Posted by: genelnicholsblog | October 21, 2015

the faith of a harlot

She is one of the most immoral characters in the Bible.  Her name is always preceded or followed by “the harlot.” She made a lot of money from her business, and as far as we could see she had very few, if any, outwardly redeeming qualities.  Yet she is mentioned three times in the New Testament, twice honoring her faith.  Let’s look first at two of those Scriptures and then at the background of this woman.

By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
Hebrews 11:31

And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?
James 2:25

Rahab lived on the famous wall of Jericho, part of the wicked Amorite Kingdom.  The wall was wide enough on which to build homes, stores and even a road.  It was a prime retail spot and rent must have been pretty pricey, but it seems that everyone knew of Rahab’s place.

Jericho was a crucial location in the process of taking the Promised Land for the Jews.  The Israelites, now led by Joshua, needed to conquer the city, but the famous wall had the reputation of being impenetrable.  They needed a closer look to find a weak or unguarded spot to attack.  So Joshua and Caleb entered the city at night shortly before the gates were closed.  Scripture gives every indication they simply walked in; this could have easily been the case because Jericho was a bustling town with people going in and out constantly.  The other interesting occurrence is that the two spies went to Rahab’s place; there could be several explanations for this:

  1. The location on top of the wall was a prime spot for spying
  2. The location offered a way of quick escape
  3. No one would think anything unusual about two men entering Rahab’s abode

Scripture is short on detail, but scholars surmise that the two spies told Rahab exactly why they were there and what was going to happen; they also told her about their God. I believe God had prepared her heart and she was ready to hear and accept what they had to say.  The true test came when Rahab had to make a choice. Somehow the spies had been discovered to be in the city and at Rahab’s house.  You know the story – she hid them on the roof and then lied to the city officials at her door telling them she knew nothing of any spies.  Then, before lowering them down the wall to safety, Rahab made a deal with Joshua and Caleb to spare her own life and those of her family when the Israelites attacked.

Rahab lied, she was a prostitute, and is honored in the New Testament three times … what??!!

Rahab was honored for her FAITH, not her morals.  Am I saying it’s okay to lie? No, of course not. But Rahab’s faith was in its infancy; she was only beginning to learn about God and lying was a way of life to that point. In the King James Version, Hebrews 11:31 says she, “received the spies with peace.” That means she embraced their cause – and she saved their lives.  From that day on Rahab lived a completely new life.  Her knowledge was limited, but her faith was strong. And Scripture gives her a place of honor.

I mentioned that Rahab is named in three places in the New Testament.  The third is in Matthew chapter 1 … in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. You see, Rahab was the grandmother of Boaz who was the grandfather of Jesse who was the father of King David … and then 28 generations later, Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus Christ.

Prostitute, Liar, Believer, Woman in the family tree of Jesus – Grace abounds where faith is strong!


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