Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Rescuing Rahab

This is actually part of the Spiritual Battle series, but it's a bit off topic. It does come from my reflections on the book of Joshua as I've talked about before, but this is more a part of how to deal with how God prevented "collateral damage" in the destruction of Jericho.

The part I'm focusing on is from the 6th chapter.  This follows a horrible scene--the universal judgment of God--death--comes down on every inhabitant of Jericho except for the family of Rahab.

Who is Rahab?  Why is she saved from the destruction?  What do we know about her?  I'm not an Old Testament scholar, but I do know three things.
  1. Rahab is a prostitute--why, we don't know.  Many women fall into prostitution because they are just desperate.  Desperate especially in a society that provided no options for women who were not married.  For most, it's a trap that they find themselves in with few options they can find for themselves.
  2. Rahab helped God's spies.  You can read that story in Joshua chapter 2.  She hid the spies and told them the truth they needed to know.  In turn, she asked for protection for herself and her family.  She was incredibly brave and resourceful.
  3. The spies went back to Joshua, the captain of God's people, and God's people kept their word--they rescued Rahab from destruction and gave her a place to live.  Eventually she joins God's people fully and becomes a great-great-grandmother of King David and an ancestor of Jesus.  She is listed among the examples of faith in action -- See Hebrews 11:31 and James 3:25.
Here's the quote that depicts the rescue:
Joshua 6
22 Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the prostitute’s house, and bring the woman out of it and all who belong to her, as you swore to her.” 23 So the young men who had been spies went in and brought Rahab out, along with her father, her mother, her brothers, and all who belonged to her—they brought all her kindred out—and set them outside the camp of Israel. 24 They burned down the city, and everything in it; only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. 25 But Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, Joshua spared. Her family has lived in Israel ever since. For she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
We can apply this story by understanding it spiritually.  The city of Jericho, with its walls, is a "spiritual stronghold."  A "spiritual stronghold" might be a family or a town, corporation or government that is hiding evil behind its walls--keeping secrets.  Rahab the prostitute might be a family member or "whistle blower" who lets someone on the outside know what's going on.  Joshua, the spies and the people of Israel are those who know the truth of God and are ready to stand against lies and evil so many in this and future generations can be set free.  In the story of Jericho Rahab bravely hides the spies and, when the fortress of evil finally is overrun, partly because of the truth she has made known, she is rescued instead of being destroyed.  She becomes a hero of faith.

I believe there are many people like Rahab in our lives today.  Many times they bring painful, inconvenient truth to our attention. Many times they have suffered the oppression of the strongholds they live in.  Many times they are far from innocent.  Still, following this story, such people deserve to be protected and taken to safety while situations of injustice and oppression are obediently and forcefully addressed according to God's Word.  They should not be left to just fend for themselves.

What do you think?  Who is a "Rahab" in your life?  Who has come to you with truth that points out what you needed to know?  Who do you know that needs protection, rescue, safety?  How can you pray?  How can you act on their behalf?  Can you let them know how brave they are?  Can you let them know they are not alone?

As I've mentioned before, all of this "spiritual warfare" stuff is new for me.  Let me know what you think.


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