2008 John H Mattox

    In the story of Rahab we have a picture of a sinner's deliverance from the judgment of God against sin. Rahab was a harlot, although some scholars try to evade the fact by suggesting that the Hebrew term could mean no more than an innkeeper. However, even if this were true, their case is not proved, for Rahab is referred to twice in the N. T. where her occupation is also mentioned and the word used is porne, which unquestionably means harlot or prostitute. In fact it appears that the New Testament deliberately calls our attention to her immoral way of life as though to give more force to the writer's statement:

"By faith, the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not".
Heb. 11:31.

Even in the heathen city of Jericho, Rahab's way of life must have set her apart from the decent people of the city, otherwise there would have been no point in stressing the fact that she was a harlot. When we free our minds from the purely sexual aspects of Rahab's occupation, we can perceive that harlotry is the sin of degrading that which is noble to a base purpose. The harlot's entire way of life is centered in the flesh, and lived entirely on the level of the flesh, and the sexual act, in such a relationship, is merely a means of gratifying the lust of the flesh. Thus the sexual act is degraded to the level of animalistic behavior, a thing which is an abomination to the Lord.
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The Redemption Of Rahab (cont)

    Yet Rahab, the harlot, is a picture of every individual who is without Christ. No matter how cultured, educated, cultivated, gentle, or moral a man may be, his life is lived entirely on the level of the flesh. He prostitutes his body, which should properly be devoted to the service of God, to the service of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Though difficult for some to understand, it is a solemn truth that the unregenerate man can, and will, do nothing to please God, and though he may appear great in the eyes of his fellow men, yet, like Naaman, he is a leper in the eyes of God. See II Kings 5:1.
    To Rahab's home came the two Hebrew messengers (Hebrew: Maleach = angel or messenger) bringing a message of judgment but also providing a way of escape. Even in this age of grace, it is necessary to proclaim the judgment of God against sin in order to lay a foundation for the preaching of grace. To preach grace apart from judgement is to offer people something for which they feel no need. No one is interested in pardon for sin until he has become conscious of the penalty for sin. The message of judgment, then, must precede grace, just as the law with all its severity and inflexibility was the forerunner of grace.

The Redemption Of Rahab (cont)

    Having heard the message of judgment, Rahab was faced with a decision. She could turn the Hebrew messengers over to the king of Jericho, in which case she would have earned the gratitude of the king, and could go on living her life of prostitution; or, she could risk the wrath of the king and jeopardize her very life by hiding the men in return for deliverance in the day of destruction. The prospect of God's judgment overshadowed that of the king. Her decision to hide the men was not based on mere kindness and compassion. She believed the message of judgment and desired to flee from the wrath to come. It is this faith of Rahab's in the word of God that is commended to us in Hebrews 11:31. She put her trust completely in the God of Israel and renounced all allegiance to her former sovereign.
    Rahab asked the men to give her a true token (Heb. oth, from a root meaning to come - therefore a sign of something to come) and was told to tie a line of scarlet thread in the window. In this circumstance are pictured the elements of the plan of salvation which is available to everyone:

  1. Since salvation is based upon sacrifice, the thread must be scarlet, the color of blood.
  2. The word for window in Hebrew is challon, which literally means a perforation, something pierced. The verb chalal, from which it comes, means to perforate, to pierce, to be pierced through or wounded. The adjective form means pierced through, or mortally wounded.
  3. The word for line is tikvah which also means hope or expectation.

    Rahab, then, was told symbolically to put her hope or expectation in the pierced or mortally wounded one - a work of faith. When the Israelites took and destroyed the city of Jericho, Rahab and her family were safe from that destruction because of the scarlet line in the window. When the sinner today puts his hope in the pierced One, he too will find deliverance in the day of judgment.
    Rahab then became the bride of the prince of the tribe of Judah whose name was Salmon (clothed). Her name, Rahab (enlargement, freedom of walk), then became a reality when she was joined to the clothed one. As the wife of Salmon she became the mother of Boaz, the mighty man of Bethlehem, and an ancestress of the pierced One. See Matthew 1:5.

John H Mattox

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