Some people shy away from speaking about Jesus or doing anything in His name because they’re convinced God can’t use them. In their minds, they have nothing special to offer, or they feel discredited by their pasts.
But Rahab, a prostitute living in the ancient city of Jericho, didn’t allow even her present sins to prevent her from doing what God had given her to do. And all she had to offer were her knowledge of the city, a rooftop and a strategically placed window.
Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there. The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”—Joshua 2:1-3 (NIV)
Instead, Rahab sent the king’s soldiers on a wild goose chase and hid the spies until they could escape safely by rope through her window. She did it because she had become convinced “the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (vs. 11b) and “that the Lord has given you this land” (vs. 9a).
In return, she asked the spies to promise to spare her life and the lives of her family when Joshua’s army would come to overtake Jericho. The spies kept their word, and Rahab and her family escaped.
“By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.”—Hebrews 11:31 (NIV)
Rehab’s choice turned out to be more than life-changing. It was history-making.
This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: . . . Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.—Matthew 1:1; 5-6 (NIV)
Rehab could have said, “Uh, I’ll pass. I’m a harlot, not a hero. Helping people overthrow my city is beyond my pay grade.” But she didn’t. She could see the truth—that the God of the Hebrews was the one true God, and that He had promised them that land—and she allowed the truth to give her the confidence to do the right thing.
God’s grace was greater than the sum of her sin. God’s purposes were greater than her temporal comfort.
I have to wonder what God could do through us if we allowed His truth and His power to inform our decisions and steel us for whatever He has put before us to do.
Like Rahab, we need to look beyond ourselves to the One from whom all grace flows, even if we don’t believe we have much to offer.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter or our faith . . . —Hebrews 12:1-2a (ESV)