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  • Susan Brown

Ladies’ Bible Study — Rahab


Text: Joshua 2, Joshua 6:22-25, Heb. 11:31, Matt. 1:5

Write a thumb-nail sketch of the person’s life.

Rahab is a woman who gives us hope. Because she believed God, her life went from the lowest depths to the highest honor.  What were those low points in her life? She was a prostitute.  Prostitution is known as “the world’s oldest profession”  Throughout history, harlots have been despised. She was a woman who made money selling her body to be used in a sinful way.

Is anyone too sinful for God to save? Can God save prostitutes? How about murderers, perverts, and other sinners? We can see when we look at Rahab’s story.

Rahab wasn’t someone you would expect to be a Bible heroine.  In fact, she wasn’t an Israelite, but lived in the city of Jericho when the Israelites were wandering around in the desert. Remember that once they got to the land God promised them, they were afraid to go in. The spies Moses sent in said, “The land is wonderful, but there are giants there.  We looked like grasshoppers to them.  We won’t be able to defeat them.”

The Israelites  believed the ten spies who brought back this discouraging report. As a result, they had to spend another 40 years in the desert.  Finally, all the people who had been adults when they first came to the promised land had died off.  The ones who were children when they left Egypt and the ones who had been born in the desert were instructed by God to follow Joshua into the promised land.

First Joshua sent out spies.  Instead of sending out spies to the whole land, though, he just sent them to the city of Jericho — their first stop.  The two spies who were checking out the defenses of Jericho stayed the night at the house of a harlot. That’s where we meet Rahab. She was the harlot.

We might ask whatthe spies were doing in the house of a harlot?  Perhaps in that society the harlot’s house was the only type of inn available.  Maybe there was an inn, but it was too public. Since they were trying not to be noticed, perhaps they thought Rahab’s house was a safer place for them to be.  We will give them the benefit of the doubt.

The king of Jericho heard that the spies were in the city and he sent soldiers to Rahab’s house to capture them.  There is no doubt that he meant to kill them.

Rahab thought quickly. She hid the men on the roof under some flax she was drying. Later she would spin the flax into linen, but now the bundles of plants would be a good hiding place.

The soldiers were soon pounding on her door.  “Where are those two men who were staying here,”  they demanded. “They are spies.”

“They went out before the gates of the city were shut,” Rahab said. “I don’t know where they are now, but if you hurry you can probably catch them.”

When the soldiers left, Rahab told the spies, “I know that God has given you the land. We have been afraid of you for years, because we heard what your God did for you in Egypt, dividing the Red Sea for you. We heard about how He fed you and gave you water in the desert. We have been scared to death, waiting for you to come and kill us.”

Think of that!  The Israelites had said, “We look like grasshoppers to the inhabitants of the land. They will squash us.”All the time their enemies had been scared of THEM.

“When we heard what your God did for you, our hearts melted,” she said.  “Your God — He is God, in heaven above and in earth beneath.”

And that is a good salvation testimony.  She believed God. She acknowledged Him as the one true God, and her actions showed her surrender to Him.

“I will hide you and help you escape, if you do a favor for me,” she said. “Save me and my family alive when you come to take the city.”

The spies agreed. The sign they gave her was to hang a red line or cord down the window of her house, which was attached to the wall surrounding the city. They told her to have her loved ones in the house, and they would spare everyone there.

On the fateful day when Jericho was to be destroyed, the Israelite soldiers looked for the red cord. There it was, hanging as a sign of faith and obedience from her window.  Rahab could have been beheaded as a traitor, but she showed her faith in God there in plain sight.  As a result, she and her family were rescued.

This is also a picture of something wonderful for us.  The red cord reminds us of the blood Jesus shed.  It is because He bled and died to pay for our sins that we can be forgiven.  He rescued us with his blood, like the red cord was the way of rescue for Rahab and her family.

What happened to Rahab after she was rescued? That’s the most wonderful part of the story.  She married one a man named Salmon. Some people say that he was one of the spies but I can’t find that in the Bible.  Do you think he knew about her past, though? I’m sure he did!  Yet, he saw a difference in her life and came to love and accept her.

We also learn that she had a son named Boaz.  Have you heard his name before?  Yes, in the book of Ruth — that Boaz.  Boaz had a son named Obed, who had a son named Jesse.  Jesse’s youngest son David became the greatest king of Israel. She was great-grandmother to a king!  Even more than that, Jesus, Himself, was descended from her. What a privilege to be one of the ancestors of the Messiah!

Do we hear of Rahab again?  Yes, we see her in Hebrews 11– the honor roll of faith chapter.  Hebrews 11:31:  By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

List all of her characteristics. What does the Bible say about those character qualities?

We see that she believed God.  She heard about Him and His power, and she believed.  She didn’t just accept with her mind that He is God, but she was willing to stake her life on the fact!  She could have been killed for harboring spies. She could have been executed as a traitor.  She knew that, but she believed God was bigger than her circumstances. She surrendered her very life to God, because she believed Him.  And He did save her life and gave her a life worth living.

Heb. 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Must believe to the point of surrender. (tightrope walker story)

We see that God chose her and gave her faith.  How did she know to believe?  Why was she ready to surrender to God?  She heard about Him, but so did everyone else in the land.  We see that God prepared her heart. He gave her the gift of faith.

John 15:16:  Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.  

Eph. 1: 4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.

I Cor 1:27: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world and things which are despised, hat God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence.

Even as a very new believer, she shared her faith. She brought all her family into her house so they could be saved alive, too.  We who have been delivered from sin and death should have that zeal for our loved ones, too.

Jude 1: 22-23:  And of some have compassion making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

How did her life and character affect her husband and children?

We don’t have much of a picture of Rahab’s later life, but we see her son, Boaz.  We see that he was a rich man. He was also a good master and a kind man.  Perhaps Rahab’s early life of shame had taught her not to look down on other people. Maybe she trained her son to not to be proud, but to notice and value even the poor people.

At any rate, we know that he noticed the young Moabite woman, Ruth.  Others shunned her because she was from the enemy country of Moab, but Boaz looked past that and saw the virtuous woman who faithfully worked to care for her mother-in-law.  Rahab’s shameful beginnings may have made her a more caring, less judgmental person.  She taught that to her son.

We see also that Boaz trusted God. So did her grandson, Jesse. Certainly her great-grandson David loved God and followed him.  Her legacy of believing and surrendering to the Lord was a blessing to generations which followed her.

Sometimes we don’t realize the influence we have on others — for good and for bad.  You are more important than you think!

What do you think is the leading lesson taught by her life?

No one is too bad, too far gone, for God to save.  We shouldn’t give up on others — or on ourselves.  God can take the lowest and use it for His glory.  We never know which person God has chosen and prepared for His salvation.

What applications can you make to your life?

Is there someone you think “too bad” to be saved?  Perhaps they have been a particular annoyance to you.  Perhaps they are from a group that you feel are “not as good.”  It’s human to feel that, but wrong.  God made all people and He calls people from every tribe, group, and nation.  We must look through God’s eyes and see people as He sees them.

Are there things in your life that you regret? Do they bother you, even though now you are saved?  God gives full forgiveness.  He puts our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.  Perhaps He allowed you that fall so that you would remain humble and you would be compassionate toward others who fall.  Don’t allow the devil to torment you with sins that are paid for by Christ.

God reached down and saved Rahab. She became a trophy of His grace — a prize and an example of faith.  God can do the same for you!

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