(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Hebrews 11:31 reveals an unlikely candidate for the Hall of Heroes: “By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.” How unlikely of a candidate?
- She was a Canaanite! And God gave strict orders to Israel to annihilate the Canaanites! (see Deuteronomy 7:1-5).
- The LORD gave instructions concerning two Canaanite tribes in Deuteronomy 23:3 through 6. Here are verses 3 and 6:
An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the congrega- tion of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the congregation of the LORD....You shall not seek their peace or their prosperity all your days forever.
The same could be said of any member of one of the seven nations in Canaan – including Rahab!
- She is called a harlot three times in the Old Testament (Joshua 2:1; 6:17; 6:25), and twice in the New Testament (Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25).
✡ The Hebrew word is זָנָה (pronounced zaw-naw’) meaning “...to commit fornication, to be a harlot, play the harlot....” – Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitons. ✞ The Greek word is πóρνη (pronounced por-nay’) meaning “...a woman who sells her body for sexual uses...a prostitute, a harlot, one who yields herself to defile- ment for the sake of gain....” – Thayer’s Greek Defin- itions.
According to Deuteronomy 22:20 and 21, a young woman who has played the harlot before she is married is to be stoned to death! “…because she has done a disgraceful thing in Israel, to play the harlot in her father’s house; so you shall put away the evil person from among you.” Especially in Israel, harlotry was a sin very much looked down upon!
Not only is Rahab included in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith, She is also included in the royal genealogy of Jesus Christ through His stepfather Joseph! (see Matthew 1:5). She is King David’s great, great grandmother!
I don’t think we have to look far to see that Rahab, like the rest of us, had feet of clay! But there is another issue to point out: Rahab lied! When the two spies Joshua had commissioned to reconnoiter the city, Rahab “…had brought them up to the [flat] roof [of her house] and [had] hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.” (Joshua 2:6). When two men were sent by the king of Jericho to arrest the spies…
...she said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they came from. And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.” (Joshua 2:4 and 5).
She then told the two spies:
“I know that the LORD has given you the land...and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea...and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites...Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. As soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted...for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”
That is a statement of faith in the true and living God! And believing in the LORD’s promises (in this case God giving the Israelites the entire land of Canaan) is the basis of His salvation in both the Old Testament and the New!
- As it is written of Abraham in Genesis 15:5 and 6:
Then [God]...brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them....So shall your descendants be.” And [Abraham]...believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
- In the New Testament, God has promised, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved….” (Acts 16:31).
So in spite of being a Canaanite, a harlot, and one who lied, Rahab was saved through her faith in Israel’s God!
After the king’s men left her house, and after she made that wonderful statement of faith, Rahab helped the two spies escape! She “…let them down by a robe through the window, for her house was on the city wall…” (Joshua 2:15). And the two spies told her, “…bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down….And it shall be, when the LORD has given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you.” (Joshua 2:14 and 18).
The city of Jericho was taken in a most unusual way! (see Heroes With Feet of Clay – XII). All the inhabitants of the city were annihilated……. except Rahab and her family!
And the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, her mother, her brothers, and all that she had. So they brought out all her relatives.... And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s house- hold and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. (Joshua 6:23 and 25).
What of the red cord by which she let down the spies from her window on the wall of the city?
- It served as a means of escape for the spies, and then it served as a marker in Rahab’s window to show the attacking Israelite army the ones they were to protect and deliver from destruction!
- As has been said, “…the red line of atonement runs right through Scripture.”
✞ It started in Genesis 3:15 (called the “proto evangelium” or the first mention of the gospel): “And I will put enmity between you [the serpent, the devil] and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heal.” ✞ It continued six verses later, in Genesis 3:21: “Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” Fig leaves (see Genesis 3:7) just couldn’t cover their nak- edness! So God had to kill an animal to provide leather tunics for them – the first incident of the shedding of blood! ✞ The red line ran through Rahab’s house in Jericho! For the red cord in the window saved her and her family! ✞ The red line culminates in Jesus! For “...the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.”
Have you partaken of that Red Line of Atonement?