Rahab was a prostitute. Some might say that deep down in her heart she was actually a good person. But that’s not true. She was a prostitute. The Old Testament book of Joshua tells us about her. From the text we learn that she lived in Jericho in an apartment built into the city’s protective wall. When the sons of Israel came to her to spy out the city that they would soon conquer, she welcomed them. She hid them. She lied to the authorities for them. And she protected them. These are all commendable acts for which her life was spared. But still, she was a prostitute. By nature, she was wicked. By grace, she was saved.
The truth is that you are no better than Rahab. While you might not be a prostitute you have a nature that is just as sinful as Rahab’s was. Maybe your sin nature shows itself in other ways. Maybe you have a sinful temper. Or maybe you are greedy. Or maybe you are prideful. Or maybe you sleep around the same way Rahab did, only you give it away for free instead of charging for it. The point is that you, like Rahab, are a sinner. And so am I. But Rahab didn’t remain in her sin. She was saved by grace. And so to might you be.
The New Testament gives Rahab as an example of one who was saved by God’s grace. The book of Hebrews says, “By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.” (Hebrews 11:31 NASB) Physically, she was saved. Spiritually she was too. She wasn’t saved by “cleaning up her act” and “trying harder.” If she had done that, she would have merely become a pious legalist, who was still spiritually dead in her sins. Rahab was saved because God changed her heart. God gave her a new life. Rahab had faith, because God gave it to her. The Bible says, “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God. Not according to works, lest any many should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Rahab was not saved by her works. But the evidence that God had saved her could be seen by her works….and her words. She told the two Israelite spies, “For the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” (Joshua 2:11) She believed in the one true God. And she knew that He was all-powerful and sovereign. She professed this openly, and she was saved eternally.
As a sign that her household was not to be harmed, the two spies told her to tie a scarlet thread to her window. It would be a sign to the warriors of Israel not to harm her. The symbolism of this scarlet thread is mesmerizing. It would be hard not to see this as similar to the blood of the Passover lamb that the sons of Israel put on their door posts so that their first born would not perish. And it would be hard not to see the Passover lamb as being symbolic of Jesus Christ, the true Lamb of God.
Jesus shed his blood to pay for sinners. His sacrificial death paid the full price for sinners who trust in Him. Jesus paid for Rahab with His blood. Even though Rahab lived before Jesus came to earth, the ultimate reason why Rahab was saved was because Jesus saved her.
Do you know anything of this salvation of which I speak? Have you experienced God’s grace in salvation through faith in Jesus Christ? The Bible calls us to turn from our sin in repentance and trust in Christ by faith. The Bible says it is only through Jesus that we can be saved and have eternal life. Regardless of your horrible past, you still might have a glorious future. Because salvation is a work of God, and God can do the impossible.
Rahab was a prostitute. But she didn’t remain a prostitute. She was saved. She was changed. And she was cleansed. Eventually she married and had a son named Boaz, who had a great-grandson named David, who became the greatest king in Israel. The greatest, that is, until another king came. And He too was a descendant of Rahab the prostitute, according to the flesh. Jesus was that grandson. Her descendant was also the Son of God. He was eternally Divine, and he “became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) And He was her savior. Rahab was a prostitute. But she was a prostitute saved by grace through faith. May the same be said of you. Trust in Christ today, and say hello to Rahab’s savior. He’s the only savior. Hopefully he is yours.