Scripture abounds with the names and deeds of women who God brought to the forefront in a time of crisis or to accomplish a task in His Plan. These persons are presented in God’s Word, regardless of their past or questionable life style, as evidence of His transforming grace. One such obscure woman was Rahab. In Scripture she is repeatedly identified as a prostitute, not in condemnation, but rather to demonstrate the power of God to take a life that is marred by sin and transform it into a trophy of His grace.
The writer of Hebrews wrote… “By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days. By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient” (Heb 11:30-31 NIV). Both the city and this woman, who operated a house of ill repute, were well aware of the news that had spread across the nations concerning the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. Scripture reveals differing responses to the news of this dramatic journey.
Scripture states … “Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. "Go, look over the land," he said, "especially Jericho." So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there” (Josh 2:1 NIV). Do not be hasty to judge the actions of the spies as lodging in such a place might render them unnoticed. However, God was superintending every move, for we learn that Rahab had heard the good news of the one true God.
“Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, "I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (Josh 2:8-11 NIV).
Rahab placed her faith in the God of Israel, but note that the people of the city, which possessed the same information, rejected the message and were in fear. She had declared her faith and now it would be demonstrated. Hiding the “spies” under the flax stalks on her roof, she misled the soldiers, who had come to capture them, to search elsewhere. Her act was virtuous for she recognized her allegiance to God was of greater value than to the wicked leaders of the city. God honored her actions and as a result not only was her life spared in the conquest of Jericho, but also members of her family.
It is possible that this woman, who became a part of Israel on the basis of faith and those that she brought into her home prior to the destruction of the city, became the people called the “children of Jericho” and who assisted Nehemiah in building the walls of Jerusalem (Ezra 2:34; Neh 7:36, 3:2 NIV). God was not finished honoring this woman of greatness, for in the gospel of Matthew the highest of all accolades, that of being in the lineage of Jesus Christ lists Rahab. Prophecy required that the Messiah of Israel. “Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David” (Matt 1:5-6 NIV). God’s plan included this woman of faith who made herself available to be used by Him and honored her greatness in the eternal Word of God.