“By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.” (Hebrews 11:31, AV)
It was a Sunday afternoon. I was with a couple Christian men conducting ministry in the state prison. We were to preach the gospel and trust the Lord to do a miraculous work in the lives of the inmates. Yes, the Lord moved in that service and many came to faith. Yet, there was one inmate I met that was leading the worship there every week.
I asked him about his story and he informed me that he was serving a life sentence for murder. This man was filled with the Spirit and fulfilling a key role in ministering to the inmates within the prison. He had come to faith in Jesus Christ and his entire life was transformed.
The author of Hebrews mentions a woman as being one of the heroes of the faith. Her name is Rahab. She is noted with the title of “Rahab the harlot.” A harlot is not someone that we would ever associate with being a hero of the faith. We might associate her with being one in the gutter of life. Yet, by faith, she was elevated from the gutter.
Before Joshua engaged in the battle of Jericho, he sent two spies into the city. They infiltrated the city and stayed in the house of Rahab. The king of Jericho got wind of this and questioned Rahab, who lied to the king saying that she did not know who they were and they had left already. However, she actually hid them on the roof. Before the spies left, she went to them and said, “I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you” (Joshua 2:9, AV). According to her own words, she recognized the God of Israel stating, “for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath” (Joshua 2:11, AV). Rahab hid the spies because she believed that Israel’s God was the one true existing God who was the almighty one. As a result of her faith, she and her household were spared from death in the siege of the city.
Yet, the story of Rahab does not end here. It is amazing that this woman of ill repute is listed in the genealogy of Jesus. The genealogy in the Gospel of Matthew tells us that Rahab became the wife of Salmon and the mother of Boaz (Matt 1:4-5), and these were in the lineage of Jesus. Rahab moved from one of ignoble character to a place of honor because of faith.
All of us were like Rahab in a sense. We were all born in sin. We were all of ignoble character. Some, in human terms were worse than others, but all have fallen short of the glory of God. Yet, the story of Rahab shows us that faith can raise anyone up from the gutter-most to the upper-most. Faith can take the ignoble and make them noble.
You today may consider your past and be filled with remorse. You regret where you have been. Yet, you can rejoice in this. If you have trusted in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation, He has lifted you up and made you a noble person. He died to cleanse you from your sin and purchased for you a place of honor in heaven, which He offers as a free gift. Those who receive this gift by faith should rejoice because the past has been washed away. the ignoble has been made to be noble.