Men knocked on Rahab’s door every night. She was a prostitute. Jericho was a walled city with its own military garrison. She didn’t lack for customers. But this night was different.
Rahab had a choice to make.
The spies stood out. Everyone knew that Israel was camped just across the Jordan River. Stories flew, and Rahab stored up what she heard. The Israelite God had fought for them against Egypt, splitting the Red Sea so that they walked across on dry ground. The Egyptian army hadn’t been so lucky. Israel’s God had helped them defeat the Amorites. He had helped them through the wilderness, and now Israel stood on the banks of Jordan because their God had promised them a new land.
Israel’s God had promised his people the land of Canaan. And Rahab believed this God was strong enough to take it.
That night she knew the spies for who they were. Their clothes, their hair, their language. They weren’t local boys, that’s for sure. But they played a dangerous game. If they were caught, they were dead. And if she was caught with them, her neck was on the line too. When the soldiers pounded on the door, Rahab had to choose.
The soldiers brought a message from the king. They had seen the strangers. They knew who they were. They knew where they had been. They expected her to hand them over.
It was Rahab’s moment of decision. Two kings–one holding earthly power; one with all the power of heaven’s army behind him. Death and life were at stake–Rahab’s life; the life of the spies; the life of the soldiers. Hiding the spies was treason, punishable by death. Captured spies would be killed, and the men who failed to capture them might be. Handing them over meant Rahab would see another day. Protecting them might mean she could truly live.
Rahab chose life.
It was laughably easy. Bat her eyes, smile, innocent voice. “Oh those men? Sure they were here, but not now. I didn’t know where they were from. They left through the gate just as it shut. If you hurry you might catch them.” The soldiers headed out of the city, the gates shut behind them, and Rahab had two enemy spies hidden under piles of flax on her roof. The escape route was clear.
Now to make sure the spies knew where her allegiance lay. She knew that Israel’s God was God; that he had given his people the land. She knew that all her people trembled in fear. Oh Canaan had its own gods, sure. But this Yahweh God outranked them all. She was sure of that. She stopped short of declaring Yahweh to be the one true God, but she took her leap of faith with both feet. Rahab didn’t trust her safety to Jericho’s king. She put her fate in the hands of the king of heaven and earth.
Rahab chose to live.
She didn’t have much to hang her hopes on. Just a spy’s promise and a thin scarlet cord. When the Israelites encircled the city, Rahab gathered her family inside her home and threw the cord out the window. The walls shook and the city fell. Rahab’s house stood firm. She lived. Her family lived. Rahab, the Caananite prostitute, found her place among the people of God.
Rahab married an Israelite man named Salmon. Rahab and Salmon had a baby boy they named Boaz. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Boaz married a Moabite woman named Ruth (and did she have a story). Boaz and Ruth had a son who had a son whose youngest boy was named David. King David, that is. And many generations later, one of David’s descendants had a baby in the little town of Bethlehem.
She named him Jesus.
Rahab’s story challenges me because she traded all she knew for an unknown God. Safety, security, the life she knew–they were nothing compared to the draw of God’s undeniable power. She chose to trust a God she only knew by reputation, and she grabbed hold of that cord of hope with both hands. God caught her, made her his own, and wove her into his tapestry of grace.
I hope I have a little Rahab in me. When my moment of decision comes, I choose to trust the God I know, who has saved me, redeemed me, and called me his own. The security and forces of this world beckon. But I choose adventure with the God of heaven and earth.
I choose life–and I want to live it abundantly.
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