December 13th, 2013

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Rahab’s family

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Scripture: Joshua 2, 6

Nestled within the spectacular story of Joshua and Jericho is the story of a woman who lives on the margins of Jericho’s bustling city life.  Rahab was a prostitute and this one word informs us that she worked in one of the harshest ways possible for a woman.  We also know that she had family that she cared deeply about, a father and a mother, brothers and sisters and children connected to them. She might have worked as a prostitute to make life manageable for all of them; we really don’t know.  But whatever the case, she took a huge risk to bring her family to safety.

Rahab lived on the city wall and I can imagine she gathered information, likely for profit, but probably also for her own personal safety.  When the city authorities came to her door searching for the two spies Rahab already knew they were important.  She hid the spies, distracted the officials and then took a big risk. She said, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that dread of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt in fear before you…The Lord your God is indeed God in heaven above and on earth below.”  Based on this knowledge and her confession of belief in this great God who the People of Israel served she pleaded: ” …since I have dealt kindly with you, swear to me by the Lord that you in turn will deal kindly with my family. Give me a sign of good faith that you will spare (us), and deliver our lives from death.”

As she lets the escape through the window they instruct her to tie a scarlet cord in the very same window and to gather all her family members inside of her home.  In this way they will be spared when destruction comes to Jericho.

Only Rahab and her family were saved from the destruction of Jericho, but there is more to this story than that.  Mostly I hear that the amazing bit about this story is that Rahab was grafted into the lineage of Jesus.  Boaz, her son became the great grandfather of David who became King, whose throne Jesus inherited.  This is hugely significant, but it is the result of what accomplished in Rahab’s life while she lived.

The amazing bit is that Rahab became the wife of Salmon. God didn’t wait a thousand years to redeem Rahab’s life, he set her in a home, with a husband to make her a respected part of a community.  It’s easy to rush past this, but it’s important.  Remember how difficult it is to cleanse a reputation.  Consider the statement that is being made here.  The other information,that comes alter concerning the lineage of Jesus, is emphasis, the italics that says, ‘and don’t you forget it’

Lord Jesus, as we turn toward Christmas, turn our hearts toward you. Amen

Joni Mitchell, singer and songwriter introduces and performs her memorable song Magdalene Laundries  in this YouTube clip.  The piece evocatively conveys just how difficult it is to shed a reputation.

An ancient ‘map’ of Jericho using a Labyrinth motif. circa 14th century