Thursday, 1 March 2012

9. Rahab - assistant in espionage

God has astonishing foresight. At some point around 1400 BC he looked down from kingly splendour, noticed a feisty prostitute and thought 'there's a woman whose heart is in the right place - hmm, another special one for the genealogy of my Son...'

In the children's book series, 'Horrid Henry', by Francesca Simon, everyone has an alliterative name to show what they are like: Horrid Henry, Perfect Peter, Moody Margaret - you get the idea. Today we meet Resourceful Rahab who saw an opportunity and grabbed it in both henna-ed hands. Opportunistic or faithful? 

An invading people are heading to your city to raze it to the ground. Do you:

a. Sit at home shaking with fear
b. Take up arms and fight them off
c. Side with the invader and adopt their faith into the bargain

Rahab decides on c. As Israeli spies enter her city she hides them on the roof and after they've escaped to the hills, lies to the king of Jericho about what she has seen. As the Israelites prepare to take Jericho and everyone else is 'melting' in fear she and her family prepare to be evacuated as she suspends a red rope from her window  - a sign which effectively says to the Jews 'here is the family to spare' - a nod to the blood red marks on the Passover doorways.

For this faithful action she gets a mention in the Epistle of James centuries later: 'Was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies (...) so faith without deeds is dead (James 2: 25-6).

An established leader of the New Testament church commends a foreign prostitute. Strange things happen when women of faith take action.

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