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RAHAB: NOT WHO SHE USED TO BE
Intro: Ill. Once there was a rough, uncultured man who for some unknown reason fell in love with a beautiful vase in a shop window. Eventually he bought the vase and put it on the mantelpiece in his room. Once it was there, it became a kind of judgment on its surroundings.
He had to clean up the room to make it worthy of the vase. The curtains looked dingy beside it. The old chair with the stuffing coming out of the seat would no longer suffice. The wallpaper and the paint needed redoing. Gradually the whole room was transformed. When you put Christ on the mantel of your heart, your whole life is transformed as well.
It is this kind of transformation we witness in this chapter. The Israelites were about to enter Canaan and claim their promised land. The first city they would have to face was the great walled city of Jericho. If they could take this city, they could easily split the country in two and then move from there to conquer the north and the south.
Before they attack the city, Joshua sends two spies into the city to examine the mood of the people and to determine whether or not they were ready for the war that is coming. When these two men arrived in Jericho, they went to the home of a harlot. Their purpose in entering into a harlot’s home was not immoral. Their reasons were practical. The sight of men entering a harlot’s home would not attract too much attention.
What they found when they entered the home of Rahab must have been a shock to the spies. They found a woman who had already been changed by the power of God. When they met Rahab, they found out that she wasn’t who she used to be!
Rahab is a demonstration of the power of God to transform lives. What I want you to see from this text is how the Lord takes sinners who will place their faith in Him and completely changes them by His power. Listen to the facts that present themselves in this passage. As you do, if you are saved you should rejoice in the great change Jesus has made in your life. If you are not saved, listen to what the Lord did for Rahab, and consider coming to Jesus Christ that you might be saved and changed by His power.
I want to tell you today that Rahab: Not Who She Used To Be. God changed her life, and He can change yours as well. Let’s consider the facts this passage lays before us today.
I. v. 1 RAHAB AND HER SPIRITUAL FAILURES
A. Rahab Was A Deflied Sinner – Rahab was a harlot. She was engaged in a wicked lifestyle, selling her body to men for money. Her life was a life of deep depravity and wickedness.
Some people have tried to redeem Rahab by telling us that the word translated “harlot” can also refer to an “innkeeper.” It can, but when we consider what the Bible says about Rahab in the New Testament, there is no escaping the fact that she was a harlot, Heb. 11:31; James 2:25. The word “harlot” in both of those verses means, “a woman who sells her body for sexual uses; a prostitute, a harlot, one who yields herself to defilement for the sake of gain.” So, it seems clear that Rahab was a wicked woman who lived a defiled lifestyle.
Rahab is a picture of every person who is lost in sin today. You may not be a harlot, but if you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, then you are lost in sin and need to be born again! Everyone is a sinner - Rom. 3:10-17; 23; Gal. 3:22. If you are outside Christ today, you are in a helpless and hopeless situation - Eph. 2:1-3; Eph. 2:12. If you are lost, no matter your lifestyle, your life is wicked in the eyes of the Lord, Isa. 64:6.
B. Rahab Was A Dead Sinner – Rahab was living her life, but spiritually she was dead in her sins. This is the condition of every person outside of a relationship with the Lord Jesus today, Eph. 2:1; 4:18; 1 John 3:14. 1 Tim. 5:6 says, “But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.”
This death the Bible speaks of is a spiritual death. It is deadness to God and to all He represents. Spiritual death always ends in the Second Death, Rom. 6:23; Rev. 20:11-15.
C. Rahab Was A Doomed Sinner – She lived in a city that had already been selected for destruction, Ill. Deut. 20:16-18! God had already determined that Jericho would fall! I am sure the people living there felt confident and reasonably safe behind the walls of their city. Yet, God had already passed sentence upon them and they were doomed to destruction! The people of Jericho may not have felt that they were in great danger, but they were condemned nonetheless!
Every lost sinner is in the same situation! The lost person may feel secure today and may not believe that there is any danger. The Bible tells us that the lost are condemned already, John 3:18. It tells us that they abide under the wrath of God, John 3:36. It tells us that their ultimate destiny is eternity in Hell to be forever separated from the presence of God, Psa. 9:17; 2 Thes. 1:8-9. If you are lost, that is your future we are talking about!
In spite of her lifestyle, in spite of her pagan background, in spite of her lost condition, God had given her forty years of grace, mercy and warning. How much time has He given you? You that are saved; how many times did the Lord touch your heart before you responded in faith? What a gracious God we serve!
If you are lost, you should be very careful about presuming upon the grace of God. The Bible makes it crystal clear that there is a limit to patience in calling the lost to come to Him for salvation - Gen. 6:3; Isa. 55:6; Pro. 27:1; Pro. 29:1. It is a dangerous thing to delay coming to the Lord! If you have been holding off and waiting for something, wait no more! Come to Jesus while He is calling you!
I. Rahab And Her Spiritual Failures
II. v. 2-11 RAHAB AND HER SPIRITUAL FREEDOM
A. v. 10-11 What Rahab Acknowledged – Rahab tells the spies that she and the people in Jericho have heard the stories of what happened in Egypt, and of the kings thy have defeated along the way. Notice the language she uses. In verse 9 she says, “I know.” In verses 10 and 11 she says, “we…know.”
Over the 40 years since Israel had left Egypt, the news about Israel, their progress, and the power of their God had reached the ears of the people of Jericho. Perhaps travelers, or people who were fleeing the advance of Israel, passed through Jericho and told them about Israel and their God. The people of Jericho had heard that Israel was coming, and that the God of Israel was alive and powerful. Rahab heard about the God of Israel. It was a message of judgment, but it introduced her to the true and living God. In the end, the message that came to her Rahab was a message of life!
God still has a message that is being proclaimed around the world today. It is the only message that can take the vilest sinner and make him a new creation. That message is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This message tells us about a God who loved us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to die for our sins on a cross, John 3:16. The Son of God suffered in terrible agony and shed His blood that our sin debt might be paid. Three days later the same man who died on the cross arose from the dead to bring eternal life to everyone who will call on His Name, 1 Cor. 15:3-4. It is this message that you need to hear today. It is the only message that will bring eternal life to a person dead in sin! Ill. Romans 1:16.
B. v. 9-11 What Rahab Accepted – Not only did Rahab hear the message of Israel’s God; she heeded that message as well. This message produced a response of faith in the heart of Rahab. The fact that she believed the message is proven by what she says about God. In verse 9, she calls Him “the LORD”, using His covenant name “Jehovah.” In verse 11, she expresses her faith in Him as the “God of Heaven and of earth.” In verse 12, she again expresses her faith in God as she calls Him to witness the pact she is about to make with the spies. Even the great Hall of the Faithful, in Heb. 11:31 tells us of the faith of Rahab. She heard the message and she acted on it in belief. She put her faith in the God of Israel!
This is exactly what must happen in the life of the lost person to bring them to Jesus. They must hear the message and then they must act on that message by accepting Jesus as their Savior by faith. The Bible tells us in Rom. 10:17 that “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”
The message of salvation is preached to the sinner. They hear the Gospel and are convicted of the truth of the Gospel by the Holy Spirit, John 6:44. When they believe the Gospel, they are saved by the grace of God. Let me remind you today that salvation cannot be yours as long as your faith is in anything else but Jesus Christ and in His finished work. If you trust the sinner’s prayer to save you, you are lost. If you are trusting church membership, baptism or anything else in this world, you are lost and need to be born again.
Stop for a moment and think about all that Rahab did not have. She did not have a Bible. She did not have a church. She had never met a missionary. She had never heard a Gospel sermon, sung a Gospel song, or read a Gospel tract. She was living in the heart of a pagan city, living a wicked life with no knowledge of God. But, God in His grace opened her heart and allowed her to hear something about Him. She believed what she heard and she was saved.
Look at all you have. You have the Bible, the church, Gospel preaching, singing, books, etc. God has given you so much light. What is it that keeps you from coming to Him? Why do you delay? You have heard about Jesus. You have heard about what He did on Calvary. You have heard about the empty tomb. You have heard about His love. You have heard His call. You know you need to be saved. You have so much more than Rahab, you merely need to act on it and come to Jesus Christ for salvation. We will give and account of what we do with the light we are given, Luke 12:48.
I. Rahab And Her Spiritual Failures
II. Rahab And Her Spiritual Freedom
III. v. 12-22 RAHAB AND HER SPIRITUAL FULFILLMENT
When Rahab came to faith in God, her life was forever transformed! What God did in her is a miracle of His love and grace. What He did for Rahab, He can do for you. Notice a few insights into the changes God made in the life of Rahab. By the way, these changes in her life brought her fulfillment as she walked with the Lord.
A. v. 1-7 She Was Fulfilled In Her Labor – One of the surest proofs that Rahab was genuinely converted is the fact that she involved herself with the work of the Lord. She hid the spies and covered up for them. Rahab told a lie. In no way does the Bible condone her lie; it merely records it. Rahab isn’t the only person in the Bible who lied. Abraham lied, Gen. 12:10-20. Isaac lied, Gen. 26:6-11. David lied, 1 Sam. 21:2; 2 Sam. 12. Elisha lied, 2 Kings 6:18-23. We cannot condone her lie, but must see it as a case of “the lesser evil for the greater good.” Given the right circumstances, most people here would have done the same thing. Like some of the characters in the Bible, we would lie to protect a loved one, or ourselves. Like Rahab, we might choose to commit “the lesser evil for the greater good.”
Think about this: Rahab was a pagan. She was raised in a culture of corruption, where lies were as common as dirt. She was a believer, but she had never been taught. She had never read a Bible. She had never heard the commandment that says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor,” Ex. 20:16. We just have to accept the fact that, like the rest of us, Rahab wasn’t perfect. She lied, but God was even able to use her sin for His glory!
Apparently Rahab had already stopped living the life of a harlot. Verse 6 tells us that she hid the spies under some flax that was upon the roof. Flax was used in the production of linen. It seems clear that she had trusted the Lord before the spies arrived. It appears her life had been radically changed by the power of God before they ever arrived. Even James uses her as an example of the believer who proves their salvation by the works of their life, James 2:25. It is worthy to note that James elevates the faith of Rahab to the level of that of Abraham. The message here is that it doesn’t matter if you are the Father of the Faithful like Abraham, or a poor harlot like Rahab, the Lord loves you and He will save you regardless of who you are. God calls and saves people from both ends of the spectrum of life.
We can like it or not, but the truth of our profession is proven by the way we live our lives, James 2:18! We can say anything we like, but what we really are is revealed in what we do! A life that belongs to the Lord Jesus will be a life that wants to be involved in the things of God! The fruit of your life proves the root of your life, Matt. 7:20! After all, when Jesus saves our souls, He tells us that we have been “created in Christ Jesus unto good works,” Eph. 2:10. Works don’t save, but they sure point out those who are!
B. v. 12-13 She Was Fulfilled In Her Love – Notice that Rahab is concerned about those in her family who are in danger as well. She now knows that God will take care of her. She wants the same assurance for her family. Her heart is moved to reach out for help for them. Imagine what risk she placed herself at in telling her family of her plan.
Rahab is a picture of the person who comes to faith in Christ. One of the first things that occurs when a person comes to Jesus is a desire to bring others to the Savior. Notice John 1:35-42; Mark 5:18-20. One of the surest signs of salvation is a desire to tell others about the Savior. Rahab proved she was saved. Can the same be said for us?
C. She Was Fulfilled In Her Life – Because she placed her faith in the Lord God of Israel, she obtained some precious possessions. Notice how God took this former harlot and blessed her new life with the richest of His blessings
1. Josh. 6:20-25 She Got A New Reality – Because of her faith she was spared from the destruction that overtook her city. All those in her house were spared as well! When the walls of Jericho fell down, there was apparently one section that remained standing. It was the section that held the house of Rahab. It was a place that was marked by a scarlet rope that hung from her window, v. 18.
What a picture is given here. When a new believer places his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, he is immediately delivered from the penalty of his sins, which is Hell, Rom. 5:9! He finds a new freedom in Jesus that allows him to live while others all around him perish. And, just as a scarlet rope, v. 18, marked Rahab’s home the blood of Jesus marks us as belonging to the Lord. Ill. Israel in Egypt and the blood of the Passover lamb, Ex. 12. Thank God for the blood of Jesus, I Pet. 1:18-19; Rev. 1:5.
2. Josh. 6:25; Matt. 1:5; Ruth 4:21 She Got New Relatives – When all these verses are taken together, we have the rest of the story concerning Rahab. She married into the people of Israel and became part of all the covenant blessings of the Lord. She went from being part of condemned nation to being part of a holy nation!
When a lost sinner trusts Jesus Christ for salvation, they are transformed from sinner to saint. They are no longer under the curse of God, but they become the children of God. As a result, they become the partakers of everything the Lord has for His children down here, 1 Cor. 2:9, and they become part of what He has for His children up there, John 14:1-3.
The point is, while the rest of Rahab’s neighbors died in the war, Rahab live and went to a wedding! One of these days, you and I, people who deserve nothing but judgment and death are going to be the honored guests at a wedding in the sky, Rev. 19:7-9. When we got saved, we became part of a new family - 1 John 3:2.
3. Matt. 1:5 She Got A New Reputation – Rahab was taken from the house of shame and wound up in the hall of fame. This woman became and ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, she was David’s great-great grandmother and she was the mother-in-law of Ruth. God took her from the very gutter of life and made her eternally famous. He gave this trusting sinner a place in His eternal, divine plan.
What the Lord did for Rahab, He can and will do for you! You might think that God wouldn’t have you because you have been so wicked. The truth of the matter is that the Lord loves you just as you are and that He will take you, save you and make your life one of blessing and honor for His glory. You see, God specializes in taking old, lost sinners, saving them by His grace and then using them to touch the world by His power, 1 Cor. 1:26-29. Ill. John 6:37; Heb. 7:25.
God can take your life today, change it by His power and use you for His glory. He won’t make you an ancestor of Christ like He did Rahab, but you can be assured that you will become the ancestor of new believers as you allow the Lord to use your life. You may not become famous down here, but they will know who you are in Heaven! Imagine arriving in Heaven and being greeted by some you led to Jesus!
Conc: It’s plain to see that God changed Rahab’s life! What about you? Are you saved?
If you were to die right now and stand before the Lord and He looked down at you and you looked up at Him and He said, “Why should I let you into my Heaven?”
What would you say?
Could you say, “Father, I should be allowed into Heaven because as a sinner, I placed my faith in Jesus Christ, and in His shed blood and His resurrection from the dead. I have nothing else to claim but faith in Christ.”
If your answer would be anything else, then you need to come today and trust Jesus as your Savior. You need to be saved, and let me assure you that there is grace in Christ today to save your soul!
Don’t delay, for delay is dangerous. Consider this: Nineteenth-century Scottish preacher Horatius Bonar asked 253 Christian friends at what ages they were converted. Here's what he discovered.
· Under 20 years of age – 138
· Between 20 and 30 – 85
· Between 30 and 40 – 22
· Between 40 and 50 – 4
· Between 50 and 60 – 3
· Between 60 and 70 – 1
· Over 70 - 0
How much time do you have left?
God took an old harlot by the name of Rahab and saved her by grace and used her for His glory. He wants to do the same for you. Will you come and do what He is asking you to do today?