WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
FEBRUARY 28, 2022
TOPIC: THE FAITH OF A HARLOT
BY T. O. BANSO
“By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace” (Hebrews 11:31 New King James Version).
Hebrews 11 is often referred to as God’s hall of faith. Some call it the Faith Hall of Fame. The chapter contains a list of some Bible characters who did significant things through faith.
The chapter opens by giving what could be described as the definition of faith. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 New King James Version). Verse 2 says by faith the elders obtained a good testimony, a good report, or commendation. In other words, they obtained God’s approval. The elders refer to the patriarchs, ancestors, or Old Testament believers, including women, many of whom are later listed.
Verse 3 says by faith, we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God so that the things which are seen were not made of things that are visible. God called the world into existence out of nothing. As the New Living Translation puts it, what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen (verse 3b).
From verse 4, the writer of Hebrews begins to mention the Bible characters and what each did by faith. He starts with Abel and goes on to mention Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses’ parents, Moses, and the people of Israel. The story of their faith is told in verses 4-30.
He mentions more Bible characters in verse 32, and says in verses 32-35, “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection” (New King James Version).
He continues, “Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented — of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth” (Verses 36-38 New King James Version).
The writer of Hebrews notes that all these people mentioned received God’s approval because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. This was because God had something better for us that they should not be made perfect apart from us (verse 39-40).
However, previously in verse 31, the writer of Hebrews said, “By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace” (Hebrews 11:31 New King James Version). That Rahab’s name is mentioned among the people of faith in Hebrews 11 will surprise some people.
Rahab is described as a harlot in both the New and Old Testaments. How could a harlot make the list of people of faith? From the passage, we could see that the Bible’s focus is not on her harlotry but her faith during her encounter with the two Israelites that came to spy out the land.
Rahab’s name is mentioned among the men and women of faith. As said earlier, the Bible says by faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe when she had received the spies with peace. The New Living Translation renders it thus: “It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute did not die with all the others in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies” (Hebrews 11:31).
When the two spies entered Jericho, they lodged in the house of Rahab the harlot. The king got to know that some people had come to search out their country. He, therefore, sent some men 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).
As this passage shows, Rahab lied to preserve the lives of these spies. That was what she thought she could do in the circumstance she found herself and this does not justify lying. This lie has been a subject of discourse among Bible scholars and preachers. While some argue that a lie is a lie, and, therefore, Rahab sinned despite the fact that she lied to save lives. But others argue that although Rahab lied, she was not an Israelite and, therefore, she should not be judged by the standards of the God of Israel. Yet, some argue that lying to save lives is better than saying the truth and causing death. There are other arguments.
Nevertheless, the Bible does not say anything about Rahab’s lie but it talks about her faith. By her faith, she did not hand over the spies to the king’s emissaries but hid them. Why did she do this? One would have expected her to work in favour of her country and not against it.
Rahab hid them because she was convinced that Jericho did not stand any chance in the battle against the Israelites because of what their God had done for them in the past, which she and other people of Jericho had heard. And they were afraid of the Israelites because of this.
Before the spies slept where she had hed them, she went to meet them and said, “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 2:9-11 New King James Version).
Did you see Rahab’s faith when she said that she knew that the LORD had given the Israelites the city of Jericho? She gave her reason. She even told the spies what they probably didn’t know: that the entire city was living in fear because of them? She further said the God of the Israelites was God in heaven above and on the earth beneath. That’s faith by a non-Jewish woman.
Rahab said, “Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death” (verses 12-13 New King James Version).
Rahab was not a Jewess but she believed in the God of the Jews. She considered it unwise to stand in the way of this God and be crushed! Therefore, she spared the spies and begged them to spare her life and the lives of her family members. The spies agreed.
Rahab also had faith in the spies to keep their promise to her. She left the scarlet rope hanging from the window as she had been told to do for them to recognize her house. In obedience to the instructions of the spies, she moved all her family into her house before the city was taken by the Israelites (Joshua 6:23). She had faith. When the Israelites took Jericho, they kept the promise to Rahab. By her faith, her life and the lives of her family were preserved (Joshua 6:17, 22-25).
By faith, Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. In other words, the other people of Jericho, starting from their king who sent men to Rahab to bring out the spies who were with her, did not believe in the God of the Jews. All those who didn’t believe perished. Only Rahab and her father’s household and all she had were spared. The just shall live by faith (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). The just shall live by his faith (Habakkuk 2:4).
Just like Rahab, a non-Jew, Ruth, a Moabite woman told Naomi, her mother-in-law that her (Naomi’s God) would be her God (Ruth 1:16). That’s talking of the God of the Israelites. She abandoned the god she was worshipping in Moab for the true God. Is your faith in the true God or an idol? Rahab also married a Jew after the Israelites took Jericho. Her name is mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Matthew 1:5 says Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse. Did you see the connection between Rahab and Ruth? Ruth married Rahab’s son. The two women were non-Jews.
The apostle James also talks about Rahab in a positive way. 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). Verses 26 says as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. Have faith in the living God, no matter what or who others believe in. Your faith will save you as Rahab’s faith saved her and her father’s household because of her. Demonstrate your faith through your works. Faith without works is dead (James 2:17).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner, and you cannot 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 attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner, and I cannot save myself. I believe Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you 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 will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: My faith shall continue to be in the living God in Jesus’ name. All those who are yet to put their faith in the living God, through Jesus Christ, shall come to Him this season in Jesus’ name. They shall be delivered from the worship of false gods and come to worship the true God. Holy Spirit, deliver those who worship other gods from the power of darkness, and translate them into the kingdom of the Son of God.:
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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