by Kasey Van Norman
When we first meet Rahab in the book of Joshua, she has no idea that she is about to go down in history as one of the most faithful women in the entire biblical narrative. She knows only two things—she is desperate and she is greatly in need of deliverance. Rahab’s life can no longer stay the way it’s always been. Very literally, the walls of everything she’s known would soon crash in around her.
Here we stand, on the banks of Jericho—the gateway city to the land of Canaan. The Israelites must take this city if they are to inherit the full promise of God and the total land of Canaan. Joshua, and millions of Israelite soldiers, look up at the wall in to the red-light district, where a prostitute, named Rahab, was waiting. While millions prepared to enter their long-awaited rest, God’s eye remained fixed on one rebel woman awaiting her deliverance.
But the truth is, God’s eyes had never left her. Before she was formed in her mother’s womb, he saw this moment and called her by name. Rahab’s entire life had been building to this one, climactic moment; all of her sin, all of her regrets, the best and worst parts of her, all purposed by God, for God.
Rahab was born in to a community of people who hadn’t simply denied the existence of a Creator God, but, created their own version(s) of god to replace him. Specifically, Rahab’s culture worshipped the gods of sex and money. In her world, love was only a commodity to one traded to get what they needed to survive. As a prostitute, Rahab practiced this type of “trade deal” as a way of life; walking the road paved for her by generational sin, social norm, tradition, and development.
It makes sense that Rahab’s toxic “way” of using love as a commodity was “just the way it was” for her. So, what’s our excuse? Living in a 21st century America with a church on every corner, and resources ready to spoon-feed us the Bible with one click of a button, why do we continue to go through life with a “just the way it is” attitude? Asking others and ourselves to pay for full access to love.
When we no longer thrill at the touch of our spouse, is that ‘just the way it is?’ When our kids prefer gaming to eye-contact, is that ‘just the way it is?’ When we feel stuck, bored, unqualified, and insignificant, is that ‘just the way it is?’ When we haven’t received the respect, apology, or recognition we feel we are owed, is that ‘just the way it is?’
God wants us to come to grips with how the experiences and people of our past have shaped us, because he intends to use us, not dismiss us. But, in order for God’s purpose to come crashing through our gate, we are wise to take a note from Rahab’s playbook: “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” (Joshua 2:12).
Rahab risked everything she knew on the possibility that God is exactly who he says he is.
It’s this kind of desperation that leads us in to new thoughts, healthy relationships, and matures us in to life-giving behaviors. Only in risking our love, will we find it. When we take God up on his offer to love us unconditionally, our past is alive, yes with pain, but also, with purpose. There, our future is ready to give and receive love without need of return; no longer demanding our love be traded like a commodity, but instead, satisfied by the one who requires no payment or payback.
Are we desperate like Rahab? Are we willing to risk the way we’ve been doing it for so long, on the simply possibility that God is exactly who he says he is?!
Rahab’s entire life changed when she was desperate enough to believe a new way was possible; not despite her past but through it.
Let’s stop disqualifying ourselves from the purpose and plan of God who draws the most unlikely, rebel people to himself. God knows our past is a mess! He knows we’ve been unfaithful. He knows the many ways we have prostituted out the secret places of our heart, and, he is fully aware that many experiences of our past have replaced him as god of our life.
And guess what? He is still willing to come crashing through that gate for us. Let’s risk it all to believe him. Let’s be desperate enough to change.
Rahab: In the Face of Rejection, Don’t Judge Me; God Says I’m Qualified – Study Guide (Known by Name Series) is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: Kasey Van Norman is an author, a licensed counselor, and a featured Bible teacher for Rahab: In the Face of Rejection, Don’t Judge Me; God Says I’m Qualified – Study Guide (Zondervan, 2019) in the Known by Name Bible study series. Kasey teaches and writes about the love that has redeemed her life from the shame of her past.
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