Doomed to be caught up in the slaughter of the Israel army, she saved her family by hiding spies.
Rahab lived in the town of Jericho and was the resident prostitute. She was a Canaanite, which meant she was an enemy of Israel. Why is this important? Jericho was about to be destroyed by the army. Her days were gravely numbered.
Backing up just a bit, Joshua was in charge of the Israelites who were to inherit the promised land. They’d never been in Israel yet. They’ve followed a pillar of smoke and fire through the desert for 40 years! They’ve seen violence and success that could only be from God, buried almost an entire generation and are now camped on the east side of the Jordan River. They’ve been told they can have the promised land and are so ready to do what ever it takes to get there including slaughter a town!
Joshua sends out two spies to check out Canaan, especially Jericho. You would have thought that being Joshua’s trusted soldiers, they would be above reproach, but rather they went directly to a brothel!
Prior to their arrival, Rahab had heard the stories of the Israelites and how God provided and protected them. She knew of the massacre of King Sihon and King Og and their people and knew they were planning on destroying her town and everyone in it. So, when the spies showed up at her home-based business, she brought them in and treated them well. They obviously weren’t there to acquire ‘information’, but regardless they were there.
The King of Jericho heard about the spies and sent men to kill them. A knock at the door spurred Rahab into quick thinking. She hid the spies on her roof under some stalks of grain. Timing is everything. She basically had a captive audience and before she went down to answer the door, she negotiated her (and her family’s) protection. They agreed.
She was told, if she protected them, and hung a red cord out her window, they would not harm her or anyone in her family that was inside her home when the troops came through. But if she broke her promise, all bets were off.
Once the King’s men left and the spies were unharmed, she gave them good advice to stay alive. They thanked her, she let them down with a cord from her window because it was on the outside wall of the city, and they escaped unseen.
Before they left, she told them, she knew the King’s men would head into the woods, so she instructed them to hide in the mountains for three days. When the soldiers returned, then they could go through the forest to escape.
Her wisdom and information gathering was valuable to her in several ways. She was abreast of new information. Since she was an outcast, she must have gathered her info from her clients. And when the soldiers came looking for the spies, how did she know they would only search three days? Perhaps pillow talk?
But the thing I admire most was her discernment of information. She heard about the victories God had performed for the Israelites and recognized the authority. She told the spies, “I know God is handing this land over to you.” She had faith that God was who he was! She further said to the spies, “Your Lord your God is the God of heaven and earth.” I can just see the spies faces! They come to her for sex and she’s declaring their God as the God of all.
She is rewarded for her faith in several ways:
- She’s diligent to house all of her family and when the war begins, they’re all protected from death.
- She gives birth to Boaz. As a grown man, he has the reputation of being the most honorable man in town.
- Boaz marries Ruth who gives birth to Obed, who if we count down through the family tree makes Rahab the (8 times removed) great-grandmother of Christ!
Rahab lived on the outskirts of society. Born into this place, she had no choice for her lifestyle. But within her forced destiny, she embraced courage and discernment.
Rahab was saved by faith and justified by works. Her discernment of all the gossip was valuable to saving herself, two spies, and her family and their possessions. She kept her heart and mind opened. She knew she was not living a life of righteousness and recognized truth. She was wise enough to distinguish authority and the power of God. She was courageous and rather than just running scared, she did something about it.