by Kristen C. Strocchia
“By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” Hebrews 11:31
Rahab was a woman of ill-repute among her people. We don’t know why she came to this profession, and we don’t need to. Because–like all sinners–her past was washed away when she was justified by her faith–her absolute certainty in what she hoped for, but couldn’t see. But how did a poor, sinful woman of an idolatrous nation come to place her faith in a God she had never known?
In her own words, Rahab told the Israelite spies–the ones that she had hidden from her own King’s messengers–“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 of you. We have heard how the Lord…and our courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below,” [Joshua 2:8-11].
Even though Rahab was not raised in the fear of the Lord, when she heard of His great works, her whole heart–intellect, will, and emotion–turned to Him. She recognized Him for who He alone is–the One True God of heaven and earth.
And the scriptures write that, “she was not killed with those who were disobedient,” [Hebrews 11:31]. Meaning that everyone else who heard of God’s works also had the opportunity to recognize that there was no other like the God of Israel. Everyone else had the opportunity to acknowledge Him as the One and Only God and to submit their lives to Him by faith. Like Rahab, God would’ve seen all of the inhabitants of the Promised Land–rather than be routed by the sword–turn back to Him.
Instead the king and citizens of Jericho maintained faith in themselves. They believed that they could withstand the Israelites in their own power despite what they’d heard about their God. Perhaps they didn’t believe that the stories were real. Perhaps they thought themselves stronger than the Egyptians or better defended than other cities. Perhaps they truly believed the stone idols made by their own hands were really real. Regardless, when God presented Himself to the people of Jericho, they denied Him as God.
Rahab alone turned to Him. Rahab alone did not fear those who could kill the body, but feared instead for the loss of her soul [Matthew 10:28]. And not only was she physically saved, God brought her into his literal family–the line through which Jesus would be born [Matthew 1:5].
If you are a Christian, you know how Rahab felt when she recognized who God is and that she needed and wanted to trust in Him alone. But what about those around us?
Whether we have been saved since a young age or only recently, we become a light to everyone we encounter. When they look at us, do they see the Almighty God at work? Do they hear of His great works in our lives and through our speech? Are they confronted with the truth of God in us?