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Why Rahab?

Posted by Brook Bailey on

If you’ve never read the story of Rahab (Joshua 2), you should check it out. Here's my attempt at a CliffsNotes[1] version:

Joshua sent a couple of spies on a recon mission into the Canaanite city of Jericho. Their presence was discovered, but a Canaanite prostitute[2] named Rahab hid them from the king's men, saving their lives. In return for this, the lives of Rahab and her family were spared when (spoiler alert) Joshua and the Israelites conquered Jericho.

Why would God use someone like Rahab? She was a prostitute. She was a Canaanite, an enemy to the Israelites. She wasn’t special.

That’s the point. She wasn’t special. She was just like every other Canaanite. She was just like each one of us. And that’s the case throughout the entire Bible. The people in these stories weren’t superheroes. They were people, complete with all the sin and baggage that comes with being human. Moses? A murderer with anger issues. King David? A murderer who struggled with lust. Peter? A hothead whose words and actions led him to get reprimanded by Jesus himself (Matthew 16:23), as well as by the apostle Paul (Galatians 2:11-16).

These stories, and our own stories, aren’t about amazing people doing amazing things. They’re about an amazing God who uses normal, broken people to do amazing things, and who does amazing things in the hearts of normal, broken people.

But why would Rahab, a Canaanite, risk her own life to help a couple of Israelite spies? She had no reason to believe that she could trust these guys. And she held the power in this situation. She could’ve ratted these two guys out in an instant.

The answer is simple. She feared God.

“I know the Lord has given you this land,” she told them. “We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror. For we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below.”
— Joshua 2:9–11 NLT

As much as any human could, Rahab understood the greatness of God. That led to faith, which led to action.

It should be the same way with us. Do you have a genuine, healthy fear of God? When you really start to grasp the enormity of God, the fact that he knows you, loves you and wants a personal relationship with you becomes that much more humbling and meaningful. When I stop to think that the almighty Creator of the universe wants to talk to me, I can’t help but be filled with gratitude and adoration.

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

—Proverbs 1:7 NLT

Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom;
humility precedes honor.

— Proverbs 15:33 NLT

Serve the Lord with reverent fear,
and rejoice with trembling.

— Psalms 2:11 NLT

But the Lord watches over those who fear him,
those who rely on his unfailing love.

— Psalms 33:18 NLT


  1. Or SparkNotes, if you’re a millennial.  ↩

  2. Some scholars say she was more of an innkeeper than a prostitute. I can’t read Biblical Hebrew, so I couldn’t tell you who’s right. The important thing for my point is that she was a human person.  ↩

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