Transcribed By Gregg Stone
The story of Rahab shows that any willing person can be used to advance God’s kingdom. All it takes is a choice. Some look at preachers and teachers and others who seem to be far advanced in the kingdom or their walk with God, and think that kind of ministry is out of reach for them. And while it is true that not all callings are the same, it is a fact that you are as far advanced in your walk with God as you want to be.
Your position in the church has little or no bearing on your walk with God. In fact, we should be a godly influence and example in our workplace, and it is evident that some people are called to do the jobs they are doing in the world. They are placed in key positions to advance kingdom work. So, it’s not a position in the church that defines how spiritual you are. It’s your daily walk that is important, and how you use the opportunities that are set before you.
In our daily life, and in our spiritual life, everything comes down to choice, and no one is so far gone that they cannot make a new start. In the book of Joshua, we meet a woman called Rahab, the harlot. The word, “harlot” alone would be enough to give some of us pause, yet Rahab, by making the choice to seize the opportunity set before her, changed her destiny. She did not allow her past choices to hold her back from reaching toward a new path; likewise, the spies did not “disqualify” her because of those choices.
Moses had died, the time of wandering was over, and God told Joshua to go and conquer the land. It’s interesting that even though the land was promised, Joshua understood he was not going to be able to take it without a strategy and without a fight. Many times, the Lord gives us a promise and we sit and say, “Ok God, whenever you’re ready, here I am.” But we’ve got to realize that every promise comes with a price.
Jericho was the first city the Israelites encountered after crossing the Jordan River, so strategically it was very important. They needed to show their strength to the inhabitants of the land. Joshua did not want to try to conquer this city and fail, therefore he carefully considered and enquired of the Lord as to what he should do. Joshua had been through too much with Moses to allow entitlement thinking to cloud his judgment. They had the promise that God would be with them, but they were going to have to fight for it.
Joshua used strategy and wisdom. God’s promises don’t just magically fall from the sky. You’ve got to be wise and you must work for them.
It is thought that Rahab owned an inn that was located inside the massive wall surrounding Jericho. We know from scripture that Rahab entertained travelers and must have heard the stories of this huge multitude that was headed their way, that had a pillar of fire at night and a cloud during the day to guide them, and whose food fell from the sky. I can only imagine how daunting or fantastic that sounded. Obviously, there were watchmen on the wall because the king’s men saw the spies slip into Rahab’s abode. And when the king’s men came looking for the spies, she had a choice to make: to believe the reports about the God of these people and to try to throw her lot in with them, or to take her chances and trust that Jericho would hold.
Rahab made the choice to throw her lot in with the God of Israel. She took the spies to the roof and hid them in stalks of flax that were drying. Once the coast was clear she told the spies:
“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 NKJV).
Though Rahab had heard and believed the reports of the God of Israel, belief alone would not have saved her household. She had to choose to act on that belief. I don’t know exactly what prompted the fear of the Lord in Rahab, but I do recognize the feeling you get when you know you need to listen to God – that still, small voice that sometimes tells you things that don’t seem logical, or that something is wrong. Obviously, Rahab listened to that voice, and she chose wisely.
It could have been tempting to remain in the comfort and familiarity of Jericho. It was a mighty, well-fortified city. The inhabitants of the city must have felt quite safe. They had a spring, so there was plenty of water. They had plenty of provisions to withstand a siege. We know this because when the site was excavated, archaeologists found almost full stores of grain, which confirms the report that the Israelites heeded the admonition not to plunder the city.
The spies instructed Rahab to hang a scarlet cord in her window as a sign to the invading troops that she and her household were to be spared when the onslaught came. This, of course, reminds us of the blood placed on the doorposts to spare the Israelites from the death angel when they escaped Egypt. It is not enough to simply believe the reports; the blood must be applied in order for us to be saved.
It is interesting that when the cord was first mentioned, the Hebrew word used is chevel. “Then she let them down by a cord (chevel) through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall”.
Chevel means a rope or cord, but in the Bible it also pertains to territory because you can mark out territory with lines and cords. It can also mean pain, sorrow or travail. We can be bound up with “chevelim”, with sorrows and pains – it’s a word that crops up in the book of Job a number of times. It can also refer to a noose or a snare, and can even be translated as destruction. It has connotations of birth pangs, and the link between the umbilical cord and this same linguistic root for travail is clear.
We could say that Rahab was letting go of the things that bound her – the sorrow from the kind of life she led, perhaps. The second time the cord is mentioned it is referred to as a scarlet cord. “Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee”.
This time, the Hebrew word is different and now the rope is scarlet. It is not a chevel anymore. It is a tikva, a Hebrew word which means: hope, expectation. When you can let go of the things that are causing you sorrow and pain – the things in your life that are destructive, the very cord that was binding you becomes your hope and your expectation.
Just like the blood on the doorpost that caused the death angel to pass over the Israelites, the family all had to be inside to be safe. If they failed to obey the instructions, they would die along with everyone else. Our choices in the home influence our children and those who are looking to us as a role model. We must take a stand against the destructive influences of the world that are seeking to establish new paradigms for the way we live our lives. Like Rahab, we must stand as guardians of the gates. It won’t make us popular, but it can save us a great deal of heartache.
You don’t get a do-over with your family. There may be times when, like Rahab, you have to buck the culture, the peer pressure, and you have to draw a clear line. We’ve got make God and his ways, our choice. As parents, we must make it clear that God is first in our lives. There is such danger in putting everything else before Him. It’s as if you’re telling your kids that a relationship with God is optional.
We forget the fallen nature of man and we forget how quickly it takes over if we aren’t diligent and purposeful about our spiritual life. I’ve heard it said, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” It is bad enough when we choose to pay that price but it’s worse when we teach our children by our choices and then watch them pay a price we never would have chosen for them. I know few parents who wouldn’t give their life for their child, yet they can’t wrap their minds around the harm they are doing by their choices.
Choice is everything. That’s why people can receive the Holy Ghost and be baptized and walk out and never come back – because God’s gift is freely given but the choice to walk with him must be made.
Because Rahab chose, and then acted on her choice by following the direction of the spies to put the scarlet cord in her window, she saved her mother, her father and all her kindred. The life she gave up as a harlot would lead to nothing but sorrow and pain; the reward for obedience saved her and her family. The so called “fun” of the world is temporal and leads to addiction, disease and heartache. It makes me angry at the lies of the enemy, whose sole purpose is to kill, and steal and destroy. That is why our culture does not want us to speak, because then the devices of the devil are exposed.
We give up nothing but heartache when we lay down the chevel – the sorrows of life. For those coming into the church, it must be a beautiful feeling to step into a safety zone. We don’t judge you for your past life. We encourage you to come on in and experience the safety and peace of living God’s way. There will still be heartache and pain as long as we live in this world, but we can experience the supernatural peace of God if we seek for it.
Every individual has to seek and make the right choice. Rahab’s family had to make the choice. They had to meet the conditions set; they had to be in the place of safety when the walls fell, otherwise, they would have been destroyed too. There was no time to run to a place of safety. The Bible says, “the wall fell down flat”. In fact, excavations have shown that the bricks from the collapsed walls of Jericho formed a ramp against the retaining wall, so the people could walk right up, just like the bible says in Joshua chapter 6, verse 20 “…and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.”
When it happened, it was sudden; it was final; it was over. That’s why it’s so important to make right choices, right now. Right choices made the difference. Because Rahab submitted herself to the will of God, she was transformed. Submission matters; status does not. Whoever submits to God’s will, obeys scripture in baptism and receives the Holy Ghost will be transformed and given a place in His bride.
Not only was Rahab and her entire family spared; she became part of the lineage of David and Jesus Christ, one of only four foreign women listed. She is also mentioned as a hero of the faith in Hebrews 11:31.
It might have started out as nothing more than an act of self-preservation, but Rahab’s story developed into a beautiful story of redemption. Rahab could not have known that her name would become immortalized by her choice, but she experienced the immediate blessing of knowing her family was safe and of becoming a part of the family of God. We don’t serve the Lord for glamor or glory, but for the saving of ourselves and our loved ones.
It isn’t who you were that matters to God. It is who you are in him. And who you are becoming by the power of his Spirit. Rahab left the house of shame and wound up in the hall of fame. It was all because of right choices when the opportunity came. God is calling us to make right choices every single day – for ourselves, for our families and for those we meet along the way. One day it will be worth it all.
Lanette Kinsey lives in Pensacola, Florida with her husband, Rev. Brian Kinsey, Pastor of First Pentecostal Church. She is also author of the book, Mostly Martha, A Guide to Finding Balance Between Martha and Mary.