image courtesy of reverendmom
In this, my last post from the story of Rahab, I want to talk about the story itself — and not the questions of ethics which stem from it. Other posts in this series can be found here:
The residents of Jericho were privy to some wonderful (or terrible, depending on who you are) stories about the power of the Hebrew God — stories of his care for, and protection of, the Israelite people. Rahab explained to the spies that she and all her neighbors were trembling and afraid; that’s when she declared the following:
“The Lord your God is indeed God
in heaven above and earth below.”
A Proclamation of Faith
But more than a spoken proclamation was involved. Rahab demonstrated her faith with actions — by surrendering her life (and the lives of her family members) to the one true God. The Hebrew writer doesn’t speak of Rahab’s sworn statement of faith; James doesn’t speak of her testimony of words. Both writers focus on the actions that were born out of her true faith in God. Actions that confirmed and completed Rahab’s faith.
Rahab entrusted her life to God. And, consequently, to the people of God. There’s a lot to be said here concerning the people of God embodying the character of God. How many prostitutes today would entrust their lives to the church, believing us to possess the intrinsic qualities of God?
The Scarlet Cord
The scarlet cord draped in the window is quite symbolic. What Hebrew wouldn’t have thought back to their parents’ last night in Egypt — when they were aroused from their sleep and begged by Pharaoh to leave immediately? The blood on their own doors prompted the Lord to pass over their homes, while He killed the firstborn of every Egyptian family. They were at that time instructed to observe the Passover ceremony when they would one day enter into the promised land (that is the very land now inhabited by Rahab and her neighbors, which would be taken a short time later). Their very entry into the city was a Passover play of sorts, with Rahab acting in the role of Israel.
We, as Christians, look at that same scarlet cord and are reminded of the blood of Christ, which saves us from certain death.*
Rahab’s scarlet cord also marks the preservation of her family, a family from which the Messiah would one day be born. Rahab’s story is more than a demonstration of true faith; in many ways both your faith and mine was born out of hers. She is a sort of spiritual grandmother to us.
The story of Rahab is one of the most beautiful stories in the Bible. Rahab, a prostitute, believed that God was indeed God and acted on that belief by surrendering her life to him. As a result, she chose to share her life with the people of God and was saved from certain death. This is faith, plain and simple.
What I’ve Learned
- True faith is always accompanied by works.
- We, as the body of Christ, should possess the characteristics of God in such a way that sinners trust us with their lives — no matter how sinful, sick, or twisted they may be.
- It’s interesting that Rahab saw God’s power and the ease with which he destroyed enemy nations — and was prompted to believe the Israelite God was indeed Lord of heaven and earth. Whereas today there is ongoing debate using logic which is exactly the opposite: “What kind of a loving God would do such a thing…” as punish humans, send people to hell, etc, and so on? Justice once was evidence of God’s Lordship; now it’s become evidence that we’ve got the wrong kind of God?
- God uses sinners to accomplish his purposes and to teach his people. Always (except in one exceptional case).
- The faith of one individual can (and often does) play a role in the salvation of many. Not only did Rahab (in essence) save her family, but her decisions played a part in the future of all mankind.
- I believe American Christianity, however, places too much importance on “personal” salvation and “personal” decisions in regards to accepting Christ.** Group decision-making is demonstrated often in scripture, as is the head of a household making a decision for that entire household. This story is just one such example.
Any thoughts on the story of Rahab?