Rahab, a Prostitute in The Lineage of Christ

Grace, Grace, God’s Grace,

Grace that is Greater Than All Our Sin…

Though she had three strikes against her:

woman, prostitute, and Canaanite…

She is elevated three times in the New Testament!

Tessa Ashfar, author of historical biblical novels,

wrote her first novel on Rahab, asking,

“What kind of God would choose a woman like Rahab

and elevate her to a place of honor?”

Only our God, a God of grace, who turns ashes into beauty.

I’ve enjoyed listening to Ashfar’s novels on audio.

Here she is speaking on three of her novels — the first being “Pearl in the Sand,” which is based on the book of Joshua and Rahab’s story. She also has a novel on Ruth, whom we will study next week.

This is profoundly relevant to each of us, for we each need to be rescued from our sin and shame and reminded that we are not orphans, but beloved children of God.

 

A month ago I broke my hand, falling in pickleball. The x-ray revealed broken bones. As I drove myself to the orthopedist, wondering what he would tell me, realizing how incapacitated I would be with my dominant in a cast, fear wrapped its icy cloak around me. I live alone and I had traveling, writing, and Christmas ahead. How was I going to manage it? And would this doctor, whom I did not know, really be able to help me or should I be going to a bigger city? Those old feelings of unworthiness took hold of me. Who am I to expect mercy when I so sinful?

And then the word came. You are not an orphan, Dee. You are my beloved child. I am leading you. Trust me.

Now the warmth of His Spirit enveloped me. When I saw the doctor, this was our conversation:

Me: “I delayed a week in getting an x-ray because I have such a high pain tolerance that sometimes I don’t realize how badly I’ve been hurt. I’m like a leper that way.”

Dr. Davis: “But lepers feel no pain. I have a hero who worked with lepers. He led me into medicine — his name is Henry Brandt.”

Me: “The Henry Brandt who co-authored Fearfully and Wonderfully Made with Philip Yancey?”

Dr. Davis: Broad grin. “That’s the one.”

Me: “Dr. Davis, are you a believer in Jesus Christ?”

Dr. Davis: (Big smile) “Yes, I am!”

I stretched out my unbroken hand for him to shake — and he clasped it firmly. Then he went and got a picture of Dr. Brandt and him together. It was the kind of moment only true believers can experience: that blest Tie that binds.

You are not an orphan, Dee, you are my beloved child. See how I love you?

We each need this message. He saw Leah, Tamar, and Rahab. He washed away their scarlet sins and made them white as snow. He loved them. And He loves you and me.

You are not an orphan. You are His beloved child. He loves you.

Sunday:

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

2. What is one way you have sensed the goodness or love of God lately?

 

Monday: Overview

I’m sure Rahab never aspired to be a prostitute. Women without a man in that world were reduced to begging or selling their bodies if they wanted to survive. Abused and degraded, how she must have longed for escape. How weary she must have been of life!

It was Sara Groves who made me aware that It Came Upon a Midnight Clear is a lament.

Consider these lyrics:

Here was Rahab, beneath life’s crushing load. But she heard about God who cared for His people, who “dried up the Red Sea” for them, and she feared that God. This was the beginning of wisdom for her, and would lead to her faith, and to being set free. She would go on to marry an Israelite named Salmon, and give birth to Boaz, the hero of the book of Ruth.

3. Imagine what it would be like to be a prostitute in Jericho. Get into her shoes and feel the weight of her load.

4. Read Joshua 2 and share anything that stands out to you. Share why.

Tuesday: The Lie

5. Read Joshua 2:1-7

    A. Why do you godly men chose to hide at a prostitute’s house?

    B. What lie did Rahab tell? 

6. Christians disagree on whether it is ever right to tell a lie. I listened to four sermons on Rahab and found men on both sides. I remember being flabbergasted when my son-in-law, whom I love, said he wouldn’t have hidden the Jews during the holocaust because it involved lying. Do you think it is ever right to lie? Why or why not? Support your answer scripturally if possible. 

7. Read Joshua 2:8-13

    A. What did Rahab know about their God and how did she say she felt about him?

    B. Did fear have any part in bringing you to Christ? Explain. 

Wednesday: The Sign and The Rescue

Just as the Israelites but the red blood of a lamb over the doorposts of their homes as a sign of faith to preserve themselves and their families from God’s wrath, so Rahab hung a scarlet cord from her window, as a sign of faith to preserve herself and her family from God’s wrath.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Read Joshua 2:14-24

    A. What promise did the spies make in verse 14?

    B. What extra care for the spies do you see in Rahab?

    C. What would happen to any family who went outside the house? What symbolism do you see?

    D. To whom did the spies credit their success? (24)

9. Read Hebrews 11:31

    A. For what two acts was Rahab commended in this verse?

    B. Can you share an experience of God leading you to welcome someone into your home that was

        risky for you? Why did you do it and what was the result?

10. Read James 2:25 and share what you learn.

11. Read Matthew 1:5. Using your imagination, what obstacles might have Salmon had to overcome to marry Rahab? How do you think he did it?

 

Thursday-Friday: Sermon by Eric Alexander

12. Scottish preacher Eric Alexander has a short and pity sermon on Rahab. Listen and share your notes and comments.

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Friday:

13. What do you think you will remember about Rahab and how will you apply it to your life this Advent?

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Wednesday 

11.  Read Matthew 1:5.  Using your imagination, what obstacles might have Salmon had to overcome to marry Rahab?  How do you think he did it?

The fact she was a Canaanite and not an Israelite, a prostitute and I bet his parents and family were not too happy.  I wonder if her reputation of helping the spies didn’t help and if he had an honorable reputation among the people?  However he did it…it was part of God’s plan and His amazing grace.  I wonder too, did God soften the hearts of those opposed to it and they were able to show grace as well?

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Hi Dee,

Several years have past since I sat in on a summer study on a Psalm. God put you and your study’s on my heart today, although I’m concerned that my participation may be inconsistent do to the time time constraints of helping my father, may I join in?

Have a great day.

Dawndrums

    Reply

    Of course Dawn — always welcome to come and go. We love having you whenever!

      Reply

      Thank you so much, Dee, thank you for the warm welcome. : )

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8. Read Joshua 2:14-24
 
    A. What promise did the spies make in verse 14? – They would treat her kindly, they said “our lives for your lives”
 
    B. What extra care for the spies do you see in Rahab? – she was telling them where to hide and to stay there 3 days so the pursuers would not find them.
 
    C. What would happen to any family who went outside the house? What symbolism do you see?  If any family member want outside the house they would not be protected and their blood was in their own hands. The spies would not be responsible if anything happened to them. The symbolism is the red cord that represents the same thing as blood on the door post. It would be they would not be harmed.
 
    D. To whom did the spies credit their success? (24) – they gave credit to the Lord for their success.
9. Read Hebrews 11:31
 
    A. For what two acts was Rahab commended in this verse? – For her faith and because she helped the spies, she was not killed like those who were disobedient.
 
    B. Can you share an experience of God leading you to welcome someone into your home that was risky for you? Why did you do it and what was the result? – I can’t think of anyone that I felt put a risk to me. I will keep thinking about it.
 
10. Read James 2:25 and share what you learn. – Sins from your past are not forgotten by God, but your faith and trust in the Lord along with your actions will show God that you are working on cleaning up your life to follow him. 
 
11. Read Matthew 1:5. Using your imagination, what obstacles might have Salmon had to overcome to marry Rahab? How do you think he did it? – I would think that people would have talked about him marrying a prostitute. He would have had to know how to handle all of the negative things being said. He would have had to be able to forgive her of her past and to trust her not to go back to that lifestyle. It would have taken a lot of prayer and maybe fasting to hear from the Lord that he was doing what the Lord wanted him to do.
 

 

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10.  James says that Rahab’s actions were a visible manifestation of her faith, and were counted as righteousness.

 

11.  Salmon was doing something ‘wrong’ in that he married outside of Israel, plus the whole prostitute thing. I think he admired her pluck, grit, courage, and faith. I do very much wonder about God’s command that no one from Moab and other nations there was to be admitted to the assembly, even to the tenth generation. The women we are studying , were they exceptions because of their great faith, turning away from the past with full assertion that the Lord Almighty was the only God, and the only one they were willing to serve? Is that why they are mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus? That they are shining examples of what it means to totally turn and make a break with your past and lay your life down before God?

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4. Read Joshua 2 and share anything that stands out to you. Share why.

 

Joshua sent the spies to Jericho, and they went to Rahab’s house. I wonder if her being a known prostitute served a “good” purpose….strangers in town, and who would think twice that they went to a prostitute? But apparently, some were paying attentions and reported to the king of Jericho that there were Israelites in town. But God used Rahab’s profession for His purposes. Rahab hides the men; we’re not told why at first, but later that night, she talks with them and reveals that she “knows the Lord has given you this land.” She, along with the townspeople, has heard about the Lord’s deeds, like parting the Red Sea. She also says that “the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below.” She had decided to get on God’s side because she feared Him, in a good way. This reminded me of Psalm 2:11-12, which say to serve Him with reverent fear, and to submit to God’s royal Son, lest He become angry and you are destroyed….so take refuge in Him. And that is what Rahab did.

Also, when the spies told her to hang the scarlet rope from her window and to gather all her family inside her home, and then they would spare their lives, it reminded me of the Passover, when the people inside the house were spared because of the blood on the doorpost. But if they went outside, they lost their protection.

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Several things impacted me about Eric Alexander’s sermon on Rahab. Earlier this week, Dee asked whether or not fear had played any role in our salvation. I think in today’s culture the concept of fear is always seen in a bad light…parents should remove anything fearful from their children’s path, etc. And certainly scripture is full of encouragements such as fear not, do not be afraid…Joshua 1 repeats…be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed. I also know there is a reverential “fear” similar to being “in awe of”. But Eric asks the question “How soon in the week did you became disillusioned with yourself?” My answer is, it doesn’t usually take more than an hour or two!

He said there were 4 stages in Rahab’s story…she heard, she was afraid, she believed, and she took action. This seems to indicate that fear can either lead to action or failing to act! In Rahab’s case…her “melting heart” resulted in initiating her faith which then led her to act…which resulted in the salvation of her family. How often has the Lord called me to do something hard, fear has entered, and I have then failed to act?

This reminded me, as we are in our own time of advent, for His 2nd coming…that though the news may cause fear to set in, we are to allow that fear to increase our faith and spur us to action!

Rahab’s actions might seem small and insignificant but they were not! It started with the kindness of hospitality. Man often misjudges actions which are significant or insignificant.

Rahab was seeking mercy…not approval! Lord, may I too simply seek Your mercy today!

 

 

 

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    I too liked that in Eric Alexander’s message!

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A wonderful sermon on Rahab’s faith by Eric Alexander

He reviews the introduction of the book of Joshua, “Be strong and of good courage!” In chapter 2, the most important person is Rahab.

She is a reminder that God’s ways are not our ways. This is to encourage us, that if God incorporates a woman like Rahab, he can use us…the Biblical principle is God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the strong.

By faith she welcomed the spies, and was hospitable to them. This may seem so small but it is very significant. She heard, she feared, yet she believed in the God who protected the Israelites. She gave glory to whom glory was due: the power of God was able to save the Israelites and she wanted mercy.

Her faith produced her actions. So the lessons to take from this are first to be hospitable and welcome newcomers! Remember also that our deeds will not save us, but we must seek God’s mercy, too. She put out the sign- the scarlet cord. It is a symbol of salvation that we must cling to.

I love this reminder of the scarlet cord- the blood of the Lamb, so precious to cleanse us from our sins.

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5. Read Joshua 2:1-7

 

A. Why do you think godly men chose to hide at a prostitute’s house?

It wouldn’t have seemed too suspicious for strangers in town to visit a prostitute; probably the townspeople knew that a lot of men who lived in the city or were just passing through went to Rahab’s house. I think they just wanted to blend in. Or, though we are not told, God may have directed them to her house.

 

B. What lie did Rahab tell?

When the king of Jericho was told that there were spies in his city, he demanded that Rahab bring them out. But she lied, saying that they had already left at dusk, just before the city gates were shut.

 

6. Do you think it is ever right to lie? Why or why not? Support your answer scripturally if possible.

In this case, Rahab’s own life was in danger because if the king found out that she lied to him, he might have had her killed. But I believe she feared God, wanted to be on His side, and so she lied to protect the spies. I do not have a problem with those who lied in order to protect Jews from the Nazis. I can’t really imagine patting oneself on the back for being a good Christian and not telling a lie, while handing over someone to the Nazis to be taken away to a concentration camp. I know that “a lie is a lie is a lie….” and there are no such things as little white lies, but I will leave the judging up to God.

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8. Read Joshua 2:14-24 
    A. What promise did the spies make in verse 14? 
They promised to rescue Rahab and her family. They offered their lives for hers.
    B. What extra care for the spies do you see in Rahab?
 

She didn’t make them go out the front door but through the window which was part of the outside town wall. This way they didn’t have attention drawn to them.

 
    C. What would happen to any family who went outside the house? What symbolism do you see?
 

If they left the house they would have “their blood on their own heads.” I guess it means the spies couldn’t be held responsible for what happened to them. But, I don’t really understand this because I’m thinking of the Passover where the Jews put red blood on their doors to be excluded from the punishment God was inflicting on the Egyptians. The other thing that comes to mind is where Pilate tells Caiaphus and the others that he is washing his hands of the situation (Jesus) and he would not have blood on his hands.

 
    D. To whom did the spies credit their success? (24) 
 

They credited God.

 
9. Read Hebrews 11:31
    A. For what two acts was Rahab commended in this verse?
 

She was friendly to the spies and welcomed them.

 
    B. Can you share an experience of God leading you to welcome someone into your home that was risky for you? Why did you do it and what was the result? 
 

We allowed Sarah’s boyfriend to come live with us. He was not from the “good side of the tracks.” We thought it was the right thing to do. We have tried to help him by getting him really good jobs that he never would keep, providing a car, food. And other amenities. He has lied to us, and he has not contributed to our family. In fact, he has disparaged us, and has ruined our daughters life both fianancially, emotionally, and physically. He is a rotten apple. I have never met anyone who didn’t want help but I am convinced he absolutely does not want help.

 
10. Read James 2:25 and share what you learn. 
 

Rahab was considered just and righteous by taking care of the spies.

 
11. Read Matthew 1:5. Using your imagination, what obstacles might have Salmon had to overcome to marry Rahab? How do you think he did it?
 

I’m pretty sure Salmon’s family was wealthy (I remember that Boaz had land). He would have to convince his relatives that she was good enough for him.  Not really sure how he did it though.

 

 

    Reply

    Laura — your experience with your daughter’s boyfriend is truly horrendous. You certainly tried to help him and love him, so I think you can know you did that. And now it is time to stand firmly and set boundaries, which you are also doing.  I believe God is pleased with you.

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    Laura, it seems to me that you are living in the midst of a nightmare right now. My heart grieves for you.

    But please believe His promises that, just as Jesus came to rescue His people from darkness and death, He will come and rescue you, though we don’t know how or when. I was just reading 2 Peter 3:9, 14 which says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. …  Therefore, beloved since you are waiting …, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” When we see terrible wickedness, we just want God to act. We want justice. But we need to remember that God sees the big picture that we do not see. He is not slow in acting. We need to keep following Him and wait in hope. Praying for hope from God for you, my friend, as you wait for justice.

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Laura, I think we have to take risks for our children.You did what was right in spite of his rottenness. Prayers for your daughter.

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What do you think you will remember about Rahab?

I will remember that this woman had hope and faith in the God of miracles. She hoped for a miracle for her family and she acted on that hope. God knows our hearts no matter the outward appearances. God used her in a mighty way.  Her scarlet cord is a symbol to us eternally that Jesus’ blood was shed for us. She probably had no idea of this future blessing, because of her nationality. She did not let anything stop her from her mission, even risking being a traitor.

How will I apply it to my life this Advent?

I hope to be welcoming to anyone that God puts on my heart. My prayer is for opportunities to witness of Christ’s gift of love. I desire to be welcoming to strangers as Rahab was to the spies, but to share truths, but first to listen well.

    Reply

    Great application, Shirley.

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8. Read Joshua 2:14-24.

A. What promise did the spies make in verse 14? When they have the land they will deal “kindly and faithfully” with her. I just realized that they asked her to lie… “if you do not tell this business of ours…”

B. What extra care for the spies do you see in Rahab? She not only denied their presence, and hid them, but she set a false trail for the guards to chase on to get them as far from the spies as possible. She also gave advice as to how proceed and not get caught in their escape.

C. What would happen to any family who went outside the house? What symbolism do you see? Any outside of her house would not be protected. This is the same as the Passover and Noah’s flood. Those that want life must stay under the promise.

D. To whom did the spies credit their success? They state that the Lord has given them the land, but then at the end they say the people melt away because “of us.” But there is still an implication that God is the source of power behind them.

9. Read Hebrews 11:31

A. For what two acts was a Rahab commended in this verse? She had faith, it is implied she was perhaps obedient, and she gave a “friendly welcome” to the spies.

B. Can you share an experience of God leading you to welcome someone into your home that was risky for you? Why did you do it and what was the result? Sadly, no. We invite single soldiers over who are not Christian for dinner, holidays, but that is as “risky” as it gets … and I do not know if their is a “result.” I hope this will change over the next year.

10. Read James 2:25 and share what you learn. Rahab was justified by her works when she helped the spies. Her faith manifested in action and kindness and she was justified.

11. Read Matthew 1:5. Using your imagination, what obstacles might have Salmon had to overcome to marry Rahab? How do you think he did it? She was a former prostitute and a non-Jew, both of these would have been difficult to overcome both mentally, emotionally, and culturally. He may have endured ridicule or disapproval. However, the way Rahab was spoken of in the Scriptures perhaps she was a hero and would have been accepted by most? The prostitution would be hard for a new marriage, even if it was one that had different expectations than we would have today. Could God heal their hearts before Christ…how would they know how to pursue that without the New Testament…?

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What do you think you will remember about Rahab?

She didn’t run with the pack. She had the wisdom to understand what was about to take place. She didn’t put her trust in her culture. She turned her back on what she knew and secured the safety of her family. She did not let what she did to earn an income inhibit her boldness. She was a businesswoman who knew how to strike a deal. She could not have imagined the plan God had for her, or how He would use her to impact all generations that came after her. What a legacy.

How will I apply it to my life this Advent?

If she had not been aware of God and His faithfulness, she would have missed everything. It is easy to be swept up in the loud nothingness that vies for our attention continuously each day. The enemy is counting on this. I will consciously focus on listening for God’s voice and direction amongst the chaos.

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    Great application Dawn. It is so easy to be swept u in the “loud nothingness.”

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What do you think you will remember about Rahab and how will you apply it to your life this Advent?

Rahab did not let her poverty her profession or her fear hold her back once she staked her claim in the God of earth and heaven. Her faith was not half-hearted. I plan to apply this lesson on Rahab to renew my commitment to give God my all.

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    Great, Lucy.

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13. What do you think you will remember about Rahab and how will you apply it to your life this Advent?

 

Her faith produced her acts.

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12. Scottish preacher Eric Alexander has a short and pity sermon on Rahab. Listen and share your notes and comments.

 

“It is by determined design, that God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the wise.”   Eric Alexander

Rahab gave a friendly, generous, sanctuary to the two men.

She declared one of the most striking statements of faith – one of the greatest insights that any non-Israelite had given in OT.

Progression of faith was:  ‘heard, feared, believed, acted’.    Same progression we need to have.

Knew she had to fall on God’s mercy.  Scarlet thread was her sure sign.  Ours is the same design – “my life for yours’ – the Cross of Calvary. 

 

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13. What do you think you will remember about Rahab and how will you apply it to your life this Advent?

 

Her act of generous, hospitable sanctuary was no small thing.  It was what God used to advance His kingdom.

I think of the choices we have as a country in how to welcome strangers, refugees and asylum seekers.  I feel I am being compelled to do more for refugees in my area.  I’ve been pondering this for quite awhile.  I’m looking at what to do in the New Year.

I think of some of our good friends, who were Hmong refugees in Thailand after the war in Viet Nam.  Because Christian churches welcomed and cared for them, there are now generations of believers in their family.  Even pastors and full time ministry workers.

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    Hi Wanda

    We have many Hmong refugees in my are too. I like your desire to be involved!

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    Love this on hospitality, Wanda: “It was what God used to advance His kingdom.”

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Jill –  You asked about Deanna earlier this week.

I have seen updates from her daughter, on her own facebook page.  She is in a care facility. I don’t feel I can elaborate here, but the photos of her look vibrant now, compared to those very difficult days awhile ago.  Her husband, John, passed away in September.  You may be able to find his obit online by googling his or her name.

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Also for JILL:

When scrolling back, I realize that it must have been last week you asked about Deanna.  Maybe someone answered you there.

But I also found that you recommended the documentary Patterns of Evidence.   The document maker,  Tim Mahoney, is a very good friend of my closest friend where I live.   Tim worked on the film for 12 years. We saw a pilot to it many, many years ago and then he re-did it all.  I was at one of the first previews when he came to our church to present it.  I should look again at the Jericho section.  I remember some of that.  He would be thrilled to know that it is being watched and recommended across the country!  THANKS!  I will tell my friend of your words.  :)

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    Wanda — I wonder if this is the same Tim Mahoney who has done and is doing things for me – -in Kansas City? If so, do you have a link?

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Behind and late again. But Rahab’s story really has warmed my heart. And for Salmon to take her-what a guy!

Being in a cross cultural marriage, I can identify with some of the difficulties these 2 may have encountered. For Richard and I, there were several difficulties that are too personal to share here. Nevertheless, I have seen the faithfulness of God through the years to bring us to where we are right now in our marriage and ministry. I have seen his sovereignty over my chosen profession of nursing, Richard’s gift of the Word and with the elderly, our complementary musical abilities and the like. (Smile)

There were few times in our married life that I struggled with feelings of inadequacy and inferiority. I felt bad for Richard to have go through certain things with my Filipino family. And I wondered how Salmon dealt with Rahab’s family. It was not made known to us in the pages of the Bible. But God did take this couple and used them to be part of His Son’s story. He is indeed a God of grace and of a second “chance”.

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    Bing, If Rahab was reduced to being a prostitute she probably didn’t have any family for Salmon to deal with :)

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      Dawn, I wonder….it does say in the text that she asked the spies to let her live, along with her father, mother, brothers, sisters, and their families. I do wonder now why she chose prostitution? Could she not have lived with her parents, or in the home of a brother? If her relationship had been broken with them, then why did she have them all come into her home? Maybe prostitution was an ‘acceptable’ profession in Jericho?

        Interesting questions, Susan.

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13. What do you think you will remember about Rahab and how will you apply it to your life this Advent?

 

I will remember her faith because it is quite extraordinary. Rahab was not a Jew, and she did not have a history with God as did the Israelites. Her knowledge of Him was all what she had heard secondhand….the stories of this God of this people who led them out of Egypt, parted the Red Sea, gave victories over kings and nations of peoples. How did she know that this God would accept her? She took a big risk and banked her life and the lives of her family that He would. She could have rounded up her family and said, “Let’s get out of the city because they’re coming to destroy it”, but she stayed right in the fire, so to speak, having faith that they wouldn’t be burned. By not fleeing, she really demonstrated her trust in this God whom she really didn’t know, but she feared Him and aligned herself with Him, coming under His protection. I want to have more of this kind of faith. She didn’t try to come up with her own solution to her problem. She trusted in God and His protection. She took the spies at their word, and in so doing, she took God at His word.

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