BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
In any sane society, prostitution or harlotry is condemnable. There is a stigma associated with it. The Word of God clearly forbids prostitution. Leviticus 19:29 says, “’Do not prostitute your daughter, to cause her to be a harlot, lest the land fall into harlotry, and the land become full of wickedness” (New King James Version) According to Deuteronomy 23:17, “No Israelite man or woman may ever become a temple prostitute” (New Living Translation). These two scriptures reveal to us the mind of God concerning prostitution.
Unfortunately, today, this immoral practice is being dignified. Instead of calling those shamelessly engaged in it by the old name, prostitutes, they are being called commercial sex workers or escorts. This shows the level of moral decay in the world. But this is not really the focus of this message.
In the book of Joshua, a woman is called a prostitute or harlot, but there are some useful lessons to learn from her, not her prostitution. She occupied a central place in the journey of the Israelites towards possessing the land of Canaan. She played a part in their defeat of the city of Jericho, a well fortified city.
Her name was Rahab, a woman who eventually became one of the few women that made it into the genealogy of Jesus Christ. That does not approve of prostitution. We can learn lessons from her story, which is mainly recorded in chapters 2 and 6 of the book of Joshua.
What are the lessons we can learn from Rahab’s life?
1.Rahab was involved in a sinful job. As I’ve said, she was a prostitute or harlot. Joshua 2:1 says that the two men Joshua sent from Acacia Grove to spy secretly the land on the other side of Jordan River, especially Jericho, “came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there” (New King James Version).
The two scriptures I quoted previously show that prostitution is a sin. Though Rahab was not an Israelite, she, clearly, was involved in a trade God regarded as a sin.
You may not be a Christian, but if you’re involved in any business or practice that violates the Word of God, you’re guilty. You are a sinner, though your sinful business or practice is not the only reason you are. You must give your life to Jesus, accepting Him as your Lord and Savior, and quit sinful businesses or practices, such as prostitution, armed robbery, kidnapping and fraud.
If you’re a child of God, quit any business that violates the Word of God. Don’t continue in it because of the huge money you’re making from it. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36 New King James Version). Any offering, tithe or seed from a business that violates the Word of God is unacceptable to God. Deuteronomy 23:18 says, “Do not bring to the house of the LORD your God any offering from the earnings of a prostitute, whether a man or a woman, for both are detestable to the LORD your God” (New Living Translation).
2. Rahab lied in order to protect the two spies. Proverbs 12:22 says, “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who deal truthfully are His delight” (New King James Version). Rahab deceived the king to preserve the spies. When the two spies entered Jericho, they lodged in the house of Rahab the prostitute. Some people saw them and reported to the King that some Israelites had come to search their country. The king sent a message to Rahab to bring out the men in her house, who had come to search out Jericho. But she hid them and lied that they were no more with her.
Joshua 2:4-7 says, “Then the woman took the two men and hid them. So she said, ‘Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.’ But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.) Then the men pursued them by the road to the Jordan, to the fords. And as soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate” (New King James Version).
Rahab’s lie is viewed in different ways by Bible scholars and preachers. Some believe that a lie is a lie, whether the motive is good or bad. However, some have argued in support of Rahab, saying that she wasn’t an Israelite; therefore, she couldn’t be held guilty of violating the standards of the God of Israel. They argued that she was in a situation where she had to save the lives of the spies, and lying was the best way she felt she could save them. Anyway, God didn’t say anything about her lie, which must not be misconstrued for approval. Lying was not the only thing wrong in Rahab’s life. It should not be surprising if a prostitute lied. That is not to say that lying is right.
Isaiah 64:6a says, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (New King James Version). What is wrong with a sinner is more than his fraudulent practices, sexual immorality, deceit, etc. He is a sinner by birth and a sinner by his actions. He, therefore, must be saved (born again). Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3b). If you’re not born again and you’re a liar, give your life to Jesus and receive power to desist from lying. If you don’t lie, but you’re not born again, you’re still a sinner. You should give your life to Jesus.
If you’re born again, but you still lie, repent today and quit lying. Receive help from the Holy Spirit to overcome lying. No lie is justified, either a white lie or a black lie! Ephesians 4:25 says, “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor’” (New King James Version). Abraham lied when he was Abram (Genesis 12:13, 19), and after his name has been changed to Abraham (Genesis 20:1-2). He lied by speaking half-truth about his wife, calling her his sister. Though she was his half-sister, she concealed the fact that she had become his wife, thereby exposing her to abuse, if not for God’s intervention.
Lying is part of the desires of the sinful nature, and should be part of the old things that are passed away when anyone becomes a child of God (2 Corinthians 5:17). All liars shall have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone (Revelation 21:8).
3. Rahab was a woman of faith. In Hebrews 11, which talks about the men and women of faith, Rahab’s name is mentioned. She is one of the few women whose names are mentioned. Hebrews 11:31 says, “By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace” (New King James Version). The Bible commends her for receiving the spies with peace; it doesn’t commend her for lying!
Rahab also had faith in the spies to keep their promise to her (Joshua 2:17-20). She left the scarlet rope hanging from the window as she had been told to do for them to recognize her house. She moved all her family into her house before the city was attacked by the Israelites in obedience to the instructions of the spies (Joshua 6:23). She had faith.
By her faith, her life and those of her family were preserved (Joshua 6:17, 22-25). James 2:25 asks: “Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?” (New King James Version). Have faith in God (Mark 11:22; Luke 17:6). Like Stephen and Barnabas, be full of faith (Acts 6:5, 8; 11:24). Have faith in God, and demonstrate your faith by your works. Faith without works is dead (James 2:17, 20, 26).
4. Rahab was a wise woman. This was evident .in the way she hid the spies and saved their lives (Joshua 2:2-7). Rahab was wise enough to know that God had given the city of Jericho to the Israelites and responded positively to what God was about to do. She knew it was useless standing against God’s plan. God’s plan was to give the city of Jericho to the Israelites given the victories they had over the two kings of the Amorites, which the people of Jericho had heard about. She was wise to have sided with God.
She came up to the spies on the roof before they lay down, and told them, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (Joshua 2:8-11 New King James Version).
She could be described as probably the wisest person in Jericho! She knew it was a waste of time to fight God! Maybe the king of Jericho should have just entered into an agreement with the Israelites instead of trying to oppose them! The city eventually fell. It was destroyed and Joshua placed a curse on anyone who tried to rebuild Jericho (Joshua 6:26).
Rahab’s wisdom is also seen in the way she negotiated with the spies her protection and that of her family in return for her kindness to them. She asked them to spare her father, mother, brothers, sisters, and all that they had, and deliver their lives from death (Joshua 2:8-13). The spies swore to her to protect her and her family (verses 14, 17-18). Her wisdom made her obtain a promise of protection from the spies, which they later kept.
Be wise. You need wisdom to excel in life. Wisdom is profitable to direct (Eccl 10:10). Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom, and in all your getting, get understanding (Proverbs 4:7). The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10). Ask for wisdom from God; ask in faith (James 1:5-6).
5. Rahab was faithful. She was a promise keeper. The spies told her, “Our lives for yours, if none of you tell this business of ours. And it shall be, when the LORD has given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you” (Joshua 2:14 New King James Version). Rahab kept the secret between her and the spies. She was trustworthy.
She could have betrayed them, and they actually warned her against this (verses 14, 20). Be faithful; don’t be a betrayer like Judas, who betrayed his Master, Jesus (Matthew 27:3-4; 10:4; Mark 3:19; John 18:1-3). Don’t betray people’s trust in you. Don’t disclose people’s secrets to others. Part of the signs of the end times is that people will betray one another (Matthew 24:10b). The Bible says brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child (Mark 13:12). Don’t betray anyone. As much as possible, keep your promises. Be faithful to others. Faithfulness is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
6. Rahab was unselfish and cared for her family. Though she was a prostitute, she had a right attitude toward her family. She was not only concerned about .her safety; she was also concerned about the safety of her family. She asked that the lives of her father, mother, brothers, sisters, and all that they have be spared (Joshua 2:12-13).
We wouldn’t know what lured or pushed her into prostitution, but, obviously, she cared about her father’s house, despite being a prostitute. She would be better in this aspect of concern for her family than some people with noble jobs! Proverbs 27:23a says, “Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds” (New Living Translation).
7. Rahab must have quit prostitution after the Israelites took over the city and embraced the God of Israel. Rahab must have become a changed person, experiencing life transformation. Rahab’s destiny was redeemed. The former prostitute became an ancestress of Jesus’ Christ (Matthew 1:5).
Don’t let your past or present life keep you away from God and frustrate God’s purpose for your life. God can use anyone notwithstanding their past or present life if they will come to Him. Whoever comes to Jesus, he will not cast away (John 6:37).
When we come to Jesus, old things shall pass away, and everything shall become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). God will forget our past sins; He’ll remember them no more (Jeremiah 31:34b; Hebrews 8:12; 10:17). He’ll give us new opportunities to live for Him and fulfil our destiny.
Conclusion: Rahab is often called Rahab the harlot or prostitute, but that was her past. With faith in God, she was able to transition into the original purpose of God for her life. Learn from her life if you haven’t. Surrender your life to Jesus today. It doesn’t matter what happened in your past or is happening in your present, if you give our life to Jesus and love, He will work all things together for your good (Romans 8:28).
If you’re not born again, I urge you to take the following steps:*Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. There you’ll be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I’m a sinner and I can’t save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent and confess my sins. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I’m saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you’ve said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You’ll need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where you’ll be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I’ll be glad to hear from you. May the Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
WhatsApp No: +2349081295947