Welcome to the Jericho Bed & Breakfast   Leave a comment

Rahab was a harlot who lived on the walls of Jericho, the great fortress city blocking the Israelites from entering the Promised Land.

In Joshua 2, we read the story of how she received the Hebrew spies into her home, confessed that she believed the God of Israel because she had seen the evidence in the Israelites prior victories. She hid the spies, then lied to the city guards who were looking for them, she then gave them vital intelligence on how to avoid the search parties and let them down the wall from her own window. For that, she was told to post a scarlet thread in her window so that the Hebrew armies would know not to kill her and her family.

Rahab the Canaanite whore, survived the fall of Jericho, married a Jewish man named Salmon. They founded the village of Bethlehem, where Ruth the Moabite widow, met Rahab’s very honorable son Boaz. Their son Obed was King David’s grandfather. You know King David — who had an affair with Bathsheba, who later gave birth to Solomon, who became king of Israel.

Rahab, who James, the brother of Jesus and pastor of the Jerusalem church, wrote was justified by works (James 2) while the writer of Hebrews said she was justified by faith (Hebrews 11), was a prostitute and the Bible doesn’t shy away from that. She wasn’t operating a bed and breakfast. She was trading sex for coin.

Rahab is not the only believer in the Bible with soiled hands. It’s one of the things I love about the Bible — that it contains real people — people who act in ways that are utterly human.

She might have been a prostitute, but she knew the news — there was an army headed from across the Jordan and it was winning in the name of the Hebrew God. Maybe because she was a prostitute, she may have heard more about it than the rest of the city. She believed the stories. She believed that this God was greater than her Canaanite gods. When the spies needed hiding, she chose a side. The letter of James, which was probably the first New Testament document written, asserts that she performed works for God and this conveyed justification — cleansing from sin. James was a Jewish Christian writing to other Jewish Christians upon hearing that they were straying from Jewish teachings. The 1st century Christians esteemed what he wrote highly enough to call it Scripture. Rahab risked her life for the cause of God and He rewarded her through the Hebrews.

But she didn’t just do that. She raised an incredible son (Boaz) and founded the village Jesus would be born in. In fact, she was one of Jesus’ physical ancestors. After Jericho, she ceased to be a prostitute and became a woman of faith, respected within the Jewish community. Nobody forgot her past. We know her as Rahab the harlot, saved by works and by faith.

Yes, faith. Hebrews lists her in the roll call. Think about the faith it took to judge that this army of sheepherders could bring down the massive fortress of Jericho! She acted upon what her heart said was true even though her physical senses probably told her she was crazy. Isn’t this what Christians do — obey God despite what the physical evidence insists is true? Rahab the harlot was a believer, a pre-Jesus faithful, according to the writer of Hebrews.

Despite her past, Rahab became a pillar of faith and works and this new pattern in her life continued into her future. She no longer plied her trade as a harlot. I have to wonder if she was ever tempted … if good money was offered … if times were sometimes tough ….

Some people don’t like the Bible’s bald-face dealing with sin. There is actually a school of Bible scholars who have tried to translate Rahab’s occupation as hostess, not harlot. Yes, she was running a bed and breakfast, not a house of inequity. They do this, probably, because they are scandalized by Jesus having a sinner in his family tree. I think their attempt to rescue Rahab’s reputation diminishes her value as an object lesson.

God can save anyone and does. He touched Rahab while shew as still a prostitute and since the spies told her not to tell anyone else what she knew, it’s a good guess that she didn’t stop her work while she waited for them to return. Being a Canaanite, she may not even have recognized prostitution as sin. But at some point, she came out of Jericho and chose to be a Jew, to live a Jewish lifestyle and to raise faithful children. Boaz’ treatment of Ruth strongly indicates that he knew how to treat a woman with honor.

I wonder how many people in Rahab’s life called her a hypocrite for living a moral life after Jericho? You know there were people who would never let her forget who she’d been. I imagine the Corinthian church member who was fornicating with his father’s wife pointed his fingers at those who confronted him about his sin. “Hey, Joe, didn’t your wife leave you when you became a Christian and now you’re married to another woman? Hey, Jill, weren’t you a prostitute when you became a Christian? Hey, John, didn’t I see you at the temple eating meat sacrificed to idols?” You wonder how many people he called hypocrite before he repented. And when he was called to confront others on their sin, you know they brought up his past behavior.

So someone on Facebook calls us a hypocrite for obeying God in some areas and falling short in others. Welcome to the Jericho Bed & Breakfast where the proprietor was a prostitute, but she still obeyed God by helping His spies escape and her half-assed compliance with God, motivated by a half-understood faith was counted to her as righteousness by a God Who wants our obedience more than our sacrifice and Who knows our hearts far better than we do.

Posted April 28, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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