Psa. 87:0 Of the Korahites. A Psalm. A Song.
1 On the holy mount stands the city he founded;
2 the LORD loves the gates of Zion
more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
3 Glorious things are spoken of you,
O city of God. Selah
Psa. 87:4 Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon;
Philistia too, and Tyre, with Ethiopia—
“This one was born there,” they say.
Psa. 87:5 And of Zion it shall be said,
“This one and that one were born in it”;
for the Most High himself will establish it.
6 The LORD records, as he registers the peoples,
“This one was born there.” Selah
Psa. 87:7 Singers and dancers alike say,
“All my springs are in you.”
Why would Rahab and Babylon know the Lord? There are some who would say that Rahab here represents Egypt, but whether the name represents Egypt or the actual woman, the reference is significant. Neither Rahab, Egypt, nor Babylon were born to be the people of God. At the same time God is affirming that they are known by him. To be known by God is to be loved by God. Rehab the prostitute is known and loved by God. Egypt, the country which held the Israelites captive is known and loved by God. Babylon, the place of exile is known and loved by God. God’s love knows no boundary and will reach beyond our human understanding to transform lives. Those who have been redeemed will sing and dance as they are reborn by the spring of the Holy Spirit found within.
It’s easy to be judgmental when it comes to the lives of other people. We point our fingers at the ways in which they live their lives and we condemn them as being “sinners.” It is in that same moment that we are pronouncing self-righteous salvation for ourselves; a salvation that we may somehow believe is borne out of our own behavior. The Israelites tended to think this way in regard to their own “favored” or “chosen” status. People like Rahab, a prostitute, were looked down upon because of their lifestyle choices. Obviously Egypt was considered a sinful place and God’s children shouldn’t have had the possibility of knowing God. And finally — how could Babylon — that place of exile truly know God?
God redeemed Rahab and she has been remembered for all of eternity as one of those with great faith. Her name is recorded in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, as well as in the great chapter of faith. Egypt eventually became home of many great leaders of Christianity. Anthony, the great desert father found his home in Egypt and thousands made pilgrimage to come and gain wisdom from this incredible man of faith. Alexandria in Egypt became one of the original Patriarchates of Christianity and its leaders spoke life into the theological development of early Christianity.
These days we wrestle with the language of exile and the fact many American church goers suddenly feel as if Christianity has been exiled to the margins of society. The empire of Babylon was the place where God’s people found themselves in exile and they were greatly discouraged. Yet, God says that Babylon knows him. The love of God never has been and never will be contained by human boundaries. There are no walls, no rivers, no boarder guards and no passport control that can retain God’s love. As God’s people find themselves in exile, so they will also find God’s loving presence. Even the power and authority of the place of exile can come to know the incomparable love of God.
We must be careful of pointing fingers at those whom we believe are too far gone for God to reach. It is in the most unusual places where we will discover a people who know God. It could be that by sitting comfortably in our churches we are missing out on the very work of God in the most unusual of places. No matter what we’ve done in life, the depth of God’s love is greater than our sin.
LORD, thank you for your overwhelming love. Amen.
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