Anyway, Rahab was a woman. That may not seem like a big deal to you, but in the culture of their time, women were not treated as equals...in fact they were second-class citizens at best. Now, it's true that Mosaic Law afforded Israelite women many more rights than the culture of the day. But even within Israel they weren't viewed or treated as equals. Of course, it should be pointed out that Rahab was a full-time resident of Jericho. In other words, she was most decidedly not Jewish anyway, and therefore not part of the covenant that God had made with Israel. Her house (we discover in verse 15) was "part of the city wall", and many archaeologists have pointed out that this probably indicates that she was poor and/or from a relatively low social status. Oh yeah, and there was one other thing: she was a hooker. That's right, a member of the oldest profession on earth; a prostitute.
At first glance, all of these things seem like strikes against Rahab. Let's face it, her qualifications for being part of God's master plan seem to be seriously lacking. If a modern-day equivalent to Rahab walked into our church, I'd venture a guess that some of us might be uncomfortable...possibly even hostile. But for some reason, God directed the spies to her home. And once the spies are there, Rahab hides them and protects them, and then proceeds to cast her lot with them, all at great personal risk. She expresses faith in the one true God, and opts to forsake her own people and religion and culture to join sides with the Israelites. This was an immense step of faith on her part--so much so that Hebrews 11:31 holds her up as an example of faith. And here is another important fact: she is in the direct, royal line of Jesus Himself! This female, non-Jewish, poor lower-class prostitute is listed prominently in Matthew's genealogy establishing Jesus Christ as the rightful heir to the throne of Israel!!
I love this story because it is such a beautiful portrait of God's grace. According to conventional wisdom this woman was not fit to be used so greatly by God. She was too stained; too broken; too sinful. Yet God, in His amazing grace, saw fit to use her! This is true grace. And when we are called to exercise grace, this is what it should look like. Maybe we need to be more gracious to someone particularly unlovable; someone who doesn't seem to deserve it. Or, maybe some days we don't consider ourselves to be particularly usable by God. But God's grace does amazing things! To count anyone out of being usable by God, (whether ourselves, or someone else), we diminish the importance of that amazing grace.
- Pastor Paul