CHANGE! For many of us, it is truly a “dirty” word. We are reluctant to change, so we kick, scream, and resist change, with every fiber of our being. To change is a difficult process; but no to change is fatal! If we are breathing, and are six feet above the ground, clearly, God has blessed us with another chance to make a changes in our life. There is no better time to start than NOW because the past is history, and while we can certainly learn from our past; it is time for us to move forward and grab ahold of something new.
Praise the Lord, for scripture is in agreement! In the book of Isaiah 43: 18-19, the prophet declares: “Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder the things of the past. Behold, I will do something new! NOW, it will spring forth, will you not be aware of it?
The scriptural question posed for us is rhetorical, for the only appropriate answer is: “Yes, God, I am aware of it.” So, how do we get our new beginning in 2016? How do we get the life which God desires for us? How do we stop living the life which someone else handed us, or a life which brings us little to no joy, and start living a life which is purposeful and victorious? How do we shed resignation, anger, depression, or fear; for a life of passion, direction, destiny, and fulfillment?
Perhaps our answers are found in scripture. Too often we accept mediocrity. We allow fear to whisper to us, “it just isn’t possible for you.” We chain ourselves to our past, and convince ourselves that our dreams of a better life are unrealistic and unachievable.
Yet, Rahab’s story shows us that the past is gone and our future is what really matters; for if God decides He will do a new thing for us, so shall it be. Rahab’s story teaches us that God is always presenting us with new opportunities for a blessed and purposeful life. We only have to believe it is possible, and then be willing to shed our fear for faith and action. It takes courage to believe change is possible. It also requires our participation – letting go of the past and grabbing ahold of a new vision for a different and better future.
That’s why I love this idiom: GET YOUR LIFE! As the great philosopher Joseph Campbell once noted: “The privilege of a lifetime is being who YOU are. So, the challenge for Rahab, as well as her contemporary, 21st century sisters is the same: Get Your Life – the life that God has purposed for you to embrace, fulfill, and enjoy.
AND now THE WORD from Our Sponsor
Joshua 2:1-22 (ESV)
2 And Joshua the son of Nun sent[a] two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there. 2 And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” 3 Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” 4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” 6 But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. 7 So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out.
8 Before the men[b] lay down, she came up to them on the roof 9 and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction.[c] 11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. 12 Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign 13 that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” 14 And the men said to her, “Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the Lord gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.”
15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall. 16 And she said[d] to them, “Go into the hills, or the pursuers will encounter you, and hide there three days until the pursuers have returned. Then afterward you may go your way.” 17 The men said to her, “We will be guiltless with respect to this oath of yours that you have made us swear. 18 Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household. 19 Then if anyone goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be guiltless. But if a hand is laid on anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. 20 But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless with respect to your oath that you have made us swear.” 21 And she said, “According to your words, so be it.” Then she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.
22 They departed and went into the hills and remained there three days until the pursuers returned, and the pursuers searched all along the way and found nothing.
Rahab’s story is found in Joshua, Chapter 2, verses 1-22. The very first detail we learn of Rahab’s life is her profession. The bible informs us that Rahab was a prostitute. Furthermore, Rahab owned the brothel on the wall of Jericho. We also understand that Rahab was of Canaanite descent. In the Old Testament, we discover that the Canaanites were an accursed people (the descendants of Ham).
Rahab was born into a culture which worshipped multiple gods (polytheism). While the Israelites certainly frowned upon prostitution, the citizens of Jericho respected Rahab and admired her entrepreneurial prowess. Rahab was considered a business woman of means. Her brothel was located in the “high rent” district of the most important fortress city in the Jordan Valley.
The story opens with two Israeli spies scouting out the Promised Land. Canaan was the land that God promised to Moses and his people; however, Joshua and his army would first have to defeat the Canaanites to seize the land. It would not be easy and it may not have happened without Rahab’s participation.
We are not certain of why the two spies went to the house of Rahab; however, we can make an educated guess. Rahab, because of her interactions with the king of Jericho and his army, would have invaluable information that the spies required to take back to Joshua. In Rahab, these spies found a reliable and beneficial ally. The story tells us that Rahab hides the spies (saving their lives); misdirects the king’s men; testifies to the mindset of her countrymen (“we melt in fear at the thought of you”); and provides the spies with an effective battle strategy (“hide in the hills for three days before returning to the camp”). All of this battle strategy from a woman and a pagan to boot!
Rahab’s ear has been to the ground the entire time. Furthermore, on the roof of her own brothel, she becomes prophet and preacher: “I know the Lord has given this land to you. Your God is the God of the heaven above and the earth below.” Rahab manages the circumstances in such a fashion that she skillfully leverages the spies to obtain exactly what she desires: A NEW BEGINNING. This new life which Rahab achieves, is not just for her; but, for her extended family.
Rahab, the ultimate networker and warrior, saves her entire family from the onslaught of Joshua’s army; for the city of Jericho is destroyed by Joshua and his warriors. Rahab, a woman, because the kinsmen redeemer for her entire family, and through her spiritual discernment and desire for a new life; she introduces her family to brand new way of life (from paganism to Judaism).
Rahab’s story is completed in Chapter 6 of the book of Joshua. We learn that Rahab opens the city gate and allows Joshua’s army entrance into Jericho. Then, because of her invaluable assistance to Joshua’s army, Rahab and her family are grafted into the house of Israel. Because of Rahab’s faithfulness, courage, and intelligence, God rewards Rahab with a new life. Rahab marries a tribal leader (Salmon) and becomes the ancestor (great grandmother)of King David and Jesus.
Rahab is the first Gentile convert in scripture. She is an ancestor in the line of Jesus (Matthew 1). She receives honorable mention in the book of Hebrews (chapter 11), as a great woman of faith.
QUESTIONS FOR OUR DISCUSSION AND CONSIDERATION
Rahab’s story starts with prostitution and ends in victory, as an ancestor of King David and Jesus, the Christ. What does Rahab’s life teach us about new beginnings?
What does Rahab’s life teach us about the power of transformation and salvation?
How is Rahab’s story empowering to us, as contemporary women of God, who may be looking for a new beginning?
How does Rahab’s story inspire you to refocus and make relevant changes in your life for 2016?
Why do you think God chose Rahab for such an important assignment? What personality traits did Rahab possess which assisted her in her task for God and Israel?
Ultimately, Rahab’s story is about embracing a new life – a new beginning, a new attitude, a new walk, new relationships, and a new direction. How does her new beginning connect to the scripture verse, Isaiah 43: 18-19?
What risks and sacrifices did Rahab make to achieve a new beginning? What do these risks and sacrifices teach us about embracing a new beginning for ourselves?
Food for Thought
Let go of things you can’t change. Focus on things you can.
Life is change. Growth is optional.
A sacrifice also precedes a miracle!
OUR SENDING PRAYER
Oh Lord, Ancient of Days, we need and desire your presence in our lives. Help us to accept the things we cannot change and embrace the changes in our life that are needed for us to grow in stronger and faith and love for You.
We pray this day for empowerment, joy, fulfillment, and purpose that we may be used to build Your kingdom. In the matchless name of our Christ, we pray.