Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Rahab renewed

I'm on the 4th week of our Ladies Bible Study and it's about 12 women of the Bible. First it was Eve, then Sarah, then Miriam (who taught me great lessons about my own sin of pride growing like ivy around my heart - more on her later, I think, but not ready right now). This week it's Rahab.

This story of how God honors a prostitute, then uses her to forward the plans of His chosen nation are so powerful. I know, deep down, all of us can identify with her. She is stuck in a place that she chose, but it's still a pit. She is making an effort and working to get out of it, maybe for years, but she would always be known in Jericho as a whore. No one willingly chooses that life - there is so much desperation in it. We as women are taught to grow up and marry the man of our dreams. Those dreams derail, be it because of drugs, confusion, abuse or just plain bad decision. I admit, there was a time, when I was young, when sex and the world was hammering my consciousness, that I wondered what it would be like, to a be stripper, with that much confidence to show off my body and be so free with my sexuality. They make it look so good in MTV videos, don't they? (Well, if MTV still had videos!)

I realized a long time ago that was the world and the enemy talking. There is no glamor in that life. All dark deeds come out in the light of day and everyone knows about it. So, for God to reach in to the darkest spot, a Gentile prostitute's heart shows me that He can and will go anywhere to establish His Will. I have nothing to fear, except The Lord. She must have woken up one day, maybe even after giving up the oldest profession, even after trying to make money elsewhere (she was an innkeeper and a had a flax business as well) - already trying to make her life different. She knew, all of Jericho, all of Canaan knew what The Israelite God was capable of - they'd been hearing about their deliverance, their destruction of Shion and Og and now they were rolling ever closer to Jericho. It's like the US troops rolling ever closer to Baghdad. It was a foregone conclusion and EVERYONE knew it. Too bad the Jericho king didn't just bow his knee - he and his people paid dearly for his unwise choice.

Rahab, as it seems - as are all these heroines of our faith (indeed all of us who choose, daily, to follow The Lord) is a risk taker. She literally put her life into God's hands and the hands of his agents, the 2 spies. She put her family's lives in God's hands. What an amazing picture - Acts 16:31 paints a different story - of the solider about to kill himself because he thought all the prisoners had escaped and then Paul tells him to believe on Christ and he will be saved, him and his whole household.

I will admit, I have clung to that for years before Dave came to Christ and I still hold onto it for my children, nieces and brother. But here, in the OT, is a picture of that. A woman whose belief and faith in the Lord empowers her to claim salvation for her whole family. And again, The Lord honors her.

I know there is a lot to say about that scarlet cord she hung in her window and what that symbolizes. Also about how she acted on her faith - just as James implores us. But I am not going there. I'm going to another little tidbit - in which rabbinic tradition holds that the original two spies came back for her. And remember, she and her family were the ONLY ONES left alive in that siege. Imagine that! Maybe because Joshua knew they would remember where her house was. And they came back AFTER the walls had fallen. It was about 10 days before she saw them again.

But I think the end of this speaks to the heart of every woman. Tradition also holds that she married one of those 2 spies. He happened to be from one of the best Israelite families. God not only provided a savior for her but He gave her a husband. Can you imagine? What grace! For a former prostitute! Just like in the romance novels or a movie. The spies walk into her inn, the man knowing full well who and what she is and he falls head of heels in love with her. No doubt she did too - he loves her with a love that is capable of looking past, nay, not even considering her past. Then he takes HER word to his general and comes back, in the middle of a battle, to save her and her family. It's like Kevin Costner coming from Mary-Elizabeth Mastrantonio in Robin Hood. And you hear that Brian Adams song "Everything I do, I do it for you" in the backgroud. Rahab is purified and welcomed into the family of God and they get married with His blessing!

Oh, I know I'm stretching but I do have a point (not just being mushy). For anyone reading this - know that this is exactly a picture of what Christ as done for me and will do for you. He is your Prince Charming. He is your Robin Hood. He is the one who will come back for you, in the midst of a battle for YOU - dear damaged woman. He will look past everything you think you are to see the amazing and beautiful Princess. He will transform your life through a marriage of spirit and He will never leave you. He will purify you, you will be part of God's family, raised to sit and reign with Jesus forever. Just do what Rahab did and put your faith in Him - and only in Him.

Sounds good, don't it? It's right here, proof I've been searching for. God wrote the original fairy tale, but it's not a tale - it is as true back then as it is for me (and hopefully you) today. Maybe that's why she was included in Boaz's line (who married Ruth), King David's and, of course, our Lord Jesus.

Rahab lived her life in a way that started bad but ended glorious. I have no doubt, and neither did history (as she is honored several times throughout the Bible)that IS the POINT. John 10:27 is quoting Jesus when He says "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me." Rahab listened and heard - she knew The Lord and she followed Him. He was the only way out and she followed Him straight into a redeemed life. He still is for us today.

I love it. Romance in the Bible - in the OT! He knows just what we need, always. You go Rahab! You go girl! You go Lord!

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