"By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace" (Heb. 11:31).
Rahab illustrates the depth and breadth of God’s amazing grace.
Our final Old Testament hero of faith is an unlikely addition to the list. Not only was she a prostitute, she also was a Gentile—and a Canaanite at that. The Canaanites were an idolatrous, barbaric, debauched people, infamous even among pagans for their immorality and cruelty. Yet in the midst of that exceedingly wicked society, Rahab came to faith in the God of Israel.
Joshua 2:9-11 records her confession of faith to the two men Joshua had sent into Jericho as spies: "I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And when we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath" (emphasis added). Rahab demonstrated the genuineness of that profession by risking her life to hide the spies from the king of Jericho, who sought to capture them.
Because Rahab lied to protect the spies (vv. 4-5), some people question the validity of her faith. Surely genuine believers wouldn't lie like that—or would they? Abraham did. Sarah did. Isaac did. Jacob did. But the important thing to understand is that God honored their faith, not their deception.
As with all the heroes of faith before her, Rahab's faith wasn't perfect, nor was her knowledge of God's moral law. But because she trusted God, she was spared during Jericho's conquest, then given an even greater honor. She became the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth, the great-great-grandmother of David, thereby becoming an ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:5).
Suggestions for Prayer
Praise God for receiving even the vilest sinner who turns to Him in faith.
For Further Study
Read all about Rahab in Joshua 2:1-24, 6:22-25, and James 2:25.
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.