One of the most unlikely people to be a Hero of Faithing was the prostitute Rahab. Rahab lived in the
famous city of Jericho. You remember the story about how the walls of Jericho came tumbling down.
Rahab played a very important role in the victory of the Israelites in that battle. There's also a surprise
ending to the story. But that's later.
First we need to know a little about Rahab and about the battle. Rahab can be found in the book of
Joshua and she is also mentioned in the New Testament in Hebrews and James. She was a harlot, or
prostitute, who ran a small inn that was built right into the outside wall of Jericho. The city of Jericho was important enough to have two walls. The outside one was six feet thick and the inside one was twelve
feet thick. It was pretty common in those days for people to have their houses built right in or on the walls
of the cities.
We're not going to tell the story of the battle itself because it's take too long here. But the story of Joshua is on another page on this site, if you'd like to hear how the battle went.. We do need to know for this story that Joshua, the general of the Israelites, had sent spies to the city to find out about the defenses. After the spies had finished their scouting of the walls and gates and guards, they stopped off at Rahab's inn. They had to make plans for getting out of the city, and I guess they were overheard, because the king of Jericho somehow got word that there were spies at the inn and sent men to catch them.
This is a good time to mention that the people and the king of Jericho knew that the Israelites were camped across the Jordan River, and certainly they also knew about Joshua beating the Amalekites just a while back.
The word had also gotten around that God was with the children of Jacob because of their deliverance out of Egypt. Rahab had heard all this, too. She was sure that the city would fall to Israel's army and she would
be killed when they destroyed the whole city. Maybe the spies had even told her that the army was to kill
everyone and burn the city to the ground.
Now we can get back to the spies. When the king's men arrived at Rahab's inn, they were told that the men
they were after had left just before dark. Rahab was taking a big chance telling that lie, because in those days, when you did something bad against the king, they killed not only you, but all your family. But Rahab was pretty smart. She hid the spies on top of her house. She had some bundles of dried flax up there and it was impossible to
see the men hiding under them. After the spies came down, Rahab told them to return her favor when the army came into the city. The spies told her that if she would hang a scarlet cord out her window, her house and all that were in it would be spared.
It might not look like those instructions are hard, and they're not. What makes the story so amazing, is that those spies had no way of knowing how the battle would be fought. Joshua had a visit from an angel who told him the plan of battle. Joshua didn't tell anyone else. He only told them to march around the city and keep their mouths shut until it was time to shout. The spies probably figured that when the army swept through the city, killing and burning, they would see the red cord and leave that house alone. Sounds all right, but wait 'till we see what really happened.
You know, God likes to make sure that when we act in trust on His word, that there's no mistaking His
work from ours. That's why Faithing, as I like to call it, sometimes looks very silly by our everyday standards. Rahab's trusting action couldn't possibly have saved her from dying if God hadn't helped, but she did the two things necessary in Faithing: she believed and she acted. Rahab took the word of the spies as backed up by God, and second, she hung the red cord out the window.
Now comes the impossible part. When Joshua came against the city, he didn't come fighting. God had told him to have the priests and the people march around the city for a week. Every day they went around once, but on the seventh day they went around seven times. All the people then turned to the walls and shouted. Those two thick walls fell right down flat into a heap.
Too bad for Rahab. Her house was right up there in that wall. Well, we don't have to worry that God didn't keep His word to Rahab, because with that scarlet cord hanging out the window, her house wasn't touched. Can you see that in your mind? Those mighty walls of Jericho all laying in a pile, and Rahab's house standing up tall above the destruction.
Try to put yourself in Rahab's place if she knew in advance that the walls were going to fall down.
It sure seems funny now to hear the spies promise to Rahab. "Well Rahab, we're going to march around the city and shout at the walls. Then those walls are going to fall down. But don't you worry. If you hang
this scarlet cord out the window, your house won't fall down with the walls." Pretty silly, huh?
When the battle was over, the same men who were the spies brought Rahab and all her family (they were in the house with her) to Joshua. He thanked her for her help and gave her some choice land as a reward.
And now for the surprise ending.
It's almost as though God wanted to teach us that Faithing can be done by anyone and He will keep His Word. Rahab wasn't one of the Israelites. She didn't worship God, and try to keep His laws. In fact, she was a pretty bad sinner in the eyes of most of the people I know. God doesn't care about all that
if you believe, ask Him to help you and act on His promise. He starts out fresh each time you trust, or Faithe, in His word.
It turned out that Rahab married a man call Salmon. His name can be found in Matthew, chapter one, verses four and five. Salmon was the great-great-grandfather of King David; the David that killed Goliath the giant. And there's more. Twenty-six generations later, out of the same bloodline came Mary's husband, Joseph, Jesus legal father. You'll have to figure out how many "greats" that makes altoghether. Who would have guessed that God would choose Rahab, a prostitute, to be Jesus' grandmother, many times removed? I think it shows that God really likes and wants people to trust Him. You know, you can trust Him
and He'll help you, too.
Be sure to check out the other Heroes of faithing listed in Hebrews, chapter eleven.
See if you can tell what each did that showed he trusted things that God had said.
I also invite you to see how the whole book of
Hebrews talks about faithing.
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