By Faith the Harlot (Just A Minute #108)

Andy Bonikowsky
Written by Andy Bonikowsky

"By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace." (Hebrews 11:31)

The previous individuals in the Hebrews list of the faithful are not really a surprise to us. They were unquestionably godly and became household names wherever God's people gathered.

But Rahab? At first glance, she really seems to break the pattern. Her story is prominent, for sure, but hardly seems worthy of standing on the same platform with Enoch, Noah, and Abraham.

Fortunately however, when dealing with the Scriptures, there is no debate over whether a person's actions are important or not. The Holy Spirit's authorship automatically confirms that whatever suspicions we might have of a character's motive or honor, the explanation we get from the Bible is accurate. God's judgment of character and any subsequent reward or punishment is the perfect review.

That being true, it should be our business to think through statements like this one, which at first are puzzling. Why would God choose to mention someone like Rahab? What reason could there be for the Lord to include her brief summary in such a list of spiritual nobility?

I believe one reason is for our encouragement, in at least two ways. First, she is a gentile, the only one named in the list after Abraham starts the Jewish line. Over a thousand years later the Messiah would affirm that many would rise from the east and west to sit down with Abraham. Rahab is one of them, and that is a source of hope for any of us as well.

In the second place, she was a woman with a terrible background. Her immoral job was utterly disgraceful. What human scribe would have ever chosen her as an example? There were just too many arguments against her.

But we don't tend to think like God does.

We don't see things He sees either. Nobody on earth knew that a harlot on an enemy wall had the faith to be saved. But the Lord did. He saw that in this woman's heart there was a growing desire to repent and change. She was sick of her lifestyle and longed to be free, and she jumped at the tiny slice of opportunity when she saw it.

God values that kind of faith and decided to make her an example for us.

These thoughts thrill my heart as they make me reflect on the similarities of my situation. Like her, I had no inherent quality that made me a candidate for living by faith. I am not a Jew and am a sinner, just as incapable of pleasing God as the woman who lived on Jericho's wall.

Rahab believed and received the spies with peace. Those were her first steps towards a brand new life. Like her, I can look back in praise to the Lord because one day He sent someone to the door of my life, and I believed the Message.

Dear Father, thank You for sending messengers of the Gospel my way. Thank You for opening my eyes and heart to believe and receive. Help me be active in seeking other unlikely heroes on the wall. Amen.