. The final blessing that we see here is the fact that Rahab is actually in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Promised Messiah who will make it possible for Jews and Gentiles to experience God’s mercy and grace. In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 1, we discover Jesus’ genealogy and in that genealogy we see that Rahab is there. She went from a lying, pagan prostitute to a child of God who was honored to be in the lineage of the Messiah. Isn’t God’s message amazing? Have your experienced God’s mercy and grace by placing your faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? Are you sharing this amazing message with the people within your sphere of influence?