Introduction: – God has a way of working through very ordinary and unlikely people. Like the two spies, for instance, who were they? Nobody knows. They remain anonymous. They were ordinary people and had nothing that set them apart from anyone else. The same was true of Rahab. There was nothing remarkable about her life. Her occupation was slightly irregular perhaps, but other than that, she lived a life that was nothing short of mundane (ordinary). She certainly doesn’t appear to be someone that God would desire to have in His kingdom (Not from most people’s perspective at least). Rahab had three strikes against her. STRIKE #1: SHE WAS A CANAANITE, AND NOT A JEW. – The Canaanites were the enemy. According to God’s own command they were to be exterminated (killed). All of them were to be killed. Yet here is one of the enemies showing kindness and compassion to the Israeli spies. So, maybe not all of the enemy could be labeled as wicked, evil monsters. We’re treading on dangerous ground when we start labeling people, because they belong to a certain class of people. STRIKE #2: SHE WAS A WOMAN. – An old daily Jewish prayer went like this, “I thank my God that I was not born a Gentile, or a woman.” This was the prevailing attitude toward women in that society. Women were viewed as second-class citizens. But that wasn’t necessarily God’s attitude towards women. In this case, God worked through a person named Rahab, who just happened to be a woman. This should tell us that God doesn’t play favorites. God can work through anyone, even the ordinary and unlikely. STRIKE #3: SHE WAS A PROSTITUTE. – I told you Rahab had a rather unusual occupation. Her occupation might make you wonder about God’s judgment, at this point? Why would God choose a prostitute? Surely there was someone of a more upright character, who would have done the same thing. There may have been, but I think God did it to teach us something about His own character. It’s a part of His character that is difficult for some of us to accept.
Let’s assume that it doesn’t bother us that Rahab was a Canaanite. Let’s also assume that it doesn’t bother us that she was a woman.
But (be honest) doesn’t the idea of God working through a prostitute make you a little uncomfortable? Back in my younger days when I first read this story and realized what a prostitute was, and that Rahab was one of them, it nearly blew all my spiritual circuits. When I was younger, I, like other “self-righteous people” thought to myself, God only works through righteous folks, not harlots!”
But after maturing in the Word of God, I could read this story with renewed understanding. I began to understand that God sees potential in everyone, and not just in those who see themselves as the “religious elite.” God sees potential in those of us who have fallen down and stained our clothes. There are a couple of lessons regarding this that speak to us on a very personal level. FIRST, IT REMINDS US THAT GOD HAS MORE GRACE THAN MOST PEOPLE DO. – There are some of you here who are struggling with this very issue. You are asking, “Can God forgive me after all the things I’ve done?” In your life you’ve seen more than your share of spiritual pigpens. Like the prodigal son maybe you’ve wasted your father’s inheritance in riotous (rebellious) living, and now you’re living with the pigs, trying your best to survive on what little you can.
Well, let’s stop talking in parables and be frank for a moment. Some of you have done things you wouldn’t want the people sitting around you to find out about. There’s a segment of your life that you wouldn’t want made into a movie. You’ve tried and tried to erase it from your memory bank, but every so often Satan throws it back in your face again. He says to you, “Remember this….”
A TRUE STORY: In November of 1999 in Lubbock, Texas, Jimmy Allen, the former President of the Southern Baptist Convention, spoke about one of the greatest hurts of his life. His daughter-in-law and his two grandsons, had all become infected with HIV from a tainted blood transfusion received during her first pregnancy. That wasn’t the biggest hurt, though. They were rejected by church after church, including a Disciples of Christ church in Colorado, where his son the father was fired. In Allen’s words: “The first man in history to reach out and voluntarily touch lepers didn’t die of leprosy. He died at the hands of religious leaders who wouldn’t have touched a leper on a bet.”
For those of us who are struggling with guilt and broken dreams the story of how God used Rahab, a prostitute, offers a renewed hope. God can and will use you in his kingdom. Others may not forgive you, accept you, or even tolerate you, but God does, because God has more grace than most people. Wow! There is another lesson for us to learn. SECONDLY, WE CANNOT AFFORD THE LUXURY OF BEING PREJUDICE OR PLAYING FAVORITES. – James warned us about playing favorites between the rich and the poor. I believe the same warning can be applied to playing favorites between any groups of people. Just because a person belongs to a certain economic group (rich or poor), is of a different racial background, is male or female, tall or short, fat or thin, handsome or ugly, doesn’t mean God cannot still use them.
Back in the days of desegregation a mother nervously awaited her daughter’s return from the first day of school. When she arrived the mother quickly asked, “How was it?” The little white girl said, “Mommy, I sat next to a black girl all day.” The mom said, “What happened?” The little girl replied, “We were both so scared we held hands together all day long!”
God has a way of working through the most ordinary and unlikely people. In fact, some of them are us. The question still remains: Why did God choose Rahab rather than someone more respectable? The text reveals some insights as to why God chose Rahab. FIRST, SHE HAD THE COURAGE TO RISK HER LIFE TO SERVE OTHERS. – Rahab didn’t have a lot of time to sort out all the issues. She had to make a snap decision. She had heard about the Israelites, and now there were two in her house. She immediately hid them on the roof of her house, and in so doing put her own life in jeopardy.
Why would she risk her life to save these two men; enemies no less? She recognized that these men weren’t just from another country, but they were God’s people. (Read v. 8-11). Rahab realized that this was no ordinary nation, with another ordinary god carved out of wood or stone. As she put it so eloquently, “…the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.”
When was the last time you took any risks for God? When was the last time you sat down and considered all the things that God has done—the miracles, the healings, the preordained work? And then, when was the last time you considered the things He has promised He will do in the future?
When we recognize how great and powerful and awesome God is, I believe we will do the same thing as Rahab—we will be willing to take courageous risks to serve His people. That’s the kind of people God is looking for. God is looking for people who have the courage to take some risks, trusting in His power, and His promises. SECONDLY, GOD CHOSE RAHAB BECAUSE SHE BELIEVED IN THE POWER OF GOD. – When Rahab told the spies about the effect Israel had on the citizens of Jericho, she revealed what it was that set her apart from the rest. (Read v.9) Rahab acknowledged that Israel was creating this widespread panic, not because of their great military strength, but because God was with them. The others were only looking at what Israel had done, but she acknowledged God as the power behind their success.
Isn’t it amazing? This supposedly ungodly, unregenerate prostitute was able to believe in God, because she had heard about His power. She had not seen it for herself, but she had only heard about it, and believed.
I sometimes think God’s people are the last ones to acknowledge God’s power in the world. There are some Christians who will pointblank deny that God is personally involved in their lives. We must be open to the truth that God is at work in our world today, and the things that happen aren’t just by coincidence. And neither should we deny God’s power, simply because we haven’t personally witnessed it.
THIRDLY, GOD CHOSE RAHAB BECAUSE SHE HAD AN ACTIVE FAITH. – James points out Rahab’s faith to us. James 2:18-20; 25-26 (Read). It is fascinating that God chose a person whose lifestyle was distasteful, but whose faith was alive and active. Don’t get the wrong idea, now! Don’t go out of here saying that “Apostle Muriel said we could live anyway we want to as long as we have faith,” because that’s not what I’m saying. When it comes to being useful in God’s Kingdom, God is more concerned with whether our faith is active, than whether our lifestyle is perfect. God is more concerned that we have the courage to take risks for Him. God is more concerned that we acknowledge his power.
The rest of Rahab’s story also has God’s touch written all over it. What is the rest of the story? Rahab is in the genealogy (lineage, descent, family) of Jesus Christ. God certainly has a sense of humor, doesn’t He? Matthew 1:1-16 gives the genealogy of Jesus. In NIV, verse five says, “Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab…” If you keep reading the entire genealogy, you will find the last name in Matthew 1:16 being Jesus, the Son of the Living God!
Conclusion – There is a story about a little girl who had a large collection of dolls, of every description. It was obvious that her dolls brought her much pleasure. A visitor asked her which of her dolls was her favorite. “Just a moment,” she said as she rushed into another room. In a moment she was back with a doll that would had been rejected by Goodwill. One of the eyes was off, the cloth hair was hanging by a single thread, the dress was worn and dirty, and one shoe was missing. The visitor was surprised. “Why do you love this doll so much?” she asked. The little girl answered shyly, “Because if I didn’t nobody else would.” Saints of God, we have to love everyone!
Rahab was dirty, stained by the world, and overwhelmed with her own sinfulness. But God loved her anyway. That’s the way our God loves. He takes us as we are—broken, stained, and sinful, and He loves us anyway. He uses us anyway. God uses plain, old ordinary people, just like me and you.