How to Overcome a Shameful Past

Olu JegedeDevotional

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“James 2:25-26

25 In the
same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she
did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different
direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without
deeds is dead.

When most people
think about great heroes of faith, they think of Abraham, Moses or Elijah.  Granted, these were incredible beacons of
faith and are worthy of discussion when considering faith examples.  However, few people consider Rahab, who was
also a hero of faith, and who is in fact mentioned in the company of the likes
of Abraham.

Why do we consider
Rahab an unlikely candidate?  Clearly
because of her background, which we can read more about in Joshua 6.

Rahab was a woman
of loose morals.  To mildly put it, she
was in the hospitality business, as she owned a brothel and provided sexual services
to men.  As a prostitute, she was
considered the scum of the earth in her society.  In that day, she would have been utterly
despised by God’s chosen people and even among her own people her value would
have been immensely diminished.

So how did she
make it into the canon of faith heroes? 

It was simply because she chose to take a leap of faith.  And God always chooses faith over good deeds alone.

Here is what
happened:  As the Israelites’ wandering
in the desert was drawing to an end, God had showed them the first city that
needed to be overthrown for them to gain access to their promised land. This
was Jericho.  Jericho, being a gateway
city, protected the rest of the interior with its formidable fortress quality.  To overthrow this city meant that they could
easily gain access to the rest of the region. 

So Joshua, the
successor of Moses, sent spies to survey the city and determine possible access
points.  This was a vital but dangerous
mission. 

Aware of the
threat, the entire city of Jericho was on lockdown and all were alerted to the
possibility of Israeli invaders. Rahab, however, knowingly or unknowingly,
chose to invite the scouts into her hostel. 
It is unclear whether she knew they were the enemy and wanted to help,
or whether she thought they were potential clients.

Regardless, her
moment of redemption came when the king of Jericho discovered she had taken in
the men.  He sent soldiers requesting that
she hand them over.  Rahab could have
easily disclosed the whereabouts of the men who were hiding on her roof, and
yet she stood up for them. 

Prior to the
search party’s visit, she told the Israelite scouts that she believed their God
was powerful.  She knew that her people
were fighting a losing battle and that they would eventually be
circumvented.  She promised to stow them
away if, upon their overthrow of the city, they would remember her and her
family.  The men agreed and Rahab hid
them safely under some flax on her rooftop, thus averting their capture. 

The story
concludes in Joshua 4 when Jericho is overthrown by Israel, and Rahab and all who
dwelt in her home were saved.  Not only
was her household spared, they joined the Israelites and became one people with
them for generations to come.

So much was Rahab
a part of the Jewish story, that she is listed as an ancestor to Jesus Christ
in Matthew 2.  That’s right! Jesus is
descended from the lineage of a former prostitute.  It absolutely boggles my mind that God would
not only save a lost soul but that he would elevate them to such an esteemed
status.  Clearly Rahab was not just some
add on to the Jewish people. She intermarried and was fully accepted. 

Rahab, fully
restored, is now called righteous just as much as Abraham is righteous. (James
2)

The justification
of Rahab speaks volumes for you and I, with respect to God accepting us despite
our shortcomings.

– Pastor Olu Jegede