While you would expect the Son of God’s family tree to be filled with perfect people, the lineage of Jesus is speckled with scandal. Even Jesus’ birth was scandalous…proving that God is not concerned with the opinions of man. Nor is He unwilling to use imperfect people. In fact, sometimes I think he prefers using messy people.
An outcast. An outsider. An outlaw.
Rahab’s story is a unique one and yet it echoes one of the most prevalent themes of scripture: the outcast and sinner finding redemption and a home.
By all means, Rahab had no right to belong with the people of Israel. For one, she was a Canaanite—an enemy of Israel. Not only was she a Canaanite, she was a prostitute—a profession strictly forbidden to Israelites. Some scholars speculate that she was actually an innkeeper or brothel owner because the Hebrew word is unclear, however most agree that her profession was, in fact, prostitution.
Although Rahab was considered an enemy of Israel, she put her life on the line by hiding two Israelite men from the authorities. In sheltering them, she defied her people and chose to ally herself with Israel. She gives the reason for this in Joshua 2:11 where she shares that she’s heard of all that God has done for Israel:
“I know that the Lord has given you this land 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 Seafor you when you came out of Egypt. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, Joshua 2:8-11
Her last sentence is a powerful declaration of faith: "he is God in the heavens above and the earth beneath." While the Canaanite peoples had their own gods (including Moloch, who required child sacrifices), Rahab realized that there was one true God and He was with Israel. And she wanted to be too.
Rahab hid the Israelite spies and then gave them specific instructions to stay safe. They agreed to save her and her family. As a sign of their agreement, Rahab would hang a scarlet cord from her window, and the Israelites would protect her and her family. Because of Rahab’s bravery, she is included in the Hebrews 11 hall of faith. Not only did she save the Israelite men, she saved her family, and herself. Moreover, at the time the book of Joshua was written, Rahab was still living in Israel. Joshua 6:25 says, "...and she lives among Israel to this day." Rahab received the impossible--she dwelled in the Promised Land with the Israelites.
Isaiah 1: 18 says, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow." Rahab's life is a beautiful picture of this verse. She isn't remembered for her sins or her past, rather her decision to align herself with God's people. This choice gave her access to the impossible: The Promised Land. Her choice equaled redemption. She left prostitution and became the wife of a man named Salmon, the mother of Boaz, the great-great-great-grandmother of King David, and the "a-lot-of-greats-later" grandmother of Jesus.
What are the choices in front of you?
What's your Promised Land?
Rahab chose and her choice has colored the history books.
Her story loos like scarlet...scarlet colored redemption.