RAHAB, THE REMEDY
TO LUKEWARM CHURCHES
By Adauto Rezende
The person of Rahab in the Bible can typify the church in many non-Christian nations in the world. In the midst of darkness caused by a corrupt government, pagan religion, immoral life-style, God has found disciples to bring faith to the hearts of a great amount of Christians in the first world nations.
The people who knew good theology, but had no faith
Israel was heading to the Promised Land under the command of Moses and the protection and direction of God.
In the border of Canaan, Moses sent out twelve representatives from each tribe to search out the Land and bring back to the camp a report about it.
These spies were the descendants of Abraham, who had received centuries before God’s promise to give to his future generations that land. These spies saw the amazing miracles during their deliverance from Pharaoh, the Egyptian mighty king. They saw how God opened the Red Sea for the Hebrews to cross through it and be rescued from their furious enemies. They ate food sent from heaven and drunk water divinely provided in the desert. They saw God’s manifested glory before their very eyes with thunder and lightning with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire, and they received the Law directly from the Lord.
Nevertheless, in spite of all these visible signs, ten of these twelve spies brought back a half-believing report to Moses and to the community leaders. They agreed that the land really flowed with milk and honey as God had said; however, in their eyes, they had no chance to invade or conquered it for their armies were too powerful for Israel to conquest. Except for Joshua and Caleb, the other ten made the hearts of every Israelite melt in fear. They all rebelled against Moses and began to murmur skeptically, and were ready to go back to Egypt. Because of these ten men, God left the nation as wanderers in the desert for forty years.
After forty years, when that military generation had died, Joshua, the new commander-in-chief, was back to the same place to enter and conquer the Promised Land as God had commanded. They had already defeated two kings in the east side of the Jordan, but the major task was still undone.
Meanwhile, God was preparing something very unusual in the eyes of Israel. He was working in the heart of a person, inside Canaan, the most horrible and immoral environment to dwell in. According to the book of Leviticus1, the Canaanites were a people so depraved that the land vomited them out. Sexual depravities of all kinds, sacrificing their children to idols and witchcraft were a normal way of life for them. Four hundred years before, God spoke to Abraham about them, telling Abraham how their iniquities would come to a point where nothing but their extermination would be the only way left to cleanse the land from their evil practices.
Inside of a Canaanite city lived a woman named Rahab. She had a small hostel in the town of Jericho. She is also described as a prostitute; one might think of her as an innkeeper more like a brothel owner.
By divine providence, the two Israelites ended up in her guesthouse, and there on the most uneasy place for someone to hear God, the Lord spoke to them. They were not in the Tabernacle; they were not listening to Eleazar’s teaching, or to some prophet in the camp, but they were inside of the already disgusting place I described above. Rahab didn’t just give these men, shelter and protection against the city leaders, but she spoke accurately to these spies, words that would change Israel’s destiny. Her words would take Israel out of the desert into the land of blessings.
1. Rahab was listening to the Holy Spirit
God will answer to anyone who would listen to him and respond in faith.
She said: “I know that the LORD has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea[a] for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below1. These verses quoting by her, she repeatedly said: “We have heard.”
Scriptures say: “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” 2 As she heard the reports, she got faith, because it was true, and she believed in her heart.
2. Rahab was a prophetess
Rahab didn’t just give these men lodging and protection; her words also, generated faith in their hearts. She at that time was speaking prophetically to the two spies; therefore, they left the city full of faith which revived the Israelite nation. Amazingly, forty years before, ten men filled Israel with fear through their unfaithful hearts, now a pagan woman became a divine channel to speak to God’s people. The same words she spoke were the very same words the spies described to Joshua and their leaders: “Then the two men started back. They went down out of the hills, forded the river and came to Joshua son of Nun and told him everything that had happened to them. They said to Joshua, “The LORD has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.”3
3. Rahab moved from the prophetic realm to the priesthood office.
She believed that divine wrath was coming, and she started to intercede for her own family like a priest praying for others, that God’s mercy would find out those she loved. The burden of being saved while others would be left in hell really bothered her: “Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them— and that you will save us from death.”4
4. Rahab became an evangelist
The next task of Rahab was to convince her family and probably close friends to abandon their homes and to come into her inn. A similar event had taken place centuries before. Lot, Abraham’s nephew was in Sodom when the time came for judgment and destruction of the city. The man had received the same mercy as Rahab, to get his family out and saved from the divine decree and the coming wrath over their town. Unfortunately, he convinced only his two daughters, even though deliverance was offered to his entire family. Let’s take a look at his attempted to persuade his relatives to get out of Sodom: “So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place because the LORD is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.”5
Nonetheless, the evangelist Rahab acted as the Samaritan woman after she had met Jesus. She left her water jar and ran to Sychar to call the Samaritans to hear the Lord she had just encountered. Surely, Rahab also ran to her relatives to persuade everyone to leave their homes to come to her place. Despite space and running against time, yet she sheltered her entire family and saved them all from the promised devastation.
This episode reflects Christianity among some nations in our days. These former Christian nations are like Israel, who had the Tabernacle, the Law, the Priests and Levites, but had no relationship with God. Countries like England, Germany, the USA and Scotland had seen great revivals; many of their Christian ancestors saw the mountains tremble and amazing miracles were done by God, as He did to Israel. Israel had Moses, a godly leader and teacher; these nations likewise heard preachers like Jonathan Edwards, Moody, Charles H. Spurgeon, John Wesley, Martin Luther, George Whitfield, John Calvin and many others ‒ Servants of Christ, who had left a great theological foundation for their society and churches. In our days, you may enter a Christian home, in North America, and you might see hundreds of books on their shelves. They have Greek and Hebrew dictionaries, and all sorts of theological literature. Like Israel, their theology is good and correct, yet, their faith is weak. Their church buildings are extravagant and honoured; they have a well-prepared philosophy of ministry, a knowledgeable pastoral team, and expensive technological paraphernalia to make their religious gathering attractive.
However, some of these highly advanced Christian communities from many wealthy nations possibly will need the help of untrained believers from Africa, Asia, Middle-East and Latin-America in order to get into the Place Jesus had promised His people. Some “Joshuas” from the USA, Canada, and England will have to send out missionaries to hear anointing speakers from these Rahab churches, so they will bring faith back to the hearts of their lukewarm Christians.
I heard from a pastor from Asia that they could not build temples like us in Canada, so they have to carry out their services in improvised shelters or in church members’ homes. He mentioned their lack of theological training and the danger they face every day because of Islam. However, after a few minutes of hearing this young man, I could easily sense the fire of the Spirit and the passion for God burning in his heart. Also, like Rahab, his major concern was to share the gospel with his people and save them from the coming wrath promised in the Scriptures. Probably any average Christian in America would have much more theological knowledge than our Asian fellow brother. They know and tell the stories of many historical Christian giants that they have read about. Nonetheless, they had nothing to share about themselves. Many Christians in rich nations are wandering like the Israelites. They are lost in the desert for years, because of their lack of faith. They are incapable to move in the purpose of God. They are always talking too much and doing very little. These Christians need faith back into their hearts as was in the heart of Rahab. It was faith that gave that Canaanite:
The prophetic anointing to bring Israel to the land
The priesthood anointing to intercede for her own family
The evangelistic anointing to get her loved ones saved
Like the Canaanite woman, we must be prophetic voices in our days, speaking the very words of God in faith; we need to act as priests in times where prayer had vanished from many churches and Christian homes. Our family, our neighbors, our countries are in much need of intercession. It is also necessary to place into our hearts the passion for evangelism. We are spending too much time and money on no-essential activities in our churches. We should go out of our buildings to deliver the gospel message. We are not an organization, but a living organism, which should have a passion and love for the lost.
a) Rahab’s family was spared by God’s mercy. Because of her boldness, she altered the divine decree. The command was to destroy everyone in the country, including herself and her family. “But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.”6
b) Rahab became part of the Messianic genealogy. She also got a release from the divine instruction which forbade Jews to marry foreign women. Rahab didn’t just marry an Israelite, but was also the great-great-grandmother of David, the most powerful king of Israel: “Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,” “Salmon the father of Boaz, Boaz the father of Obed, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David.”
c) Rahab became a faith heroine.
The book of Hebrews and of James mentioned Rahab’s action. She was an example of the genuine faith to Israel and to the church:
“By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.”8
“In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?”9
WE NEED BOTH: FAITH AND KNOWLEDGE
I finish this article by saying that knowledge is important and recommended. The Scriptures tell us to grow in knowledge, to pursue divine understanding, to walk in the truth, to meditate day and night in God’s words, but likewise, we have to remember that the same Scriptures say, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”11 Rahab had experienced God’s promises because she pleased God with her faith, she believed in His words and God rewarded her.
Peter said, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”12 According to Peter, grace comes first than knowledge. Paul wrote: “We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.” 13
I saw in Rahab’s character, grace, humility, faith and love, these precious divine virtues that always should go with knowledge. Jesus left a question that showed the major deficiency of end-time Christianity: “However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?
To God be the glory!
1 Leviticus 20: 23 “You must not live according to the customs of the nations
I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them."
2 Joshua 2: 9-11
3 Romans 10: 17
4 Joshua 2: 22-24
5 Joshua 2: 12-14
6 Genesis 19: 14
7 Joshua 6: 25
8 Mathew 1: 5, Ruth 4: 21-22
9Hebrews 11: 31
10 James 2: 25
11 Hebrews 11: 6
12 2 Peter 3: 18
13 1 Corinthians 8: 1
14 Luke 18: 8