As a young Canaanite prostitute, Rahab was not a very likely candidate for a heroine of faith. Yet she is used as such by the writer of Hebrews and also by James, the brother of Jesus, in his book. Even more amazing, she is included in the genealogy record of Christ by the gospel writer Matthew. It is clear that Rahab was perceptive, intelligent and well informed. Reflecting on the reading in focus from April 20th in the devotional Bible, Rahab identified the spies for what they were, hid them, and had a plausible story ready with which to deceive the king’s agents. Rahab did not deny that she had entertained the men. She says that they left at dusk when it would be difficult for anyone to be certain of clearly seeing anything. The agents did not dare to risk stopping to search Rahab’s house because, if they did, the spies might get away. Finally, the Canaanite prostitute gives the two Israelites excellent advice. She tells them to hide in the hills for three days before attempting to cross the Jordan.
Spiritually, Rahab was not in an ideal circumstance to come to faith in the one true God, the God of Israel. She was a citizen of a wicked city that was under God’s condemnation. Rahab was part of a corrupt, depraved, pagan culture. She had not been taught under the leadership of Moses or Joshua. However, Rahab did have knowledge which was used by God in her assent to faith. She knew the Israelites were to be feared. She heard the stories of their escape from Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, the wanderings in the wilderness, and their victory over the Amorites. She learned enough to reach the correct, saving conclusion: “…for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (Joshua 2:11, NASB).It is her faith, along with the actions motivated by faith, which saved her and her family.
Rahab is a wonderful illustration for the truth that while believers are saved by an act of grace through faith, true faith will be accompanied by action (James 2). Rahab had to put the scarlet cord out of the window. Followers of Jesus must receive Him as their Savior and Lord and then go on to live in a manner verifying that faith is real. Her faith in action enabled her to turn away from her culture, her people, and her religion and to the Lord. Her behavior mirrors what the Apostle Paul urges, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2,NASB)
We find in the life of Rahab the inspiring story of all sinners who have been saved by grace. In her story, we learn of the amazing grace of God that can save whomever He chooses and bring them into an abundant life in Christ Jesus.
One last point, parenthetically; whenever the story of Rahab is contemplated, the issue of her lying usually comes to bear. In other words, her lying is not condemned and is actually used to save the spies. The question arises, “Is it ever right to lie?” It is certainly difficult to teach about such dubious cases (Rahab, the Hebrew midwives surrounding Moses birth, etc.). As such, I believe the wisest thing to do is to acknowledge that in the fear of God and in the walk of faith worthy saints have chosen to oppose the effects of evil by concealing the truth from wicked individuals. Consider an instance such as Corrie ten Boom and her hiding of potential holocaust victims. Nevertheless, having recognized that fact and possibility, we do well to shift our attention to the overwhelming Biblical emphasis on the condemnation of lying.