Lessons of Transformation from the Life of Rahab

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The Bible tells us the story of a woman who sheltered two Israelites, and for this act of kindness, she and her family were spared destruction. She wasn’t the most admired person in her city, yet she was used by God. In the Bible, we have many reports of unworthy and sinful people who were instruments in His hands. We can quickly judge this as crazy. However, it happened yesterday and it continues to happen today. But there’s also something very special that happened in these lives: they were transformed.

When Joshua asked the two spies to explore the walled city, he had no idea how God would lead them. We know that Joshua was a man of God and that God is capable of great things, but we often limit Him. We want to put Him in a box and decide under what circumstances He should or should not/can or cannot act. We want Him to use this or that medium, or this or that person because they seem to be a good Christian or because they have the gift of speaking well in public, or because this or that individual would be the ideal fit. Rahab’s story is included in the Word of God to remind us of a multitude of lessons. The first is that God uses whomever He wants for His glory and for the fulfillment of His purposes. We like to hold on to preconceived notions of how God can or will act, but that’s what I find wonderful about our God. He is often where He isn’t expected. The birth, youth, and life of Jesus, the twelve chosen, and many other facts about Christ’s life on earth are perfect examples. But let’s go back to our protagonist, Rahab.

And Joshua, the son of Num, secretly sent two men to spy from Sitim, saying, Go and recognize the land and Jericho. So they went and entered the house of a prostitute woman, whose name was Rahab, and slept there.

Joshua 2:1

Honestly, of all the people who lived in the city of Jericho at that time, did the two men have to find hospitality at the home of a prostitute? Weren’t there “normal” people in this city? Couldn’t God have sent them to the home of a nobleman or a merchant? I’m sure that the well-known expression, “appearance of evil”, has crossed the mind of some. But, you know, our problem is judging the value of souls based on their clothes, shoes, work, home, etc. We put people in boxes and consider that some “deserve” our attention more because they are “children of such a person”, or because they have this or that characteristic. But in doing so, we forget that God can do everything even where we least expect it.

For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

Matthew 9:13

Reading this text, we see how eager Jesus is to save sinners. How did God see Rahab? As a sinner. And I wonder how God saw the fruit and vegetable trader, the carpet seller, the woodcutter, the fabric seller, the potter? As sinners. In fact, in the eyes of God, there was no difference between Rahab and the others, none.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23

In the eyes of God, everyone was a sinner and needed to repent, needed salvation, needed to return to Him. But while everyone was condemned, the Word of God presents a fundamental difference that is indispensable in understanding why God sent those two Israelites to Rahab. This fact is recorded in the Bible. That woman, unlike the rest of her people, knew her real condition and “the wages” that awaited her and her family. She said:

Now, therefore, swear to me, I ask you, by the Lord, … ] and give me a sure sign that you will give my father and mother my life, as well as my brothers and sisters, with everything they have, and that you will free our lives from death.”

Joshua 2:2-13

She recognized her condition and clung to the Source of salvation that was represented by those men. She knew that victory was already guaranteed for Israel, and she believed that they could save her with her family.

Rahab had contact with the Israeli spies around 1405 BC, at the end of the 40 years of the pilgrimage of God’s people towards Canaan. She, over these four decades, had heard accounts of the power of Yahweh, God of the Israelites, and how He brought judgments upon the Egyptians and their gods, (Joshua 2:9-11). Certainly, these powerful manifestations of the Israelites’ God had a profound impact on this prostitute’s mind. Even in sin, her mind was still sensitive to the influence of the Holy Spirit, recognizing that the God of the Israelites was different from other gods. She testified to the spies: “For the Lord your God is God above in heaven and below on earth,” Joshua 2:11. She must have probably thought about leaving her profession and changing her life. And her chance came when she was visited by the Israeli spies.

Ozeas Moura

Among the people of Jericho, people who would call our attention by their social status, their wealth, or their name, the only one that was mentioned and recorded for us to study today was Rahab, because of her character. Rahab, the woman who risked her life to protect the two men who were her only hope for life. She clung to the salvation that was offered to her and began to live a new life. She preached to her family members and was, not only accepted as part of God’s people, but became an ancestor of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1-16).

But God chose what the world considers foolish to shame the wise. God chose what the world considers weak to shame the strong. And God chose what the world considers low-class and low-life—what is considered to be nothing—to reduce what is considered to be something to nothing.

1 Corinthians 1:27-28

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