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The Bible says that Rahab was a professional harlot. She was so well known and successful that her "house" was perched high on the city walls--the famous Walls of Jericho.
We can determine from the Scriptures that her house was a gathering place for all different kinds and classes of men. No doubt men of all ages and occupations passed through her house: merchants, soldiers, students, scholars and travelers from distant lands.
As she entertained these men and the after-dinner wine began to flow, she no doubt heard stories about the invisible God of the Jews who fights against those who fight against His people. He was depicted as a warrior God who fights with fire and hail and thunder, who changes the course of rivers, brings down cities, and sweeps all before Him—even pharaohs and kings—for His peoples' sake.
The guests speak in fearful whispers, saying that this band of Jehovah-worshipers is marching 2 million strong toward her land and moving toward her very city! The information becomes crystal clear when a group of men show up at her house. By their unfamiliar clothing and strange ways Rahab concludes they must be a scouting party of the very enemy she has heard so much about.
But Rahab, believing the reports of this strange God, Jehovah, is moved to help the spies. She agrees to hide the men from the soldiers of Jericho who are pursuing them. She hides them in a basket on the roof of her house, and as soon as she has sent the soldiers away in a wrong direction, she lets the men down in a basket outside the city walls.
Rahab saves the spies, but in so doing, she makes a powerful agreement with them. She asks them to remember her, her parents, her siblings and all that pertains to them to save them when the Jews invade the city.
The Jews tell her she must hang a scarlet cloth from her window high up on the wall as a signal to the invading army. They will pass by her house if they see the red cloth, and everyone in the house will be spared. In this way Rahab became not only the salvation of her own family but also an Old Testament typology of Christ, the Savior.
There are two compelling life-lessons to learn here. One is that God can and will use us as the instruments of salvation for our loved ones. The other is that God does not count our past when He is planning our future!
The end of Rahab's life is a powerful story of faith, trust, salvation and service. God bestows a tremendous honor on a woman with a bad reputation.
Rahab, the harlot, marries into the aristocracy of the Jews. She becomes Boaz's mother and the great- great-grandmother of David, the greatest king in the history of Israel. But even more important than that, the genealogy of Jesus listed in the book of
Matthew traces Jesus' ancestors back to Rahab! She is an honored ancestor of Jesus, the Christ.
My sisters, be encouraged. We cannot imagine where our lives in God will lead us! You can draw strength, joy and self-esteem from this wonderful account of Rahab's life.
Remember that God is no respecter of persons. He places His gifts and anointing in a person, not in a pedigree. He honors character, integrity, commitment, a pure heart and honest motives—not the résumés of our lives, good or bad.
Nothing in our pasts can disqualify us for a positive, promising and powerful future in God because God's plans for our future cancel out the failures of the past.
Rahab's life was abundantly blessed with an unexpected future because she uprooted herself based on the spies' description of their God. Her life tells us that in order to cancel our pasts, it is sometimes necessary to leave familiar situations, surroundings and people to truly find our places in God.
Rahab's story also shows the power of a positive testimony. The spies talked about their God in such a way as to make Rahab want to leave all to follow Him. We don't know when the words we speak about our relationship with God will touch others so powerfully that they, like Rahab, will want to change their lives, surrender their pasts and leave all to follow Him into a bright new future.
Her life shows us too that God will give us opportunities to make choices that will determine our destinies. When we make the right ones, we will walk away from our past into a glorious future of power, purpose and praise.
God doesn't want us to be bound by society's or the church's ideas of what women can do; nor does He want us to be held back by our own guilt and shame. It's time to let go of all the things that hold you back and step into your true destiny!
Winifred W. Morris is the wife of Bishop Ernest C. Morris Sr. of Mount Airy Church of God in Christ in Philadelphia. Affectionately known as Mother Winifred, she is president of the missionary department, women's fellowship, and the department of women's ministries.
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