What picture comes to your mind when you think of a person who is brave? Who comes to mind when you think of a person who does great things for God? Do you think of a great saint or famous Christian leader? It’s funny how sometimes our picture of who God uses differs from the person whom God actually uses.
Our story today comes from the book of Joshua, chapter 2. At this point in the history of Israel, Moses has just died and Joshua is now the leader of the Jewish people. It is also time for them to enter the Promised Land. There was one problem, though. They knew they were called to move into Canaan and that it was their inheritance from the Lord, but there were some great nations already inhabiting it. Israel was a large group, but compared to the mighty nations of Canaan, they were feeling a little wimpy. So, Joshua decides to send 2 men ahead into the land to spy on the nations in order to create a plan of conquest.
The 2 spies come to Jericho first. And, they lodge at the home of a prostitute named Rahab. Okay, the first question you might be asking yourself is why were they in a prostitute’s home? We don’t really know. Maybe they were weak and lured in? Maybe this was common practice for out of town guests? Maybe they knew they couldn’t just walk into any home seeking lodging because they would be found out, and staying at this home was a good cover? No matter their reason for being in Rahab’s home, we quickly learn that they are were where they were supposed to be in order to fulfill their mission.
They are quickly found out. The king of Jericho learns there are spies in his city and someone has revealed their location. The king shows up at Rahab’s home and commands her to hand over the men. She lies and says the men have been there but have escaped. Now, we could discuss for awhile the moral implications of whether Rahab should have lied, but suffice it to say Rahab knew she was to protect these men and she puts her life on the line to save them.
Why? Why did this woman, a Gentile and a woman of disrepute, risk her life for two spies from an enemy nation? In Joshua 2:8-13 we learn why, “Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt 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 devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.”
The story of what God had done for His people had obviously spread throughout the region. The news had spread to Jericho and people were obviously afraid of what Israel could do with God on their side. But, Rahab goes a step further. Instead of just trembling in fear of Israel and their God, she moves from fear to belief. The stories of Israel’s deliverance drew her to faith in the One True God. And, her faith led her to action. She takes the spies into her home, hides them and lies to protect them because she knew that their God was mighty and powerful and would protect her because of her working on their behalf.
And, that is just what God does. The spies promise to protect her and her family when Israel conquers Jericho. She helps them escape and later in the story we learn that when Israel marches into Jericho, they keep their promise and Rahab and her relatives are the only people spared in the city. Because of Rahab’s faith and her brave actions, God spares her and her entire family from destruction.
But, that isn’t the last time we hear of Rahab. In the genealogy of Jesus listed in Matthew 1, we see Rahab mentioned. She became the grandmother of Boaz who was King David’s great-grandfather. Because of her faith and courage, Rahab becomes a part of God’s larger plan. She’s listed in the line of Jesus, the Savior of the world. Rahab, a prostitute, is used by God to save His people. Wow!
So, what does this mean for me and you? We may look at our lives and think God could never use me. I am weak and flawed and full of baggage, God could never use me. Lies! God loves to use the weak to do great things. That’s exactly who He wants to use. He uses those of us who are weak and flawed, but full of faith. He takes our weaknesses and makes us strong. He heals our pasts and our flaws and gives us great courage to do great things. All He asks for is willingness.
“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10 (ESV)