The Joy of Faith: a Motherly Example in Anna

“And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke2:36-38)

The glorious plan of redemption was told from the prophets and prophetesses of old. Moses spoke hope to God’s people at the very account of the fall in Genesis by stating that there would come a seed from the woman whose heel would crush the serpent’s head (Gen 3:15). Anna was a woman of God who was enthusiastically expecting the serpent-crusher. She was called a prophetess not because she predicted the future or claimed to hear the voice in her head, but because she taught God’s Word.[1] She was a diligent student of Scripture in the temple for the rest of her widowed life, which made her privy to the predictions of the Messiah and being able to recognize His birth. Rather than follow after the enticements of the sneaky snake or the things the world offered, this lady was intent on the purpose to which God called her. In verse 37, God reveals to us that this lady was committed to God’s service and prayer continually. “Luke depicts Anna as swelling in an ivory tower of the spirit, aloof from worldly preoccupations. She lived on a plane apart from material things and ‘served God with fasting and prayers night and day.’”[2]

God had so captivated Anna’s affections that she didn’t look to anything or anyone else for fulfillment. The world around this woman had not distracted her from waiting for Jesus’ coming. And her affirmation came the happy day when she got to personally see Christ face to face though in only His infancy. What joy filled Anna’s heart than to get to thank God for a brief little glimpse into His redemptive plan for all of humanity! 

I think it was because she was so preoccupied with God’s Word and will that she couldn’t help by the Spirit to be filled with joy at what she saw before her eyes—God in a human form sent to savior His people from their sin and all of the effects of the fall. Anna didn’t become discontent that in her old age, she probably wouldn’t see Jesus grow up and perform miracles. She was very old and likely didn’t live much longer after seeing baby Jesus. However, those last years of her life were well spend praising and thanking God for His goodness and telling everyone that Messiah had come! “The day of His dedication was probably her one and only glimpse of Him. But it was enough for her. She literally could not stop talking about Him. And that is the most endearing part of this wonderful woman’s extraordinary legacy.”[3]  (MacArthur, Twelve Extraordinary Women, 140). 

Anna probably never had physical children but she became a mother to all of us women who would listen and follow her example of persevering faith that yields lasting joy and sees God at work in His redemptive plan in History. Anna’s reward for her life of purity and devotion was to see God, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). This is the blessing I pray for all the women reading this short devotion, and a happy Mother’s Day to all!

  [1] MacArthur, John.  The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Luke 1-5. (Chicago: Moody Press, 2009), 185.

[2] Deen, Edith.  All the Women of the Bible

(Edison: Castle Books, 1955), 173. 

[3] MacArthur, John.  Twelve Extraordinary Women, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005), 140.                                                                             

Fought-for Freedom

Photo credit: Suzy Van Dyke, taken @ Bouquet Canyon Church:

“But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:15-17). 

The glorious plan of redemption was necessary from beginning because sin leads to suffering and death.  The suffering and death of Christ had to come before it’s freedom and victory.  God loved the world so much that He would not allow Satan and the fall of mankind to steal His image-bearing Creation away.  The Father had a magnificent plan for the redemption of humanity from the moment of the fall.  It was Jesus who would carry it out.  Even though He would have to suffer, the Savior would not be deterred. 

Jesus marched onward to accomplish God’s perfect will on the cross.  Suffering was necessary was a result of sin.  In the same way, suffering would be needed to end death and defeat of sin.  The cross is a symbol of victory for the Christian.  The suffering of Christ won victory over sin, death, and Satan.  The first step toward paying the penalty of our sins and taking the cup of God’s wrath was to be sentenced as a criminal being completely innocent.  The highest point of suffering for Jesus was when He was handed over to be crucified. 

Charles H. Spurgeon appropriately calls Psalm 22 the Psalm of the Cross for in it we get a picture of the suffering Jesus experienced as being forsaken by God the Father.   The Psalm prophetically records the last dying words of Jesus, in verses 1-2 He says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.” When we turn to the New Testament we hear the Jesus cry out the same words, “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ – which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'” (Matthew 27:46).  Jesus at this point on the cross would be and did in fact feel abandoned by God.

Even in the mists of being abandoned by God and tempted with abuse and mockery, Jesus does not sin nor try to correct their injustice.  In Psalm 22:7-8 we can almost hear Jesus on the cross say, “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: ‘He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.’ The fulfillment was seen in Matthew 27:41-44 which describes the turn of events, “In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself!”

However, the cross was not in vain.  The righteous suffering of Jesus brought salvation to the world. Jesus came into the world as had been foretold by the prophets to bring salvation to His people. This was His message during His earthly ministry but few would embrace it.  His own people and even His bother rejected Him at one point, and crucified Him for the very reason of His suffering.  They would not receive a suffering Messiah.   But the Messiah had to suffer to make atonement for sins.  This is the essence of the gospel. 

The implications of the gospel are bearing on every individual.  Our response to the suffering of Jesus should be our willingness to take up our cross daily and follow Him.  We will never have to suffer the way that Jesus did.  We are assured to never be forsaken as Christ was.  We will not have to bear the weight of God’s wrath upon our back.  However, we are to set our gaze on the cross and suffer whatever He wills.  Meanwhile, we can trust that He will not suffer our harm but will see us to the celestial city (Romans 8) for the very reason that Christ suffered in our place. As tragic and gloomy as the suffering of Jesus is, the gift of eternal life that Christ-followers receive from it far outweigh its agony.  So let’s live a life of praise to the Lord, for He is risen!

A Sign of Coming Blessings

Isaiah 7:14

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a blessed yet humble instrument God used to bring about His redemptive plan of salvation for the world. Yet, it didn’t start that Christmas day when Christ was born. God had already announced the coming of a child to deliver His people from the tyranny of sin. The Israelites couldn’t wait for Him to come and deliver them from political oppression. Now we can see predictions of Jesus’ coming birth and regency proclaimed by Isaiah hundreds of years beforehand.

The book of Isaiah is a glorious glimpse of the Messiah during a dark time of Israel’s history. The book starts describing God’s holiness and contrasting it with the unrighteous of Israel. Hence, judgment is the natural result of this discrepancy. The people have not kept the covenant. The message of Isaiah is that God’s people, who are supposed to represent Him, have broken the convent with idolatry, social injustice, and religious ritualism (Hays, 99). More than any kind of sacrificial pretense, the Lord is interested in their hearts. Within the judgment of Israel, the glory of God is magnified in His salvation and fulfills the demands of justice and righteousness that humankind can’t possibly attain. The holiness of God is introduced in chapter six, which leads to the conclusion that mankind is utterly sinful. In Isaiah’s commission he needs cleansing too. The wages of sin must be met—that is God’s justice. God is the only one without sin. And it’s only His righteousness that is sufficient for our cleansing.

Isaiah begins to speak of the sign of a child (7:14).  Isaiah gloriously looks to the coming of a child that will redeem God’s people from their deserved punishment.  The titles used for the coming child include: Immanuel, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Father of Eternity, and Prince of Peace.  These titles reflect the divinity of the child and His righteousness.  The child is to be born of a virgin.  This women was Mary who humbly acknowledged her own unrighteousness and His holiness in her song of praise in Luke. The birth of the child would be the fulfillment of this prophecy.  Isaiah envisions a day that is marked by peace as a result of a child being given to deliver God’s people from oppression and from their own sinful bent.  “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.” (Isaiah 9:7). 

Isaiah demonstrates how Gods justice and righteousness will be established in the world through judgment that will later bring a time of peace and restoration (Hays, 110).  The time of judgment that Isaiah elaborates on in this section would be necessary first, unless Israel would repent of their idolatry, social injustice, and self-righteousness. The prophet goes back and forth preaching about judgment with signs of hope sprinkled throughout.  In the latter part of chapter ten, Isaiah offers the hope of a remaining remnant of faithful Jews that will return and the Messiah would come from that stump. 

The message in this passage is that God can be trusted to deliver His people from even from the most ruthless adversaries or wicked leaders (Hays, 110).  The section from Isaiah 7-39 highlights the justice and righteousness of God, which calls for Israel’s need to be delivered.  Not only did God’s people fall prey to the temptations of the nations around them but God Himself gave them over to the oppression of the wicked.  He did this to draw them to genuine repentance and restoration.  Otherwise, they wouldn’t realize they needed God.  Isaiah is showing Israel that the Lord is just and must punish their sin, but also that He is righteous; and that, unlike them, God will not utterly forsake them.  We can find hope here in knowing that no matter what happens in this world or how evil it becomes, God will redeem the earth and bring His sons and daughters to glory in a heavenly kingdom that will never be shaken. 

Praise God for Jesus and His glorious salvation that was planned long ago. We can be grateful and boast of His awesome gospel during this thanksgiving season as we look forward to celebrating His birth!

Thanks for reading and following. I hope and pray you have a Happy Thanksgiving with loved ones basking in His numerous blessings!

Is Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Most Blessed?

“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his offspring forever.’” Luke 46-55

Mary is often portrayed as lofty and exalted. Truly, she is one of the most fortunate women in all of history. It’s right for us to call her blessed. Mary herself knew that all future generations would call her blessed (Luke 1:48). Yet, more than anything, her lips praised God for His blessing to her undeservedly. Mary magnifies not herself, but her lord in this song. We hear Mary confess her lowliness and contrasts it with God’s greatness. She says that God’s mercy is for those who fear Him, not for those who believe they are good people of high morals (Luke 1:50). In fact, she tells us that God shows His strength by scattering the proud and bringing down those who brag about themselves. Mary was not just making up a fine-tune, but recounting God’s faithfulness as recorded in the Scriptures. She identifies God’s mercy and loyal love solely based on His promises, such as His covenant to Abraham. When we recognize our need for His mercy in light of our utter unworthiness we are the objects of God’s honor and blessing. God is the one who gives blessings (Pslam 72:17). When the angel appeared to Mary, she was terrified (Luke 1:29). She was but a young girl from a seemingly obscure town. The message from the angel was that she had found favor from the Lord. Her response was to be a willing servant of the Most High God.

Mary is not worthy of her blessedness in her own merit but in God’s gracious choice. He uses an ordinary woman to show His extraordinary love and faithfulness toward lost souls. All of us are bent on breaking God’s law. The law given to Moses showed us how inept we are at keeping God’s perfect standard of holiness and unable to enter His heavenly courts on our own—the glory of His presence and being free of the pain of sin and death. Life eternal is something that has to be granted based on the free gift of Jesus’ perfect life poured out for us on the cross. Mary gave birth to the perfect child who was fully human and yet fully divine. It had to be miraculous and from the Holy Spirit and yet also in fallen flesh and blood to represent humanity (Gal 4:4-5). What was it like for Mary to have a son who never, even once, sinned? The Bible tells us that Mary had other children with Joseph after the virgin birth of Jesus (Mark 6:3). James who later believed and became an instrumental figure was one of His brothers. He wrote the letter of James in the New Testament. Did Mary struggle to not favor Jesus over her other children? We know they had a hard time believing—they must have envied Him greatly. Mary was blessed but not perfect. There was a time when she too along with Jesus’ earthly brothers didn’t understand His mission and even tried to keep Him from God-given ministry (Mark 3:31, Matthew 12:46).

Jesus at the beginning of His ministry addresses Mary as “woman” to compare His deity with her humanity (John 2:4-5). Jesus would prove to be the Son of God when His time came to die and rise. She was merely a created being who wept under His feet. Mary, like all men and women, was un-mistakenly and lovingly made in His image; yet He was her Savior. In the magnificent song Mary penned in this passage, she rejoiced in this her Savior. It was from the promised seed—Christ, whom she and the entire world would be blessed (Gen 22:18). More than being the earthly mother of Jesus, the blessed are those who hear God’s Word and seek to abide in it (Luke 11:27-28). Praise the Lord for His choice in you and me who are in Christ—to be His servants and testify of our blessed Savior!

God’s Name Displayed in Ester’s Faith

“Then Esther spoke again to the king. She fell at his feet and wept and pleaded with him to avert the evil plan of Haman the Aaiter and the plot that he had devised against the Jews. When the king held out the golden scepter to Esther, Esther rose and stood before the king. And she said, ‘If it please the king, and if I have found favor in his sight, and if the thing seems right before the king, and I am pleasing in his eyes, let an order be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the provinces of the king. For how can I bear to see the calamity that is coming to my people? Or how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?’ Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, ‘Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows, because he intended to lay hands on the Jews. But you may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king’s ring, for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s ring cannot be revoked.'” Ester 8:3-8 ESV

Esther was an ordinary woman placed by God’s sovereign hand at the right time and place for an extraordinary act of faith. In the previous chapters, we saw how God gave Esther and her uncle Mordecai favor before the king to place them both in high positions in the palace. Even at that time, God had been preparing them for greater acts of courage to come when their lives and those of the entire Jews nation would be on the line. God was taking their little faith and growing it to accomplish an extraordinary act of deliverance for all mankind in preserving the seed from which Messiah would come to deliver once and for all from the curse of sin and death.
The book of Esther is a controversial book for several reasons. One is that God’s name is not explicitly mentioned in the entire book. However, as the story unfolds we clearly see God’s saving gracious character displayed through the ordained circumstances He brought about, and the faith-fueled actions of His people. When Esther found out that the evil official Hamman deceitfully plotted to annihilate her people, she had a choice to sit idly by or to risk her neck for them. Mordecai warned her that she is not safe merely for being queen, as Vashti’s absence would testify. If she chose not to act, God would still save His people based on His faithfulness. Here was one women’s chance to be graciously used by Him to bring about His good purposes even in the midst of devastating oppression and evil. “Here is a woman who had not only high courage but sincere faith and a devotion to the cause of her people. Also she had exhibited real loyalty in her co-operation with her cousin Mordecai, who had reared her and was largely responsible for the fact that she now sat on the throne of Persia. The king’s affection she seems also to have won wholeheartedly.” (Edith Deen. All the Women of the Bible,149).
We see God’s saving power in giving Esther favor with the king and working in his heart so that he would desire to recognize Mordecai at precisely the time that Hamman was about to kill him. This story ends with the triumph not of Esther but of her mighty God who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. If we take refuge in Christ, He will act on our behalf and deliver us.
Father God, we praise you for your power to save and deliver your people! Thank you for the testimony of the faith of Esther and Mordecai that may have started of mustard seed size but was solid and able to move mountains of adversity. May you grow our faith lived out in acts of obedience and courage when times get tough that Your name be further proclaimed and glorified.

Ester’s Estate of Faith

“When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go into the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther’s feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity.” Ester 2:15-18

We love Ester because of her fearlessness! Ester was a young lady known for her trust in God amidst turbulent times.  After the tragic death of both her father and mother, she was left alone. God kindly provided for under the authority of her uncle Mordecai. In God’s providence, she had the opportunity to become queen.  The king was a pagan and immoral ruler. It must have been scary for Ester to follow her uncle’s advice to go to the palace to request to be seen by the king. Yet, she went. She did so carefully following the instructions of her leader. It was an act of submission that contrasts the one of the former queen—Vashti. In this simple act of courage, God was preparing her heart for a bigger act of faith that lay ahead where she’d risk her life to save those of her people. God rewarded Ester for her faith and that of Mordecai who must have been praying for her. She won favor from the king. Mordecai also gained the king’s favor and was given an open door to be placed in a high position in the palace. The Lord placed Ester in the royal seat to accomplish salvation for her family and her people—God’s people. It was not for her reputation or glory but in order to bring salvation to His people and glorify Himself.

God’s sovereignty is seen in how He uses even pagan rulers and worldly systems to bring about His purposes and save His children.  No matter what our government and world look like we can take refuge in God’s saving character and faithfulness to His children. The basis of God’s love is not ourselves. The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of His perfect standard. God’s favor is given to us by His grace and love. The greatest demonstration of His love was in sending Jesus to give up His life for ours. Now as a response to His kindness we are to be moved by gratitude and joy into obedience out of our thankfulness for His goodness and love. Faithful obedience starts with the little things every day that help us respond better to the bigger tests of our resolve to honor God. Sometimes, mature believers are used by God to help push us toward this kind of courageous and risky obedience like that demonstrated by Ester and even Mordecai who encouraged her to be brave.

Father God, you are in control of all things–times and seasons and governments.  We take refuge in Your protection and provision.  May we trust in Your providence and sovereignty and be moved with faithful resolve to the ways You seek to use to grow our faith and accomplish your purposes. May your will be done in us on earth as is in heaven. For Your glory and kingdoms’ sake.

A Look at the Magnificent Faith of Rahab Part 3

“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).

A Look at the Magnificent Faith of Rahab Part 2

“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 sparing of Rahab, a prostitute, and her inclusion in the Messianic line (Matthew1:5) showcases God’s amazing grace extended to people of all nationalities even in the Old Testament. Not only was she a Gentile, but she was a woman of ill repute in society. The principle that pervades is that although God judges sin, He is gracious to those who come to Him in faith, in it we see the mercy of God toward not only Israel but to the Gentiles too.[1] Rahab introduces the concept that the faith of a pagan woman.  In the story of Rahab, we begin to see the mystery of salvation to the Gentiles as well as the Jews who would reject the Messiah.  Arthur Pink speaks to the purpose of Rahab, “In God’s saving of Rahab and bringing her into the congregation of His people, we may perceive a clear and glorious foreshadowing of the fuller scope of His eternal purpose as it is now more plainly manifest in this N.T. era.  Since Rahab was a Canaanite, she was by nature cut off from the Abrahamic stock and therefore a ‘stranger to the covenants of promise.’ (Eph 2:12).  By her conversion and admission into the congregation of Israel, she was obviously both a type and a pledge of the calling off the Gentiles and tier reception into the mystical Body of Christ.”[2]

Moreover, we see that the purpose of God has always been for those outside of Israel too—for the Lord’s people to lead others to Himself.[3] The genealogy recorded in Matthew includes Rahab among four women.[4]  Rahab and one other being Canaanite, a Moabite (Ruth), and a Hittite (Bathsheba).[5]  In all of these, we see God use them to gloriously display the principle of the sovereign grace of God in the way He delights in using foreign and disreputable women to accomplish His eternal purpose.[6]

All New Testament inspired Scriptures—Hebrews 11:31, James 2:25, and Matthew 1:5 references of Rahab speak very positively of her.  God confirms His claim of Rahab in the New Testament’s mention of her great faith.  Rahab was a model of faith, although she was not only a Gentile but also a Canaanite of the Amorites whom God had marked for destruction from the beginning (Gen 15:16).[7]  She was a biblical heroine even though at one point she had been in the business of prostitution and a part of a society that put live babies in jars and build them into their city walls as foundation sacrifices.[8]

However, after her conversion, Rahab could never go back to being the same immoral woman she was before.  She was now a daughter of the King that would be a part of His chosen people and even help bring forth the promised Seed,  “and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” Col 3:10.  A transformation happened in her heart by the power of God.  What an encouragement for us to pray and show compassion toward the lost from all walks of life in this wicked world.  Salvation is for people of every race—that together we would be a part of one family that is forged by the blood of Christ.


[1] Klassen, Mark J.H. “A Reading of the Rahab Narrative (Joshua 2:1-24) Based on a Text-linguistic and Narrative Analysis.”  (Theological Research Exchange Network TREN ID# 048-0218), 11.

[2] Pink, Arthur W. Gleanings in Joshua.  (Chicago: Moody Press, 1964), 62.

[3] Firth, David G., The Message of Joshua: Promise and People.  (Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2015), 50.

[4] Merrill, Eugene H. Kingdom of Priests. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 206.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Merrill, Eugene H. Kingdom of Priests. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 206.

[7] MacArthur, John.  The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Hebrews. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1983), 364.

[8] Ibid.

A Closer Look at the Magnificent Faith of Rahab, Part 1

“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 profession of faith from the lips of a Canaanite prostitute is astounding. The Canaanites were a grossly wicked people. The city of Jericho where Rahab lives was “put under the ban” to be utterly devoted to God—in this case for destruction with the entire city and its inhabitants (Joshua 6:17).[1] Their demise was a just consequence of the overflowing wickedness that was prevalent there. Grisanti says it succinctly, “By this time, the cup of iniquity of the Canaanites was full and flowing over (Gen. 15:13-16; cf. Lev. 18:24-25).”[2] The Canaanites had ample time and opportunity to repent. The ungodly influences of the land needed to be removed as not to lead God’s people away from the LORD.[3]  Rahab and her household are surprisingly spared and even brought into His sheepfold. This formerly immoral woman displays God’s love and mercy and His blessing that goes out to all peoples.

The story of Ruth advances the realization of the theme of the book of Joshua, which is the conquest of Canaan and God bringing about the promise to Abraham.[4]  The character of Rahab in the conquest of Jericho plays a significant and positive role model for us. Despite her past immorality, she received the God of Israel in repentance and faith, fought with His people, and enjoyed the same privileges as His people. The moral of this story is crystal clear—that of immeasurable mercy and grace. In Rahab’s narrative, we also see courage and faith coming from a woman transformed by His power.

The question to ask is not why the Lord would use such an immoral woman, but what she had become by God’s grace. God did not judge Rahab based on what she was but on what she was becoming.[5]Even more than the picture of the prefigured church, we see the mystery of Christ and His propitiation for any people who would put their faith in Him, and His transforming work through the Spirit.  The genuine faith of Rahab is evidenced in her words and works.

When she said, “the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below,” she acknowledged Him as having absolute dominion, sovereignty and superiority over any Canaanite gods (Joshua 2:11b).[6] Her confession was rich in Deuteronomic themes and phrases (Deut 4:35, 39:7:9, 10:17).[7]  She goes on to confess that He alone is Lord.[8]  The Rahab of Canaan became anew with faith in the God of Israel. “Rahab, the harlot became Rahab, the believer.”[9] She did not merely acknowledge Him as the true Lord, but she demonstrated by her works that she trusted in Him (James 2:25). In a linguistic study on the book of James, Dr. William Varner chooses not to use the word “works” for its misinterpretation of external merit for salvation.[10]  Dr. Varner’s definition is, “The word in James simply refers to actions that demonstrate Christian love and give evidence of genuine faith.”[11]

By hiding the spies, Rahab put her life on the line based on her faith in Yahweh. Righteousness was imputed to her because of the faith that was evident by her works following her profession.[12]  We can assume that Rahab continued a transformed life of faith and learned God’s law as she was embraced marriage with Boaz’s father and would have lived entirely different than the ways she had known. Dr. William Barrick points out what Rahab’s conversion would have looked like, “Elements involved in conversion in the OT included the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, knowledge of God, confession, faith, and repentance. A total change in a person’s life was the obvious outcome of conversion.”[13]

In Rahab’s conversion, we see the beautiful redemptive purpose of God to use sinners. If God wanted to emphasize deliverance from His hand alone, He could have done so without using Rahab to accomplish Israel’s feat. Rehab’s actions dominate the scene of the commencement of the conquest.[14]  Yahweh chose to use a tainted vessel beautifully transformed from a child of wrath to an adopted child of the LORD for His purpose to show His glorious grace (Eph 2:3-5). The Old Testament seems to insist on using seemingly inappropriate characters to carry out His sovereign plan as seen in His choosing of David or Jerimiah (1 Sam 16:1, Jer 1:6).[15] May we be encouraged that no matter what our past might look like, God wants to use us to adorn His gospel with His matchless beauty and grace.


[1] Grisanti, Michael. History of the Covenant People. (TMU Online), 62-63.

[2] Ibid.


[4] Longman, Temper, David E. Garland. The Expositors Bible Commentary 2: Numbers-Ruth. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 863).

[5] Mulder, Chester, Clyde R. Ridall, W.T. Purkiser, Harvey E. Finley, Robert L. Sawyer, C.E. Demaray.  Beacon Bible Commentary: Joshua through Ester. (1965.

Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1970), 30.

[6] Howard, David M, Jr. 1998. “Rahab’s Faith: An Exposition of Joshua 2:1-14.” (Review & Expositor 95 (2): 271–77), 274-275.

[7] Ibid. 

[8] Ibid.

[9] Barrett, Michael. 2015. “Who Fought the Battle of Jericho?: (Joshua 2, 6).” (Puritan Reformed Journal 7 (1): 5–14), 10.

[10] Varner, William.  The Book of James: A New Perspective. (The Woodlands: Kress Biblical Resources, 2010), 107.

[11] Ibid.

[12] MacArthur, John.  The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: James. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1983), 140-142.

[13] Barrick, William D. “Living a New Life: Old Testament Teaching about Conversion.” (The Master’s Seminary Journal 11, no. 1 , Spr 2000): 19–38), 19.

[14] Stek, John H. 2002. “Rahab of Canaan and Israel: The Meaning of Joshua 2.” (Calvin Theological Journal 37 (1): 28–48), 38.

[15] Soggin, Alberto J. Joshua: A Commentary. (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1972). 41.


A Prayer for Valentine’s

“Valentine’s Day was a special day for me.  The Lord saved me as a single mom out of an immoral lifestyle on August 16, 2008.  By God’s grace, the Spirit worked a powerful and transforming work of repentance in my life.  Soon after, I started praying for a godly husband and father for Noah.  February 14, 2009, was my first Valentine’s Day as a born-again Christian. I had just turned 23.  I was sad God hadn’t answered my prayer for a date that day.  Noah was only two years old so I decided to take him on the trolley.  He had been wanting to go on the ‘train’ for some time.  That date with little Noah, my heart was flooded with God’s love.  The Lord used a verse reference printed on the bottom of a Forever 21 shopping bag to open the door for me to share the gospel with a young girl.  It was exhilarating.  I remember driving to the train station and asking God to reveal to me the extent of His love.  On our way home, I was awestruck by the thought of how overwhelmingly great His love is.  I told Josh this story, and we agreed on a Valentine’s Day wedding.  Josh was happy our anniversary would be easier to remember.  I thought it sweet of the Lord to answer my prayer for a “date” on Valentine’s Day four years later with a husband.”  (On Loan from the Lord).

  Praise the Lord for this answer to prayer! Marriage was one of the best gifts of my life after salvation. At trying times, I’ve been tempted to wonder why God would take this wonderful gift away? Honestly, I don’t know and may never get the answer to this question. However because of how sure I am about God’s goodness and love I can say like Job, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” For I know the Father’s loyal love never abandons His children nor forsakes us because Jesus was forsaken in our place as a result of our sin. There is now nothing that can take His love away (Romans 8). As another Valentine’s Day approaches I can pray again now with even more expectation that God would show me how much he loves me, and look to the cross, “God demonstrates His own love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Yet I can still pray for another “date” with a godly man if He wills. The Bible says young widows should marry so I believe He does will. Some will judge widows and widowers for the desire to remarry, but I doubt they have walked the rocky road themselves. All young widows I’ve asked about this, said they desire remarriage. It’s not that one is looking to replace our old spouse. That would never even be possible—nor our hearts desire. The one who has tasted the goodness of the Lord in marriage by God’s design naturally would want to smile again and embark on a new adventure. It would be a new journey. And a completely different person and thus a distinct relationship. Parents love their children the same even if they have more than one, or if a child has died and they have a new baby. In the same way a widow can love a new man as much as she loved her deceased husband. When we look at what the Bible defines as agape love this become crystal clear. Love means sacrifice—laying down our life for another. “Jesus demonstrates His own love that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” For a widow to love again would mean that she is willing to lay down her life and live a new life devoted to a new man. For a man to be willing to love a widow would mean laying down his life to embrace her and her children. Wouldn’t that just shout the gospel? The story of my late husband redeeming me in marriage beautify displayed the gospel and that is why I would do it again if God gave me the opportunity. Moreover, I would want to take all that I learned from the past (mistakes and victories alike) to be an even better wife. A widow desires to remarry because they want another chance at human love as a reflection of God’s love. And they will likely never take their spouse for granted—for they know by experience that marriage is not eternal but momentary portrait of the forever love of Christ.

*”On Loan from the Lord” is available on Amazon and Kindle