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We have been studying what faith in action looks like from Hebrews 11. There are some amazing people listed there, ordinary people, who did extraordinary things for God because they possessed an activated faith. You see, there is intellectual faith which is merely belief, and there is activated faith which is demonstrated by action. Only when faith is accompanied by action is it truly faith.

The person we are looking at this morning would never have been voted most likely to be singled out for her faith in high school. She was popular for the wrong reasons. She wasn’t seeking God out. She was looking for love in all of the wrong places. Her name is Rahab. She was a prostitute.

Hebrews 11:31-By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.

It’s pretty cool that this woman, Rahab, gets a place of prominence in our heroic lineup. Sarah got mentioned when Abraham was commended for his faith. Moses’ mother got mentioned along with her husband for their efforts to hide Moses when the Pharaoh was seeking to kill the Hebrew baby boys. But Rahab, she gets her own spot. She isn’t mentioned alongside anyone else, but she stands alone for the faith she exemplified. Her faith in action literally became the faith that saved her, the faith that spared her from destruction when the walls of Jericho came down.  Let’s dig into her story.

First, I want you to note, that while the Old Testament tells us the story of God’s Covenant with the Jewish people, His chosen people, Rahab wasn’t Jewish. It is incredible that she becomes someone who is highlighted for her faith because what is being applauded is faith in the One, True, Living God!  Rahab was an outsider, a Gentile. She didn’t have history with God’s people. Worse, she was entrenched in the pagan worship of the Canaanites. And then there is the matter of her occupation. She was actually identified by her occupation in our Hebrews 11:31 verse. By faith the prostitute Rahab…

Why would the writer of Hebrews want to bring her prostitution front and center?  No one else was listed that way. No one else was defined by their sin when their faith was being celebrated. Was this a backhanded compliment? Was this a half-hearted shout out? Why out her for generations upon generations upon generations of people to read about her wicked ways? Why put a spotlight on such bad choices? Here’s what I think. I think the writer of Hebrews wants us to know that she was a pagan prostitute because the hope is that we will realize that no one who activates faith in the One, True, Living God, will be turned away from God’s saving grace! It doesn’t matter what kind of culture you were born into or what kind of brokenness you have chosen or perpetuated, God’s grace is sufficient for you, and He will take you as you are and redeem your life and story if you will trust Him.

God’s grace and your faith in that grace makes your situation, your sin, and your shame of no consequence. You can come into the Family of God the way the rest of us have come in, by faith through grace.  Look at Ephesians 2:8-9:  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. We can’t work our way into God’s good graces. We can’t earn salvation. Nothing we do is good enough to claim that we have impressed God or have overcome our sinful nature. It is only by faith in what God has done for us that saves us! God, through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, has made the payment for the sin of all humanity. Believing and acting on that reality is the kind of faith that saves us.

Joshua 2 details Rahab’s story.  Last week we talked about how Joshua led the Jericho march, and the walls came tumbling down. Well, Rahab lived in Jericho. Before the march, before that Jericho battle, Joshua sent a couple of spies into the city to get a feel for the goings on.  Verse 15 of chapter of chapter 2 tells us that Rahab’s house was built into the wall at the gate.  That was convenient for her in her profession. Her place was easy to find. Anyone come in or out of the city would be walking through the redlight district, if you will. People who used her “services” could sneak in and out pretty easily.

Those spies arrived at Rahab’s house and stayed there.  However, someone saw the spies go into Rahab’s house. They reported it to the King of Jericho, and he sent word to her that she was to bring the men out so he could deal with them. The king told Rahab that he knew they had come to search out the country. So, not only were they seen entering Jericho, but the mission of the spies was known to their enemy. 

But Rehab hid the two spies and said that when the men came to her, she didn’t know where they were from. I suppose she thought she could get away with the story because men were often seen coming and going from her home.  She said that as it was getting dark and was close to time for the city gate to be shut, they left, and she didn’t know which way they had gone. She told the king’s men to hurry and try to find them. The king’s men did as she suggested. All the while, the spies had been hidden up on the roof of her home. She had just sent those soldiers on a wild goose chase.

So, our heroine in Hebrews 11 was a liar.  Perhaps that was a skill she had also honed for her occupation. I don’t know, but she was convincing.  Housing the spies and lying about it put her life at risk. Why would she risk it? We’ll settle that in a minute.

Since it was night and they were safe for the moment, the spies slept up on the roof and she had a conversation with them before going to bed herself. She said this in verse 9,  “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea[a] for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.[b] 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

Notice that I made a few words above bold and bigger than the rest. She said, “all,” “we,” “our” and “everyone’s.” She didn’t have special information. She had the same information as everybody else. Everyone heard about the God of the Hebrews. Everyone knew of His power. Everyone was afraid and believed Jericho would fall, but in the middle of everyone having the same intel, the same information, only Rahab made a decision to act in faith on that information.

When the king and his men wanted to kill the spies, Rahab made the decision to identify with them instead of with her people. Rahab made a decision that defied her conditioning and culture. She decided she would step away from her conditioning and culture and she would align herself with the Lord. This is the reason she made the Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11. This is the reason she is a standout in regard to faith. This is why y’all are hearing about a prostitute named Rahab on Sunday, July 7 of 2024, thousands of years later. Rahab moved away from what she was steeped in and put herself in the middle of what God was doing! 

Listen, it takes faith to live counterculture today. It takes faith to move away from the chaos that says, “Trust your feelings. Go with your gut. Follow your heart. Be led by your impulses. Do what makes you happy!” Where is your allegiance, friends? With whom or what have you aligned yourself? Are you freefalling with this “anything goes” culture? Are you spinning out of control with the greed, selfishness, desire for power and control and the pursuit of all things fleshly in the name of this “good time” culture or have you seen who God is and what He can do and put all the weight of your faith on Him?

Here is what I know: If you are tied to the world, tethered to the “do what makes you happy” bunk that the world has bought, when judgment comes, you’re going down with the world. Everyone in the city of Jericho except Rahab’s family was killed in the Battle of Jericho. What crowd to you want to be with in that moment? When the walls come tumbling down, will you still be standing? It depends on where you have placed your faith!

Today, somebody needs to decide between Christ and the crowd. Today, somebody needs to walk away from the pursuit of popularity and acceptance by the world and fall into the loving arms of the Savior.

Rahab was smart, Church. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t assume because someone has chosen a life of sin that they are incapable of making a good, smart or holy decision. Rahab was perceptive. She was intelligent. She was well-informed. She knew the scoop. The men of the town talked to her. She was decisive. She knew how to act quickly. She was fast on her feet. She made up a clever and believable story under great pressure. She knew how to throw the king’s men off the spies’ trail. She even gave the spies excellent advice, telling them to hide in the hills for a few days before attempting to cross the Jordan River, and they listened to her! The people of God took advice from the prostitute! Don’t you ever discount where God might provide help, Church. You don’t know who He will use to cover you or who He will use to move you toward victory.

And she shrewdly cut a deal with the spies. 12 “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.” Joshua 2:12-13

The spies promised to save her life when they overtook the city. They told her that when they came back to overtake Jericho, they would expect to see a scarlet cord tied in the window. That scarlet cord would be the sign to the invading Israelites that everyone in that house would be kept safe.

After things cooled off, in a few days, the men went back and told Joshua, “The LORD has surely given the whole land into our hands. All the people are melting in fear because of us.”

Do you see how the activation of Rahab’s faith increased the faith of the spies? They left their spying mission full of confidence. Well, if you were here last week, you heard the story about how Joshua’s army marched around the city of Jericho daily for six days and on the seventh day how they marched around the city seven times and how after that, the trumpeters let a loud blast out on their trumpets and then the whole army shouted and when they shouted the walls collapsed! The Israelites rushed the city and left no survivors except those living in the house with the scarlet thread in the window.

That scarlet thread in the window is a type and shadow of the scarlet red blood of Christ. There were many ways Rahab could have indicated the location of her home, but the scarlet thread was chosen on purpose. It was chosen to point us to Christ. The world would tell us that there are many ways to God and salvation, but Scripture tells us it is only through the scarlet red blood of Christ that we are saved. Salvation is found in no one else, Acts 4:12. Not Mohammed. Not Confucius. Not Buddha. Not Joseph Smith. Not the Dalai Lama. Not Krishna. Jesus Christ alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no person will come to God except through Him!

Rahab, the prostitute became a proselyte. She became grafted into the Jewish family, into the Covenant with God’s people. What a stunning example of God’s grace!  That’s what grace does…it brings us in. It pulls us toward God. Grace is like a life raft that pulls us away from danger into the safety of God’s love.

Our key text again:  Hebrews 11:31-By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.

But that’s not even the end of her story. She just wanted to be spared along with her family. She didn’t know that because of her faith, she was going to be elevated to a position of prominence within the Jewish community. I’m about to tell you something that ought to blow your mind, but as a preface let me just say, you have no idea how one bold move of faith will set you up for a God-appointed, God-given destiny. You might be believing God for one small thing, but He has ten things in addition to the one to deliver into your lap.

As she is grafted into the Jewish community, she meets a man. I love, love! I love a good love story! She met a fella by the name of Salmon. We read in Matthew’s genealogy of the birth of Christ that Salmon and Rahab had a baby boy named Boaz. Boaz married an outsider as well. Her name was Ruth. Ruth and Boaz had a baby named Obed. Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse had a baby named David, and David’s lineage is the lineage through which Jesus, the Messiah descended. Rahab, the prostitute became the great grandmother of King David and gets mentioned not only in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith, but she is also listed in the lineage of the Lord Jesus Christ.

That is what God’s grace does, Church. It elevates you! God’s grace will take you places you could never get on your own. Nothing is random in the life of a believer. No meeting is by chance. No appointment is the result of luck. When you place our faith in Who God is and in what He has done for you, your life becomes guided by the Sovereign hand of God! Does anybody feel like shouting this morning?

Listen, God wants to elevate you, but you have to add your faith to His plans. He can want all kinds of wonderful things for your life, but you have to trust Him to do it. I promise you He wants more for your life than you want! Rahab just wanted to be spared. She didn’t know she was being selected by God for a special purpose! Imagine, going from being spared to being selected all because of the activation of your faith!

Listen, you have to actively live out your faith in the One, True, Living God. Because of Rahab’s faith we learn that our past is not obstacle to God. Our present is no obstacle to God. Things can shift, can turn, can change with just one radical move of faith. 

No one wakes up one day and says, “My heart’s desire is to be a prostitute. I can’t wait to be exploited for the fleshly needs of people who don’t care about me at all. I just love to be used for other people’s lustful gratification!” No! No one thinks that way! We don’t know all of the why’s in Rahab’s life. We don’t know if she was orphaned or widowed or taken advantage of as a child in ways that warped how she viewed herself and her worth. We don’t know what led to her pursuits as a prostitute, but we do know that one day, in one courageous move in faith, she placed her hopes and dreams in the God of the Israelites, and He changed her story!

Look quickly with me at Joshua 2:9-11 again. I want you to see the simplicity of Rahab’s faith. Here’s what she told the spies:

“I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea[a] for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.[b] 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

Do you see the simplicity? She simply said, “I have heard Who God is. He is the God in heaven above and on earth below.” She not only knew Who God was, but she had heard about what He had done. That whole Red Sea parting got a lot of press. How the enemies of God got talked about, even in the ancient world, before social media and even way before the National Enquirer, well, word got around. The Israelites weren’t given the credit for the Red Sea parting. They weren’t given credit for the destruction of some of their enemies. It was the LORD who had done the work, and it was the LORD who had been given the credit.

Rahab not only knew who God was and what God had done, but she knew what He was about to do. She knew she was part of an evil group of people. She knew what God did with evil. She wouldn’t have asked to be spared if she wasn’t confident that Jericho was going to be destroyed. She told the spies that God had given them the land.

Here’s the whole sermon in one neat package…Aren’t you glad you stayed until the end?  An activated faith rests on who God is, what He has done, and what He will do. Who is God? Ours is the God who created and who rules heaven and earth. Ours is the God What has He done? He has sent His Son, Jesus, to save His people from sin by giving Himself as a ransom and sacrifice for the sins of the world. He died a cruel death on the cross and was raised from the dead, overcoming anything that could ever separate us from God again.  What will He do? He will come again.  He will receive those who have been redeemed by the scarlet thread of Jesus’ blood, and He will destroy all remaining evil. Where will you be when the walls come tumbling down?

To be spared and to be elevated, to become grafted into God’s family, to have your story redeemed and rewritten, you only need to activate your faith in Who God is, in what He has done, and in what He will do!

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