THE FAITH OF RAHAB
Hebrews 11:31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
Studies made about the woman, Rahab, indicate that more attention has been given to the explanation of her character than of her faith. Bible scholars through all ages have debated the term "harlot" in describing Rahab. The majority seems to define a harlot as a promiscuous woman of ill repute, commonly known as a prostitute, or one operating a house of prostitution. The minority prefers to define her character to be that of a hostess or an innkeeper of a house of lodging and entertainment. The debate will never be concluded because the bible is no more descriptive than what is found in the writing of Joshua - Rahab owned or operated an harlot's house, and people lodged there (See Josh. 2:1).
Although most people prefer to argue about her profession, God saw in Rahab a commendable characteristic. God saw a woman having great faith - a faith that is a good example - a faith that would be well for all Christians to follow. With the death of Moses, it was Joshua that was chosen by God to lead the children of Israel into the promised land of Canaan. It was "given" to them, but there was one problem. There was an unrighteous people, that were given to sin and idolatry, who already inhabited it. Therefore, it was necessary for Israel to "take" the land of Canaan from those currently occupying it.
Jericho was designated by God to be the first city to be taken. As their leader, Joshua sent two men to spy secretly the city of Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there (Josh. 2:1). We are not told the scope of their spy mission, but it is possible that Rahab gave them all the information about the city that was necessary for them to carry back to Joshua.
The king of Jericho was informed about the spies that had come to Rahab's house. Men were sent to look into the accusation, and search for the spies. They commanded Rahab to bring forth the men that are come to thee. To protect them, Rahab had hidden the two Israelite spies on the roof of her house. Then she told the men sent by the king of Jericho that the two Israelites had come to her house but had left, and she didn't know where they were. She recommended to the king's men pursue after them quickly, for ye shall overtake them.
As soon as the king's men did so, Rahab let the men of Israel down through a window that was on the exterior of the wall that surrounded the city, allowing them to escape and return to Israelite camp (See Josh. 2:2-16). For all of her assistance, the two spies swore that her life, and the lives of her family, would be spared from the impending invasion of the Israelites. In Joshua 6:22-23 we find that this did, indeed, take place. When the walls of Jericho fell and the city was taken by the men of Israel, the young men that were spies went in, and brought Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel.
By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not. The fact that Rahab received the two Israelite spies, gave them information about the city and its inhabitants, and helped them to escape back to their encampment, was commendable. But the question remains, how was faith in God established in her, to the extent that it led her to intercede on behalf of the two spies? The answer lies in the statement she made to the spies as she was assisting them in their escape. And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath (Josh. 2:9-11).
Rahab, as well as all other inhabitants of Jericho, knew about God's intervention and protection of the Israelites - how He had led them through the Red Sea to escape the Egyptian armies, and how He had allowed them to conquer opposing nations on the other side of the Jordan River. Because of these incidents, fear came on all those of Jericho. But only Rahab accepted the Lord as the God of heaven and earth. The evidence she heard and witnessed was sufficient to establish her faith in God, and it was by this faith that she assisted the people of Israel in their conquest of Jericho. Her faith is our example. There is sufficient evidence in the creation that surrounds us, as well as in the holy scriptures, that our Lord is, not only our Creator, but our heavenly Father that offers us eternal salvation. Like Rahab, we must accept it!