June 13, 2010

Ordinary Time Excursion-Rahab

Last week we visited Naomi of Bethlehem, a sad and bitter woman, who found herself transformed when God acted in her life. This week we back up along the historical time line to the conquest of Jericho and meet Rahab.

Rahab of Jericho is often overlooked, even by people who read the Bible. Of all the books I have written, Rahab’s Redemption is the one that people most often look perplexed about. “Who is Rahab?” they ask. Her story is encapsulated in the second chapter of the Book of Joshua with a brief mention in chapter 6:22-23. Then we hear nothing more about her until the genealogy of Christ in Matthew. “and Salmon (or Salma) [was] the father of Boaz by Rahab” (Matthew 1:5).

The little reference in Matthew shines a great spotlight on Rahab. Rather than just some harlot in Jericho who happened to give sanctuary to a couple of spies and saved her family—Rahab is one of the few women named in the lineage of Jesus Christ! She married one of the spies and became a faithful Jewish woman!

Despite her pagan upbringing, God was able to use her generous heart to fulfill his Plan. Although she was a harlot, perhaps a prostitute for the temple of Baal or Astarte, Rahab tells the spies, “I know the Lord has given you the land…there was no courage left in any man, because of you; for the Lord your God is he who is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” (Joshua 2:9-11) Her faith is mentioned in both Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25 as an example to follow.

In our culture, the ‘big names’ get the headlines in sports, business, entertainment, etc. Often the rest of us, the ordinary folk, get forgotten as we go about our duties and prayers. Even in the Bible, Joshua gets the top billing, and Rahab is relegated to a few verses.

My husband and I recently spent a few days in Leadville, CO. Surrounded by lovely scenery and interesting history, it is easy to focus on the men who made the area famous because they found gold or silver and forget the thousands of miners who toiled underground to acquire that wealth. You forget, that is, until you drive outside the city and see the remains of hundreds of mines—dreams of riches and grandeur lost to time. Men who gave their last penny and often last breath of life for the elusive ore are forgotten, even by those who benefited.

Ps. 37: 3-4 reminds us of a different way to real life, “Trust in the LORD, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Rahab willingly cast her lot with the invading Hebrew tribes. She did trust in the Lord and found security and the desire of her heart. The men, and women, seeking fame and fortune a century ago in Leadville trusted in their own abilities. Even those who found wealth rarely found peace of mind. Horace Tabor, owner of the richest mine of the era, died a pauper because he trusted in himself and his wealth. True peace is found in trusting in our God and delighting in God’s way.

When we think about Rahab of Jericho, we should be reminded that none of us is too insignificant for God to use. CS Lewis tells us, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snug, and exploit…Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbor, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Chist vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden. (The Weight of Glory)

I wonder what difference it would make in my life, in your life, in the world, if we were conscious of the Christ hidden in each of us. If we, like Rahab, were truly willing to cast our lot with the God of Israel who is “the Lord your God is he who is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”

Next week, our excursion takes us to see Sarah, wife of Abraham who tried to force God's hand.

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