By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. Hebrews 11:31
Listed with all those greats of the faith is a prostitute named Rahab. There were a number of strikes against her. She was a prostitute, she was a pagan — a Canaanite — and she was a woman. Strike three. But that didn’t matter. She had faith. She had heard how God was with the children of Israel — how they had been freed from Pharaoh through a series of miracles including crossing the Red Sea, and they had already had military success on this side, and word was getting out that they were to be feared. Certainly their God was more real than her gods who had done nothing for her. So she had put faith in God and hid the two spies that had entered Jericho. For that she and her family were spared when the walls of her city fell down.
If you want to speculate, given her profession, how those two spies had ended up in Rahab’s house, you may. Because it doesn’t matter. That’s because God uses us regardless.
We could never have left the story here. If we had told this story, we would have had to tell how the spies had led Rahab to the Lord and she had given up prostitution and married a good Christian man and had become a great witness for Christ. But we don’t hear anything about that here. We only hear about her faith. That’s because her faith is what matters, not her happy ending. And the point about her faith is that it had driven her to action. She DID SOMETHING with her faith just as all the other heroes of Hebrews 11 did.
She put her life in danger because the authorities had heard the spies were in her house and came searching for them. Of course she lied about how they had already left. (That part of the story wouldn’t go over well with good Christians either.) But in the process, the spies found out how fear of them had gripped the whole city. And when they returned, that knowledge had lifted the spirits of the Israelites and given them new confidence that God was with them.
Faith is all about action. You don’t have faith so that you can be a good Christian and go to heaven. You have faith in order for God to accomplish something for the kingdom of God through you. What is it that God has asked you to do with your faith? If you can’t answer that question, you’re not listening.
Complete the following:
By faith, _______________ (your name) _________________ (your assignment).
Unfortunately the computer will not allow me to fill that in above. Our system is kind of tricky at times. By faith the day I came forward to except Christ as my savior and that was quite a walk but, something inside me just said I need to do this now. Take care, God Bless, and have a great weekend.
Rahab was also a world-class liar, John! Another “loser” I might have included in my book GOD IS LOSER FRIENDLY.
4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. 5 At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” 6 (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) 7 So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan
There are some other places in the Bible where we don’t get that Christian happy ending we always want. Like the Centurion who witnessed the earthquake at Christ’s death and said surely He was the Son of God. Why is that the last we hear of him? Did the Centurion get saved? Did he follow Christ and lead other Romans to Him? The one that’s always bugged me is the poor widow who gave what little she had. Jesus commended her saying she gave more than the others but then what? I always wanted to hear her happy ending where she was blessed for her gift and was no longer poor. We want to know these happy endings are real because that would strengthen our…you guessed it…faith. God seems to be saying through these stories that if we know His promises and believe them nothing further needs to be said.
Maybe that’s the lesson for our lives too. We don’t see our happy ending yet but till then we have faith. My faith tells me that Rahab, The Centurion, and that widow are all in glory resting in God’s loving arms today.
Good points. Thanks for writing.
Faith is not about filling in the blanks.
Faith is not about completing a sentence.
Faith is not about endings that are happy, sad, surprising, expected, deserved, unfinished or otherwise – at least not in earthly terms.
Faith is about new beginnings; about a personal promise made to you and me for which we must be patient to see fulfilled; about a future intimacy with our Lord and Savior that we can only vaguely imagine right now and yet (sometimes with difficulty) still believe that Jesus will follow through on. Faith is about a hope not yet attained but guaranteed; about a knowledge and a peace that passes all worldly understanding; about a Holy Spirit who stays with us through the transition of this life into the next – even when we’ve strayed far away, sometimes re-nailing Christ to the cross and shaming ourselves for the umpteenth time. Faith is about ultimate forgiveness and liberation, holiness and cleanliness, pure unabashed loving fellowship between billions of souls and with God Himself.
If we can see this, yearn for this, believe in the possible impossibility of this, be wiling to reach out for this, be honest about this and ourselves… then we have access to pure faith.
Rahab, along with all the others in the “Hall of Faith” experienced a moment (or moments) of eternal clarity where they were permitted to see the much bigger picture than their present circumstances could visualize.
And it was that unfathomable future that they grasped and clung onto.
One reason I believe we don’t know how the stories ended for many of these souls is because we have a tendency to needlessly fixate, speculate, analyze, and perhaps idolize what the end of their stories should mean to us or the world. We take our eyes off God and we focus on the individual(s).
We don’t need to know the end of their stories, whether they died in wealth or poverty, at peace or in torment, living upstanding lives or scamming the system, happily ever after or suicidally depressed, in good or declining health, etc.
The Bible lets us know about the roles they played in fulfilling God’s plans for all of our futures, and that should be more than adequate for us. Their faith is what mattered.
Simply summarized: They acted on faith and we ought to do the same.
(Also, as a side note, I believe that these souls are in Heaven right now whether resting in the arms of our Lord, or – with full gusto along with the rest of Creation – actively praising our Father! This is where their recorded story of faith has landed them – Hallelujah!
But, I suppose we can certainly ask them to tell their life-stories after we arrive there ourselves, if that’s even important to anyone by then…)
Faith is truly a gift from God and it’s available to everyone.
When you possess God-given faith, you possess the future and you cannot be faulted for keeping your eyes on that indescribable prize: that precious destiny secured for us by the Blood of Jesus two-thousand years ago that no earthly destination can even compare to.
Faith is not a happy ending – it is a happy beginning to look forward to.
Faith is, as Paul said, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Be a blessing. Be blessed.
Be of good will. Be cheerful.
Be courageous. Be encouraged.
Be honest. Be True.
Be faith-filled and faithful.
Be Holy because He is Holy.
Shalom, Peace to you…
Thank you for this incredible encouragement.
For the first time in my 70 years, I might have a handle on why Rahab lied to the authorities about the spies and why God seemed to be ok with that lie. My American evangelical upbringing never really explained this and have always puzzled over the anomoly. I was always taught to scrupulously tell the truth. This story seemed so backwards from the way I was raised.
But John, you might have just answered this 70-year olf question for me. Your statement, “You don’t have faith so that you can be a good Christian and go to heaven. You have faith in order for God to accomplish something for the kingdom of God through you.” seems to indicate that faith transcends even our theology that initially was probably responsible for our faith. I’m not sure how all that works but it goes a long way to explaining this lifelong question for me.