Open Your Bible
Joshua 2:1-24, Joshua 6:22-25, Matthew 1:1-6, Hebrews 11:1, Hebrews 11:31
The prostitute. The harlot.
Rahab is one of the only individuals in the Bible forever known by her most famous sin. When we meet her in Joshua Chapter 2, she is introduced to us as simply “a prostitute named Rahab,” and when her name appears later in Scripture—in Hebrews and in James—there is that word again.
It’s how we know her. It’s her identifier.
I sometimes wonder what my sin-label would be if my name were in the text alongside hers. Maybe “an impatient woman named Amanda,” or, “Amanda the Selfish.” I can think back through the plot of my own life story and easily identify a dozen words that deserve a permanent spot on my nametag were it not for the grace of one great God.
Rahab met the one true God in a precarious time in the history of her homeland. She heard the stories of Him and His faithfulness to His people as the news traveled to Jericho. Her neighbors were deeply afraid by all they had seen and heard—in Rahab’s own words, they were panicked! But a different kind of fear was taking root in Rahab, a fear strong enough to prompt her to forgo logic and act out of faith. Rahab was coming to fear the Lord.
Listen again to how she describes to the Israelite spies the reaction of her people to news of victories:
When we heard this, we lost heart, and everyone’s courage failed because of you,
for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below.
(Joshua 2:1, HCSB, emphasis added)
Rahab’s statement of fear became her statement of faith! Her unassuming confession is even parallel to that which Moses asked of the Israelites in Deuteronomy 4:39: “Today, recognize and keep in mind that the Lord is God in heaven above and on earth below; there is no other.” She was beginning to believe in Him not only as the God of Israel, but as the God of her.
Rahab knew the risk she was taking by hiding the spies and aligning herself with the enemy— so much so, she made them promise to protect her and her family in return. Even in her brand-new faith, she trusted that the God who dried up the waters of the sea and brought the slaves out of Egypt could also rescue her. (And He did!)
The faith-filled actions of Rahab did more than save two Israelite spies or make for a riveting chapter in the middle of the Old Testament. They began a new chapter of her story—the chapter of redemption. That same powerful God who preserved His people in mighty ways is the God who saw Rahab and called her to Himself. He is the God who took a woman commonly labeled by her sin and made her a woman indelibly labeled by His grace (Romans 6:14).
That passage in Hebrews? It lists Rahab as a member of the heroes of the Faith (Hebrews 11:31).
That verse in James? It calls out Rahab as an example of those who are justified in Christ (James 2:25).
And in Matthew Chapter 1, we see Rahab—the prostitute—listed in the very lineage of Jesus Christ.
Do you see the exquisite thread of truth in Rahab’s story, friends? Whatever label we give her—whatever label we give ourselves—the only true name of a daughter of God is the one He Himself gives her: Called. Faithful. Rescued. Redeemed.