Monday, September 17, 2007

Dare to be a Rahab !

I have always been fascinated by the woman, Rahab.
She must have been an extraordinary person to have the courage to stand alone against her own people.

Rahab…a Canaanite - Jericho’s prostitute and inn keeper.
How was it that she came to hold this undesirable position?
Was she perhaps disappointed in love? Jilted by a lover, betrayed by a husband, cast aside for another woman?
We don’t know. Her story is told in Joshua 2-6, but there is no mention of her early life.

Rahab… a meaning given for her name is “storm, assault – to be proud or arrogant”.
Obviously, Rahab was a woman who didn’t care what people thought of her. She chose her lifestyle, her profession, her business and ruled her own life.
She was an intelligent woman, able to quickly and accurately assess a situation and make wise judgments.
She was not afraid to think for herself, and to reason out what was true and what was false.
She was caring and loving, loyal to her family.

I think there is one thing that really sets her apart from the rest of her people.

God had taken His people out of Egypt and the mighty deeds He did and the victories his people wrought through His power were being spoken of everywhere. The news of each new defeat travelled fast.
Jericho was a fortified city. A huge wall surrounded it making it virtually impenetrable. When the city gates were closed the inhabitants were safe from the attack of any army.
Obviously, for its time the city of Jericho was technically advanced and governed by an intelligent people.

They also heard the news of this new God of the Israelite people. How He dried up the Red Sea to let His people cross safely and then drowned the mighty Pharaoh and his army. They heard how they defeated kings ….how victory after victory was theirs.
They also heard that Jericho was next. That God had plans to take their city also and to destroy them.
The leaders of Jericho trembled and their hearts fainted for fear…but they believed in the walls that had withstood all previous attacks. They locked their gates and allowed no one to go out or in. They hid, desperately hoping that the walls of their city would keep even the God of the Israelites out.

Rahab too listened and heard. She also feared but her fear was of a different kind.
In this story we see pictured for us two kinds of fear….

A fear of God that results in hiding FROM and a fear of God that results in trusting IN.

Rahab listening to the conversations of men around her…came to her own conclusions. She recognized that if the God of the Israelis had given Jericho to His people then there was nothing any of them could do to prevent it…even if their city seemed to be impossible to penetrate.
She reasoned that she had one chance of survival…..throw herself on the mercy of this powerful God.
Her fear of this God drove her to Him.

When the two spies came to her door…she recognized her opportunity and took it. Pulling them inside she hid them.
The spies had been spotted and officials soon came to Rahab's door demanding her to bring out the men so they could arrest them.
Rahab’s independent spirit served her well.
Fearlessly, she acted the part of a woman eager to help the officials find these dangerous men.
Convincing that she was, she sent them on a wild goose chase.

She had already formulated her own plan of action.
Before she helped the two spies, Joshua and Caleb, to escape she told them she knew and believed that their God had given them victory over Jericho. What she asked in return for her kindness to them was that they would promise to rescue her and her loved ones. Rahab may have had a tough exterier but she had a soft heart underneath.
She asked not just for herself but her family too.
Joshua agreed to her request, asking only that she remain in her house and all those who she brought in with her. If any one left the house or told of the secret deal she had made …. her action would free Joshua of his oath to help her.
Her house would be identified by a scarlet cord she was to hang from her window.

I wonder how much courage it took for Rahab to put her trust in Joshua and Caleb.
Or how difficult it was to convince her family to trust her and come hide in her house with their possessions.
Perhaps they thought they might as well die together in her house instead of individually in their own houses.
Rahab was a woman hard to say no to…and I’m sure it wasn’t the first time she orchestrated the activity of her family.

Perhaps the biggest test of Rahab’s faith was when the trumpets blew that seventh day and the collective shout of the Israelite people went up and the walls began to fall.
I imagine Rahab’s family sitting with their heads buried in their laps, shaking with fear.
But I see Rahab standing in the midst of them, head held high….watching , waiting for her deliverers to come.

Of course, we know the end of the story, Rahab and her family were saved and the city and its inhabitants burned to the ground.

In the excavations of the ancient city Jericho, the walls are tumbled down, just like the bible says, except for one portion….where Rahab’s house was build on top of the wall.

We know what happened to Rahab after her rescue…. She married an Israelite man by the name of Salmon and had children by him. She was the great, great grandmother of King David, putting her in Jesus lineage. Maybe it was from Rahab that David got his heart toward God.
Also in the honour role of faith heroes in Hebrews 11, Rahab is the only woman mentioned except for Sarah.

What an example we have in Rahab.
If she could stand alone in the midst of a pagan people, believing in a God she had never been taught to know, have faith when she had no history to build it on… much more should we have faith in our God whom we know so well ? Whose Word we hold in our hand every day ?

And I also see in the example of Rahab that God truly seeks those whose hearts are open to Him; He will look where no one else would think to look, and He will provide a way of escape for each one!!


Carolanne said...

Great post, Julie! (as usual.)

I'd never thought about the fact that it would have taken so much courage for her (and her family) to stay in the house and to trust that she would be protected when the walls were falling down around them.

Food for thought...

Lovella ♥ said...

Today,the song that came to me was . .
I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how He could love me, A sinner condemned, unclean.

It is such a good reminder to think that Christ sees what we could be, we often only look at who they are.

Anonymous said...

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding... That is often my down fall. Leaning on my perseption of a situation has often caused me to miss God's perfect way to walk through that situation, and missing His blessing along the way. Thanks for reminding me to fear Him not fear 'it'. Kathy PS praying for your health and encouragement!

Sara at Come Away With Me said...

I have always wondered at this story...trying to imagine what it must have been like to those who lived through it. What it must have looked like when the walls fell down, and what happened to Rahab's house, how the rescuers came, etc. What a day that must have been! A wonderful example for us of courage and faith in the face of a seemingly impossible situation...