Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The most unlikely people often exhibit the character God most desires. Consider the example of a prostitute named Rahab: she and her family were the sole survivors of the massacre at Jericho. And why?

"The city shall be under the ban, it and all that is in it belongs to the LORD; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent." (Joshua 6:17)

The details are found a few chapters earlier, in Joshua two. Rahab's own words speak volumes about her character:

"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. 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. 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." (Joshua 2:9-11)

The Red Sea story quickly spread throughout the region, and prompted terror and fear in the hearts of the people in surrounding regions. But, Rahab concluded that Yahweh alone is "God in heaven above and on earth beneath." Fear moved her to faith.

It's easy to skim through the genealogy of Jesus and miss the important mention of Rahab there: "Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab ..." (Matthew 1:5). Jesus' genealogy largely lists fathers and sons, but four women are prominently mentioned; one of which is Rahab the prostitute.

Her prominent status in the lineage of Jesus is hardly an endorsement of her chosen "profession", but rather of her outstanding faith, as is so evident in Joshua two. That faith merits mention in the great faith chapter of the Bible, Hebrews eleven (11:31). Simple, child-like faith spared her and her family from destruction and literally placed her in the family of our Lord Jesus.

Some find it troubling that Jesus' ancestral background includes the likes of Rahab, and king David's adulterous union with Bathsheba. Jesus' connection with humanity is, well; TOO human. Being the Son of God is easier to swallow than being the Son of man from a notably flawed human background. Yet, there is an important point in this uncomfortable truth: the vital quality of faith overrides a multitude of character flaws. Character will ultimately flow from faith, but can never substitute for it.

You and I are painfully aware of our own human failure and weakness. But, the example of Rahab reminds us that faith wins over our faults and flaws. Walk today by faith, and experience the grace of God that forms character as He desires.


© 2011, Steve Taylor


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