“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. 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. 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. 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 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.” Joshua 2:9-13
The story of Rahab is a beautiful example of God’s redemption purposes for all nations through His people. The gospel is proclaimed through her example. Rahab is vital as she acts as both a warning and encouragement to God’s chosen people. A warning that the Gentiles could be grafted in and put Israel to shame, and an encouragement to the power of God that would be with them as long as they were moved by faith to obey (Romans 11:18-20).
There can be no allegation to God’s injustice in choosing only the Jews for they were meant to not only to receive a special blessing but to extend it to all who would believe in the LORD and seek to follow His way. God is holy and demands perfection. The reality is that no man or woman born of Adam’s race deserves heaven for in Adam all sinned and humanity as a whole was sentenced to separation from God (Romans 5:12). The gospel is the good news that God was born as a man and bore the punishment of sin that man would become Christ’s righteousness (2Cor 5:21). Through the royal seed of Abraham, Messiah claims victory over death and the crushes the curse of sin (Gen 3:15).
God’s great love for the world drove Him to send His only son to atone for the sins of all who would repent and believe—both Jew, Gentile, and Canaanite alike (John 3:16, Mark 1:15). By faith, Rahab stands in sharp contrast to the response of her native people who had long refused to submit to God’s authority and means to be saved. They had set themselves as Yahweh’s enemies. Redemption was offered even to the Canaanites devoted to genocide during Israel’s conquest as evidenced in the salvation of Rahab and her family. When people gave their allegiance to Yahweh and became holy belonging to Him, they were no longer under the order of destruction.
The message of salvation through faith alone is so loud in this short passage of Scripture. The character of Rahab plays a critical role, yet not a glamorous one. She is a positive example not by her virtue but in her weakness made strong through faith in Yahweh (Hebrews 11). The mercy of God that triumphs judgment is highlighted by her redemption from paganism to becoming a carrier of the promised seed that will crush the seed of the deceiver (Matthew 1, Gen 3). Rahab’s identity as a gentile devoted to destruction reveals that salvation was not exclusively for the Jews even in the Old Testament. This snapshot of God’s grace captures the essence of salvation which comes by faith alone and is manifested in love for the LORD and His people. May we be Spirit-empowered to reach out to the despicable and the unlovable, as Jesus Himself reaches tax collectors and sinners, with the message of Rahab—the life-changing message of the gospel to the praise of His glorious grace.
Believers must not also fall into the trap of looking down our noses at God’s business of saving men and women from the uttermost pits and do as He pleases. Our Creator God is the potter and can choose the ugliest spoiled piece of clay and remold it into the most glorious vessel (Jerimiah 18:6-10). The honor is not for Rahab but the glory given to God all the more for saving such a wretched lost soul and transform her into a most useful agent of bringing about victory for His people. All the more glory is given to God that neither Joshua, Rahab, nor the spies, nor any woman may boast (Eph 2:8).