Great Summer Reads: Rahab--Rumors of God
Rahab is one of the casual contradictions of our assumptions about Scripture, a cipher about which little is known but her actions and label she carried with her: Rahab the Harlot (or Prostitute, some translations have it.) I say contradictions because for one, her title travels everywhere with her, even though there are no other Rahab’s mentioned in the Bible. For another contradiction, consider that if her house was a brothel by the city gates and was a common place to stay, the spies from the Israelite tribes were in a real moral tangle. They would be expected to stay in a brothel, a place they had no business being.
Regardless, Rahab is the story of every person who has longed for more to their life and seeing that someone else has it, says “Let me in on that!” The God of the Israelites had a local reputation, both for caring for His people and for empowering them to utterly crush their enemies. Rahab confessed to the Israelite spies that all of her people (The Canaanites) were terrified of the Israelites and the power of their God.
Can a life be so precarious that you’ll grab on to any rope out of it you can find to save yourself? Of course! Pragmatically, Rahab saw the Israelite invasion coming like storm that was going to wash over the Canaanite lands and wipe out her people. But she recognised that the Israelite God was more than overpowering to the local deities. She admits that, “Your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” (Joshua 2:11) This isn’t changing sides among near equals: Rahab has admitted that the Israelite God is more than just a local deity; He’s the God over heaven.
Part of being a follower of God means being an ambassador to others of the forgiveness God has shown you, as St. Paul described in 2nd Corinthians 5. This is where we often fall short, trying to convince others by our words, and not by our actions. A few weeks ago we also encountered the story of Ruth (another Gentile, like Rahab) who wound up in Jesus’ genealogy and proved her words with her actions. In fact, Rahab winds up in the Who’s Who of Actions (the book of James) because she stuck to her commitment because of her respect for God. She did so to save her family and her household against the fear of discovery of her native people around her.
What will you do to be an ambassador of God to those around you, representing God’s agenda of love and salvation by your actions?