Sunday, March 18, 2012
A Prostitute's Declaration of Faith
Josh. 2:1 ¶ Then Joshua son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and entered the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab, and spent the night there.
Josh. 2:2 The king of Jericho was told, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to search out the land.”
Josh. 2:3 Then the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come only to search out the whole land.”
Josh. 2:4 But the woman took the two men and hid them. Then she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they came from.
Josh. 2:5 And when it was time to close the gate at dark, the men went out. Where the men went I do not know. Pursue them quickly, for you can overtake them.”
Josh. 2:6 She had, however, brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax that she had laid out on the roof.
Josh. 2:7 So the men pursued them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. As soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.
Josh. 2:8 ¶ Before they went to sleep, she came up to them on the roof
Josh. 2:9 and said to the men: “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that dread of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt in fear before you.
Josh. 2:10 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 that were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.
Josh. 2:11 As soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no courage left in any of us because of you. The LORD your God is indeed God in heaven above and on earth below.
The story of Rahab has always been fascinating to me. Here is a woman who who is listed as a prostitute. More than likely she ran the local inn where travelers from out of town would stay. It's not uncommon that in these types of places certain "comforts" were provided. It was simply the culture of the day. However, this woman is unusual in that she has heard about -- and believes -- the stories of the God of the Israelites. She tells them that she has heard that the LORD (Yahweh), has given them the land and that he dried up the Red sea. Then she makes an amazing declaration, "The LORD your God is indeed God in heaven above and on earth below."
What's interesting is that Rahab is often remembered for three things: 1) Being a prostitute, 2) Lying and 3) Being saved by the Israelites. Overall, her only redemption is that she is saved by the Israelites. But, isn't there much more to the story? Why is it that we find her mentioned three times in the New Testament?
Heb. 11:31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.
James 2:25 Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road?
Is it possible that the way we view things, within our own human context is often not the way God views things in the kingdom? God's goal for all of humanity is that we become transformed into his image -- that we become a reflection of him in this world. That trumps everything else. Rahab is remembered in Hebrews, not because she was a prostitute, but because she was a woman of great faith. Think of unfaithful Israel -- and how many times the Israelites turned their backs on God! How often were they told that they were to worship God and him alone. They were to remind themselves day in and day out that the Lord their God, the Lord is One. There is no other God --we worship him alone! Even the chosen people of God often failed in this regard, but this woman, had incredible faith and believed that the LORD was God. She feared him and was willing to sacrifice all to serve him. Her faith in God trumped responding to the local authorities. That day she changed loyalties and no longer was she in service to her local government, but to God's kingdom. That's why she protected the spies' location. She was working for God!
Where else do we find Rahab? In the genealogy of Jesus Christ:
Matt. 1:5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse,
Maybe we need to realize that we are creating our own rating system of sin. Especially in the West everything is very individualized. We have made faith in God a very singular thing -- our "personal" relationship with God, our "personal daily walk" with him. Therefore, we have made sin a very "personal" thing as well. We tend to see obedience to God in personal terms, but fail to see our corporate responsibility. When Rahab switched sides -- she became a part of the corporate body of the Israelites. She became a part of God's people and her responsibility to care for the whole was more important than the individual. That's why she had to cover for the spies. In God's economy we are all interrelated and interconnected and our behaviors, choices, and acts have an affect on our entire community.
Let's jump a moment to the New Testament:
1Cor. 3:10 ¶ According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it.
1Cor. 3:11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.
1Cor. 3:12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—
1Cor. 3:13 the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done.
1Cor. 3:14 If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward.
1Cor. 3:15 If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.
1Cor. 3:16 ¶ Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
1Cor. 3:17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
Here's another passage of scripture that we have explained in a very individualistic fashion. This is the scripture that is so often used to explain why we are to take care of our physical bodies, for our physical bodies are God's temple. However, what would happen if we took it out of that individualistic notion and looked at it from a corporate perspective. What if it's about the Church, the Bride of Christ -- the kingdom of God? Jesus laid the foundation -- he prepared the way for everything to come after and to be built upon him. Each of us that comes after is simply his working within the kingdom and we are corporately working together for the expansion of his kingdom here on this earth. Each of us are adding building blocks to that kingdom -- the temple. But what are we building with? Are we concerned about the entire structure? If so, we are going to build with the finest materials and make it the very best that it can be. If we are lazy and in a hurry, we don't care and we are willing to build with the cheapest and easiest materials. But what happens when the fire comes? What happens when tough times come upon us? The portions which are built with shoddy materials will burn up and there will be holes left in the structure. Don't we understand that all of us -- combined -- corporately -- are God's temple and that his Spirit is in us? Woe to us that are too concerned about the personal nature of our faith and are not willing to understand our responsibility as a building block within the entire kingdom!
Rahab got it right. She saw the big picture and was willing to pay the price and she is remembered throughout history as a woman of great faith. Her building block was so strong, that the Messiah could come from her very root. In the midst of a pagan society, she was able to declare who God was and his power transformed her into an amazing woman of faith. Oh, to be like Rahab!
Lord, please help me to have a kingdom perspective every single day of my life. Amen.