Rahab: A Bible story of faith and action

An uplifting message for anyone who feels like they aren’t good enough.

Written by Nellie Owens
Rahab: A Bible story of faith and action

It isn’t always easy to believe that God has a plan and hope for us. Lots of thoughts can crowd our minds, discouraging us from living the uplifted life God has called us to.

Maybe you have said or done things that you know to be wrong. With an ugly past rapping at your door, you feel like you could never be accepted by God.

Maybe you see the great difference between your life and the Scriptures. Just as it is easy to be ashamed of past actions, you know that it’s easy to feel ashamed of your lack of godliness. You wish to come to a life of purity and goodness, but are so far off.

Don’t give up! No matter how dark things may seem, you have a future and hope – just like Rahab of Jericho.

Seemingly hopeless

Rahab was a Canaanite woman, a citizen of a nation known for worshipping idols. According to the law, Rahab had no part in the promises of Israel: She was a harlot, something that was an abomination to the Lord. (Deuteronomy 23:17.)

Because of the righteousness of Abraham, God had promised the land Rahab lived in to the nation of Israel. (Genesis 17:8.) When Rahab and her people received word that the people of Israel were coming to conquer Jericho, a prominent city in Canaan, they feared for their lives, knowing that the same God who delivered His people from Egypt would give Israel the victory in Jericho.

“And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” Joshua 2:9-11.

Even before Rahab met the Israelites and their mighty army, she believed in the God of Israel. She heard of His power and how He had saved and protected Israel, and this put a faith in her heart that He was truly the Lord.

But, outwardly, things didn’t look hopeful for Rahab. What reason did she have to hope or believe that she could be spared? Why would this God, whom she had not known before, have any reason to favor her, or have mercy on her family, above others in Jericho?

By faith

Despite the seeming hopelessness of the situation, Rahab did not despair. When two Israelite spies came to her home, Rahab hid them from the king. She then boldly asked the spies to ensure that she and her family be saved when Israel invaded. The men told Rahab if she hung the same scarlet cord in her window by which they would escape, then she and everyone in her house would be spared. In complete faith, Rahab tied the cord to her window and said: “According to your words, so be it.” (Read the whole story in Joshua 2.)

What an attitude! Even though things looked quite dark and impossible, Rahab clung to hope and faith that she and her family could be saved.

In Hebrews 11, the apostle writes about the power of faith. He starts the chapter by writing: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it, the elders obtained a good testimony.” Hebrews 11:1-2. The chapter continues with many examples of people who made decisions of faith, and Rahab is included in this list: By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe when she had received the spies with peace.” Hebrews 11:31.

It hadn’t mattered to God what Rahab had – or had not done – in the past. It wasn’t relevant what family she was born into, or where she lived. It mattered that she believed in God, and believed He could save her.

Being a Gentile – someone who is not Jewish – Rahab was never guaranteed the promises of Israel. Yet, she believed, unreservedly, that God could do for her what He had done for Israel, and this faith prompted her to act to make God’s promises her own and it was this act of faith that justified her. (James 2:25.)

Our hope

In today’s society, it may not be a common concern that our city will come under siege – or that we will face death in the same way Rahab did. But God’s word tells us that “… the wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23. We have all sinned, but if we believe, God also has a plan to save us from that destruction and makes us heirs of His promises!

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14.

“And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” 1 John 3:1-3.

This means that, just like Rahab, our faith will lead us to act – to deny the ungodliness and worldly lusts that we are tempted to! That is why Paul writes about the obedience to the faith. (Romans 1:5.)

Rahab became part of the inheritance

As a result of Rahab’s faith, she and her family were spared, and grafted into the nation of Israel. (Joshua 6:22-25.) Rahab, herself, became a part of Jesus’ genealogy. (Matthew 1:5.)

Rahab’s example stands as a testimony to us today, teaching us that no matter how things have gone in the past – or how dark things may appear in the present – faith in God and obedience to His word will save us from the destruction of sin and give us a future and a hope in the kingdom of God.

Let us make use of the possibilities that are open to us in Christ Jesus, and fight in this same spirit of faith, so that we too can come into the inheritance that God has promised all those who have placed their hope in Him!

You may be interested in reading about more heroes of faith here, or in the selected articles below:

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Letters of Johan Oscar Smith

Written by Johan Oscar Smith

An incredibly rich and insightful collection of Letters by Johan Oscar Smith, founder of Brunstad Christian Church.