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Day 18: Rahab was a prostitute in Jericho, an ancient city steeped in polytheistic culture. In a society and time when women were not highly esteemed, it’s safe to assume her body, heart, and soul had been wounded in profound ways. This is not a woman we would expect God to use, but Rahab is praised throughout Scripture for her faith in God. When Joshua sent spies into Jericho, Rahab risked her life by hiding them from the king of Jericho. When the Israelites later conquered Jericho, Rahab and her family were saved. And even more amazing, Rahab became the great-great-grandmother of King David, and the great-great—to the twenty-eighth power or so—grandmother of Jesus. God not only renewed the heart of this former prostitute by empowering her with dignity and purpose, he placed her in Jesus’ family tree!
Because Rahab’s story is so triumphant and beautiful, it drives me absolutely batty when New Testament authors continue to refer to her as a prostitute:
“By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient” (Heb. 11:31).
“In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?” (James 2:25).
I want her to be dubbed “Rahab the faithful” or “Rahab the transformed.” She deserves a new title based on her faith and on the transformation God worked in her life. Even so, I’ve learned to make peace with it in the belief that overlooking Rahab’s past would simply diminish the power of her beauty-from-ashes story. There is more redemptive power in her story because we know the full truth about her. In Rahab, we see how God’s grace is available to all, no matter our upbringing, gender, ethnicity, or whatever we might consider shameful about our pasts. All we need to know about her is this: “Rahab the prostitute was considered righteous.” That’s the entire gospel summarized in six words.
It doesn’t matter what has been done to us or what we’ve done to ourselves. There isn’t anything beyond the reach of God’s redemption. God loves to reveal his strength in our weaknesses. You can be used by God powerfully, no matter what your yesterday looks like.
Consider: In what ways, if any, has shame led you to doubt yourself or your ability to make a difference for others?
Prayer: God, I’m so thankful you’re in control of my life and that you use imperfect people like Rahab, and me to do powerful things in your name. Amen
(Sections taken from Overcomer by Aubrey Sampson. Copyright © 2015. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com. All rights reserved.)