July 14, 2007

A Safe Place for Rahab

capShe's called Rahab, the prostitute in the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11). Her actions helped the Israelites win the battle of Jericho. She had heard stories of God's power and presence and she welcomed his representatives (the spies). By faith she trusted God for deliverance when no one else did. As a result God saved her from destruction and welcomed her into His family. The Bible tells us that the Israelites didn't seem to know what to do with her at first. They set up a place for Rahab and her family “outside the camp.” And yet in the first chapter of Matthew we see that Rahab is listed in the genealogy of Christ. What happened that enfolded her into the family of God?
Her culture, appearance, and lifestyle as a prostitute certainly caused the Israelites to view her with suspicion. Since her beauty became legendary, it's possible that the women especially had trouble welcoming her. I like to imagine that an older Israelite woman, perhaps the mother of one of the spies, took Rahab under her wing and taught her the traditions and idiosyncrasies of being an Israelite. Somebody had to take a stand and make the covenant family a safe place for Rahab.
2007 1515 40Rahab is a true adopted daughter of the King of kings. Although our circumstances are different, her rebirth symbolizes every believer's journey. Biblical faith makes us new. Therefore, the baggage of our past does not negate our opportunity for ministry (Matthew 1:5). The love of Christ crosses all lines. What attracted Rahab to the community of God?
Would Rahab be safe in your local church? Would she even be welcome? One of our goals in the church I pastor, Glasgow Reformed Presbyterian Church (www.grpc.org ) is to make the church a safe place for broken people. It's only through the changed lives of the people in the local church that we become a magnet for unbelievers. And we can't choose what that magnet will draw into our presence!
Whoever helped create a safe place for Rahab got inside her heart by considering:
What it was like for her to join the Israelites and travel by foot through unknown territory with people she did not know, caring all of her earthly goods, unsure of her destination?
What were some of Rahab's practical needs?
As you consider the “Rahabs” in your midst, remember that every person in the local church was or is a Rahab. None of us is saved by our good works, only by the redeeming love of God. We are all equal in sinfulness.
Ask yourself:
  1. What baggage does this modern day Rahab need to unpack in order to experience God's love, i.e. what was her life like before coming to your church, or even in the present?
  2. Does she feel out of place as she tries to learn the new customs and traditions of your local church family?
  3. What are her practical needs?
  4. What was the kindest thing someone did for you as a new believer? Prayerfully consider doing it for this modern day Rahab.             
Jesus tells the story of the shepherd who wouldn't rest until he found his one little lost sheep. God sent the spies into Jericho to rescue his little lost lamb, Rahab. What lost lambs is God sending to your local church and are you making your church a safe place where they can meet Jesus and grow into strong men and women of faith?

Adapted from Treasures of Faith, Living Boldly in View of God's Promises by Dr. Chuck Betters, pastor/teacher, MARK INC Ministries. For more information, visit www.markinc.org.