And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there. And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. ~ Joshua 2:1-4 (ESV)
In the city of Jericho lived a woman named Rahab, who had the occupation of prostitute. This could mean that she served as a cult-prostitute for certain religious services at a temple, or she could have possibly owned a brothel as part of an inn, which would help explain why the spies stopped there seeking room.
Either way, this woman, who to this point had been involved in sexual sin, helped the spies in their mission and ultimately found a place among God’s people. Many in the Promised Land had heard of this people of Israel, former slaves of the Egyptians and wilderness wanderers who won mighty battles. Thus, the spies were quickly identified and the king of the city came looking for them.
Rahab could have turned them in, not wanting to upset the king and trusting in his protection. Instead, she believed in the power of God and feared him more (2:8-11). So, she hid the spies and sent the king on a wild goose chase.
Because of this act of faith coupled with kindness, a request was granted her: That she and all her household be spared when the armies of Israel conquered her city. Little would she have known the greater significance that would come.
You see, this unlikely ally of the spies, a prostitute of a pagan people who heard of God and believed, later married into the people of Israel. Matthew 1:5-6 tells us that Rahab was the mother of Boaz, the man who would rescue Ruth the Moabite widow of an Israelite. Boaz would then be the father of Obed who became the father of Jesse who became the father of King David. But it didn’t stop there as David’s linage ultimately gave rise to Jesus, the Savior-King being born among God’s people.
In life, it can be easy for us to look down upon and judge other people because of their reputation, occupation, ethnicity, age, education, and a host of other things. We tend to be most comfortable with those who are most like us and uncomfortable with those who are most different.
Yet, Rahab’s story is a reminder to us that God can and does use people from all sorts of backgrounds. He took a prostitute from a city destined for destruction and placed her in the linage of his Son, the world’s Savior and King. So, let us not shy away from taking the gospel to someone because of their background, remembering that they could be a brother or sister in Christ in the making.
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