17 The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. 18 And for about forty years he put up withthem in the (desert) wilderness. 19 And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years. Acts 13:16-20 ESV
God often works in ways that we would never expect. He told Abraham that his descendants would go down to a foreign land (Egypt) before inheriting the land of Israel that was promised to them. The entire process took over four hundred years and involved times of great darkness.
When the Lord finally brought the Israelites to the doorstep of entering the land, two spies were sent in to gather intelligence. When they were discovered and cornered, God used the faith of a prostitute, Rahab, to conceal them and help them to escape under the cover of darkness. For her faithfulness, Rahab and her family were spared when the city of Jericho fell.
When Jesus came on the scene over a thousand years later, it was often the prostitutes and sinners who recognized Him for who he was and acted in faith to follow and assist Him as he carried out the will and work of his heavenly Father.
Rahab was not only accepted by God; she was included in the genealogy of Jesus Christ through King David:
5 Salmon (was) the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king. Matthew 1:5-6 ESV
Why did Rahab please God, despite her lifestyle? He saw her faith and her resulting actions, which helped further the plan and work of God. It is faith in God which pleases Him, and her faith was then expressed in her words and actions that honored the living God and His chosen people.
As the Lord brought the Israelites into the land, he judged and drove out the people living there because of their despicable practices, including the use of child sacrifice to appease pagan gods. Rahab’s occupation was likely the result of that pagan ritual system, and she may or may not have had a choice in the matter. But either way, God recognized her faith, and she and all her family were saved.
Rahab even receives a mention in the faith chapter of the New Testament, the eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews:
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. Hebrews 11:29-31 ESV
This section of the Bible is often difficult to read, with many severe judgements by God upon the peoples of Canaan. This seems to be a significant contrast with the loving message of the gospel that God is extending to all peoples today. In our mind, it is difficult to process the apparent contrast between God’s judgement and God’s love, expressed for us through Jesus Christ dying on the cross to permit our eternal presence with Him.
Perhaps the violent and painful death that Christ suffered for us shows that there was no other way. Judgement for sin is required, and Jesus took the believer’s judgement upon Himself, as well as the judgement for all in the world (including Canaanites) who would accept it. The extreme measure Jesus went to, foretold back in the time of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah in Genesis 22, is evidence of the deep necessity of a sacrifice to escape the judgement of sin.
When someone harms those we love deeply, we demand justice in return. In God’s world, though He deeply loves all mankind, as pointed out in John 3:16-17, He requires justice, as well. Even to the point where His own precious, deeply loved Son sacrificed Himself to fulfill our judgement.
Upon entering it, the Promised Land of Israel was allotted out to each tribe, and a peace came over the land. The former Canaanite practices were forbidden in this new existence. Similarly, we today have peace in Christ, but we all have thoughts and practices in our lives that God wants to eliminate from our being. Although we are forgiven by Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit, we still all fall short of perfection. The Lord provides many different resources and people for us to lean upon to help shed these unclean practices and shortcomings. It is a day by day process as we walk with the Lord, and when things are not going well, it is never too late to start the day over again in His loving presence and forgiveness.
At what age did you come to faith in Jesus Christ? If you haven’t yet, now is a good time to open your heart and accept Him. Like Rahab, the shame of our past is gone when we come to faith in God.
Without the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we would all be under the judgement of sin. We have all fallen short of God’s standards of purity and love. If is often good to spend a moment in silent reflection with the Lord to confess the areas of sin which cause us the greatest struggle. He loves us and wants to help us live a better, more joyful life. If we confess our sin, He is quick to forgive us and grant us peace as we turn away from evil and towards the light of Jesus Christ (1 John 1:9).
Isn’t it wonderful that God forgives all of our sins today!