From Harlot to Holy

#JESUSFIRST
February 3, 2017
RACISM: MORE THAN SKIN DEEP
March 6, 2017

From Harlot to Holy

Faith Like A Prostitute 

 by Vinnie MacIsaac

Everyone in ministry rightfully wonders at times, am I qualified? Do I really have what it takes? Would God really accept someone like me to work for Someone like Him? Being a prayer warrior, a local church deacon or elder, or children’s coordinator, worship leader, or even a Pastor is not only hard work, but it is a sure fire way to discover your defective nature and brokenness. If you are unaware of your imperfections, people will surely educate you the second you step up into ministry

I have often wondered how Rahab knew those spies visiting her den of iniquity were really “good” Jewish boys, but answering that would be a blog of another kind for another time. The truth, regardless, is Rahab was a pagan prostitute who likely practiced prostitution solely to support herself and her family economically. According to Jewish tradition found in the rabbinic writings of the Midrash, she was so beautiful that she was considered to be among the four most beautiful women ever[1]. Her sensuality was so intense according to the rabbis that to even say her name created lust that needed repentance[2]. As an Amorite, she would and been polytheistic but the “Ra” of her name likely points to her being originally a worshiper of the Egyptian Sun God Ra[3]. Which is very interesting as her story in Joshua points to her having followed the news of the God of Israel having defeated the gods of her own namesake.

In some cases, prostitution in the ancient world was not only a noble profession but within certain cultures a holy profession. It was an expression of ritual pagan beliefs, and its acts were a fulfilling of those licentious sexual rites. The temple prostitute was seen as a living sacrifice to the local goddesses of fertility ensuring the cycle of life to the community by her ritual service, but such was not likely the case with Rahab. The Hebrew word used to describe her probably rules that out. The זָנָה Zonah means common every day prostitute as opposed to the word קדשה qedesha meaning consecrated or set apart prostitute[4]. I say this to simply make sure we understand Rahab was the bottom of the Cannonite social barrel. Her actions, even in her own culture, were low and without societal sanction. She was an outcast, a sinner, and the dregs of even pagan morality.

Unfortunately, sometimes in all religions, even Christianity, we tend to write off what we consider to be the dregs of society. We tend to label people reprobate or past redemption. Perhaps we assume they are not interested or would not want to hear what we have to say about God’s love and mercy; but not so for Rahab! Those good Jewish boys had other things on their mind than testifying for God, but that did not stop Rehab from telling them all she had heard about their God!

“For we had heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” (Joshua 2:10-11)

This lowly, pagan, outcast and sinner in the arts of sensuality, was paying attention to the newsfeed of what God was doing among the nations! Even more impressive was her heart was melted by what she heard of how the God of the Hebrews had made waste of the gods of her own namesake. She was already starting to believe in power the God of Israel. How often do we judge the down and out? How often do we pass a homeless person, a troubled youth, a common city street walker and turn our head in shame of who we think they are? I wonder, could they not be someone who has heard rumors of our God? Might they get up, put away their sins and follow, if only there is a witness to be found, and the slightest hint of an invitation?

Please remember, these good Jewish boys would have left her to die in that city, but it was Rahab and not them, who took the first steps towards her own salvation when she hid the spies when they were being sought out by city officials to be captured and killed. It is Rahab who knowing God was both powerful enough to take her city down and merciful enough to care about her who pleaded to her Jewish guests. “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house.” Look at the faith on this girl! She pleads not just for herself, but for her father and mother, my brothers and sisters and even her whole extended family. She is a woman who is not self-focused and just looking out for herself. She is, in fact, a harlot who has hope in the Holiness of God.

It was because of the faithfulness of a common harlot that her whole family was saved.

“Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household.” (Joshua 2:18)

And good to their word those good Jewish spies ensured Rahab and her whole family were saved when the walls of Jericho came down. The scarlet cord, a mere symbol of faith in the scarlet blood that would flow one day on the cross over Calvary, was the symbol of her redemption. Her faith not only saved herself and her whole family but it actually landed her a mention in the Hall of Fame of Faith in Hebrews 11; “By faith Rahab, the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.” (Hebrews 11:31)

Moreover, it is likely her faith had a hand in saving even you. Matthew, it seems, records her as being in King David’s genealogy and thus in the lineage of Jesus himself. “Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.” (Matthew 1:5-6)[5].

Stop and think of it! If God would use a harlot like Rahab and even embed her into the genealogical claim of Jesus being the rightful ruler of the throne of David, from whom would come the very Messiah, then why can’t He use you? You may be imperfect. You may be flawed. You may be broken. You may just be exactly what God needs to show many others in the masses His grace extends even to them!

Rahab was a woman, sadly used by many men. She was often used for a burning moment of passion and then forgotten for life. But she was also a woman used once by God, with an everlasting passion that will never be forgotten. When we let people use us, they degrade and destroy us, for that is the will of fallen humanity but when we let God use us He acts in love rather than lust, and he uplifts us, cherishes us, and restores us past our ever imagined true worth! There can be no romance greater then one with Jesus. The is no greater love story then a God who knows your past but can only see your future with Him.

 Do you at least have the faith or sun worshiping prostitute? If so, Jesus can wash you. Jesus can renew you. And best of all, Jesus can use you to bring the Messiah not only into the world but into the lives of all the people around you.

 


Footnotes

[1] Along with Sarah, Abigail, and Esther
[2] Megillah 15a
[3] https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/all-women-bible/Rahab
[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_prostitution
[5] Because of the abhorrence of her sin as a Harlot many of Jewish and Christian apologists have tried to discredit her as being the same Rahab however there is no real evidence past that of embarrassment for such claims.

4 Comments

  1. Edith Ohaja says:

    Lovely post. God can redeem even the most unworthy among us and use such for His glory. Thanks for sharing.
    About the illustrations, they are awesome! Did you paint them?

  2. Hope Springs New says:

    We like to focus of the stories of bad boys gone good but Rahab is the original bad girl gone holy. May the story of Rahab’s hope gives us guts to believe that will keep us looking up.

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