Christ has some amazing men and women in His lineage. He also has some amazing men and women with scandalous pasts in his lineage and Rahab is one of them. If you are not familiar with her story it can be found in Joshua 2 and Joshua 6. From our very first introduction to her we see the scandal. Joshua 2:1 says: And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot‘s house, named Rahab, and lodged there. You read that right a harlot, yet Rahab’s story is one of loyalty, compassion, and of God’s redemption. There is debate about whether Rahab had been a harlot or was one at this time. Matthew 26 speaks of Simon the leper even though he had been cleansed. It is possible that harlot was simply what she was known by even though she no longer was one. Whether she was at the time a harlot or had been one changes nothing as the reproach was still upon her.
Joshua sends two spies to Jericho and they lodged at Rahab’s house. Can you image what would have happened to the spies if they had went to another house? I doubt they would have gotten the same mercy shown to them. Rahab hides them on the roof with the stalks of flax. That may not be anything that stands out at you, but it very much reminds me of the Proverbs 31 woman. She had laid the flax on the roof in order for it to dry in the sun and prepared it for the wheel.
She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. Proverbs 31:13
Why did Rahab hide the spies? Oh, that’s right because the king of Jericho had heard about them and was searching for them. She tells the men looking for the spies they went that way, even though they hadn’t. Before we go any further, let me just say that lying is a sin. It doesn’t matter the circumstances, lying is wrong. For the mercy she showed the spies, for hiding them, for taking care of her family, and so many other things I commend her. I can’t praise her for lying though. What I will say is she was a Canaanite and it is more than possible she had never been taught that lying was wrong. Taught or not, I still believe that we are all born with a knowledge of good and evil and even from a small child we understand that lying is wrong. When you are constantly surrounded by sin though you tend to view it as acceptable, it’s part of why we are to be careful with our associations. Rabbit trails seem to be a daily part of my life! Back to her story, she tells the spies that we’ve heard about your God, we’ve heard of the things that He has done and we’re a bit afraid. She goes on to say I’ve shown you kindness please return that kindness to my father’s house and the spies agree. Joshua 2:18 tells us: Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee. I don’t believe for one moment that the fact it is a scarlet thread is useless information. I’ve heard it said that the color represents the blood of Jesus that would be her redemption. I’ve also heard that it represents her sins out for the whole world to see. Either way that color is significant to us and to Rahab! Her sins, like ours, were as scarlet. The amazing thing is that those sins can be forgiven and we don’t have to continue in them. The account goes on and we see the Israelites march around the wall and the walls of Jericho fall. Joshua then instructed in verse 17: And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the Lord: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18
I have no idea what sort of relationship Rahab had with her family. I have no idea if they were ashamed of her or if they even spoke to her. Even if they had a close relationship getting all her family to believe her and come into her house must have been a feat and yet she was willing to take on the challenge. I don’t know what went on in her mind when the king’s men came to her door searching for the spies, but I know in the face of danger she hid the spies anyway, I can’t imagine being in her shoes and taking the word of two spies, but she did. Can you image having that amount of faith? It’s easy for us to simply call her Rahab the harlot, but she was much more. How easy it is to look at a person or look at their past and hold it against them. How easy it is for us to judge another based on their actions but ignore the sins that we have committed. We’ve all committed sin against God and He sent His son to redeem us. Christ came to redeem those that have sins as scarlet, regardless of how big or small we may think they are.
for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23