I always figured that if God had a job to do and needed someone to act on his behalf here on earth that he’d choose someone who was perfectly qualified to get the job done.
I try, have tried, and am trying to be that person whom God might want to entrust with one of his jobs. Frankly, it’s exhausting. Toiling away at striving, perfecting, and keeping up appearances that I am, indeed, worthy of the task is a never-ending job. Worse yet, I continually fall short of making myself the perfect candidate. Every. Single. Time.
That’s why I love the story of Rahab. She’s far from the model citizen. But she believes who God is and what He can do. She wants in. And when faith collides with willingness, we get to see God’s power at work.
We meet up with Rahab in the book of Joshua. The Bible lists her as a “harlot,” what we might call a prostitute. She was an innkeeper of sorts. People stayed at her home when they came to town. Many scholars contend that she sold more than just a room for rent. At that time Joshua and his army were preparing to take down the great walled-city of Jericho. As was customary before attacking a city, Joshua commanded two men, spies, to check out the city, finding any information that might help the Israelite army succeed in their plan of attack. Rahab’s home was right at the entrance of the city—easy access for those looking for a place to stay. “So they entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there” (Joshua 2:1).
But this was no ordinary visit. The king of Jericho was tipped off that these men were spies. So he sent his men to Rahab’s home. “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land” (Joshua 2:3).
And this is where we see the confidence and craftiness of this woman. Her life and her faith is on the line when she lies to the men at the door, “Yes, the men came to me, but they left. I don’t know which way they went.” But Rahab did know. She had hidden the Israelite men on the top of her roof under some stalks of flax she was drying there. Why? Because Rahab had heard about this God of the Israelites—how He had set deathly plagues upon Egypt, how He had parted the Red Sea to save His people, and how He destroyed other, much larger, kingdoms. She knew that if the Israelites were scoping out Jericho, that her city would be the next to fall to this all-powerful God and his army. So she hid the men. She did them a favor, and then boldly asked them for help. “Now then,” she says in Joshua 2, “please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you.”
The Israelite men agreed that when they came back to destroy the city, they would save Rahab and her family. And they followed through on that promise. When the city of Jericho fell to the Israelites, Rahab and her family were spared.
I can’t help but think that when Rahab saw those walls tumbling down, and saw those men burst into her home and gather up her family, that her faith grew quite a bit. Her decision to shelter those spies was a decision to believe that God could and would deem her worthy enough to be spared.
That act of faith would drastically alter the life of Rahab. No longer would she be bound in memory by her former life as a prostitute; instead she would be remembered in Hebrews 11 as one of the “faithful.”
And it gets even better. Rahab would have a son named Salmon, who would have a son named Boaz who would marry Ruth, who would then have a son named Obed, who would have a son named Jesse, who fathered a boy named David, who became King of Israel...and you know the rest of the story. Jesus himself came from the lineage of King David. And it all began with Rahab, and her faith that God could and would save her.
Innkeeper. Harlot. Faithful. Forgiven. Redeemed. These are the words that describe Rahab. She was far from perfect, but God made her worthy. Just like He does you and me.
God works through flawed and broken people all the time. In fact, He specializes in it. Paul reminds us that God demonstrates his own love for us in that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Sometimes the best woman for the job doesn’t have a perfect life or a perfect faith. Thank goodness!! She just needs to be willing.
Dear Lord, sometimes I store up accolades, skills, and accomplishments, just hoping that you’ll consider me worthy for any task you might have for me. Thank you for reminding me through the story of Rahab, that my credentials, or lack thereof, have nothing to do with how much you love me or value me. You have a unique plan for me, just as I am, and all you ask is that I be willing to step out in faith, knowing that You will give me whatever quality or skill is needed to accomplish your purposes in this world. And please help me to stop striving for my sake, and start resting in you. It’s a much more peaceful way to live. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.