Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Story of Faith, Hope, and Love – Part 1 - Rahab of Jericho

This week, Michael writes that the story of Rahab the harlot in Joshua 2:1-14 is a story of faith, hope and love. Joshua sent two men as spies into Jericho before Israel entered into the Promised Land. The two spies lodged with Rahab the harlot, whose house was on the wall of the city. The King of Jericho heard that spies were in the land and that they had stopped at Rahab's house. The King sent his own men to Rahab's house to find the spies. The harlot Rahab secretly hid the men and told their pursuers that the spies had already left. She told them that if they hurried, they might be able to overtake the spies. When they had left, she came up to the roof of the house where she had hid the spies under a pile of flax. Rahab told the spies that the reputation of the Lord, whom they served, had preceded them. How God had stopped the waters of the Red Sea so that the children of Israel could pass safely through. Then, when the Egyptians tried to pursue them through the sea, the Red Sea came crashing down and drowned the Egyptian host of horsemen and charioteers.

Rahab lived a hard life in Jericho. She was a prostitute. In those days, harlotry was not as despised a profession as in the Puritanical setting of Hawthorne's novel "The Scarlet Letter." Hester Prynne, according Hawthorne's novel, wore the scarlet letter "A" to brand her as an adulterous. In the King James Version of the Bible, the moniker "harlot" was not to remind us of Rahab's sin, but rather to remind us of God's unconditional grace and mercy … “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. 

The story of the harlot Rahab is a story of God's redemption. This story is also an illustration of the three gracious gifts that abide:  faith, hope, and love. After the account in the story of the tower of Babylon, God had a plan to redeem mankind. His plan of redemption was to be accomplished through the line of Abraham through his son of promise Isaac. The story continues through Isaac's son Jacob, and the story of Jacob's son Joseph, who became prime minister of Egypt. Through the revelation that God provided to Joseph, the children of Israel came to Egypt to escape the famine. The twelve tribes of the house of Israel ended up in Egypt and after several generations when everyone forgot the story of Joseph, Israel became slaves of the Egyptians. After four hundred years in Egypt, God called Moses to lead Israel from captivity.  When Moses died, God called Joshua to lead the Children of Israel into the Promised Land.  God promised that Israel would defeat the inhabitants beginning with the city of Jericho.  Joshua sent two spies to the city to report back to him about the city. The spies went to the harlot Rahab's house so that they wouldn't be discovered.

Rahab helped the spies of Israel escape because the reputation of Israel's God had preceded them. She was acting on the historical record of God's deliverance of the Children of Israel through the Red Sea forty years earlier. The spies gave Rahab the harlot specific instruction on how to save herself and her family when God would destroy the city of Jericho. In their promise to spare her, the spies offered her three gifts from God: Faith, hope, and love.  She needed these gifts from the Lord because she had reached the end of her earthly resources.

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