Rahab, the harlot. There she is right there in the Bible’s “Hall of Fame” (Hebrews 11) standing tall, shoulder-to-shoulder as one of two women (Sara being the other) among the mentioned giants of faith. Of her the writer states, “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace” (v. 31, KJV). How did this Canaanite woman, a resident of the city of Jericho and one with such a questionable past, end up being memorialized for all times in such august company?
Over three thousand years ago and while on their way to the Promised Land, Joshua sent two men to “spy secretly” on Jericho (see Joshua 2) to get information that would help in the attack on the city. Rahab, the woman with whom the spies were staying and whose house was located on the city wall, protected the two men by hiding them from the city’s soldiers on her roof and agreed to cover for them on condition that she and her family are spared in the upcoming battle. The spies agreed as long as Rahab “utter not this our business” (v.14) and provided three conditions to be met (vv. 17-20) to which Rahab agreed (v. 21). Safely escaping the city, the two returned to Joshua and reported the whole land [of Jericho] was melting with fear (see v. 24). Subsequently, the city was destroyed and everyone and everything in it killed by Joshua’s army on God’s command (Joshua 6:21). That is, all except Rahab and her family (v.25) who were later incorporated among the Jewish people.
What would provoke this woman, at great risk to herself and family, to take such risks? In her own words to the spies, “I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath” (Joshua 2:9-11). A remarkable confession of faith in a God she did not know, but had certainly heard about. Some of the things she mentioned occurred some forty years earlier! God’s works among His people spoke for themselves then and long after.
What Rahab heard provoked her to demonstrate active faith in the God she had heard about. What about those of us who profess to know Him? Do what we know of God as revealed in nature and the Scriptures provoke us to active faith in Him? If not, why not?