A prostitute named Rahab. Hardly the stuff of heroic tales, surely? Yet God knew what he was doing when he led the spies there. They needed somewhere to stay where nobody would bat an eyelid at strange men appearing and disappearing over night. In fact, other historical texts from the time confirm that inns and prostitutes homes were well-known for being the meeting places of spies. One ancient culture had a rule that brothels were not allowed to be built near the fortress walls, precisely to prevent their homes being used for this purpose.
Prostitutes would often entertain travelling merchants, and it was probably from them that Rahab had already heard about the great deeds the Lord had done among the Israelites. What she has heard has convinced her that the God of the Israelites is the true Lord. She has some measure of faith already, although we can see that it is not mature as she is so quick to lie to protect the spies – no doubt God could still have protected the spies without this lie.
Rahab lives a life that would be looked down on by most people. It would be tempting to write her off completely, to avoid her and to even shun her. And yet, she is a sort of imperfect hero, used by God despite it all. Who knows what choices were available to Rahab in a culture that had little regard for women? Yet when the crunch came, she knew the Lord when she heard about him, and knew enough to protect the servants of the Lord. Far from being written off, she is forever recorded in the written genealogy of Jesus.
We don’t know who God will use. On our journey with the Lord, we will all come across unlikely allies like Rahab. Her story is a lesson to us that we can never assume that any person can be written off – not the sinners, not the despised, not the rejected, not even us.
Today, let’s pray for all the ‘Rahabs’ we know – those whom society may have written off, but who are still within the reach of the Lord.