Rahab

Rahab

(Joshua 6:22-25)

 

1.   It's rather easy to be judgmental toward some people...in my reading came across several versions of a story which illustrates our tendency to judge others based on superficial, exterior things...about pastor taking a trip across the ocean on an ocean liner...booked a double room but had no idea who his roommate would be prior to the trip...when boarded the ship was distressed to see that the other person assigned to his cabin was a rough looking biker type...had tattoos all over his arms, to many body piercings to count, and was dressed in ragged blue jeans and a sleeveless dirty t-shirt...to say the least, the pastor was distraught when he saw his roommate for the week-long voyage...thought to himself, “How will I ever sleep in the same room with this guy.  As soon as I go to sleep he’ll go through my wallet and take my money and anything else of value I have.”...then he came up with a brilliant idea...went to the ships purser and said, “I’ve been assigned a shady looking roommate, and I was wondering if I could leave my valuables in your care during the voyage.”...purser replied, “Of course, sir.  What cabin are you in?” ...when pastor told him purser smiled and said, “That’s strange.  You roommate was just here making the same request!”

2.   That little story is a reminder that we are often too quick in making superficial, unfair judgments about other people...suspect if you and I had lived in the city of Jericho just prior to the time that the city was conquered by the Israelites, we would not have found it rather easy to judge wrongly the person on whom we're going to focus in this session as we continue looking at some of the well-known and not-so-well-known biblical characters...

3.   Rahab was a prostitute by profession...she is not someone we would expect to have much to teach us about faith in God, but surprisingly she does...her story is told in Joshua 2...in the interest of time, instead of reading the entire chapter, going to give quick summary of her story...before beginning the military campaign to conquer Canaan, Joshua sent spies into the land to determine the strength of the enemy...two of the spies went to Jericho and found lodging in the house of Rahab...the king of Jericho was informed that spies from the Israelites had entered the city and were staying at the house of Rahab...the king sent guards to Rahab’s house to capture the spies...Rahab had the spiritual discernment to realize that God was on the side of the Israelites, and she hid them telling the king’s guards they had already gone...Rahab’s house was on the city wall...when the king’s men left her house, Rahab lowered the two Israelite spies down from the wall by a rope and they escaped to safety...in response to her protecting the guards, she was promised that she nor her family would be harmed when the Israelites conquered the city...in Joshua 6:22-25 we see the fulfillment of that promise...(text)

 

T.S. – Want to point out two things we can learn about faith from this surprising woman...

 

I.    Rahab shows us that it is possible for anyone to turn to God in faith

      1.   When I was child my brothers and sister and I had a little saying with which we constantly taunted each other...we would say, "Anything you can do, I can do better!"...thought of that saying this week as studied life of Rahab...if someone like Rahab could become a model of faith, anyone can....if someone like Rahab could transformed by faith, anyone's life can be transformed by faith...

      2.   Rahab had everything working against her--

·         Her gender was against her...Rahab was a woman in a man's world...in culture in which she lived women had no status or authority whatsoever...basically they were considered to be the property of their fathers, husbands, or brothers...

·         Her occupation was against her...wasn't just a woman, but an immoral woman...was a prostitute by profession...we're not told in OT how or why the spies sent by Joshua ended up staying in the house of Rahab...perhaps chose to stay there because wasn't uncommon for strangers to be seen arriving and departing from her house...maybe they were hoping their presence in Rahab's house wouldn't attract undue attention from the authorities in Jericho...

·         Her nationality was against her...she was a Canaanite... they were such wicked, cruel, idolatrous people that God ordered them completely destroyed...they were known for their propensity to sacrifice children to their God’s...this picture is of a Canaanite altar at the Tel of Megiddo in modern day Israel which many scholars say was a place of child sacrifice...

3.   But none of that stopped Rahab from responding to God in faith...when the Hebrew spies came to her home she said an amazing thing...listen to her words from Joshua 2:9,11 - "I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us ... for the Lord your God, He is the God in heaven above and on earth beneath..."...what an amazing statement of faith to come from the lips of someone like Rahab!...

 

1.   And she is a reminder that anyone, no matter who that person is or what that person has done, can turn to God in faith and be welcomed into God's family...can you really believe that?... can you believe that no person, no matter how evil and how mean, is beyond the reach of God's grace?...

2.   It seems to me that is a recurring theme in the Scripture...people whom we would give up on...people whom we would relegate to the scrap pile of human history, God seems to delight in reclaiming for himself...before we choose to write off anyone, we would do well to ask, “How does God view this person?”...after-all, God chose to take—

·         An adulterer and murderer like David and make him the greatest king in the history of Israel...

·         A profane fisherman like Simon Peter and make him the leader of his disciples...

·         A hot-tempered young man like John and transform him into the Apostle of love...

·         An angry, belligerent, violent anti-Christian like Saul, and transform him into the church’s greatest missionary and theologian...

3.   And God is still doing that kind of thing today...Rahab reminds us that no-one is outside the realm of God’s grace...the truth is none of us can be good enough to merit God's favor apart from repentance and faith nor can any of us be bad enough to lose God's favor if we turn to him in genuine repentance and faith...John Calvin, the famous reformer said it well when he wrote:  "...those who are most exalted are of no account before God, unless they have faith; and...on the other hand, those who are hardly allowed a place among the profane and the reprobate, are by faith introduced into the company of angels..."[Pink, 839]

      4.   That's one thing we can learn from Rahab...it is possible for anyone can turn to God in faith...

 

II.  Rahab shows us that when person turns to God in faith the direction of that person's life is changed forever

1.   Because of her faith, the direction of Rahab's life was dramatically changed...in the short-term she and the members of her family were spared death when Jericho was destroyed... and in the long-term this Canaanite prostitute was given an honored place in the history of Israel...

2.   Rahab married man named Salmon...their son was named Boaz who married Ruth...Ruth and Boaz had a son named Obed who had a son named Jesse who fathered David, the greatest king in the history of Israel...imagine that!...Rahab, the harlot from Jericho, became the great, great grandmother of David!...and in NT she is mentioned by name three times, each time in a positive light... her name is in—

·         Matthew 1 as one of the ancestors of Jesus through the line of Joseph...

·         James 2:25 as an example of someone who put her faith to work...

·         Hebrews 11:31 in that great roll call of the OT faithful...

3.   Of all the people in the world in her day, she would have been viewed among the least likely to have such an honored place in the Word of God...but when she put her faith in God, when she believed God, then God radically changed the direction of her life...

 

      1.   Andrew Carnegie came to the United States from Scotland as young boy...became largest steel manufacturer in the U.S. ...at one time it is reported he had 43 millionaires working for his company...a reporter asked him how he came to hire 43 millionaires and Carnegie said, "They weren't millionaires when they started working for me.  They became millionaires as a result."...led to follow-up question from the reporter... asked, "How did you develop these men to become so valuable that you have paid them so much money?"...and Carnegie gave interesting and insightful response...said, "You develop people the same way you mine for gold.  When gold is mined, several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold.  But you don't go looking for the dirt.  You go looking for the gold." [INFO Search]

 

      1.   And when person turns to God in faith, God has way of discovering the gold in that person's life...and that should serve as both a word of encouragement and a word of warning to us...

·         As word of encouragement, we should remember that God has a way of finding the good and positive things in our lives and using them for His work in this world...Jesus demonstrated that ability time and time again...He seemed to delight in finding the gold in people that others had written off...He invested His life in reclaiming such people as Zaccheus, the hated tax collector, or Mary of Magdala, who was reputed to be an immoral woman...it’s encouraging to remember that Jesus has a way of looking beyond our weaknesses and frailties to the good and positive things in our lives...

·         As word of warning, we should remember to look for the gold and not for the dirt in the lives of others...how easy it is for us to be critical, condemning, judgmental, and self-righteous toward others... C. S. Lewis, in one of his books, points out that when people become Christians, if they are not careful, their sinning often shifts from the overt, outward, visible sins of lying, cheating, stealing, cursing and swearing, to the more inward, hidden, non-apparent invisible ones ... and among them he lists "a critical spirit"...a spirit of JUDGMENTALISM, a censorious attitude...if God, who has every right to be that way toward us, has chosen not to do so, doesn't it make sense to believe that we should not be that way toward each other?...

CONCLUSION

1.   There is an interesting story about a school teacher named Dodie Gadient... independent person who decided to travel on her own across American to see the sights she had taught about for many years...she got in her truck and with camper in tow she set out on her adventure...one afternoon rounding a curve on I-5 near Sacramento in rush-hour traffic, a water pump blew on her truck...she was tired, exasperated, scared, and alone...in spite of the traffic jam she caused, no one seemed interested in helping...leaning up against the trailer, she prayed, 'Please God, send me an angel . . . preferably one with mechanical experience.' Within four minutes, a huge Harley drove up, ridden by an enormous man sporting long, black hair, a beard and tattooed arms. With an incredible air of confidence, he jumped off and, without even glancing at Dodie, went to work on the truck. Within another few minutes, he flagged down a larger truck, attached a tow chain to the frame of her disabled truck, and whisked the whole 56-foot rig off the freeway onto a side street, where he calmly continued to work on the water pump. The intimidated schoolteacher was too dumbfounded to talk. Especially when she read the words on the back of his leather jacket: 'Hell's Angels -- California'. As he finished the task, she finally got up the courage to say, "Thanks so much,"...noticing her surprise at the whole ordeal, he looked her straight in the eye and mumbled, "Don't judge a book by its cover....”...with that, he smiled, straddled his Harley, and was gone as fast as he had appeared...[ From the newsletter OUR AMERICA]

2.   Rahab reminds us not to judge people by outward appearances...she is an unlikely person to become a model of faith, but I’m glad she did...because of all the biblical characters on whom we are focusing in this series, she is the one with whom I can most easily identify with...here's a person very much like you and me...a person who made mistakes...who was far less than perfect...but a person--

·         Who turned to God in faith...

·         Whose life was transformed because of her faith...

      May we have the wisdom to follow her example!

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