Rahab was a prostitute in Jericho who hid the spies Joshua sent. She was not an Israelite but she had heard of what God had done through the them. In hiding the spies she saved them from probable capture and possible death. Because she saved the spies, she was able to save her whole family when Jericho fell and was welcomed among the Israelites and lived as though she were one of them (Joshua 6:25).
Rahab represented nothing that was quintessential Israelite.
She was an independent woman, living alone.
She was a prostitute.
She was not Jewish.
But yet, God used her to save his people and in saving them she was saved as well. He used her exactly like the spies found her to dramatically impact his kingdom. Rahab found her home among the people of God and is one of the few women who are listed in the genealogy of Jesus (she was Ruth’s mother-in-law) and great-great grandmother of King David.
I wonder if this story were set in modern times if the Christian Church would be so open to having Rahab join the ranks. Would we welcome her into our family and our lives just as she is or would we ask her to clean up her life first? Would we enter her home and ask her to shelter us or would we continue down the street hoping to find someone a little more put together to welcome us in? Would we realize that we have far more in common with Rahab than ways we are dissimilar?
I suspect that many churches today would not respond like the Israelites. Rahab stood out as someone welcoming and hospitable and welcome and hospitality are what she received in return. Rahab broke many rules, but that didn’t make her less important in the eyes of God. She not only was welcomed to be a part of the group, but she played an instrumental role in God’s work around her and in the future of the Jewish and Christian churches. Her pivotal role in scripture brings me great comfort that God an use someone like me to advance his kingdom. While I’m not a prostitute, I am not perfect. But I belong with the people of God along with Rahab.